Hello! I’m so excited to have Jennifer Linsky, author of ‘Flowers of Luna’ on my blog today! Tell me something that you discovered about your writing – or you! – whilst creating ‘Flowers of Luna’.
That’s a great question, because there’s no easy answer. I started writing FoL in November of ’12, after a particularly painful breakup, so it’s taken… four years? Yes, four years to get from that first sentence on paper (which, by the bye, was “I came to the moon to go to college!” which I woke from a dream still carrying in my head) to the point we’re at now, when I’m about to release the book into the wild.
There were several points where I very nearly gave up on the book, and on the process. And I think that’s the answer to your question — that I discovered that most of the time, I would rather take a nap than write. But the writing is important, and I can’t get away from it for very long.
You’ve described Flowers of Luna as a ‘sapphic romance in a hard science fiction setting’. I love that – tell me more! Was this marriage of sapphism and science fiction a natural decision for you?
Oh, absolutely. The roots of FoL can be traced to two impulses. The first is summed up in the Bangles’ song “Different Light,” when they talk about writing a novel with a character inspired by their paramour, and then coming back later and reading all the things they should have heard at the time. The second is something Dorothy Sayers wrote about her character Lord Peter Wimsey. She said that she was poor, so she made Lord Peter wealthy; she had to walk everywhere, so she made him enjoy fine automobiles. She was hungry, so he ate well.
I’d just suffered a painful breakup that I couldn’t quite get my head around. So I wanted to create a story where things went differently, and the characters got a happier ending than I did.
And I am… not as young as many of my peers in the YA writing game. I’m old enough, in fact, to be the mother of most of the people I interact with on the internet, and would not even have had to start scandalously young. When I was young, we had a particular vision of the future, a vision summed up in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, or in the design of EPCOT Center in Florida. I remember being a child and thinking about how old I’d be in the year 2001, and thinking “Wow, that’s old!” (she writes, being of course even older now, and finding that thought amusing). I thought for certain that I would be living on the Moon by now.
It turns out, though, that space colonization is hard. There are a lot more issues of safety than we realized when we were watching men walk on the Moon and dreaming of getting to take our turn. I still believe that the effort is worthwhile, and I would still love to live on the moon.
So FoL is, in some measure, my wish fulfillment. It’s the resolution of the relationship I wish I had managed, and it’s life on the Moon which I wish I could live.
On your blog you’ve described yourself as a sapphist. Is it important to you to include sapphism and the exploration of sexuality in your writing? What about other things, such as depression and anxiety?
Sapphism is very important to me. I was raised in a church which believed and taught that being sexually interested in people who looked too much like you was sinful, and as a result, I very nearly committed suicide. Then I read Nancy Garden’s wonderful “Annie on My Mind,” and I saw the whole question through a completely different lens. For the first time, I understood that it wasn’t *about* sex; it was about love, and the sex was just a wonderful benefit of that love.
Because I had that experience, of thinking that I was crazy and broken, I want very much to write stories which pay that discovery on. I want to create worlds in which it’s safe for girls, young women, to love each other platonically, romantically, and sexually. I can’t imagine ever writing something and *not* including that love between women. The love between a man and a woman, I’m sure, is excellent for those who like that sort of thing, but that’s not me, and that point of view has no shortage of excellent books written about it. Women like me are starting to get that representation, but… we’re still hungry for it. Hungry for more of it, hungry for it to be happy. So that’s what I write.
I don’t know if I’ll write about depression and anxiety. They’re as much a part of me as my sexuality, but they’re a much more difficult part, and I’m not Carrie Fisher. I’m afraid that if I start writing about what it’s like to be so scared of talking to people that you throw up after speaking on the telephone, that it will influence my depression, take me to a bad brainloaf place where I don’t want to be.
I know that there are a lot of young women who deal with these issues, and I would like to help them see themselves in the future, just as with sapphism. I just don’t know if I can do that; if I can write that aspect of myself.
What books do you think have most influenced your writing? And what are you reading at the moment?
Heh. That’s a very dangerous question to ask a bookworm, you know. Let’s start with what I’m reading at the moment. I just finished “The Day After Roswell,” which is represented as a non-fiction memoir of an Army officer who helped reverse engineer the alien technology of the spacecraft that crashed at Roswell. It was fascinating reading, but I’m not sure that I believe Colonel Corso. He was a career intelligence officer, and the whole thing smells to me of disinformation.
