Please tell us a bit about yourself:
I'm a Hoosier (from the U.S. state of Indiana) and have been writing since high school as a hobby, simply attending writers groups, workshops, and conferences when I could. I've been an avid science fiction and fantasy reader since 1980, when my political science professor assigned us the first three books of Asimov's Foundation series to discuss such concepts as balance of powers.
I began seriously writing because of my clinical depression. During a crisis in June 2010, I was lying in bed in a darkened room and figured I was already dead, utterly unable to tolerate 'real life'. The thought occurred to me that, since the 'old me' was dead but I still had possession of a body, I could build my life anew.
For some reason, I wondered what I would do if I won the lottery, as if that stands for, 'anything is possible'. Since I had always wanted to be a scientist, I began having conversations between the person I was (high school teacher of inner-city kids whose problems were so vast I gave and gave and gave until I crashed), and the person I wanted to be (engineer/physicist). The dialogues grew so thick, I got out of bed and began writing them down! Then I developed them into characters, they took over my imagination, and I wrote the rough drafts of the first four books of the To Be Sinclair series in 80 days.
It was perhaps my third book when I began to feel like I had some kind of 'wormhole' in my mind to a future parallel dimension. Although I've never been a visual person, I was seeing my characters in actual scenes, and I consider myself their 'scribe', not their goddess. How so? When you decide you don't like what you've written and rewrite it, but go to bed and the characters act out the scene over and over again until you get up at god-awful o'clock to change it back, you realize you don't have a lot of control over the story!
Tell us about Nobility:
Nobility is about Prince Matthieu Sinclair, the Heir Second to his grandfather Emperor Victor and his father Prince Zhaiden. This is very much a new adult novel, beginning with Matthieu at age 20, having finished his Service training cycles. It moves through two years of his Imperial duties, tours of Service, secret missions, a diplomatic mission that breaks his heart, and above all, the search for a lady who could handle being his Empress someday.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
The big question my series answers is, "What will the greatest ruling family in the history of the galaxy be like?" Dignity and Majesty detail the romance and first years of marriage of the Emperor and Empress of the Sinclair Demesnes, a four-planet polity, and the other books are about individual children, which is why they have different psychological flavors to them.
Matthieu will be the Emperor of his generation, and I've always felt that (historically) a strong hereditary ruler's influence will usually run to their grandchildren, but not much beyond. I've also noticed that a lot of people in my life have been more influenced by their grandparents than by their parents. Matthieu will be the strongest Emperor of them all, but I primarily wanted to show how the major influences of his life shape him when he is still quite young.
Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
After inspecting the rabbits in their hutches and the pheasant hatchery, Matthieu led her further along the cliff to a small grotto, set rather high, while describing how the former Imperial Preserve had had a beautiful glen and grotto.
Miriel pointed. “What is that?”
Matthieu reached in to draw out a gilded crystal angel. “At the old grotto, family members had several items they placed there for symbolic reasons. It was kind of like the heart of the realm in a sense, representing our hopes and dreams. Aunt Sophia had a gilded angel there to declare the space sacred.” He let her examine it before putting it back in its spot.
When he turned back to her, she looked very thoughtful. “What is sacred?”
“No. To you,” Miriel specified.
Matthieu reached out to cup her face. “The joy I saw as you rode that horse.” Moving closer, he gazed at her stunned expression and stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers to murmur, “The power, the purity of your mind and spirit.”
He kissed her gently while wrapping his arms around her. “The gift of your presence,” he whispered, looking into her soulful eyes while he smoothed back her hair. He gave her a deeper kiss as she melted in his arms.
Leaning his forehead against hers, he said very softly, “Miriel.”
His gentle laugh came from some deep reservoir of joy he had long forgotten. “I just wanted to say your name. Miriel. It almost sounds like the word ‘miracle’ to me.” She erupted in giggles, then. Matthieu drank them in with a bliss that knew no bounds.
“I’m sorry, but I cannot think of a corresponding word for your name. ‘Matthieu’ doesn’t even come close to anything. Pathew? Wrathew? Hathew? Sorry,” she apologized again as he snorted in amusement.
Matthieu’s mindfulness, down to his very soul, was captured when she put her hand to his face. “How about just ‘you’?” As he blinked, she said, “You. You.” Then Miriel kissed him back.
He felt like he was the center of the universe, at this pinpoint of time and space and lips, as if the knowledge of the cosmos was his for the asking. This was the miracle, indeed, the ability to pull the subtle energies of an otherwise indifferent world into the realm of matter and light, to shower them upon another. This was love.
Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:
Personality, definitely. That's what the story is about, how a character moves from a limited perspective to a greater perspective, and how they react to that growth, the changes they must make. I rarely describe much of a character's looks. Names can be rather difficult to choose; sometimes I look up the meanings of names, but most often I just pick someone I admire.
Any tips for aspiring authors?:
If you are going to invest time in writing a story, make it worthy of your attention for the rest of your life. Don't follow the fads; follow your heart, because you will be promoting it, day in and day out, forever. Hacking out a story because you think it will be easy or because it's trendy might get you a number of sales, but if you can imagine yourself at 80 years of age, reviewing your literary output, you will want to say you are proud of each story, that the goals of the protagonist and intent or theme of the story reflect issues that matter.
Upcoming news and plans for the future?
I have also finished 2/3 and 1/2 of two prequels, set some 150 years in our future but some 500 years in the 'past' as compared to the series. I consider those novels to be science fiction, not science fiction romance; there are relationships that develop, but they are not the focus of the stories.
I do not plan any other novels after Nobility's companion novel, the finale to the series, Morality. First, because I have to finish my prequels; second, because I have other projects I want to get to; and third, because this finale is breaking my heart to write! Nine books covering three generations is surely sufficient, wouldn't you say?
Otherwise, the first four books of the series (Dignity, Majesty, Fealty, and Royalty) are now available as print-on-demand through Amazon, and I should have the other four set up by Christmas!
Blurb for Nobility:
Prince Matthieu Sinclair, the Heir Second, has many duties; he must not only take space duty in the Service, he also establishes the Imperial Protocol Academy to educate the multitude of Imperial youngsters in the basics of their lifestyle, since he will be the Emperor of their generation. Yet to find a lady who could withstand the pressures of being his Empress is a formidable task!
When he returns from an undercover assignment to find disaster, Matthieu subsumes his needs in order to minimize the stress on his family, for they are more important than anything else. Yet when a diplomatic mission goes wrong and his strongest role model dies, who will help him cope with the tragedy?
Book length: approximately 200,000 words
Book length: approximately 200,000 words