My guest today writes stories that are out of this world, quite literally! I’m pleased to introduce G. S. Kenney to you all. Let’s take a look at her bio and then we’ll slide right into the interview.
Author G. S. Kenney writes romantic speculative fiction novels. Her first science-fiction romance novel Freeing Eden, published by Soul Mate Publishing, was a 2018 RWA Golden Heart® finalist. The Last Lord of Eden, the second novel in the Ascent of Eden series published by Soul Mate, is now also available.
G. S. Kenney started reading early, and never stopped. In kindergarten, drawn in by a book with a picture of three witches at a cauldron, she learned to read by starting with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Now she writes stories of her own (and still loves Shakespeare). Interested in many fields, she studied the “Great Books” at St. John’s College, architecture at Harvard, and financial planning at Boston University. She has also conducted post-doctoral research in psychology at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, and for many years developed software systems.
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Betty: When did you become a writer?
G. S.: My family moved to Texas when my children were little, and I began working for American Airlines, where my first assignment was managing the development and installation of a yield-management system for a truck-rental company in Miami. I flew into Miami every Tuesday morning and returned Thursday in time for dinner, which meant that I spent two nights every week in a hotel in Miami, away from my family. I’d been making up stories for my children pretty much since they learned language, and I found in those lonely hotel rooms that the stories I was constantly developing in my head were a lot more interesting than the stories on the television. So I began writing them down. That was over twenty years ago, and I’ve never stopped writing stories since.
Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?
G. S.: A long time! I didn’t even try to get published at first. Between parenting and working full time at a job that included travel, I had my hands full. I wrote for my children and their cousins. They loved the stories, and that was enough for me. I wrote and wrote, and I got better through the practice.
Eventually, though, the kids went off to college, and I stopped working in tech. I polished up some of the later (and, trust me, better!) stories and began making submissions. That’s when I discovered that the stories my children and their cousins found fascinating still left something to be desired from a professional publishing perspective. Years of coursework, writing groups, and beta readers, and many rejections later, Freeing Eden finaled in the Golden Heart contest, and I found a publisher as well.
Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?
G. S.: Ah. That’s a good question. My style is definitely still evolving, and there are many influences.
This is the part where I have to mention that I attended St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, a small liberal-arts college with a four-year entirely fixed curriculum centered on reading and discussing the seminal books and ideas of Western civilization. I’ve read a lot of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, and initially developed a style that reflects the elegance of that period: omniscient point of view, large words and long sentences, and entirely too many semicolons.
I still love reading books from that period, but the style is not well suited to my subject matter, futuristic science fiction with more than a dash of romance. Neither is the style of the mostly white-male-scientist writers of mid-twentieth-century—Asimov, Sturgeon, and the rest—who fostered my love of science fiction.
I’m trying for a more intimate style, more character-focused, often (but not entirely) deep point of view—what the romance genre is so good at, but I want to do so without entirely shaking the elegance and descriptiveness of the older styles. Do I create a unique blend that works? I hope I do.
Betty: What prompted you to start writing?
G. S.: Two things—one positive, and one negative. The positive prompt was definitely my children, who, when they were little, couldn’t get enough of my stories as fast as I could make them up. The negative prompt was television. I was traveling for work back then, two nights a week every week alone in a hotel room. Of course TV is different now, but back then, I couldn’t find anything on the hotel TV even half as interesting as the stories in my head. So instead of watching TV, I wrote down the stories I was already making up anyway. You’d be amazed how much time for writing that frees up.
Betty: What type of writing did you start with?
G. S.: YA science-fiction, very soft scifi just *this far* (forefinger and thumb less than an eighth of an inch apart) from fantasy, and sometimes actual fantasy, suitable for children.
Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?
G. S.: I most enjoy writing the scenes that come easily—and believe me, they don’t always! These are the scenes that seem to want to write themselves, and all I have to do is keep up. The ones I might be writing, for example, after I should have gone to bed already, but I know that if I stop now, I’ll lose whatever muse it is that is making the scene real.
