Please tell us a bit about yourself:
Edward Hoornaert is not only a writer, he’s a certifiable Harlequin Hero; he inspired N.Y. Times bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson to write her favorite Harlequin Desire, Mr. Valentine, which was dedicated to him. In the past, he wrote contemporary romances for Silhouette Books, but these days he writes science fiction adventures spiced with humor and romance. In addition to writing, he has been a teacher, technical writer, and symphonic oboist.
After having 30 different addresses in his first 28 years, his rolling stone paused for 14 tears in the Canadian Rockies and now has stopped in Tucson, Arizona. His high school sweetheart has been his wife for more years than he has fingers and toes to count. Ed and Judi have four children, a dog, and a cat which (unlike some famous authors’ cats) is of absolutely no help in writing.
Tell us about The Tribulations of Tompa Lee:
This is a sequel to The Trial of Tompa Lee, which was published several years ago in hardcover by Five Star Speculative Fiction. When I got the rights back, I published Trial as an eBook and then as a trade paperback, and now (as of February 26) I’ve done the same with Tribulations. During last November’s NaNoWriMo, I drafted a third book in The Trilogy of Tompa Lee, titled The Triumph of Tompa Lee.
Here’s the tagline: Goddess or Madwoman? Even she isn’t sure.
And here’s the blurb:
Tompa Lee serves as ambassador to the Shons’ planet and is hailed as their goddess … but she has a dead man living in her head, distrusts fellow humans, and fears an imminent attack by Klicks, mankind's greatest enemy.
Ming Mengliev is posing as a mere musician when Klicks destroy the Terran embassy … but although he strives to win Tompa's trust—and her heart—whose side is this secret agent really on?
Lord Keevie, the leader of warlike Klick missionaries, wants to drive humans off Zee Shode … but above all he wants to eviscerate Tompa in person, because killing a goddess will surely make him a god.
A PARK CRAMMED WITH CARNIVORES
Can Tompa survive Keevie’s pursuit, the onset of divine madness, the predators of Palla Pelly Park … and conquer her mistrust of humans long enough to shepherd a ragtag group of Shon and human refugees to safety?
What inspired you to write this particular story?:
First: Tompa, the lead character. Even though I first wrote about this feisty underdog years ago, her memorable personality (part kick-ass and part neurotically insecure) haunted me. The travails I put her through in The Trial of Tompa Lee would have changed her profoundly, and I wondered how.
Besides that, Tompa deserved to find love. Since I play the oboe, I decided she simply must fall in love with a swashbuckling secret agent whose cover involves performing on interstellar cruise ships. (Aliens adore human music; bet you didn’t know that.) He’s not oh-oh-seven; he’s oboe-seven.
Second: I’d never read a story set in an alien national park. What would an alien park be like? The aliens I invented for Trial are cute and cuddly herd animals, but with a bloodthirsty streak. Their version of a national park would be a wildlife refuge for every predator on the planet, and since the only way across Palla Pelly Park is by foot, the hike is fraught with danger. The perfect setting for a book, in other words.
Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
Although my books are serious (seriously, they are!) humor always creeps in. I can't seem to help myself.
For example, take misunderstandings between humans and intelligent aliens. These could lead to disaster--but they might also lead to laughs. Here's an example from The Tribulations of Tompa Lee.
Background: Tompa Lee became the human ambassador to planet Zee Shode almost by accident. Now she is meeting with an important visitor from the Galactic Trading Council, who has the power to save--or destroy--mankind's fragile presence on the planet.
“Please forgive me, Ambassador Lee,” said the four-foot tall caterpillar. “I am young, inexperienced, and apprehensive, as this is my first off-planet mission.”
“Me too.” Tompa sniffed, wishing she had a handkerchief. Tears and snot running down her face would not be correct protocol. “Young and inexperienced and in space for the first time, I mean. And it’s not your fault. To make myself less nervous I was—”
Don’t say it!
“—trying to imagine what you looked like naked.”
