Thursday 14 April 2011

Confessions of a Newbie Sci-fi Writer

We have a guest today, the talented author Pat Bertram, discussing her newest book, Light Bringer, and first foray into the world of science fiction:

Confessions of a Newbie Sci-fi Writer:

Once a long time ago, I crashed a Halloween party. Sounds very bold, doesn’t it? But truly, it was out of character for me, and besides, I was in costume. I remember that the party was given by a friend of a friend, but I have no idea how or why I decided to go -- perhaps as a joke to see how long it would take for people to realize they didn’t know me.

I dressed as a witch -- the whole bit: long black scraggly hair, puttied nose and chin almost meeting, heavy black brows, green-tinged skin, cackling voice. I walked into the party as if I belonged there, and for a while I was the belle of the ball as people tried to guess who I was. It finally occurred to one guy that I was a total stranger. So I left. Rather hurriedly.

That’s how I feel now as a new science fiction writer -- as if I’ve crashed a party, and no one has yet discovered that I don’t belong.

Am I a science fiction writer? Light Bringer takes place in the present day, not in some fantastic future or otherworldly setting. The characters are recognizably human. Most of the science is based either on what is known today or gleaned from ancient religious documents and mythology. There is more history than science. And yet, a couple of my characters are not quite human, there is talk of UFOs and of another planet in our solar system that might return to wreak havoc upon earth. And, more importantly, Light Bringer is about ideas, showing us humans in a different light. Do those few science fiction elements make my thriller science fiction? Will calling it science fiction give people the wrong idea about the book?

People like what they recognize. There are certain conventions that readers expect in their favorite genre, and they are unforgiving if their expectations are not met. What if they decide I’m only masquerading as a science fiction author?

And so here I boldly stand, acting as if I belong, but secretly wondering if anyone will guess that I am a stranger in a strange land.

Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. Second Wind Publishing liked her style and published four of Bertram’s books: Light Bringer, Daughter Am I, More Deaths Than One, and A Spark of Heavenly Fire. Bertram blogs about life, writing and the writing life at and is the moderator of two online discussion groups that help both new and experienced authors further develop their craft: No Whine, Just Champagne on and Suspense/ThrillerWriters on Facebook.

An Excerpt from Light Bringer:

The silence dragged on for a minute, then he blew out a breath. “I saw a flying disc. A crescent, actually, the shape of a cookie with a bite taken out of it.”

She barely refrained from rolling her eyes. Having read Georgy’s books, she knew there were no flying saucers. Except in a few rare cases where they didn’t have enough information, every single sighting had a plausible, prosaic explanation.

Realizing Mac was waiting for her reaction, she said in a noncommittal voice, “You saw a UFO.”

He winced. “UFO? No. An FO. There was nothing unidentified about it. I knew exactly what I saw.”

“An extraterrestrial space ship,” she said flatly.

“Of course not, and aliens didn’t abduct me, either. It happened right after I closed on this property. Unable to sleep, I drove out here and was leaning against my rental car looking at the stars when the crescent flew directly overhead. I could see it as plainly as I’m seeing you right now. 
The craft was about fifteen feet in diameter, made of a composite ceramic. A remarkably conductive amalgam of the most refined copper and the purest silver coated its underside, turning it into an electrical circuit offering no resistance to the wave of electromagnetic energy it floated on. It was absolutely silent, sweeping in ions from its flight path, like a whale feeding on plankton. The ionized air around it glowed, giving it an unearthly look, but it was very much terrestrial in origin.”

Jane lifted her hands and let them drop. “How could you learn all that from one brief sighting?”

“I was part of a team working on a craft exactly like it, only we hadn’t been able to get ours off the ground, at least not then.”

She regarded him warily.

“I’m not insane,” he said, answering her unvoiced question. “I’m an aerospace engineer, retired from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena.”

You can check out my spotlight on Light Bringer:

Light Bringer is also available on Smashwords


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

It's great getting to know you better, Pat. Best of luck with your new book. Thanks, Anita.

aries18 said...

Pat, I think Light Bringer is of the genre I prefer to call Bertramisms. Your books all have qualities that defy idenification or cataloguing in one genre or another. Light Bringer has so many genres included, romance, humor, mystery, family drama and... a whole lot more.

I'm a devotee of Science Fiction and I think you belong right where you are, make yourself to home... you're among friends.

Mickey said...

Good interview, Pat, but I think you gave away some of the plot? Not sure what you could have said instead though.

Christine Lindsay said...

Hope you sell zillions, Pat. It sounds like a really intriguing book, and I love the cover.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for stopping by today. It's always nice to be among friends.

Joylene, after all these years (two, isn't it?) I'm surprised there is anything left you don't know about me.

Wanda, always a joy to read your comments. You make me feel special.

Mickey, you're probably right about my giving away some of the plot. I tried not to mention anything that wasn't in the first fourth of the book, but still, it would have been better for people to find these things out for themselves. But how do I talk about the book without giving any of it away? (This isn't a rhetorical question. If you figure it out, please let me know.)

Christine, thank you. I hope I sell a zillion copies, too. Sure would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for having me as a guest, A.F! It's an honor.

A. F. Stewart said...

A pleasure having you as a guest, Pat. You're always welcome.

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