Author Interview: Phoenix Sullivan

Hey folks! We’re trying different things with the blog, and one of them is interviewing the author at the end of the week, after you’ve been immersed in their awesome. So, here’s our inaugural interview with the amazingly awesome Phoenix Sullivan! Thanks to Landra for putting this together. You are full of awesome.

1. I’m a big fan of the story behind the story. So, what can you tell readers about your inspiration for this book? 

 *SPOILER ALERT* The idea for SECTOR C was implanted a few years ago during a conversation with my brother and sister-in-law about whether using in vitro fertilization and surrogate mothers to repopulate endangered animals was a good idea or not. Was there a way to make money with the technology without exploiting the animals? After that marinated for a while and designer animals such as lygers and tigrons starting popping up more frequently, I began wondering about theories for rewilding extinct animals. The mammoth genome has been mapped, genetic material taken from mice frozen for 12 years has been successfully cloned, and Japanese researchers now say an embryo cloned from frozen mammoth DNA is no more than five years away. Exciting stuff! But cool ideas need a plot wrapped around them.

Thinking about why mammoths and other Ice Age beasties became extinct in the first place, I latched onto the idea of disease, which hasn’t been ruled out as a possible cause. But most diseases are either caused by external factors, like viruses and bacteria, or are host-specific, like cancer and diabetes – things that aren’t transmissible. I needed something that’s not only a genetic disease, but one which is transmissible across species and capable of causing a pandemic.

Luckily (well, luckily for the story anyway!), I found a candidate.

Then I needed a way for a private enterprise to make money off the animals it produced. I figured out a good – if controversial – way for that to happen too.

2. This is probably one of those questions that will produce a heavy sigh, but interested ears want to know if you have a sequel planned for Sector C? 

You know, while I’m a huge fan of sequels where it makes sense for the story or characters to continue, not every book should have one. There’s obviously more to the story as SECTOR C doesn’t end with all the pieces tidied up, but I think part of the appeal of “what if” books is when they leave something to the reader’s imagination. It isn’t always needful to fill in all the white space or to spell out all the answers.

In the case of SECTOR C, it’s not that there isn’t anything more to say, but that the next chapter in the story is really too big for the intimate confines of the mystery/thriller genre.

3. What was your favorite part of Sector C to write? The easiest? The hardest?

From a technical perspective, I have to say I most enjoyed writing all the interlocks, by which I mean the bits that become tiny revelations as the mystery unwinds. It was fun figuring out ways to drop in behaviors of people and animals that become more evident on a re-read in a Sixth Sense sort of way. For instance, most readers concentrate on the mannerisms of the hunter in Chapter One and can tell there’s something important about his behavior. What most readers fail to realize on the first read is that there are some subtle clues about the tiger that are worth noting as well. Threading the information through without being too obvious nor too obtuse was a fun challenge.

Ironically, I think the parts where the writing flowed the easiest were the parts that were hardest emotionally to see written. When I was a vet tech, I saw a lot of animal deaths, and in the years since I’ve had a number of best furry friends die. I didn’t have to go very deep to draw on those personal experiences, so getting those hard emotions on the virtual paper was really rather easy.

4. What 3 things do you hope readers take away from reading SECTOR C? 

This is a tricky question because the book is meant to raise questions, not necessarily answer them. In fact, I’m on the fence about many of the moral and philosophical choices we’ll be faced with sooner rather than later.

  1. Just because we CAN do something, should we?
  2. Can we ever truly accomplish the rewilding of threatened/extinct species? And if not, then is the very act of preserving them a form of exploitation?
  3. As I was writing about the predicament of the non-human animals, my mind was very much on what folk had to face during the Katrina disaster. All the broken homes, the displaced animals. Where would we be in a world where every living thing held the potential for death, and would you fight to keep some of that diversity close or opt for a sterile world, a sterile life and a sterile soul?

5. Now that you’ve released 3 novels, different genres for each, can you tell us what readers can expect next? Do you still plan on self-pubbing? 

*Insert laugh.* Career-wise, the choice of releasing books in such widely differing genres probably isn’t the best one. This year, I’ll be releasing Volumes 2, 3, and 4 of my Vet Tech Tales, spaced out one about every 3 months. I have some fantasy short stories I’ll be publishing for the Kindle in the next few weeks, and the next novel I publish will be one of two historical fantasies, heavy on the romantic elements. Of course, there’s that new thriller idea that keeps teasing at me too…

As for continuing to self-publish, I’m quite open to not, though I’d carefully consider terms these days. A large publisher still has clout an indie doesn’t. However, SECTOR C is the most commercial work I’ve written to date, and if it couldn’t find a home in the traditional publishing world (although more than one agent assured me they thought it would get picked up), I’m not sure my less-commercial works fit the mold. And, while I’m confident I could have placed SECTOR C with an e-publisher, I’m not sure a small publisher could offer more than what I’m working on to build myself. Plus, I’m involved now with a consortium of authors running the gamut from debut to bestselling, and the small company we’re forging together (Steel Magnolia Press) is, I believe, one of the ways of the future. I’ve always been one to take chances, and the cutting edge, for me, is quite a comfortable place to be. It’s an exciting time to be a writer. And a reader!

Thanks for the awesome interview, Phoenix!!!

Just remember, you can find everything you need for Phoenix on her Amazon author page. GO BUY HER BOOKS!!!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. lexcade
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 15:36:33

    As always, great interview, Phoenix. Thanks, Landra, for getting it together!


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