I had the chance to talk with Ann Aguirre about her amazing Sirantha Jax series while at the RT Booklovers Convention earlier this year and man did I find out a bunch of things. First off, everyone has bought their copies of the latest Jax novel, Killbox, right?
TALK IS CHEAP WHEN LIVES ARE IN JEOPARDY
Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. With no tolerance for political diplomacy, she quits her ambassador post so she can get back to saving the universe the way she does best—by mouthing off and kicking butt.
And her tactics are needed more than ever. Flesh-eating aliens are attacking stations on the outskirts of space, and for many people, the Conglomerate’s forces are arriving too late to serve and protect them.
Now, Jax must take matters into her own hands by recruiting a militia to defend the frontiers—out of the worst criminals, mercenaries, and raiders that ever traveled through grimspace…
Make sure you stick around, we’re giving away a copy of Skin Game and a Sirantha Jax novel (winners choice) to two lucky readers.
Ann Aguirre: I didn’t really have a master plan; I didn’t have anything created when I started writing. It was an exercise to write to please myself. I have always really loved SciFi movies and television, but I was unable to find the kind of SciFi that I wanted to read. I wanted the books to be more like the television and movies we love – Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek – and Farscape is one of my favorites. I thought, why can’t the books have that same quality and magic with the crew that you fall in love with. It’s really character driven and the technology is familiar enough that you don’t have to spend pages and pages going into the technicality of it. I really don’t think, by large, that women are looking for that. For those that are, I think that’s amply represented in the genre. I felt like there was a market opportunity that was really being missed that women would probably be hungry for science fiction that was more like their favorite shows and movies. So I did have that in my mind when I started to write, but I really started to write with a blank mind and Jax is what came.
Literary Escapism: I’m generally not a fan of science fiction romance, but when I first picked up Grimspace, I couldn’t get enough of it. There’s just something about it…
Ann Aguirre: It’s not actually science fiction romance. My contract say Romantic Science Fiction. So it is science fiction with a romantic thread. It’s not a romance in the sense that the story ends after book one; and it’s not a romance in the sense that it’s all about the couple. It really is Jax’s journey. It’s about her adventures, her emotional arc, her growth as a character. She’s almost unrecognizable by the time you get to her in Killbox. She has grown so much and changed so much.
Literary Escapism: Especially once you threw March at her. It seems like she developed a lot more when she actually had to fight for him.
Ann Aguirre: She did. That was a big change in Doubleblind. At any other point in her life, she would have said “frak this guy, he is far too much work and I could have five more who are just as suitable. Why put so much effort in; why not just have the fun?” She’s not like that any more, she has more of an emotional depth. She has the ability to commit now. She really grows over the course of the four books, so far. She grows from, pretty much an anti-hero, who cares only about herself – her own fun, her own agenda, her own interests. By Killbox, I think everyone will be really surprised at what she is willing to do. When I think about what’s in Killbox, I get chills.
Literary Escapism: I can’t wait to read it, I know that. Editor’s Note: I am currently in the middle of Killbox and loving every moment of it.
The grimspace, when Jax is hooked in…I keep seeing the Matrixesque contraption where she’s hooked in through the back of her head. That’s not how it is, though, is it?
Ann Aguirre: No. She has a shunt in her wrist. I envision it like a little panel, where the skin pops back and there is some hardware in there. It’s almost like a telephone jack, but it’s a flesh jack.
Literary Escapism: But it’s also genetic, because it’s not just anyone who can be a jumper, right?
Ann Aguirre: Anyone can have the shunt installed, but they would go insane when they made the jump into Grimspace because the B10 would basically fry their mind. In the early days, when they first discovered the phase drive technology and they found the plans for it and they built their prototype and they didn’t know that you needed a special ability and they lost a lot of people and a lot of ships. They were like Okay, let’s try this out…oops they are gone, what the hell?
Literary Escapism: Trial and error does not work here.
Ann Aguirre: I don’t go so much into the back story, but conceptually, the people do come from our earth, but it’s so far into the future that there is really no way of determining exactly how far it is. They set out with earth pretty much a flaming ball of stinky polluted wreckage, they set out in generation ships and it was a long the way that they discovered this phase drive technology. They thought hell if we could speed up this process, let’s do that and they then used the Old Ones technology to build the first phase drive vessel and as they were able to move faster, they start to meet the alien races and they discovered New Terra, which was suitable for colonization. After they got settled there, they…
Literary Escapism: They colonized out…
Ann Aguirre: The diaspora went further and they established other colonies.
Literary Escapism: Yous aid you’re a fan of Battlestar Galactica and Farscape, have you had any thought about making Grimspace into a show? I would think with the current market, it would be perfect for it.
