Welcome to my guest for November 2016: Tonya R. Moore. I met Tonya either through WordPress or Twitter in the writing and Science Fiction circles in which we both participate.
Tonya R. Moore is a Public Safety Professional. By night, she’s a student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Communication. In the stolen moments in between, she’s a science fiction, horror, and urban fantasy writer. Tonya hails from Bradenton, Florida. A fan of anime, manga, and all things spec-fic, she grew up on the island of Jamaica. She has been living in the United States of America since 1998. Her latest publication was Ephemera, a short story, in The Nettle Tree anthology. You can connect with her on her website, her lifestyle blog and Twitter.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
MOORE: My mother is a fan of science fiction, so I suppose that’s where it all may have started. Through her, I had access to works of fiction and television shows that probably otherwise would have escaped my notice.
I read voraciously as a child. Any genre that I could get my hands on was fair game. My favorite, though, were always the science fiction stories. I especially loved stories about interstellar travel and stories that took place on distant worlds, anything to do with humanity out there among the stars, surviving and thriving.
When it came to television, I naturally gravitated towards science fiction. I remember loving a cartoon called Silver Hawk and watching episodes of Star Trek, The Next Generation at the age of nine or ten. I can never forget that sense of awe I used to get listening to Patrick Stewart say the words “Space, the final frontier…” and “to boldly go where no one has gone before!”
NG: How did you start writing in this genre?
MOORE: I have this whole awesome backstory of how a few careless words from a childhood friend got me entranced with the idea of writing my own stories when I was twelve years old or so. At first, I was never quite sure about what I wanted to write. I started out writing slice of life and mystery stories and poetry. I even gave up on writing during my turbulent teen years. As I grew out of my teens, I rediscovered the desire to write. At some point during that time, I read Ray Bradbury’s “The Foghorn” and became entranced by the beauty of that piece of writing. I realized, that’s the kind or story I wanted to write, the kind of story that filled readers with wonder and made them question everything they thought they knew.
To this day, I think that my writing is fueled by this desire.
NG: Which Science Fiction authors have been most inspiring to you?
MOORE: I doubt that I have the wherewithal to be an excellent author such as Ray Bradbury but it’s something to which I aspire. Other writers that I found to be quite inspiring early on include Anne McCaffrey, Larry Niven, and Isaac Asimov. Lately, I’ve also become quite fond of the works of Neil Gaiman and Nnedi Okorafor.
NG: What are your favorite Science Fiction books, movies and TV series?
MOORE: I have to say my favorites change depending on the day but the following are currently high up on my list:
The Foghorn and A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, short stories but they really are quite memorable. I’m currently reading Nnedi Okorafor’s “The Lagoon” and it is fast becoming one of my favorites.
Two of my all-time favorite science fiction movies are The Fifth Element and Enki Bilal’s Immortal Ad Vitem.
As for television shows, Farscape, Doctor Who, and The Expanse currently top the list.
NG: What do you think of Science Fiction’s versatility and its ties to other genres such as Horror and Urban Fantasy?
MOORE: Science fiction plays very well with other genres.
When I watched Event Horizon for the very first time, I was struck by how science fiction could be made so much more interesting by introducing the element of horror. Thinking back to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or even the Epic of Gilgamesh, I can see that science fiction’s versatility has been apparent since before it was even recognized as a genre.
If I remember correctly, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods who created Enkidu bring him to this place from which he is able to look down upon the Earth. The idea of a character from ancient mythology looking down upon the earth from what we can easily imagine as a spaceship gives me goosebumps.
Even so, it was when I read Ann McCaffery’s “Acorna” series that I first started to think of science fiction as a truly versatile genre. The story of a unicorn girl is a concept straight out of fantasy but what Ann McCaffery did with both “Acorna” and the “Dragon Riders of Pern” series was plop these fantastical characters and beasts into a science fiction setting, thereby creating some of the most wonderful stories I have ever read.
NG: What are some recurring themes and patterns in your Science Fiction stories?
MOORE: One recurrent theme in my stories that I only recently noticed is transformation. I don’t just mean character growth over the course of a story. I mean transformation that is drastic and life altering. Rebirth, regeneration, and shapeshifting are some of the elements that come into play.
Death is another theme that crops up in my stories quite often.
A quote by Shunryu Suzuki comes to mind: we die and we do not die.
Somehow, I think it often applies to my work. I write about death but something always comes afterward. It’s as if I refuse to let death be the end of the story.
NG: How did you start the Spec-Fic Trifecta Podcast?
MOORE: I’ve always had the intention of starting a podcast but never quite got around to starting one. Some time ago, I was a guest on the Kugali Podcast and it was quite a positive experience. Once again, I found my interest in starting a podcast piqued, so I began to do some research and started planning the Spec-Fic Trifecta.
Spec-Fic Trifecta is something I came up with, on the spot, for a podcast targeting fans and creators of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. The podcast will officially begin airing in January and each episode will be less than 15 minutes long.
NG: What is Science Fiction’s responsibility in diverse and inclusive representation?
MOORE: Science Fiction’s versatility and amenability provides us with a robust platform for diverse and inclusive representation. As creators, it is our prerogative to not only push the boundaries of our imaginations but also to see to it that the science fiction universe is populated by characters and elements from all walks of life. It is the responsibility of publishers to find the gems among these works and give them the recognition they deserve. It is the responsibility of creators to be persistent when it comes to producing and submitting the work that we believe in and we must not cower in the face of rejection and criticism. Readers have a certain responsibility too, to select and respond to works that move and inspire them. I say that with the hope that the works that readers advocate feature diverse and inclusive representation. We each have our part to play and frankly, I’m a bit tired of reading articles by people point the accusing finger at someone else instead of stepping up and doing what they can to improve the situation.
NG: Do you think Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women creators and female characters?
MOORE: Science fiction is a universe. As inhabitants of this universe, women creators and female characters each have the inalienable right to be here. No culture, no naysayer, no critic can take that away. Now, fandoms and publishers may pigeon-hole and reject but science fiction, as a genre, accommodates all.
NG: What advice would you have for an aspiring Science Fiction writer?
MOORE: Write what you want to write, not what happens to be selling right now. Write fast or write slowly and edit well. Only then, worry about whether what you’ve written will sell. Now, if the current fad is what speaks to you, so be it. Write away.
All you must do is nurture your love of writing and it will nurture you.
NG: Thank you for being here today, Tonya! I am sure my readers will be happy to check your website and publications out.