So I just started reading “The Crashers,” by Megen Cubed. I’m only a few pages into it, but apparently it’s a superhero origin story. I honestly can’t remember buying it, but there it is on my Kindle, so I must have.
…and now the difficult part. What books have most influenced my writing. I grew up in a home with parents who read, and was fortunate that one of the things they read was science fiction. So I read a lot of the “Big Three” writers of SciFi as a kid — Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein. Asimov is my mother’s favorite; Heinlein is mine, though I very much prefer his books for young readers. So that’s where my fondness for hard science fiction comes from. Hard SF, in case you’re not familiar with the term, is SF in which everything works according to science as we know it. You can project engineering which we have not yet achieved, but you can’t rewrite physics.
When I started writing, in my teens, dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. Yes, self-depreciating humor is one of my defense mechanisms, thank you for noticing. Let’s start that again; When I started writing in my teens, I came across a book of Roger Zelazney’s short stories. In the introduction of each story, he talked a bit about how he had come to write the story, and what his processes of writing were. And he advised that, if you like a writer’s work, look at it very closely, and figure out what it is that they do that you love.
So I looked at the work of Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey, who wrote SciFi with female main characters. I looked at non-genre writers as well, as I got older; at Steinbeck and Hemmingway, because they were so famous, so successful. And I learned things from each of them.
In recent years, Yazawa Ai has had a huge impact on me. She’s a Japanese mangaka, a writer / artist. She writes about young women and puts them in wonderful, complex situations, and then writes them overcoming those complex situations through determination and integrity. Paradise Kiss is an excellent, powerful character development story, and it (along with Neighborhood Stories) was a big part of why my main character, Ran, studies fashion design in FoL.
Are you working on any new projects? If so, tell me about them!
Oh, I always have at least three things simmering in the pots of my mind. I have a prequel to FoL that I’ve been trying to write for years, about Ran’s mothers and the incident which appears in the background of FoL, the pirate attack on a poor habitat in the main asteroid belt. I am terrible at coming up with names for projects, so that’s seriously called “The Space Family Gray and the Incident at Moore’s Farm.”
The lovely and talented Andrea Brokaw, the author of I’d Rather Not Be Dead, is collaborating with me on a project set within the same universe as FoL, but not focusing on the Gray family. Our initial impetus was “Josie and the Pussycats meets Pokemon,” and it does feature an all-girl band, and is designed to be a fun romp. Unfortunately, Andrea and I have both had a very difficult few months, and are in a kind of down place, and that’s not the best way to write a fun romp. So Monster Monogatari is sort of on hold, though I very much hope that we’ll resume working on it soon.
Oh, one more thing about Andrea — in her Werestory universe, the nurse at the boarding school her young shifter folk attend is based on me, and I’m so pleased and flattered about that, I can’t stop telling people that I’m Nurse Sakura.
The third project I’m kind of working on is called “Little Sister of the Dragonslayer,” and it’s set in a fantasy world rather than a SciFi world. The thumbnail version is an order of female paladins in the Azuchi-Momoyama period of Japanese history. There’s been a civil war, but now it’s over, so what happens to these warrior nuns?
What’s one question you’ve always wanted to be asked about your writing?
I keep waiting for someone to ask me what message I’m sending to young women, or what kind of example I’m setting for them. My twitter stream has, after all, been very political lately, and is always a little bit racy. But I think that’s important; I think that older women like myself need to lead the way, and show the younger ladies that it’s okay to be smart, to have opinions, to shout when you see something bad, something dangerous, happening.
I want young women to realize that sex is a part of being human, and it’s not bad, dirty, crazy, or sinful to want to have sex, even if the only partner you have available is buzzy and plastic, or even just your own fingers. I fought so many battles within my psyche over that! And so, in my book, and in my twitter, I’m upfront that, for most people, being in love is going to result in an exchange of bodily pleasure. Sure, there are folks who are aromantic, or asexual, and that’s wonderful in its own way; I don’t want to take anything away from them. But for most of us, exchanging bodily pleasure with someone you love… or even just like a whole lot… is one of life’s great, well, pleasures!
My overall message is to own yourself. Own your sexuality, own your romance, own your thoughts and your goals and your enthusiasm. Be true to yourself; don’t do something you hate because someone you care about has different dreams and plans than you do. And as long as everyone involved is an informed, enthusiastically consenting adult? Who cares about what anyone else thinks of what you’re doing?