Monday, May 14, 2012

Gail Delaney: Attack of the Interview

I know people doing interviews are supposed to slap their interviewee on the back and tell them how great they are. That's part and parcel for these things. This time the greatness is well deserved. Back in 2006, I was just becoming a published Romance author and basically was still learning the ropes. I'd read Historicals like forever and had just learned about paranormal romances. Then, somebody told me there was such thing as Science Fiction romance. I scratched my head and said, "I don't see it." Coming from a SciFi background, I didn't even want to sample this travesty. There was very little smooching in outer space. Han Solo was the only exception to that rule, thank you very much.

Then, because you knew it was coming, I met Gail Delaney. Well, met in a messenger window, but met nonetheless. After talking to her, I reluctantly rethought my stance. She had grown up on all the things I had. She talked the talk. Which talk? Geek, of course. So, I read the First Phoenix book and was floored. Sure there was some smooching, some angst and other things you'd expect from a romance novel. As I read on the smallest ebook reader ever made, believe me in 2006 you could go blind reading ebooks, I became a fan. Phoenix was everything I loved in Science Fiction. A little while down the road, I reread the newer version, and it held up to the test of time and rereading. No, it was better the second time around!

So, where's this interview? It's coming, just hold your jump drive and I'll get around to it. I've got a few more things to say first. If you've never read this series, you're missing out. I just hope by the end of this interview, you'll see why you're missing out and get off your keyboard and see why I'm not only a fan, but a fanatic when it comes to Science Fiction and Romance.

Gail, hope I didn't gush too much, but you were the one who turned me on…uh… I mean turned me onto SciFi Romance.

Jmo: I want to ask do you consider your books Science Fiction foremost, or Romance with SciFi elements?

Gail: Hmm, that's an interesting question. I actually see it as sci fi with strong romantic elements. I say that because there is much more going on in each book other than a story of a boy and a girl, although that is a primary storyline. There are deep friendships, there are familial relationships, there's danger and intrigue, mystery, deception, all kinds of stuff. And because the 'story' of any given couple doesn't always fully resolve in a single book (John and Jenifer in Janus being a good example), it's also not a typical romance in that aspect.

Jmo: Phoenix is more than a series. It's even more than anything I've ever read in a series before. The world building is amazing. When the idea for Phoenix came to you, was it this grand in scope? If not, how did it evolve to where it is now?

Gail: I would love to be able to say I imagined the entirety of the 'world' when I began Revolution, because then I could claim brilliance. But in truth, I had no idea when I began where Phoenix would lead. Sometimes, I was just as surprised when something was revealed as I hope the reader was. The entire Phoenix universe has become so real to me, I just feel like I'm relaying history, not writing fiction.

Jmo: The world isn't the only thing big. I'd have to say you have the largest cast of characters I've ever seen. How hard is it for you to keep all those voices under control? Under control! How do you keep them straight in your head? As long as we're on this subject, how do you decide which characters get to take center stage?

Gail: Man, you are just full of questions. I imagined the series from the beginning as a 'cast of characters' type of approach, much like a television series with a large cast. Each episode focuses on one or two people or storylines, but that doesn't mean the rest of the people in the series don't do anything.

As far as who takes center stage, that grows from the development of events. It's a natural flow from one book to the other, with little to no pause, just like in life. Keeping them straight hasn't felt like an issue for me because I feel I know them all so well. Now, sometimes I do have to remind myself "This book is about ___ and ____. You should get back to them".

Jmo: That brings us to Janus. We've talked about the origins of Phoenix. The evolution of Phoenix. The characters of Phoenix. So, what have you got in store for us in this new addition to the mythos that is Phoenix?

Gail: John Smith and Jenifer came from the original series, although they never knew each other. They do, however, have a connection neither realizes until different points in the book and it's a connection each of them reacts to differently (can't say more than that). So, just as I alluded to in the last question, their story has grown from the development of events. In the first series, John was introduced as an alien stranded on our world after the Sorracchi attacks and he proved himself to be a strong ally. So much so that in this new series he serves as ambassador between our worlds.

Jenifer was a fleeting character in the first series, appearing only at the end of book two and the beginning of book three. She hadn't ever been intended as a main character. But, as their stories unfolded I realized there was much more to her than originally met the eye.

Our world is very different from the world first introduces in The Phoenix Rebellion, and so the stories are very different. We are now a world devastated by global war, a world that has learned we are far from alone or isolated in the universe.

Most of the characters readers came to know and care about in The Phoenix Rebellion are here again in Phoenix Rising, but their roles are different. Some will still be in the forefront, though their stories will not be the main driving forces of the books. Some will only appear as the supporting cast where they had once been in the spotlight. People readers met only in passing, or briefly, become the driving force. And some stories never had a solid enough ending to say they are done.

