For February, I am happy to welcome Lisa M. Collins! I met her thanks to the online writing community, via Twitter and WordPress. It is a pleasure to have Lisa with us today.
Lisa M. Collins wants to live in a galaxy where she can vacation on the Moon or sip black chai tea while sightseeing on Saturn. Her Writing appears across a range of print and digital media, and she was honored with a Sally A. Williams grant from the Arkansas Arts Council to pursue her craft. Her stories cover a wide range of genres from Pulp Noir to Science Fiction. When not writing, you can find Lisa preparing for her latest long-distance backpacking trip. You can connect with her on her website, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest (where she creates story boards for her novels).
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
COLLINS: My Dad was a big influence in my love of sci-fi. The TV shows we watched together included The Jetsons, Star Trek (TV and Movies), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Battlestar Galactica. From a very young age I have been fascinated with space and traveling to new solar systems. My dad always said, “If all those stars were created just for you and me to count, then that is awful waste of space.”
NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your life?
COLLINS: Science fiction plays a pivotal role in my everyday life. Most of the books I read, movies and television I watch, and even my dreams are centered around the concept of a human future not bound by the confines of Earth or even physics as we know it. My husband and I laugh that these days we look just like we belong on the Starship Enterprise (Star Trek) with our small tablets we read on and our Bluetooth communication devices. Every day Science Fiction of the last fifty years becomes science fact. In my Grandmother’s life time the USA has gone from wagon drawn transit to putting a man on the Moon and plan for manned travel to Mars. Science Fiction is life.
NG: What are your three favorite Science books and movies?
COLLINS: I have to add in Television. I don’t know what it is like outside of the US, but TV is ingrained in our culture. The most Iconic shows I mentioned above but two shows that are influencing my current writing are Dark Matter (2015) and Firefly (2002). Both of these shows have tight-knit groups who have to overcome adversity to win over larger more powerful enemies.
Movies (series) would have to include every single Star Wars (1977) movie ever made. I love them all even the ones with Jar Jar Binks. I love all the Star Trek (1979) movies even the crazy one where they have to talk to whales. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love Ridley Scott and all of the Alien movies including the (sort of) prequel Prometheus (2012)
My books are all over the road map. I love nearly every book I can get my hands on, but lately I’ve been blown away by The Atlantis Gene, by A.G. Riddle; The Martian by Andy Weir, and The Legacy Human (Singularity Series) by Susan Kaye Quinn.
NG: Which Science Fiction has had the most influence on your writing?
COLLINS: Star Trek, hands down, is the number one influence on my writing and dreams. I honestly can’t remember life without Star Trek being available to watch every week if not every day. The show taught me kids didn’t have to settle for following the societal rules. That even as young people we could make our mark on the world around us in profound and amazing ways. I knew I could do anything I set my mind to and I attribute a lot of that attitude from my parents not holding me back, but also to the open mindedness of Star Trek. I learned so much from the social commentary of the show and Star Trek seeps into my mind when write much like the air I breathe.
NG: Have your creative collaborations helped you grow as a writer?
COLLINS: I have written for several anthologies and found the short story writing fun and short forms stretch us as writers to embrace brevity. However, in time where I have had to share the same page with another, I have not enjoyed the experience. I think I’ll be very picky about shared world projects in the future. I’m not sure I really grew, but I know much more about myself and my tolerances through collaborative working.
NG: How can Science Fiction’s versatile and hybrid nature influence storytelling in other genres?
COLLINS: You can take any genre and the write into it science fictional elements. You love writing about Noir Detectives, fine set the story on a space station at the edge of the known universe. Do you like stories about groups of kids that go off to find their fortune or enter college? Or Romance? Or how about military history? All of those can be adapted to have elements that land them on the Science Fiction shelf. An excellent example is the novel Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. It is a retelling of the US Civil War with steampunk and sci-fi elements. The whole series is excellent. The Adaptability of Science Fiction is unquenchable like a black hole. I dare you…think up any scenario and then make one of the characters an android or make the location on a space station…bam! You just made Science Fiction.
NG: Do you think that Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women?
COLLINS: Yes. I would say this is more so in the last ten years. Although I have had a group of older (20 years my senior) men pretty much tell me to pack up my Barbies and go home. You can’t let people with outdated opinions influence what you say or do. If I listened to those old guys I would have never gotten published. They were wrong, and I’m seeing less and less of that kind of jocularity in Science Fiction groups online every day.
NG: Do you think Science Fiction helps fostering discussion about women’s issues?
COLLINS: I think any genre can be used to bring light to the issues regarding women today, but I would say Science Fiction allows us the unique medium to explore women’s issues in fresh ways. I am working on a novel right now where the society I’ve created has a maternal hierarchy in the military. In many ways I’m able to use the experiences of modern day women warriors to expound how a female led military would function. Science Fiction gives me the freedom to try new things and see alternate realities.
NG: Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
COLLINS: The latest things on the horizon are the follow up sequel to The Tree of Life. In this short story, Hiroto’s Legacy, we go back in time to the Ryukyuan clan exodus from Japan to the stars. Hiroto’s Legacy will be published this March.
As for longer works, I have a novel series I’ve been working on for some time, and finally this Spring I’ll be publishing the first book in the Chevron Station series.
In Chevron Station, Doctor of Psychology and matchmaker extraordinaire, Margaret Morris, leaves her stale academic career on the Moon and trades it for a posting on Earth’s only colony outside of the Sol system. As a professional in relational psychology Maggie is hired by Western Federated Military to help colonize the planet Chevron and keep peace on the space station.
NG: What advice would you have for an aspiring writer?
COLLINS: It sounds trite to say never give up or just don’t stop writing. So I won’t. The fact is no writing journey will look like yours. Sure there are mountains of self-help online and in print on how this author or that writer became the success they are today, but I’ll be honest with you. Not one iota of that advice is going to get you through the tough times when you have given up, when you have quit writing, when you are doing everything in you power not to even look at your computer. The thing is you have to learn to see your process. Look at the times when writing was like breathing or relaxing in a hot bath. How were those times different than the valley where you haven’t written a word in months or years? When you find the sweet spot where you ride the tide of creativity hold on to those moments analyze them for clues on how to recreate those moments. And when you do you will have the thing that separates you from other writers seeking advice…you will have your answer.
NG: Thank you, Lisa! I am sure my readers will be happy to know more about you and check out your work!