Today I had the pleasure of interviewing S. Usher Evans, author of Double Life, the first installment of the Razia series:
Since she was a little girl, everyone – from her father to even the Great Creator himself – has told Lyssa Peate the same thing: she’s worthless, a bad soul. But when she becomes Razia, pirate bounty hunter who captures other pirates in rival crime syndicates, she can see her worth – right down to the price tag on her own head. Unfortunately for Razia, all she’s allowed to capture are petty thieves and purse snatchers. “Girls aren’t pirates,” and although she’s got the chops to keep up with the boys, she’s never given an opportunity to do so. To pay the bills, she’s stuck working as a Deep Space Explorer scientist, discovering far away planets and selling them for cash. It’s the family line of business, – including most of her brothers and her father. The latter was infamous for his obsessive study of Leveman’s Vortex, a black hole said to be the origin of life in the universe, and the home to the Great Creator. Lyssa is the only one who knows exactly what her father was studying, which makes her a target for her slimy boss, who assigns her an intern, one of her brothers, to spy on her. Things start to look up when, in a case of mistaken identity, Lyssa is confused for Razia by the police, who think she’s taken a young hostage. Suddenly, Razia is one of hte most wanted (although not yet respected) pirates in the universe. She’s ready to finally rid herself of the life, past, and fate of Lyssa Peate – until her intern, now aware of her secret, demands that she fulfill the obligations of her internship, lest he spill the truth about her double life.
Read on, and learn how Evan’s decided to follow her true passion and how it has changed her life:
1) First off, tell us a little about your work: Evans: My first book is called, “Double Life” and it’s a science fiction novel featuring a sassy, salty, badass chick. Lyssa Peate would like nothing more than people to know her as Razia, a bounty hunter. Unfortunately, girls aren’t pirates – so she’s got to continue her day job, which just recently got more complicated now that she got assigned an intern.
I like to say the book is more than just a simple science fiction, because it’s got some deeper themes around self-acceptance and wrestling with inner demons. You can’t move forward in life until you accept yourself first. And you absolutely can’t expect anyone else to think you’re worth anything unless you think you’re worth something.
But there’s also space pirates. Which is rad.
2) What is your writing process like? Are you an outline kind of person or are you the let-the-ideas-flow type?
Evans: Depends on how much wine I’ve had (haha, rhymes with the line above.)
Actually, my books are a series of scenes in my head. They play out on repeat until I put them down on paper. I’m a dialogue-first kind of gal, probably because I have a constant conversation going on in my head at all times between the two halves of my brain.
The hardest part for me is to string together scenes or bits of dialogue to form a coherent story – that and stopping long enough to describe what’s going on. I also sometimes get wrapped up in my own knowledge and forget that other people don’t know the life story of this character, so I leave some stuff out.
The interesting thing to me is that these books – all of them – have been in my head since I was a very young girl, and they’re like old friends to me. So now that I’m finally writing new stuff – filling in the blanks with Book 2 – it’s this new feeling of, “Oh, I actually have to be creative again instead of just downloading what I’ve already thought up.”
3) If you weren’t a writer, you would be a (fill in the blank):
Evans: Writer. Done the “other” thing for the past 10 years, and have realized my terrible, terrible mistake. There is nothing in this world that gives me more joy and happiness than putting my thoughts down on paper.
4) Who would play your characters in a movie version of your book?
Evans: My background includes stints in theater and a degree in video production. So I’ve always seen myself as Lyssa, but also adapting the screenplay, directing, editing, and promoting the movie.
I mean what? I don’t know, someone hot.
5) Who would be your dream book reviewer? Someone that whether they liked it or didn’t like it, you would say “OH MY GOSH (insert name here) READ MY BOOK”?
Evans: If I was ever in the same room as J.K. Rowling, I would pee myself probably, and then faint. No other writer has had such a lasting impact on my life – some of the best friends I’ve ever made are through the Harry Potter fandom, and some of my formative writing was done as Harry Potter fan fiction.
So if she read my book and liked it, to quote Mallory Archer, I would literally die.
Now on to some off-topic questions….
6) What are you most proud of about your work/yourself/your life?
Evans: My biggest accomplishment over the last six months has been my conquering my paralyzing anxiety. I actually didn’t realize that I had anxiety – here I was, big time IT consultant telling three star generals to go pound sand, being a mega-rad project manager, running marathons and rescuing dogs like Superwoman. I was going to be married at 25, kids at 27, and executive vice president at 35. I had the entire project plan – resources included – mapped out for my life.
But I was only doing all of that because I was too scared and anxious to do the things I wanted. Sure, I had no problem standing in front of 20,000 people and give a speech – but tell someone I wrote a book? Oh God, let me die now of mortification.
Now here I am on the other side of my quarter life crisis, and not only have I told people about my books, but I’m even planning to quit my job and do something else – write definitely, but if that doesn’t pay the bills, who knows? I feel completely at peace, knowing that whatever happens will happen and I will be perfectly fine.
7) You get a phone call in the middle of the night. Who are you hoping is on the other line?
Evans: If someone calls me in the middle of the night, they’d better be bleeding. Or they will be.
8) Favorite quote from a book or movie:
Evans: “You stay classy, San Diego.”
9) Who inspires you?
Evans: This is going to sound self-serving, but I am my biggest inspiration (stay with me here). I say that because there are two distinct halves of me, and each inspires the other. The writer-me inspires the neurotic-me to be braver, to be more outgoing, to be happy. The neurotic-me inspires the writer-me to be more conscious about decision making and to be more patient. The neurotic-me is proud of writer-me for the work she’s done; the writer-me is proud of the neurotic-me for letting go enough to allow the release to the world.
10) Free advice you want to give to the world:
Evans: For the love of God, quit calling yourself an “aspiring” writer, or say that “you’re working to be a writer” or whatever. You’re a writer. You put something on paper, you wrote it – definition of being a writer. You finished a novel? You’re a novelist. You’re an author. End of story.
There’s no way anyone’s going to take you seriously until you own your craft. /rant.