And there will be new characters. In Phoenix Rising you will meet a man from today (2011) who wakes up to a world so drastically different from the one he knew he can't quite absorb it. All he knew is gone. You will meet men created by, trained by, and exist only for the purpose of serving the Sorracchi. But the Sorracchi are gone, and where does that leave them? You will meet a woman trapped in a body stolen by an old enemy, an enemy still determined to find revenge. You will get to know better a brother once believed lost, and walk with him as he makes some terrible mistakes, and finds redemption again. And there will be more, but I haven't met them yet so I can't introduce them.

Jmo: The end of Rebellion had pretty much tied up the entire series while leaving us with bated breath on what came next. How hard was it to kickoff this new chapter in the series?

Gail: Very hard. Really really hard. It took me over three years to write this first book because I had to find my feet again. The world had changed, and I had to discover just how much before I could put myself into it. Janus picks up less than a year after the end of End Game in the first series, but a great deal happened in the final book and in that year in between.

Jmo: How far ranging are your plans for the series? Do you see it an ongoing and unfolding story with no end, or do you see it with a definite end point?

Gail: Right now, I see no end. I already have the idea to write another series titled Children of Phoenix, which will explore our future when the next generation takes control. These are the children who were young and lived through the war, children born from the ashes of a nearly-destroyed world. Children raised with the knowledge the war brought to us, whether we wanted it, or not. After that, who knows?

But, I also want to explore the roots of Phoenix. The mythos of the series talks of the birth of Phoenix in the years following first contact with the aliens who would eventually become our enemies. We know who founded Phoenix, we know who came into it. But, I'd like to write that story. Beverly Surimoto is a leader in The Phoenix Rebellion, and it is know she was raised within the embrace of the rebellion. She leads as Vice President in Phoenix Rising. Her parents were some of the early founders of Phoenix. I want to write Birth of Phoenix, telling the story of Cecelia Bennett and Kaemon Surimoto (Names subject to change, except the Surimoto part), how they came to be founders of the rebel group that would eventually save the world. And their story of love.

Jmo: Before I wrap this up with something insanely silly, what is the one thing you would like your readers to take away from the Phoenix books?

Gail: Hope, I think. There is a great deal of bad and wrong that happens in Phoenix. But, we as 'humanity' stand together in hope of survival, hope of the future, hope of justice prevailing. Remember always we are one creation under God, and in the end, the good guy wins. It's not always easy, but to be the good guy you've got to stand up and fight.

Jmo: Okay, because this is my interview and I can pretty much do what I want… Brahwahwahwahwa. If you were the copilot on a starship, who would be sitting in the chair next to you? Han Solo? James T. Kirk? Or, Captain Mal Reynolds? Answer honestly now and notice there are no Doctors in the house to make this easy.

Gail: Hmmm... those are my three choices, huh? Cuz, you know... Jack O'Neill was known to pilot a ship or two.

Okay... Well, in all truth, I rule out Kirk. Too much of a playboy. Solo or Reynolds. In truth, they are very similar men. Hmmm... Okay, I'm going to go with Mal Reynolds. I can't compete with Leia in a gold bikini anyway. But, Mal had a nobility I appreciated. He often "aimed to misbehave", and although Solo did what was right, I think Mal had a bit more conviction.

And he totally rocked those pants! Humina!

Thank you for this awesome interview, Jmo. And for the ego boost.


  1. OK - I downloaded the Prequel to Phoenix Rebellion series and had a difficult time putting it down. What a hook at the end. I was disappointed you stopped there so now I have all four books in my Kindle ready for me to read as soon as the allergies vacate my head. Am looking forward to reading your stories, Gail. I do like your voice.

    Jmo, you are a great interviewer. Looks like I might like this new genre after all. Never to old to learn something new. :)

    1. I certainly hope I can introduce you to something new, Paisley. :-)

      And I'm kinda glad I hooked you so well that you want to know what happens. :-)

      I hope you enjoy and be sure to tell me what you think.

    2. Glad you enjoyed it. It's always fun to peel back the layers of what makes an author write and the secrets behind their books.

    3. Peeling back the layers makes me sound like an onion. :-)

  2. Gail and Jmo, I'll be honest-these plots sound like a foreign language to me, but have certainly piqued my interest! I'm always in awe at how a writer's mind grapples with this genre. Guess it's time for me to branch out, too! Nice interview and congrats, Gail!

    1. Hi, Jude

      Not having a degree in theoretical astrophysics myself, I tried to write these books so a science degree wasn't required. Just a vivid imagination. :-) Yeah, once in awhile I had to confirm some theoretical science theory or do a medical fact hunt, but I really try to focus on the characters and let their environment and situation enhance it -- rather than be the spotlight.

      I'd love to know I might have intrigued you enough to have you try it. At least.