Today at Book Brats we are THRILLED to bring you an extra special interview and excerpt with author Sharon Lynn Fisher. Her book GHOST PLANET came out on the 30th from Tor, but you can still learn more about this amazing book and awesome author before you go to the store and buy a copy of this epic novel. Like romance? Like ghosts? Like outer space science fiction? Then you’re going to love this book. Let’s check it out, shall we? Thanks so much to Sharon and Tor for letting us host this awesome feature!
When psychologist Elizabeth Cole arrives on a recently colonized planet to start a new job, she doesn’t expect to find her supervisor, Murphy, so incredibly attractive. She doesn’t expect to see alien beings, native to the planet, materializing as ghosts and following the “colonist” humans around. Most of all, she doesn’t expect to learn that Elizabeth Cole in fact died in a crash en route to this planet, and that she herself a reincarnated ghost-alien, connected symbiotically to Murphy—who, bound by the “Ghost Protocol” that he himself created, is not allowed to interact with or acknowledge Elizabeth in any way.
Confused, alone, and discounted as less than human, Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence and fight the blatant discrimination of the Ghost Protocol. But as she draws closer to the truth, she begins to realize that she is only a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet. Oppressed by her ghost status and tantalized by forbidden love, Elizabeth may just be the one to upset the planetary balance….
We trotted up half a dozen steps and were passing through the glass doors when Murphy said, “We’ll be scanned by security just inside. I hate them being here, raising people’s anxiety level in a place where we want them to feel safe. But all new arrivals pass through here, and someone decided it was a good idea.”
Thinking about the illicit-substance and weapons scans in all the airports and public buildings back home, I raised my eyebrows. “What’s it for?”
“To get a sort of fingerprint on everyone,” he explained, walking through the doorframe-shaped scanner. “Just to make sure we know who’s who. They can’t do it at the transport terminal because no one has ghosts when they first arrive.”
I followed him through the scanner, and a long beep sounded somewhere off to my left as I joined him inside. Murphy’s head jerked toward the sound. His eyes moved to the glass doors we’d just come through, and slowly back to me. He glanced at the security desk on our right.
“Where is it?” Murphy called to the guard, whose fingers were flying over his keyboard. The guard’s ghost leaned against the wall behind him, little more than a shadow.
The man stopped typing and looked up. “I’m sorry, Dr. Murphy?”
“I heard the alert go off, but I don’t see her. My ghost, Simon,” Murphy added, growing impatient. “Do you see her?”
The guard blinked at him a couple times. Then he cleared his throat. “She’s standing right next to you, Dr. Murphy.”
Book Brats: The idea of a planet full of ghosts is rather unusual to say the least. Where did you get the inspiration for the book?
Thanks so much for having me!
I came up with the title of the book first, which is often what gets my creative crockpot simmering. Then I noodled on what a world called “ghost planet” would be like – would it really have ghosts? Aliens that only seem like ghosts? I also had an idea for a first scene where a scientist travels to the planet and discovers she’s tethered to an alien. When I flipped that concept — made the scientist the alien — the clouds parted and light shone down . . . or maybe that just happened in my head.
Book Brats: What is your writing process like?
The beginning is always just like I described in the first question. After that, I write the first scene of the book. If I feel good about that, I put together a short pitch that (hopefully) encapsulates the high concept of the story. Once I commit myself to the idea of writing it, I run these by my agent.
From there I develop a one- to two-page synopsis, which evolves as I continue writing the novel. Sort of a blended plotter/pantser approach. I still revise as I go. I have tried plowing ahead/fast drafting, but it doesn’t work for me. I get the sense of a train wreck piling up behind me. Plus the revisions teach me about my characters. When the manuscript is complete it’s typically more of a second draft, and I will go through it at least two more times, massaging the prose and incorporating feedback from agent/editor and beta readers.
Book Brats: Do you have a particular spot where you write the most?
When I’m writing I am most productive at my desk. I have a small apartment, so that is also my living room. But I have a nice view of a garden and trees out my window. When I’m revising (or writing guest posts and interviews!) I can vary things a bit by going to a coffee shop or pub. I enjoy that. Writers can easily become hermits if we’re not careful.
Book Brats: What drew you to write science fiction?
I love exploring relationship dynamics and individual psychology against the backdrop of alien worlds, or really any type of speculative setting. Sci-Fi/Fantasy elements also make for great conflict, mystery, and adventure.
Book Brats: Have any books or authors particularly influenced you as a writer?
I like to always mention WATERSHIP DOWN, by Richard Adams, and A WRINKLE IN TIME, by Madeleine L’Engle. I read both books numerous times when I was an adolescent. WRINKLE was the first sci-fi book I loved, I think because of the focus on the family members’ strong bonds to each other. WATERSHIP taught me a lot about including mystery, conflict, and plot twists.
Book Brats: Is there anything you can tell us about your upcoming projects?
I’m currently working on my second book for Tor (THE OPHELIA PROPHECY), a post-apocalyptic bio-punk romance. A twisty tale with lots of color and texture, science, politics, adventure, and of course romance!
I’d like to write a short or two — a story set in the earliest days of colonization on Ardagh 1 (the “ghost planet”), and this unrelated zombie romance thing I’ve had simmering.
Book Brats: Have you ever had any ghostly encounters?
Ha, yes I did once! I was staying at The Edgefield Hotel outside Portland (a very old building that was first a work farm for the poor and later a retirement home), and in the early morning hours I dreamt that a ghost ran into the room and grabbed my feet. I woke up in a cold sweat and was so frightened I curled up in a ball and couldn’t get back to sleep.
I was telling the staff about it later, and they laughed and showed me the guest “ghost journal.” They pointed me to the gift shop, which had a book about the ghosts at all their hotels (which are all in old buildings). The ghost mentioned for The Edgefield was a woman whose job it was to wake people who slept too late — which she did by shaking their feet.
SHARON LYNN FISHER is the author of GHOST PLANET, coming from Tor Books on Oct. 30. The book — a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist — is a sci-fi/romance blend that offers a “fresh and fascinating take on the human-alien problem” (says author Linnea Sinclair). She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is hard at work on her next novel and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.