Oh, maggots and cockroaches. She’d said it.
The Detchvilli screeched. Tompa leap to her feet and cast her eyes toward the nearest exit.
“My profound apologies,” he said. “To converse with humans, I must plan several words ahead, like a human playing chess. That was a burst of surprise and pleasure, and not, as you obviously feared, a threat.”
Tompa sat. To read his expression, she realized, you had to ignore his face and watch his tentacles, which were suddenly loose and graceful.
“Humans, and especially planetary ambassadors, are usually insufferably punctilious,” he said. “I must compliment your superiors on choosing an ambassador for her affinity with other species, rather than for mere business acumen.”
Tompa grinned through her tears.
“And now,” he said, “you and I must disrobe.”
Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:
The story comes first, not the character. A perfect character for one tale might be lousy for another tale. It depends on whether the character needs to learn what the situation has to teach.
Another thing about my lead characters: I give them a handicap to overcome, and that’s more important than how they look. Tompa was a homeless orphan who grew up on the streets of Manhattan, which did not prepare her for being a planetary ambassador. In my SFRom novella Farflung Angel, due out later this year from MuseItUp books, my heroine has no tongue (which makes French kissing, amongst other things, difficult). The bigger the handicap, the more impact when the character overcomes it.
Any tips for aspiring authors?:
This is a marvelous era in which to become an author, but if you’re looking to build a following, be careful. Getting a story or book accepted by a traditional or even an independent publisher is a sign that you’re ready for the big time. Without that sign of approval (or its equivalent), self-publishing can be a trap. Don’t self-publish before you’re really ready, because you have only one chance to make a first impression.
Questions for fun:
If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?:
No, nothing. Having grown up with tales of blundering time travelers, I’d be afraid the ripples from my changes would swamp the gunwales of history.
However, I wouldn’t mind seeing what might have been, as long as it was like a movie rather than reality. (Hmm. There could be a story in that.)
What super-power would you choose?:
I honestly don’t know. Surprisingly, such impractical musings don’t interest me much.
But since you’re twisting my arm, I’ve thought of one. How about being the world’s best lover for my one lucky lady?
If you could have three wishes, what would they be?:
A book atop the New York Times list would be nice. Maybe a Hugo or a Nebula.
I need one more, don’t I? Okay, how about the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Coffee, tea or wine?:
Tea. During the blistering Arizona summer, ice is essential.
What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!):
It’s impossible to narrow down to one, so I won’t try. In science fiction, Dune by Frank Herbert, or anything by Jack Vance. In romance, Don’t Forget to Smile by a university mate of mine, Kathleen Gilles Seidel.
Favourite genre and why?:
Depends which month you ask me, as I concentrate on one genre for months or years, then drift to another genre. I’ve been reading a lot of Regencies lately, but over the long haul, nothing is closer to my heart than science fiction. (Except, of course, for my wife. And my children. And my brand-new grandson. And my dog and cat. And my beloved Vancouver Canucks hockey team. And … okay, I’ll shut up now.)
I don’t know. Blue, maybe, but colors aren’t terribly important to me, which is probably why I’m a writer and musician, not a visual artist.
Upcoming news and plans for the future?:
My idea folder is bulging, as yours may be, too. I need to finish my edits for The Triumph of Tompa Lee, send them to my editor, then do the cover and formatting for publication. (As a tech writer I gained a lot of experience in graphics and production, so I do all that stuff myself.) I’ve started a sequel to Farflung Angel, loosely based on The African Queen, so I need to finish that. I have a manuscript that never sold but has huge promise, Alien Contact for Idiots, which desperately needs a major rewrite. I’m putting together an anthology of my short stories, some previously published and some original, that I want to self-publish. Despite all these plans, it’s depressingly likely that a brilliant idea will supernova in my skull and demand to be written right now.
And finally, sometime next week I need to carve out time for a shower.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!
The Tribulations of Tompa Lee is available wherever fine ebooks are sold. It's also available in trade paperback from Amazon.