But perhaps you mean, what genre do I most enjoy writing. My background is definitely science fiction, but I don’t prefer to write the very hard stuff full of, say, spacecraft based on deep research into the current state of NASA developments. I’m definitely a “people” writer. Futuristic environments and scenarios are tons of fun to create—and I like to do a good job of it—but their purpose, for me, is to highlight the human side of the story. So I have gravitated toward science-fiction romance, and that’s the genre of my Golden-Heart-finalist book Freeing Eden, and to a lesser extent, The Last Lord of Eden, its sequel.
Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?
G. S.: First and foremost, through reading! Second, through actually writing. Novels are different from the stories you just think through in your head. Those stories start somewhere and keep going as long as you can keep making them up, and end when you can’t think of new things to add to the chain. I wrote a couple of books like that when my children were little, and I guarantee you, you’ll never see them. Once I’d written a few books like that, only then did I realize I needed to sharpen my craft. So, yes, for years I took online courses (mostly those sponsored by RWA chapters), read craft books, and yes, had the generous help and feedback of some friends who were further along the writing path than I was.
Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?
G. S.: I wish I’d started trying to publish much earlier in my writing career. Even though my writing wasn’t as good back then as it is now, I think it would have been a lot easier to find an agent and a publisher, and to establish a reputation as an author.
Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?
G. S.: I often say that Alfred Bester was my most inspiring author. I was in love with science fiction as a child, and his novel The Demolished Man quite took my breath away. It won the first Hugo award in the 1950s. And The Stars My Destination was also wonderful. I have, in fact, re-read both of these fairly recently, and I believe that despite some outdated cultural aspects, they hold up beautifully.
To save his planet, he’ll destroy his family.
To save him, she’ll do anything it takes!
The world of Eden is in crisis. Politicians throughout the galaxy demand the psychic-power producing drug that grows only on Eden. And the demand is skyrocketing.
Adopted son of Eden’s previous warlord, peace-loving Kell has inherited dominion over the planet and is determined to keep it free. When he discovers that the warlord’s brother and a powerful drug lord have teamed up to seize Eden’s priceless harvest, Kell will stop at nothing to prevent them–even if it means he must become a death-wielding champion.
To protect her from this danger, Kell must distance himself from Zara, the woman he loves. But when his efforts are not enough to save his beloved planet, Zara will do anything to bridge that distance. Can she succeed in time?
Erik son of Magnus son of Leif had become aware of a commotion in his outer office, but he was ignoring it. As Kestra’s longtime senator to the Interplanetary Federation, he chaired the powerful Negotiation Management Committee, which would be meeting in less than an hour. He needed to be thoroughly prepared—especially today, since the man claiming to be the new Lord of Eden had been subpoenaed to appear first thing after lunch. The committee had to present a united front. He sighed and halfheartedly thumbed through the pile of papers in front of him. Where to start?
The noise grew louder, impossible to ignore any longer. He commed his assistant. “Sten, could you please keep it down out there? I—”
There was a crash, a shriek, and the door opened.
Erik’s heart pumped adrenaline; his head buzzed with it. He stood, fumbling ineffectually with the desk drawer—the locked desk drawer, he realized—where he kept a laser.
A stranger stood in the doorway, a young man. He was half-turning toward the three people opposing him and brandishing a whip of all things, effectively enough to keep all three at bay. He radiated anger and grim determination along with an odd hint of uncertainty, all of this amplified greatly, of course, by the andreatin Erik regularly consumed.
Erik took a deep breath and relaxed. How delightfully archaic. Rather like Reuel. The new young warlord from Eden, no doubt. “You must be Kell. Don’t just stand there. Come in. You’re going to, anyway.”
Buy link: Amazon
Thanks so much, G. S. for stopping by today! I like your approach to writing science fiction!
Thanks so much for reading today! I hope you’re finding some good books to curl up at home with during this global crisis. There are a few of my books available to read for free. Find out more here. And as always, thanks for reading!
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Thank you, Betty, for hosting me today! I hope you and your readers are staying safe.
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