Welcome to October’s #SciFi Women Interview! I am happy to have Zen DiPietro with us today. I discovered her through Twitter, which has been a great place to connect with fellow geeky ladies. I was delighted when she accepted the invitation to be part of this monthly feature.
Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, dreamer, 3D maker, and writer. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. A recovering gamer, but we won’t talk about that. Particular loves include badass heroines, British accents, and the smell of Band-Aids. You can connect with DiPietro on her website, her Amazon Author Page, Twitter, and Facebook.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
DIPIETRO: Star Wars and Star Trek were probably my earliest influences. I grew up with them, so I grew up dreaming of other worlds, aliens, cultures, and different ways that life could be.
NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your life?
DIPIETRO: It’s pretty central. Not only do I write it, which means I spend pretty much every waking moment thinking about it, but it’s what I love. That means movies, TV shows, and 3D printing things like light sabers and blasters.
NG: What are your three favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy books, TV shows, and movies?
DIPIETRO: Hmm, three favorites. Firefly and Star Trek for TV shows, and I, Robot for books. That’s three. Wait, but then there’s Doctor Who. So I’m just going to flee this question in panic because I can’t choose only three.
NG: What do you think of Science Fiction’s versatility as a genre?
DIPIETRO: It’s what makes it so enduring. No matter how many decades go by, and how much technology progresses, there’s always more to explore and more to imagine. You can get at any facet of life through sci-fi, whether it be allegory or a direct interpretation. By imagining what could be, we can better understand what truly is.
NG: What authors have had the most influence on your own craft?
DIPIETRO: I grew up reading Star Trek: The Next Generation books, so prolific writers in that series like Peter David and Michael Jan Friedman had their effect. The first “big” book I ever read as a kid was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and that had its effect, too. I learned the importance of using words sparingly and precisely to convey a story that unfolds effortlessly for the reader. I read I, Robot early on as well, which taught me to think about situations from unusual perspectives.
NG: Can you tell us about the Dragonfire Station series and your other books?
DIPIETRO: My books and stories tend to have underpinnings of figuring out where one belongs and finding one’s purpose. Sometimes those are pretty subtle aspects, and sometimes they’re at the forefront. Dragonfire Station is my current work, and, as a universe of epic proportions with multiple series and viewpoints within, I expect to be working at it for quite some time. Each series within stands on its own, but contributes to the overall narrative. Characters that are the leads in one series appear as secondary characters in others. It’s all very developed intermingled, but with individual stories to tell. I like to keep It fast-paced, character-driven, and intersperse the serious bits with humor and heart.
NG: What are the Science Fiction female characters you have found most significant?
DIPIETRO: The ones that are significant to me personally are the ones that made me dream big things—either because they were like me or because they were very different than me. Jadzia Dax’s multiple lives as a Trill host has always fascinated me because of the question of a joined consciousness and many lifetimes worth of experience. She was a scientist as well as a warrior, and a wise friend, as well. She was complicated, with a lot of nuance.
Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 was important because she was only the second woman I’d seen kicking ass and taking names, rather than being arm candy or a damsel in distress. I’d seen Ripley in the Alien movies, but that franchise leaned toward horror, and as a little kid I found all that scary. So Sarah Connor got my attention as someone who was fit and muscular and mentally strong. Yet she was also very human, fighting for her son and humanity, which made her vulnerable and, at times, a little crazy.
I like complex characters who aren’t perfect, so it’s not surprising that they are what I tend to write.
NG: Do you think that Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women?
DIPIETRO: That’s a big can of worms. I think most facets of it are entirely welcoming to women. However, there’s a very vocal minority that is not, and sometimes it’s the squeaky wheel that sets the tone.
NG: Do you think Science Fiction helps fostering discussion about women’s issues?
DIPIETRO: Not really. I think most mainstream science fiction is already oriented toward a merit-based system, where women are as likely to succeed as men. And that’s a good thing. When I watch current shows like The Expanse, women’s issues aren’t an issue because people are just people. These franchises are already modeling the ideal. They’re not discussing how things ought to be, but showing it as a reality. That’s important because not only does it include all people, regardless of gender, in the viewing experience, but it’s an instance of leading by example. That kind of thing leaks into the subconscious and validates the idea of a merit-based system in real life.
NG: What are you currently working on?
DIPIETRO: Right now, I’m working on two books in different series of the Dragonfire Station universe. One is a prequel series that shows Fallon and her team at the PAC academy, and the other continues the Mercenary Warfare series, led by Cabot Layne, space trader extraordinaire.
Also, I’m writing a sci-fi satire/humor series of novellas about the adventures of a redshirt named Charlie Kenny. Though I always include some humor in my writing, the Dodging Fate series gives me a chance to go all-out with it. We could all use some more laughter in our lives.
NG: Thank you very much for being with us today, Zen! Good luck with all your projects!