Today, I have with me A.R. Norris, a relatively new writer in the thick with all things related to Science Fiction Romance. I met her in various group-loops and forums, all concerning this sub-genre (and she's mentioned me in one of her many blogs...sweet!) and discovered her unrelenting passion for writing, and her ever-questing mind for anything SF-related and beyond.
On June 15, her first published SFR book, Duty and Devotion, by Desert Breeze Publishing will be unleashed upon us.
Let's get to know her...
TKT: So, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started writing.
AR: I'm a married mother of 4 and live in Napa, California. I love it here and couldn't imagine living anywhere else in the world. How I got started writing? Oh boy, that's a long, long journey starting from elementary school. But, I will say I put it aside when I became a mother and started making a life together and raising kids. Over the years my husband encouraged me to pick it back up, but finally several years ago he said, "AR, you're not fully happy. You have to start writing again." I've never looked back...or been as fully complete as a person.
TKT: Wow, mother of four! Don't know how you manage to even write. Okay, so, why science fiction? Or, what we now slot ourselves into, science fiction romance (SFR).
AR: I really can't help it. When I imagine stuff, it's always set in space or on an alien planet. I never think of a story in normal settings.
TKT: I quite agree... How do you go about creating your worlds? What inspires you?
AR: Most of my stuff comes from dreams, but the triggers are probably from the science magazines and sites I haunt. I'm always on sites such as MIT's technology review or Popular Science.
TKT: A self-proclaimed geek! Yes!! You’re a first-time published writer; tell us a little about your journey. I’m sure, like the rest of us, it was a long and arduous trek.
AR: Once I did pick writing back up I pulled up an old story, dusted it off, realized it was crap, and completely rewrote it. I found a great critique site and learned I wasn't as good as I thought and started to learn the craft in earnest. One of the best things I could've done was set aside my novel and learn how to write through short stories and flashes. It taught me on a small scale about story structure, plotting, and character development. 3 to 4 years and a whole new manuscript later, I found Desert Breeze Publishing.
TKT: Recently there’s been a huge jump in the number of SFR books and writers—a lot of them women. I’d like to think that we bring a certain feminine touch to our stories, making them not so hard-core tech oriented. What are your thoughts on it?
AR: Oh completely! I love SF but by the late 80s/early 90s I put it down. The genre had been leashed, constrained, and limited to the point where it was pretty much nothing more than a lecture. Romance breathed a new life into the genre and brought the fiction and story back into the science. The human element was brought back in and I couldn't be happier.
TKT: Okay, nosy question time. When you’re not writing, and not minding the family (four kids, right?), what do you do to just chill?
AR: Oh...you mean there's time to chill? LOL! The two older are in high school and the 2 younger are boys and now at that age where they're nothing but daddy shadows...so I find I have more free time than I'd like. Most of the time I read, but I do love a good game of pool, hiking and taking photos.
TKT: Pool? Hey, maybe we could hang some day and shoot some! I love a good game of pool. Anyways... In the real world, what do you do? And how does that help you—if it does—when you put on your writer’s hat?
AR: Ah yes, the real world. I work as a project manager for a hospital. I've merged the project manager side of me with the writing side so I have great time management skills with my novels. Having access to the hospital I also tap my coworkers for clinical stuff all the time.
TKT: Tell us a little bit about Duty and Devotion. How you came up with the idea, etc.
AR: Duty and Devotion is a science fiction romance set in the distant future and follows two sisters raised in the safety of Earth's Domes after they are drafted into war. The major themes of the book are keeping family bonds and finding romantic love during the chaos of war.
Older sister Nettie heads off to space pilot training for war. There she discovers her true strength and also that love sometimes is hidden in a friendship and grows slowly. Younger sister, Rinny, goes to Mars for surface combat training and learns to try new experiences and stretch who she is beyond expectations. She learns that knowing who you are and who you love means nothing if you’re not willing to fight for it…even to the death.
The idea came to me through a dream, then stalked me until I started writing it out.
TKT: Sounds good. I think my To Be Read pile is going to grow. And finally, if you could pick one SFR or SF writer to spend the day with shooting the breeze, who would it be, and why?
AR: I should probably pick Isaac Asimov or HG Wells, who were my idols and reason for my SF passion...but truthfully, I'm not sure how much we'd get along in person. I have a sinking feeling they'd constantly converse about theories and physics. If I were really going to hang out with someone in the SF world, it'd be Linnea Sinclair. She seems like a SF geek that wouldn't get stuck in a boring thesis-like conversation.
Here's a look at Duty and Devotion:
EXCERPTThe transport ship was packed. Nettie felt like she was going to suffocate, or go crazy from all the noise, sweat, and bodies. The bunkhouse on Callisto had been noisy, but she could always escape from it. Here, she was stuck. She shoved her way through to the restroom and cursed when she spotted the line.
"Your mom knows you talk like that, Ice Princess?" James asked in humor from behind her.
"Who do you think taught me?" she replied, but felt the guilt of the lie. "Oh, shut up, Northman."
He punched her arm and then leaned in. "You're extra grouchy. You wanted on this trip, remember?"
Nettie shrugged. "Yeah, I just forgot how packed these rides could be. I can't wait for our turn at patrol."
He laughed, a full rich sound that warmed her body. Taking her upper arm, he guided her through the paddock and up a flight of stairs. After a few turns they entered a small, empty conference room. In the corner was a private restroom.
"You're a saint, Northman. Just a saint." She rushed into it.
Afterwards, she headed to the door. He stood in her way.
"Come on, Northman." She gently nudged him, finding his body taut. Peering keenly into his bright green eyes, she felt a stirring. "What are you about now?"
He brushed his hand along her cheek, leaving a tingling trail along her skin. Her body spiked with need. Her vision blurred, her heart raced, and her legs weakened.
"What do you want me to be about?"
I can't do this. Nettie panicked as the attraction piled on with all her other tumultuous emotions. "Hey, Northman. I'm a mess right now. It's not a good idea." She ended on a whisper.
He nodded and grasped her shoulder. "You've had it a little rough."
James pulled her toward him and when she thought he'd kiss, he hugged instead. This, she sighed and leaned into him. He rubbed her back with one hand and held onto her with the other. After a moment, she pushed away and smiled shyly. "You're full of surprises, Saint Northman." When he smiled, she slipped by and they headed towards the main room again.
"I won't always be a saint, Ice Princess. There will be a time, soon, when a hug won't be enough... for either of us."
If you'd like to know a little bit more about AR, you can find her here:
Well, I guess there's just one last thing to say, and that's thanks AR for being a sport and stopping by to be my guest. Come on peeps, show AR some love and leave a comment.