LeAnne Hardy: Grace Bridges has written an exciting Sci-Fi allegory of Christian faith, Legendary Space Pilgrims, published by her own imprint, Splashdown Books. I’m about a third of the way through it and eager to read more. Grace joins us today to answer some questions about her writing.
First things first, Grace. How did you get started writing?
Grace Bridges: Many years ago when I was nine, I was given a hardback notebook that looked so much like a real book that I decided to write one in it. So that's what I did, with rocket ships and aliens and peculiar mashups of movies I'd seen.
LH: How did Legendary Space Pilgrims come about?
GB: Well, this is one of those projects that just jumped me when I actually wanted to do something else entirely. It arose from a vivid dream one night, which provided me with characters, basic plot elements, and even a whole scene or two. The night before the dream I had been reading Frank Creed's Flashpoint, which is such a unique and imaginative work that it must have sparked off this adventure.
LH: Legendary Space Pilgrims is science fiction, and you said your first writing had rocket ships and aliens. Is this your usual genre and why do you think that is?
GB: Science fiction is where I feel at home. I'm a die-hard Trekkie, so there's your reason right there. I love to imagine what could be technically possible even in the fairly near future, and how that might impact people on a personal level - especially when systems fail.
LH: Is there anything particular about those genres that make them especially suitable for pursuing themes of faith?
GB: Absolutely. When I read good sci-fi, it expands my inner horizons and helps me grasp more of the grandness of the universe, and thus its creator.
LH: All of us in international fiction have to deal with portraying setting and cultures alien to most of our readers. In science fiction, creating new worlds is part of what defines the genre, and of course, none of your readers has experienced the setting or culture you are writing about. You do a great job of portraying unique settings and this dystopian culture without getting bogged down in description or explanation. What do you focus on to make that happen so smoothly?
GB: I focus on people and the senses, because those are the same anywhere you happen to be. Emotions and impressions are the things that make flights of fancy real enough to immerse yourself in.
LH: What do you find most challenging in creating different worlds? (I’m thinking the answer might be reining in your vivid imagination.)
GB: Creating complete cultures is a daunting task at times, as I did in this book. Other novels are based on a future Earth, which gives me more to work from.
LH: Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced you?
GB: Stephen Lawhead is right up there at the top with his image-saturated and densely emotional prose, something I aspire to every time I write. Others include Frank Creed, Jeremy Robinson, Amy Deardon, Kerry Nietz, and many more.
LH: Is the “setting” where you write important to you?
GB: I write a lot by hand or on my phone when I'm out of the house. An idea will grab me somewhere along the road and I have to stop and write it down. Location is certainly important - I like to be somewhere with a view into the distance, and without distractions is definitely a bonus.
LH: How do you deal with writer's block?
I get out and go to the beach and sit there staring at the water. Jump in it, if the weather's warm. Water has an amazing effect on my brain cells. Maybe it's the image of inspiration flowing.
LH: Tell us about your published work, and where we can go to find out more.
GB: My first book Faith Awakened came out in 2007 [just one day after Frank Creed's Flashpoint came out, and we both used the same font on our covers! They are also both cyberpunk dystopias. How weird is that!] Head on over to www.faithawakened.com for all the funky stuff on that book. I have a bunch of short stories in online ezines - there's a complete list at http://grace.splashdownbooks.com/p/grace-author.html.
LH: What are you working on right now and how’s it going?
GB: I'm finally writing Godspeed, the sequel to Faith Awakened, which is inching towards halfway. In between there is one more project: CyberDublin is post-first-draft, a very fun cyberpunkish story which once again returns to a favourite theme of mine: how the Irish would deal with the end of the world as we know it.
LH: Your best writing tip?
GB: READ. There is no way anyone can become a great writer without first being a great reader. Get those books into you, imbibe those words so that they are added to your arsenal and can be used at will.
LH: What else are you up to that our readers would find interesting?
GB: Splashdown Books is my own small publishing business for inspirational sci-fi and fantasy. There are four titles out so far and four more in the works.
LH: Something you reckon not many people know about you?
GB: I'm thirty-one (why are most writers much older??), I play the bodhran, which is an Irish hand drum. In my spare time, should I have any, I engage in photography, astronomy, Muppet-making, cookie-baking, and Tweet-ups. I speak German like a native, French like a rusty fourth-year university student, and a little Maori and Latin. Oh yes, and I was homeschooled - or rather, unschooled - and blame my writing craze on the hundreds of books I devoured as a child and teenager.
LH: Your website or social media profile?
GB: http://grace.splashdownbooks.com - and the sidebar there will take you to my books, twitter and facebook.