This month, I am honored to welcome Sally Ember, Ed.D. as the guest of #SciFi Women Interview feature. Sally Ember reached out to me via email after one of my blog posts and I was delighted to make her acquaintance and hear her interest in being interviewed as a #SciFi Woman!
Sally Ember, Ed.D., has been passionate about writing since she was nine years old. She’s won prizes for her poetry, stories, songs and plays. She began meditation in her teens. Now, Sally delights fans of paranormal and romance by blurring the lines between fact and fiction in a multiverse of multiple timelines, often including exciting elements of utopian science-fiction and Buddhism. Born Jewish on the cusp of Leo and Virgo, Sally’s life has been infused with change.
In her “other” professional life, Sally has worked as an educator and upper-level, nonprofit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits in many parts of the USA before returning to live in St. Louis, MO, in August, 2014. Sally has a BA in Elementary Education, a Master’s (M.Ed.) and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.).
Her sci-fi /romance/ speculative fiction/ paranormal/ multiverse/ utopian books for New Adult/adult/YA audiences, “The Spanners Series,” are getting great reviews.
Sally blogs regularly on wide-ranging topics and includes reviews, interviews, guest blog posts, and excerpts from her books. She also meditates, writes, swims, reads and hosts her LIVE video talk show, CHANGES, conversations between authors, from St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science-Fiction?
EMBER: My Pinterest has a Board, “Writers I Love,” that displays the writers who influenced me and whom I admire. From there, my earliest favorites: I have to credit “Mrs. Pickerell Goes to Mars” with some of my plot ideas for “This Changes Everything.” Read it when I was 8. Thanks, Ellen McGregor! Would never have known I loved sci fi or writing if not for Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” Read it when I was 9, then I wrote my first story, “Princess Why,” published in the Central School newspaper. Still have that. Have to thank Betty MacDonald for the “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” fantasy series. Read my first ones of hers when I was 7. Loved every one! I must have read every story in and every “color” of Andrew Lang’s “Fairy” anthologies. Truly entertaining for a elementary girl. Kate Wilhelm’s “The Downstairs Room” stories still inspire me,and she introduced me to many other great spec fi and sci fi authors. I also love her mysteries.
NG: What are your top 3 favorites for Science-Fiction books, TV shows and movies?
EMBER: Also from this Board and another, you can find my later faves and influences, with movies and TV shows, “TV Shows and Movies I Actually Like” and from recurring blog posts in which I review current and recurring TV shows, I discuss most of them. I have mostly been disappointed with recent new shows, however. What can compare to the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Time Machine films or The Invaders and Star Trek (original and TNG) TV shows from the 1960s and /70s?
I wouldn’t want to have a world without Joss Whedon in it. Thanks for Buffy, Firefly, The Dollhouse, the Marvel shows and so many more! Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” informed me that I am bisexual while I was still in high school. Heinlein’s work inspires me to this day as a novel of great vision and writing. Joanna Russ inspires me with Utopian rather than dystopian sci fi.
I especially admire “The Female Man.” Sherri Tepper is a marvelous, inspiring, unique-vision writer. “The Gate to Women’s Country” stands alone of its kind. First feminist utopian sci fi I ever read: “Herland,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Inspiration to this day. Marge Piercy’s books and poetry first showed me the intersections of politics, personal and fictional worlds and changed my perspective forever. Thanks! “A Door into Ocean” is a another feminist science fiction novel I am inspired and thrilled by. Thanks, Joan Slonczewski! The stories from Zenna Henderson’s “The People” series still influence and resonate with me, over 50 years after reading them! Extremely powerful and first influence from an amazing author, Ursula K. Le Guin. Still writing, in her 80s.
NG: What place does Science-Fiction have in your writing?
EMBER: It is my main and only fiction genre at this time. Science-fiction/romance/utopian. I have entire blog posts about why I write sci-fi utopian fiction: go read some!
NG: Can you tell us a bit more about your writing projects?
EMBER: I was awakened one night by hearing a voice (my own) narrating Clara’s first encounter with the alien holograms. I got up to write it all down and also the outline of the entire first book and the synopsis for each of the subsequent nine volumes for the series that same night. It took about two hours!
