And now for Grace's interview. She is the author of Firmament: Radialloy and Never, both of which I reviewed on this blog the past two weeks. It's a pleasure to introduce to you . . . J. Grace Pennington!
Hi, Grace! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello, and thank you for having me! I'm a twenty-three-year-old writer of Christian young-adult science fiction, western mystery, and everything in between. I'm the oldest of nine kids, and wouldn't have it any other way. I was homeschooled all the way by my dedicated parents, which I'm very grateful for, and God is the most important thing in my life.
You published two books last year, Firmament: Radialloy and Never. What are they about?
The logline for Radialloy is: When her father shows signs of insanity, a doctor's daughter finds herself the primary target as mutiny breaks out on their starship and secrets from her past threaten to destroy everything she has ever loved.
And for Never: When his younger brother is sent to work off a death sentence in the coal mines outside town, a rancher must discover what really happened before the younger man is worked to death or pressured into more sinister service by the cruel mine owner.
How did you get the ideas for the Firmament Series and Never?
I wrote the beginning of Radialloy after a dream I had based on a Star Trek movie. The basis for the series has always been Andi and her relationship with her adoptive father, Doctor Lloyd. Once I had that relationship in mind, I delved into what role her biological family might play in the story, then surrounded them with characters I found interesting until my mind was popping with ideas of places to take the characters and ways to test and stretch them! I originally had twenty-four ideas, but I finally narrowed and whittled it down to eighteen.
For Never, I had a list of things I wanted to include in a book... a strong relationship between two adult brothers, a quarantined inn full of people who were suspects in a murder, someone being worked and pressured in a coal mine by a sadistic owner, the small-Western-town setting, and the theme of never giving in, among other things. Then I brainstormed a story that included all those things. Relationships are often a strong motivator for my writing.
Do you ever base your characters on real people?
Occasionally, but not often. Andi Lloyd is somewhat based on myself, but with certain key changes. Travis and Ross have a few character qualities that are like my brothers. But usually I just pull characters out of my mind. I do occasionally base characters on other characters, changing their backstory, religion, or setting to try to find out how it would change them. Doctor Lloyd, for instance, bears some similarity to Doctor McCoy from Star Trek.
I'm really looking forward to In His Image, book two of the Firmament Series. What is it about?
The official logline for In His Image is: After accidentally running awry of the laws of a civilization that scientifically shouldn’t exist, a stranded away team must figure out what’s going on and find a way to escape before they are all executed.
It's going to be different from Radialloy, because several key characters are almost or entirely absent, and the characters I do feature are stranded on a planet most of the time, rather than exclusively on the starship. We're also dealing with some of the emotional aftermath of the first book, and there will be a few new characters. I'm very excited to see what people think of it.
What made you start writing?
I've been reading since I was four, and one afternoon when I was five, my mom was taking a nap and I was bored. I realized that since I knew how to write words, and books were just words, I could write a book if I wanted, so I did. I've always enjoyed making up stories, so once I realized I could put them on paper for others to enjoy, there was no turning back!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
My most basic advice is a quote I heard from director Robert Rodriquez: "The only difference between the do-ers and the don't-ers, is the do-ers do and the don't-ers don't." If you have something to write, there is no great inspiration and no winning method to get you there... you just have to get out there, grab your pencil or put your fingers on the keyboard and write. And there's no such thing as writer's block. Sometimes it's hard, and that's when you just have to force yourself. Keep putting words out there, even if they're awful. You can edit anything but a blank page. :)
Besides writing, what do you like to do?
I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, filmmaking, playing piano, violin, and guitar, watching movies, reading books, Bible study, spending time with my horse, eating, taking walks, and figuring out new ways to tie scarves!
Thanks for the interview!
Thank you for having me, Morgan! I enjoyed it.