Ann Aguirre: That’s totally outside of my control, I would obviously be thrilled if someone were to be interested, but…
Ann Aguirre: I have had queries on other projects. My urban fantasy has had a couple of queries. In fact, I believe they are pitching it in Hollywood right now.
Literary Escapism: The Corinne Soloman series, really?
Ann Aguirre: That has had some nibbles. My YA has had some movie rights nibbles, but Jax is actually a very surprising series. It seems to be really picking up steam as it nears the end of the series. So maybe in time, the book don’t end in 2012, they come out one a year. Killbox comes out this year, the fifth one in 2011 and the final one in 2012. So perhaps, if it continues to pick up steam, maybe someone will notice or if one of my other projects gets optioned, they may look to see what other projects I have.
Literary Escapism: It seems like Jax would fit perfectly with the SyFy channel right now.
Ann Aguirre: I do think it would make an excellent show. I have been told that it is a very visual type of novel. Someone actually said this and he meant it as a criticism, but I take it as a compliment because it’s totally what I wanted. He said reading my book was more like watching a TV show than reading a real science fiction show. I was like ‘Yes Awesome!”. Because you know, ten million people will watch a SyFy show, but what percentage of those will read a very technical scifi novel. You, yourself have said, you don’t enjoy the hard scifi.
Literary Escapism: Its because they generally put too much technology in there (and thus do a lot of info-dumping with big technical terms) and the technology you do include, it’s not hard to see.
Ann Aguirre: No. The reason I went the way I did with it…Jax is the perfect narrator to introduce you to that universe because she doesn’t know anything about anything. So as she learns things, the reader learns things, but she’s not overly curious about it. I mean, I know how to drive a car, but I can not rebuild an engine. I know how to microwave a burrito, but I don’t know exactly how the burrito gets hot. I think that makes sense in a science fiction context, because it’s not as strange bizarre world of technology to them, it’s the universe they live in and they do know how to push all the buttons and they know how everything works. They know the effect, but they don’t know what quantum engineering went into this gizmo that they are using. The average person just doesn’t know that.
Literary Escapism: I know what I’m visualizing while Jax is hooked in, but what is she like? When you actually look at her, while she’s in Grimspace, I don’t know what I’m seeing there. Does her eyes go blank and does she look like she’s staring off into space? Does her eyes turn black or something weird?
Ann Aguirre: No. I would say…have you ever seen someone in a mental hospital who is kind of catatonic, or comatose, but their eyes are open? I would say it’s like that. She’s sitting in the chair, with her arm jacked in, and her eyes are open, but she can’t see the real world. Her face would just blank.
Literary Escapism: So you know she’s there, but you know you can’t have any kind of conversation because she’s just not…
Ann Aguirre: Right.
Literary Escapism: Whenever I read about her being in the Grimspace, I always think of her being in all these colors, when you’re in hyper-speed or something. But I had never thought of it the other way.
Ann Aguirre: Right. That’s totally what you see. Until she docks out, she has no ability to see what is going on. Actually, if something were to happen to the ship, she would be totally helpless unless she jacked out. March would have to warn her that there was danger and to get out of the navchair.
Literary Escapism: March seems to be an interesting character. Where did he come from? I want to say that the first story I read was his POV.
Ann Aguirre: Oh really?
Literary Escapism: I want to say I read his POV and that’s what lead me to Grimspace.
Ann Aguirre: I would have to say, that just in general, I have a real soft spot for hitman, for mercenaries, for men who are very violent in their professions, but are very gentle where their woman are concerned. I love that duality. Like the very fierce brutus guy who will totally rip someone apart and yet their heart is very tender and they love very deeply. That is one of my personal favorites, so I guess that’s where he comes from.
Literary Escapism: His abilities, though, they seem like they are going to drive him mad or if he’s not driven mad…are we going to see more of that or have we seen what we’re going to see of him and his abilities?
Ann Aguirre: He’s fragile. That’s an interesting juxtaposition, because he is very physically strong, but both mentally and emotionally, he is quite fragile. He has been broken and rebuilt twice now; if you know anything about the laws of cohesion, if you drop a vase and reassemble it, it has the fracture and stress points ever after. Then if you break it a second again, it’ll have even more pieces that’ll need to be reassembled. He’s definitely emotionally and mentally weaker than Jax. He has the physical strength and the fighting prowess, but…
Literary Escapism: Does he have the will power though?
Ann Aguirre: I guess you’ll have to find out.
Literary Escapism: That’s another interesting point. With both March and Jax, their abilities, it gives them that mental weakness since you can only jump so long into the Grimspace before she’ll go catatonic and you never know when that’s going to happen.
Ann Aguirre: That’s true.
