Hello once again Readers!!! Remember how I said that I was looking to start interviewing authors of interest on my recent post How To Gain Traffic To Your Blog? Well guess what…mission accomplished! And I feel it’s complimentary to today’s guest, Elizabeth Guizzetti, to call my endeavours a mission. Why? Well because her latest work, Other Systems, is a Sci-Fi about a star-gazer named Abby Lei who’s on a mission to find herself amidst the terror of being stripped from everything she’s ever known or loved.
So let’s get to the good stuff!
Published by 48Fourteen, Other Systems was released on April 1, 2012 on e-book. It explores the loss of identity due to a forced breeding program camouflaged by the promise of life on a new planet. It also takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions as she experiences the loss of family and friends through time dilation and modern-day slavery.
Personally, I love books that pull me away from reality and make me feel as if I’m on the actual journey with the characters. Elizabeth has accomplished this in her writing. I felt Abby’s excitement, her fear, her joy, and her pain.
Humans have begun to sprawl across the known galaxy, however, without an influx of human DNA, the planet Kipos has only eleven generations left before it reaches failure. And with it taking over two centuries to get to Earth and back at near light speed, the Kiposi are running out of options. Other Systems follows Abby, an Earthling, who sees opportunity in Kipos’s need for humans. After medical, intelligence, and physiological testing, she and her younger siblings, Jin and Orchid, are offered transportation. They leave the safety of their family with the expectation of good jobs, kindhearted spouses, and the opportunity for a higher education. But when Abby wakes up on Kipos, Jin is nowhere to be found. Not long after, Orchid is ripped from her arms as Abby is sold to a dull-eyed man with a sterilized wife. To survive, Abby must learn the differences in culture and language using the only thing that is truly hers on this new world: her analytical mind.
So Elizabeth, what inspired you to begin a career in writing?
I always wanted to be an author, but stopped writing fiction due to my focus on creating art and working other day jobs during my early and mid 20’s. My writing career actually began six years ago. I was doing baby room murals, and I was getting bored with the work so I wrote and illustrated my first graphic novel, Faminelands: The Carp’s Eye. After three graphic novels and a comic book series, my comic book partner-in-crime became pregnant with her second child and needed a break so I wrote my debut novel, Other Systems.
When did the idea for Other Systems hit you? What were you doing at the time?
I was running into some plot/character arc issues with Faminelands#3—but the concept for Other Systems really hit me when I was out walking the dogs: a young Earth woman goes to another planet and realizes she has become a slave. However, due to her intelligence, she will escape and become a ship’s captain while she rescues her siblings also somewhere lost on this planet. Obviously this original idea would have ended the novel after Abby was in her late twenties. It also ended up not being exactly the final concept.
That very night, I saw an article about young, uneducated girls from India’s rural areas traveling into new cities and thinking that they are going to get factory jobs only to end up working as sex slaves. Suddenly, I knew the how Abby got caught up in all of this.
Then I had another idea—an idea that I was playing with in Faminelands, but got cut out of the plot. I knew the breeding laws were more expansive than just the bonded Earthlings. There would be more species than Homo sapiens and Homo kiposi. Those other species would be sterilized due to their genetics.
Interesting, I love that you incorporated modern-day issues such as India’s travesty of sex slavery into your plot. Maybe through experiencing Abby’s pain, we could take a closer interest into helping them.
So how did you choose the names for your characters and do they have a specific meaning?
I believe a good character name may denote rank, gender, and nationality. It is also important to me to have names for my characters that the reader can easily read! That is why even when I choose non-European names, I choose easy to pronounce short names such as Jin and Lei.
Generally, I use the name’s meaning or sound to help me decide if it is the right name. Some names, though I love them, end up getting axed. I wanted Harden’s character to be a woman so I originally called her Arley, just because I liked the name. However, in Other Systems, there were two problems with it. First of all, on the page, Arley and Abby look and sound too similar. Secondly, Harden turned out to be a man. Since Arely means hare’s meadow, I looked for other similar names and found Harden-the hare’s den. The other thing I love about the name is that the word Hard is its first syllable, then it softens with the en.
Did you create the colorful cover?
Yes, I created the cover artwork as well as the act break illustrations as seen here to the right. However, the red shift/blue shift (which signifies light speed) and the lettering was 48Fourteen’s idea.
I love multi-talented authors! Your art is unique and depicts the observant eye of Abby.
For aspiring authors, what advice do you have for getting through tough scenes that deal with controversial issues such as Abby’s rape scenes?
Controversial issues (graphic violence, sex, swearing, politics, etc.) should be integral to the plot in some way. So first of all, an aspiring writer should ask himself or herself: Is this scene necessary? How much of the scene is necessary?
In my mind, Abby’s rape was integral to the plot, so I do not apologize for writing it. Her bond holders dehumanized her. She and the other Earthlings in her situation were literally property and bonded specifically to breed. Not only does the reader have to experience Abby’s rape, but also the horrors of slavery.
However, I did not go graphic in every place. For example, while Harden’s wife’s suicide is integral to his character arc, I did not describe her stepping out of an airlock or the gruesome effects of a vacuum on the human body. Instead, I described Harden and his family’s reaction to the act, simply because that is what is important to the plot.
Well spoken and noted. On a more positive note, how much research went into the creation of Kipos as well as the many planets Abby visited?
All total, I spent about three months researching prior to writing the novel. I looked up the plants and sea organisms as needed. I began by researching the Kepler Missions and then spent time finding G-type stars within 100 light years of Earth. I had to choose stable Sol-like stars in single or in stable binary clusters. Then I focused on ship engineering and what astronauts actually go through during space travel.
For the planets themselves, I used interesting hikes I have gone on, my travels, and my love of nature to describe the things Abby found there. The biological differences just on Earth is absolutely amazing.
I probably put the most work in Lathos and Lambda Saggitarri k since they did not orbit yellow dwarves and probably would be filled with different types of plant and animal life.
Wow! That’s an amazing amount of information to absorb. I’m impressed and intrigued. You must have a soft spot for stars as well as Abby. So if you could be one character from your story, who would it be and why?
Diane Richards. Her job as head engineer means she does the work she likes without getting bogged down with paperwork as Harden the Captain and Helen the XO do. She is kind-hearted and intelligent. Like all the characters, her life has known pain, but she lives with it. During the course of the novel, she is unattached, so she gets to have a lot of fun. Plus, she loves cats.
I admit I was sad that two scenes with her and Abby got cut, but they were both little darling scenes and cut in draft two for redundancy and pacing. The first one was Diane showing Abby an engine system between Lathos and Kipos. The second one is about the correct way to approach men after Abby’s scare on O-7.
I think I would have picked her too. She had such a loving, strong nature that I admired. I loved how she nurtured Abby and helped her see that being a woman could be fun and invigorating.
What are you waiting for? Hope you have enjoyed my lovely readers.
Until next time, Echelon out ♥