NG: What brought you to write a multiverse in The Spanner Series?
EMBER: I prefer to write from multiple points of view so I have many narrators and types of chapters in each volumes of The Spanner Series, probably because I see things in multiple ways and I get bored easily. “The Spanners” are the generations of people (and animals) whose ages make them the Earth inhabitants who are alive through both the turn of the 21st century AND the public announcement of the Many Worlds Collective’s existence, previous visits, and intentions to help Earth survive, thus bridging, or “spanning” both ways of living/thinking/being.
They are the “before” and “after” characters who narrate my stories, attempting to understand and live with the knowledge that all time is simultaneous (timultaneity, in my books), which we are all beginning to grasp ourselves in actual reality. Some people can view or know things (timult) about more than one timeline, alternate presents, pasts and futures, such as my main characters and those who get trained in the Excellent Skills Program (ESP) training and some are “natural” timulters, as Clara and many in her bio family are.
Necessarily, I can’t present infinite numbers of alternate versions of each scene, so I choose some to present multiply whose variations have immediate meaning for the characters. I know this can be confusing and reading books written all in the present tense is unusual (and awkward for English and other languages to manage), but I hope the challenges and intrigue make the difficulties worthwhile for readers.
NG: How do you enjoy mixing several genres in your books, like romance and Science-Fiction?
EMBER: I write, tone-wise, humorously serious or seriously humorous with a lot of science and spirituality, romance and family relationships included because LIFE. Compassion, caring, empathy, acceptance, inclusiveness, and more cooperation with less selfishness/greed and eliminating violence are the ONLY routes to Earth’s survival. Also, WE ARE NOT ALONE in the multiverse.
NG: Do you think that Science-Fiction can influence writers outside of the genre?
EMBER: I and many other authors certainly hope so, since we invite readers to reconsider and enlarge their points of view for many immediate and imminent social, political, interpersonal, interspecies and environmental issues regularly. Speculative fiction is famous for making us revisit our lives and choices from the micro to the macro levels. (and, hopefully, do better…)
Regarding science, there are websites devoted wholly or in part to delineating the inventions and discoveries which were first mentioned or “invented” in sci-fi books, movies, and TV shows before showing up IRL. Many scientists and inventors have mentioned being inspired by having learned about these potentials in sci-fi first!
NG: Do you believe Science-Fiction is a genre open to all types of age ranges?
EMBER: I write for adults, New and Young Adults together because that is the way I read sci-fi growing up (there were no YA or NA sections). I do not believe in the age-segregation that publishers and libraries have created in recent decades and I know many adults read YA and many teens read “adult” fiction. Age categories are mostly a convention for shelving and marketing that have little or nothing to do with what actual readers want to and do read.
NG: Do you believe that Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to complex female characters?
EMBER: When the authors are feminists, yes. When not, no. Graphic novels and “comics” are infamous for creating 2-D female characters scantily dressed and horribly depicted, but not all are like that. Certainly many genres in fiction are just as guilty of underestimating and denigrating female characters.
Joss Whedon is famous for replying, when asked why he creates such strong female characters, that he won’t have to do that when people stop asking him that, or words to that effect.
NG: What is Science-Fiction’s responsibility in diverse and inclusive representation?
EMBER: As a life-long feminist, activist and social justice advocate who understands and lives better having learned about intersectionality (the impact of the overlapping oppression of sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, and others), I hope my writing reflects my insights and shows my utopian views of how life can be better when we all understand and reject such oppression, singly or in combinations. I do believe more “majority” authors should be more aware of creating characters that do not all look like and live the ways we do, but since I based my main characters on myself and my family, I am just as guilty as many of starting there.
However, I deliberate created a Latina main character, included many younger characters, made sure the main and other characters are not assumed to be hetero or cis-gender (Clara is bi, others are gay and lesbian, and some are undetermined regarding gender,) and I up-ended some age, class, religion and other foundations for biases in my stories’ plots and premises. So, I try and I hope others do, too.
NG: Thank you very much for your answers, Sally! I am sure my readers will be happy to connect with you.