Literary Escapism: You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, but will Jax get a happy after ending or is it going to be a “well, we’ll wait and see, she may not end up dead, but…”?
Ann Aguirre: Even though this is a science fiction book, I am a romance reader at heart…so I will tell you that you won’t have to worry about me kiling off March or Jax. Anyone else is fair game. There are some very sad moments in Killbox. I do promise her a happy ending, but it may not be a happy ending in the…
Literary Escapism: Typical romance sense?
Ann Aguirre: strictest romance sense. But I think everyone will really like how it ends. I have a found a solution that will make everyone very happy.
Literary Escapism: Does this mean that you have written the last two books or have they been plotted?
Ann Aguirre: I have actually written the ending to book six. The book itself is not done, but the last page I have written.
Literary Escapism: Will there be more at the ending than one page? In some novels, the ending is like and they live happily ever after. I tend to be that’s it?, or will we know what will happen after the big finale?
Ann Aguirre: I can’t be more specific.
Literary Escapism: I didn’t think so, but I had to ask.
Ann Aguirre: I don’t think anyone will be sad.
Literary Escapism: That’s good. There’s happiness.
What about Vel? When I think about Vel, I keep thinking of this dragon character that is standing on two feet, like a Tyrannosaurus Rex guy. Do I have the right visual?
Ann Aguirre: Noooo. He’s a praying mantis.
Literary Escapism: Does he look like a praying mantis, in the bug sense, or is he more humanoid?
Ann Aguirre: Vel is human sized, so he is humanoid, but he does have a mandible. He does have side set eyes. He has chitinous and a carapace. Instead of speary legs, he does have claws and digits he can use. His legs are more like a bend and a hinge, they are not normal.
Literary Escapism: They are not straight, but they are not bug legs either.
Ann Aguirre: No.
Literary Escapism: I like to visualize my characters and sometimes there’s that one character that you just can’t re-create. Are we going to see more of Vel’s kind in the future?
Ann Aguirre: Vel is in Killbox. You do get to find out more.
Literary Escapism: Are we going to meet anyone else with interesting origins? Like Vel has a very interesting background within his race. Is he going to be one of a kind or are we going to find out more? Especially like the Morguts?
Ann Aguirre: Have you read Doubleblind?
Literary Escapism: Yes.
Ann Aguirre: That has pretty much all the information you’re ever going to get about the Ithorians. It goes into quite a bit of detail about their culture, their religion, their belief system, their wa.
Literary Escapism: I wasn’t sure with the way Doubleblind ended, with their escaping, if there wouldn’t be some…
Ann Aguirre: Their involvement is more peripheral. The alliance has been made. With the war coming, they have ships to build and whatnot. That part of it is done. There is a war coming. Killbox is war. I have little words that represent the books in my head. Grimspace is the fugitive book. Wanderlust is the road trip book. Doubleblind is the diplomacy book. Killbox is the war book. Aftermath is picking up the pieces. Endgame is…
Literary Escapism: Endgame?
Ann Aguirre: Yeah.
Literary Escapism: That actually gives us a hint as to what we’ll find at the end. It’s not like we’re going to find at the end where she gets a happy ending, but we’ll get to see something as to how she’ll settled. Right?
Ann Aguirre: I can’t really answer those questions.
Literary Escapism: I know. That always happens.
Ann Aguirre: I mean, I could, but people would not thank me for it.
Ended about 18:30
- Grimspace at Amazon or the Book Depository
- Wanderlust at Amazon or the Book Depository
- Doubleblind at Amazon or the Book Depository
- Killbox at Amazon or the Book Depository
- Blue Diablo at Amazon or the Book Depository
- Hell Fire at Amazon or the Book Depository
- Shady Lady at Amazon or the Book Depository
Skin (written as Ava Gray)
- Skin Game at Amazon or the Book Depository
- Skin Tight at Amazon or the Book Depository
- Skin Heat at Amazon or the Book Depository
Contest Time! Ann has graciously offered to give away a copy of Skin Game and a Sirantha Jax novel (winners choice) to two lucky readers. All you have to do is answer this one question: What is it about science fiction that draws you in? Or simply ask Ann a question.
As always, there’s more ways of getting your name in the hat (remember, these aren’t mandatory to enter, just extra entries):
- +1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
- +1 to any review you comment on, however, comments must be meaningful. Just give me the title of the review and I’ll be able to figure it out from there.
- +1 If you are a follower of Literary Escapism on Facebook and/or Twitter
- +10 Purchase any of Ann’s novels (listed above) or any novel through LE’s Amazon store or the Book Depository sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: jackie AT literaryescapism DOT com. Each purchase is worth twenty entries.
There is one thing I am adding to my contests now…the winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.