Speculative Fiction Author Yvonne Anderson
Linda: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your new release, Free (The Four Lives of J.S. Freeman, Book 3). Where did you get the inspiration for the story and its characters?
Yvonne: It all sprang from the setting. For several years previously, I’d spent a lot of time (mentally) on the planet Gannah while working on my Gateway to Gannah series. I wanted a different setting for my next project but had trouble deciding between two environments that have long fascinated me: a flat, steamy bayou-type place where people travel on the water rather than roads; and steep, rocky slopes that only a mountain goat could be comfortable with. How to choose? But wait a minute; what if this world was made up of both kinds of terrain at once? The two are mutually exclusive in nature, but couldn’t such an environment be man-made? So I created the mysterious island of Freemansland and put it in the middle of the largest ocean on an otherwise earth-like planet.
Once I had the setting, I tried to imagine the people a place like that might produce. How would they live? How might their environment shape them? Would they be isolated from the rest of the world? I put myself in the position of a girl growing up in those conditions, and the story took off from there.
LM: You write speculative fiction. Did you read a lot of fantasy and science fiction while you were growing up? How did you become interested in the genre?
Yvonne: I didn’t read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy when I was growing up, but I will confess to an obsession with Tolkien in my youth. I discovered The Hobbit in fourth grade and the Lord of the Rings series a few years later, and I read them all several times. I recall enjoying a few other books in the speculative category, but usually when I’d pick up a sci-fi book, I’d put it down before I got very far because it didn’t interest me.
Why did I start writing speculative fiction myself? Funny story: I never felt compelled to write fiction until my children were grown, and when I did start, I played with historical and women’s fiction, purely earth-bound stuff. At one point, highly frustrated and resolved to quit fiction altogether—both the reading and writing of it—I read an interesting little nonfiction book called The Gospel in the Stars that explained how, when God created the heavens and the earth, He portrayed the gospel message through the constellations for early man to “read.” The idea fascinated me, and before I knew it, I was writing a story about people on another planet who discovered this “story in the stars.” That led to my first published novel, The Story in the Stars. Once I started writing it, I knew I’d found my niche.
LM: Research is an important part of writing a book. What sort of “aha” moment did you have while researching your Four Lives of J. S. Freeman series?
Yvonne: When you write about things that take place on another planet, you don’t have to do a lot of preliminary research. You can just make up everything as you go along. But because the world in this story is subject to the same natural laws as our world, I do have to make sure things are logical and consistent. For instance: at the time I wrote the story, my husband and I were living in the Appalachian Mountains of Western Maryland, where the weather in the higher elevations can be strikingly different from that of the valleys. The island of Freemansland is equatorial, but built in layers, like a cake. I hadn’t gotten very far into the story before I realized that those tiers would each have different climates; they wouldn’t all be steamy and hot. This prompted me to research how altitude affects temperature.
LM: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Yvonne: I’m a pantser, and one of my favorite parts about writing is being surprised by what happens next. I always know where the story will end, but I often have no idea what might happen along the way until it unfolds.
LM: What is something you wish you knew how to do?
Yvonne: Speak multiple languages.
LM: What is your next project?
Yvonne: I have a couple of things in mind, but I’m not sure yet what project of my own I’ll begin next. However, I’ve been working with a friend on polishing up a nonfiction book of hers, and we’ll be publishing it soon through my own imprint, Gannah’s Gate. Watch for Dancing on Stones: A Quest for Joy by Edith Harrington. Here’s the blurb:
Life gets rocky. You stumble and fall, crushed beneath an avalanche of despair. You cry out, God, where are You? How could You let this happen? I don’t understand! Must you lie helpless forever beneath life’s rubble? Or can you take God’s hand, and rise to dance again?
The author, a former ballerina, shares her story of grief, betrayal and depression. She looked to God for healing, but years of false teaching kept her in darkness. The story of how she discovered joy in the midst of suffering is a tender but powerful reminder that God is faithful.
Pick your way with her through the stones in her path and discover anew that His word is true and His love knows no bounds.
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?