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Author Interview: Sean Grigsby – Daughters of Forgotten Light

September 4, 2018

Welcome to another installment of my Author Interview series.

Once again, join me in welcoming Sean Grigsby, author of Smoke Eaters and the newly released Daughters of Forgotten Light. Out today! (To read my review – click here)

A roar of noise comes from the road. I’m expecting my friend Sean but what I hear sounds like… a motorcycle.

I gulp, and search the ground for a weapon. Then I laugh. Come on, I don’t need a weapon… right?

I scrub my sweaty palms against my trousers, wishing I had my gang at my back.

 

Oh, it is Sean! Phew…

Hi Sean, thank you once again for joining me to chat about your new book, Daughters of Forgotten Light

I hear you are pretty busy now with several books in the works. How is it all going?

It’s going great! I’ve reached a point in my career where I have too many ideas to write at once. ASH KICKERS will be out sometime in 2019, and I’m also working on a robot detective noir, and then a space opera/space western revenge tale.

Tell us a little about Daughters of Forgotten Light? What is it about for people who haven’t heard anything (Seriously? there can’t be anyone who hasn’t heard about this book. I for one have been sharing it everywhere!)

I’ve always described the book as motorcycle girl gangs in space, but it’s so much more than that. It’s definitely an homage to 70s and 80s exploitation and science fiction movies. Many have described it as Bitch Planet meets Mad Max: Fury Road and Escape from New York with the motorcycles from Tron. All of that is accurate.

The cover is amazing, did you have any say in the design?

Marc Gascoigne had this great idea to make the cover look like a rock band poster. All I did was give him and John Coulthart some descriptors and suggestions, but they did all of the rest. I couldn’t be happier with it.

I understand this is a book you have been wanting to get out there for a while. What was your inspiration for writing Daughters of Forgotten Light?

It all started with a Twitter conversation. I was just blabbing about how to make book ideas more dynamic and an agent told me they would love t if I wrote this particular idea. Then, I said, “What if it was in space?”

The idea blossomed from there. Once I get a sense of what it looks like in my head, it’s hard to get away from it. I just ran with everything that popped into my head.

When did you write it?

I finished writing it in December of 2015. With it, I signed with my agent three months later. It was out on submission FOR-EV-ER. Enough time for me to finish Smoke Eaters and get it published. Then Angry Robot said they wanted to publish DOFL as well.

How long did it take to write?

I had to take a break from it in the middle because I had to go to fire academy a second time. Then I was selected to enter a contest called Pitch Wars, and that took even more time away. Including the time it took me to implement my agent’s editorial notes, I’d guess it took me about 6 or 7 months. I write fast.

There are so many great female characters, in fact, nearly every character in Daughters of Forgotten Light is female. Tell me why you chose to do that?

I’d been hearing for a while that there were very few strong female characters in books. I decided to make every character a woman. The Lord of the Flies had all male characters. Why couldn’t I do the same kind of thing with all women? My own mother told me it wouldn’t get published if I didn’t put some men in the book. Joke’s on her.

Mothers and daughters and choices feature heavily in this book. Why?

It organically became a theme for the book. I wanted to explore these issues without taking a side or being didactic. Ultimately, I wanted to look at what it’s like for someone not to have a choice with what happens to them, while also examining the ramifications of what happens when you do have a choice, but then regret the decision afterward and can’t take it back.

Horror is the main character and leader of the biker gang… How did you devise her as a character?

One of the reasons this book has a special place in my heart is that I got very close to the characters. I put a lot of myself into Lena, but I also added some Snake Pliskin and many other women I look up to and respect. Lena gets shit done, and she never apologizes for doing what she thinks is right… and necessary.

How did you come up with the idea of female biker gangs in space?

It stemmed from that twitter conversation, but I also wanted to write something darker than the average science fiction novel. A grimdark science fiction, basically. Why should fantasy get all the grit? And Sons of Anarchy was still pretty popular at the time. I wanted characters that were tough, wild, and out of this world. Space biker gangs encapsulates all of that.

I admit, I had trouble reading some of this book. The violence is… visceral. And I just couldn’t help thinking the concept of throwing people away (out of sight) so they will be forgotten is all too possible and therefore hard to read. Fabulous but hard to read… Also, that violence is so easy to turn to when there are no laws and no police/security to enforce it. What did you want your readers to take away with them after reading Daughters of Forgotten Light?

I didn’t want to shy away from anything. Although, the original manuscript was even more intense. I felt the only way to show how terrible Oubliette is, was to get visceral. I don’t believe in violence for the sake of violence in fiction. I wanted it all to mean something, to pull at reader emotions, give them thrills, chills, and a feeling of absolute despair, so they could really empathize with these women.

The concept of family in Daughters of Forgotten Light features highly. The family we have and the family we make… There is a lot of screwed up love in this book. What were you trying to get across to your readers here?

That you’re never completely forgotten or ostracized, not when you have people at your side, who might not even be related to you. Many marginalized people and others who don’t fit into the majority’s mold have found family in the strangest and loveliest of places. Sometimes the family you find is stronger than the family you’re born into.

Now a little bit more about you.

Tell me about your writer support system? Who do you go to when you need inspiration or a shoulder to cry on?

Anyone who’ll listen. Lol. I go to my agent for a lot of stuff, but also my agent siblings. Twitter and Facebook have a lot of friends out there who are either going through the same type of stuff or have been through it before. I always try to pass it on as well. Writing is a very lonely pursuit. If I didn’t have people I could talk to, I’d go crazy… well, crazier.

Tell me a little about your writer journey… How did you get your agent and publishers?

I submitted DOFL to my agent and he offered me representation. I was his first client, and it was the fourth novel I’d written. It just took years of persistence and drive. I tell people all the time, you have to want it, you have to work on your craft. If you don’t love it, why the hell are you doing it?

Smoke Eaters got picked up first by Angry Robot. Both it and DOFL were rejected by everybody else. Angry Robot proved to be the smartest publisher in the game by offering me publication.

Your debut book Smoke Eaters came out last year. How has your debut year been?

Fantastic but tiring, and it’s not over yet! It’s awesome to have two books out in the same year. From what I hear, Smoke Eaters  is doing very well, and I hope DOFL does the same.

Please, can I have a hint of what you are working on now? I know I’m super excited about more dragons… But there are some robots coming too, aren’t there?

Yep! Robots Don’t Cry is the story of two cities: Upper and Lower Vomisa. The cities are separated by a wall, and Lower Vomisa is where all the robots live. The humans don’t cross over and neither do the bots. They live separate lives, the bots working to provide the humans with oil and other resources, while the humans trade specialized bot alcohol and cigarettes, known as electroettes.

In Lower Vomisa, it’s 1947 and Detective EZ-42 catches a hell of a case when a human is found on the bot side, drowned with salt water. It’s even more of a conundrum, considering Upper Vomisa is in a draught and there isn’t an ocean anywhere around.

Thanks so much for chatting with me today Sean.

Alone again I wander the dusty road. A shadow passes over me. Well… it doesn’t pass, it seems to cover the earth on every side of me. What on Earth? I peer up. Shiny black surface. Ah, crap.

It’s out now….

 

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8 Comments
  1. Oops/ that was meant to be on the White Fire post..not sure how it ended uo here.

  2. Decided it must be a sign so went an ordered this too – though could only get kindle version for this one in Australia at the moment…

  3. Yep, maybe delete it (or move it if that’s possible).. :). But I ordered Seans book too anyway.

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