Today on the Electric Didact, we have our first author interview!
I talked with Sonya Jeffords, writer of the Sonya Writes blog, book reviews, and most recently, a sci-fi novel entitled First to Dance. This is taken from the back cover:
"Nineteen-year-old Ayita grew up believing that human life only existed on Zozeis, until she found the books. Learning about Earth changed everything for her, and she is determined to discover and reveal the truth.
Many generations earlier, Etana left Earth as a young woman hoping to find a better life on another planet, but by the time she arrived on Zozeis she realized she had made a big mistake. No one got what they were promised when they left Earth, and as a result the people are determined to put all memory of Earth behind them. Etana knows this isn’t acceptable, and she will do whatever it takes to keep Earth’s memory alive for the people of Zozeis.
Their stories take place separately, and yet neither one of them could accomplish their goal without the other. How far will they go to make sure that Earth is not forgotten?"
Grab your ear horns--it's time for the Electric Didact!
About Sonya Jeffords
Sonya Jeffords knew she wanted to be a novelist from the time she was eight. Her primary genre is science fiction, but after becoming a mother she expanded into children's literature as well, writing books for her children and self-publishing them for others to enjoy. Sonya also enjoys designing board and card games. She lives in North Carolina with her two daughters.
Electric Didact: Your blog, Sonya Writes, talks about some of the sorts of things you've found yourself writing, including book reviews, your blog, and also educational books for your kids. When did you decide to write a novel and what played into that decision?
Sonya: I started writing novels in middle school, probably because I loved reading them. I've always had dozens of ideas in my head that I think would make excellent novels. I finished two novels and one novella and also co-wrote a third novel with a friend before I graduated high school, but none of them were good enough to publish.
I would say the main reason I write is that I come up with these ideas I love and I want to turn them into books so I can read them and share them with others. I like creating worlds and characters.
ED: Wow! I never finished any of the novels I started in middle/high school (but that's a tale for another day). Do you consider First to Dance a continuation of your earlier writing, or is it a break in your own tradition--a new direction?
Sonya: I suppose it's a continuation. I've written in several genres, but primarily speculative fiction. I started First to Dance in high school, but stopped working on it for several years after I got married. When I finish the sequel I plan to write two novels based on other ideas I had in high school.
ED: Do you find yourself putting a lot of yourself or people you know into the characters of First to Dance?
Sonya: Yes, definitely. The main characters Ayita and Etana are both representations of myself to some extent. That said, none of the characters, Ayita and Etana included, are completely based off anyone in real life. They may have some characteristics and traits of myself or people I've known, but I still had to turn them into their own individual characters or the story would not have been written well. In the second and third drafts of the book I found myself going through and taking out a lot of the dialogue/actions that fit the people who originally inspired them because they no longer fit the actual characters.
I think sometimes the best ideas are the ones you've given a few years to mature. The new ideas I'm coming up with now probably won't become novels for five or six years.
Sonya: I write after my kids go to bed. I am a single mom and I home-school my two daughters, so I don't have a lot of opportunity to write during the day. I give myself deadlines but almost never meet them. Part of it is that I multitask on several projects at a time. Each individual project takes longer to finish that way, but it also helps prevent me from becoming bored or getting writer's block. If I don't feel like writing I work on an illustration or something else. At any given time I have at least five different things I'm working on. I'm trying to focus more on my novel writing though, because I would like to finish and publish the sequel to First to Dance before 2014 is over.
Sonya: Sometimes I work on a few novels at a time, but I also work on other types of projects such as the children's books I've written and illustrated, and my more recent Board Game in a Book series. Sometimes I want a change of pace so I work on a different type of project for a while.
Sonya: I am happy with it, but also extremely self-conscious. I'm almost afraid to promote it because I'm concerned about the potential of people hating it. But I've been promoting it anyway and hopefully the positive reviews it gets will always outnumber any negative ones. I worked on this book for a long time so it's important to me that it be well-received overall.
Sonya: Ideas come to me in various ways. I've always liked to contemplate things and ask the question "what if?" and I think that's why I write more speculative fiction than any other genre. The idea for First to Dance came about like this: I got a book on character naming and found the name Ayita, which means "first to dance". When I saw that, I thought, there's a story there. So then I asked myself why would Ayita be the "first to dance" and brainstormed from there until I had a story. I keep asking myself "what if" or "why" about my ideas for a long time until I have a few major characters figured out and most of the plot in my head. I brainstorm an idea for a long time before I actually start writing it.
ED: First to Dance deals with Ayita and Etana, two young women from different time periods in the future, trying to save the memory of Earth. Did you reach this idea after the same process of brainstorming and reflection, or was there something in particular that sparked it into existence for you?
Sonya: I think it was the same process of brainstorming. One idea led to another until I had a solid premise for the book, and then the ideas changed several more times as I was writing. It all started with asking myself why Ayita would be the "first to dance" and what kind of background and society would play into that. I realized that it had to be a very dystopian society for dancing to not be allowed or even heard of, and then I wondered how the society would come to be that way. I eventually decided that the people who migrated from Earth decided they didn't want to remember their past anymore or teach it to their children, so they tried to hide the truth about Earth and over time became more and more controlling about not only the facts about Earth but any sort of creative expression as well.
First to Dance is now available on Amazon both in paperback form and for Kindle! You can also find Sonya's other writing, including her children's books and games at her Amazon page, Sonya Writes.
Jedd Cole is a professional writer and author of short speculative fiction. He resides in Ohio where he is completing a degree in Rhetoric & Professional Writing, crafting short stories in every time-nook he can find, all while frequenting the pages of imaginary worlds with his wonderful wife, Heather, and no pets. None.