|Author Interview: Jacey Bedford
||[Dec. 11th, 2014|07:54 pm]
DAW Books Inc.
OK, today we've got an interview with Jacey Bedford, author of Empire of Dust, the first novel of her Psi-Tech series and her debut novel. If you haven't checked out the book, definitely take a look. It looks like some good sci-fi reading. And if you have someone on your holiday gift list that likes sci-fi, why not get it for them? As a debut novel, it's unlikely they've already got it themselves, and maybe you'll help them discover a new favorite author. Here's the cover and the interview:
1. First, introduce yourself!
Hi, I'm Jacey Bedford. I've had short stories published on both sides of the Atlantic and now I'm delighted to say I have a three book deal with DAW, my dream publisher, for two space operas and a historical fantasy.
I've written all my life, but it took sixteen years between the publication of my first short story to the publication of my first novel. I'm one of the organizers of the annual Milford SF Writers' Conference in the UK, and the coordinator of the Northwrite SF writers' group.
I've been a librarian, a postmistress and a professional folk singer with a cappella trio Artisan, touring the UK, Europe, the USA and Canada. Now I live behind a desk in an old stone house in a tiny village on the edge of the Pennines (the empty upland bit that forms England's northern spine) with my songwriter husband, Brian Bedford, and a lively, long-haired, black German Shepherd called Eska.
2. Now give us the Hollywood pitch version of your new book/project. Two sentences max. Something along the lines of "[Book Title] is Harry Potter crossed with Aliens, with a touching twist of Knocked Up humor!"
Empire of Dust is a star-spanning space opera featuring resource-hungry megacorporations, more powerful than any one planetary government. Their agents, psi-techs, implanted with telepath technology, are bound to them if they want to retain their sanity, but Cara Carlinni has gone rogue with very good reason, and now she's on the run.
3. Give us an expanded description of the book/project. What makes this project different and worth checking out? What sets it apart from everything else in the field?
There's high adventure and a layered, twisty plot in a far-future setting with a central theme of trust and betrayal. Though it's a stand-alone there's the personal story of Ben and Cara combined with an overarching arc that will carry forward into a second book, Crossways (due from DAW next year).
Cara Carlinni is an impossible thing – a runaway psi-tech. Alphacorp can find their implant-augmented telepaths, anywhere, anytime, mind-to-mind, so even though it's driving her half-crazy she's powered down and has been surviving on tranqs and willpower. So far, so good. It’s been almost a year, and her mind is still her own. Okay, so she didn’t actually get as far as the outer system before her credit and luck ran out – in fact, she’s stuck on a backwater space station, looking for an opportunity to ship out – but at least she’s got a breathing space, or has she? When an Alphacorp ship docks, looking for her, Cara hitches a ride out with Ben Benjamin, a psi-tech Navigator. He may be a bit of a stuffed shirt, but at least he’s not actively trying to kill her, and since The Trust is Alphacorp’s biggest rival, she’ll take a chance.
Ben's not as straight-laced as he looks. He’s got a stubborn streak and he’s not afraid to bend rules and put the spirit of the law above the letter. Right now his career is teetering after losing a colony, and most of his team, to a fleet of raiders. He suspects boardroom betrayal, but has no proof. When his boss, sends him to set up a new colony on Olyanda, Ben is determined to do the job and bring his team home alive – this time. Cara Carlinni may be an emotional complication he doesn't need, but top grade telepaths are rare and having one who owes him a favour might be the difference between keeping his team alive and being shafted – again.
4. What part of the writing process for this book/project did you struggle with the most? Why was that particularly difficult? What did it teach you about the writing process (if anything)?
When I set out to write Empire of Dust I figured it would be a relatively short standalone that would act as a prequel for a couple of linked novels already written. I was aiming for around 100,000 words. It quickly became clear that it wasn't going to be the novel I first envisaged. My characters took over. They had more problems than I ever expected. It grew and grew. And then it grew some more. At one point it expanded to 240,000 words, way too long for most publishers to take a chance on for a first-time novelist. So I cut it back to 190,000 words and emailed my (then) agent who said in no uncertain terms to cut it again. 'Make it 119,000 words and then send it to me.' At first I thought that was impossible, but then I thought I should give it a try, even if I just treated it as a writing exercise. Over the course of one very intense long weekend I did a surgical strike on the manuscript. (Luckily without getting rid of the original version.) For various reasons I parted company from that agent before she'd shopped the manuscript around and, conscious of the fact that I'd probably thrown out the baby with the bathwater, I added back a few thousand words of character motivation and ended up with a novel of 123,00 words. For the next three years it languished on the desk of an editor at a major publishing house who'd asked to see it. During that time I wrote (amongst other things) Winterwood, the novel that Sheila Gilbert acquired for DAW in 2013. When Sheila asked what else I'd got and heard about Empire of Dust she said to send it, and not only bought it, but ordered a second book in the series. We got down to editorial discussions and Sheila said she'd like more worldbuilding and character depth and, in fact, a lot of those things that I'd cut out of the original long book. I went back to the old version, still on file, and resurrected scenes that I'd been sorry to lose. Of course, some of them needed reworking, but a lot of what Sheila asked for was already there in one form or another. The end result came in at 171,000 words. Five hundred and thirty two pages.
What did I learn? To trust my first instincts and to trust my editor. Sheila is brilliant to work with. She's not troubled by a high word count as long as - she says - they're good words.
5. What was your favorite part of writing this book/project? What gave you chills when you wrote it and made you think, "Oh, this is GOOD!"?
I never know whether my own work is good. I'm way too close to it to be objective, so I concentrate on writing what I'd like to read, a mixture of action adventure driven by my characters. I really liked writing the complex three-way relationship between Ben, Cara and the largely unseen, but ever-present bad guy, Ari van Blaiden, Cara's ex-boss and ex-lover. She's caught between the two. Ari's a flamboyant, blond, blue-eyed god of a man, Mr. Attractive on the surface, but with a cruel undertow and some dark secrets, while Ben is less showy. He's dark-haired, brown-skinned, competent and quietly self-confident, masking deep feelings beneath a calm exterior. He's driven by the need to protect his present team, and a desire for justice for his old one. I paralleled the destructive Cara/Ari relationship with Ben's relationship with his boss, friend and father-substitute, Crowder, but I can't tell you any more about that without going into spoiler territory.
I like complex plotting. Cara and Ben struggle to survive resource-hungry megacorps, black-ops raids, a bio-engineered threat, and the good intentions of the people they are trying to protect. Betrayal follows betrayal, and friends become enemies. In the end the most important skill is knowing where to put their trust.
Writing blog: http://jaceybedford.wordpress.com
Milford SF Writers' Conference: http://www.milfordSF.co.uk