Please welcome Author Zen DiPietro to THE KATY today! ****READ TO THE END FOR A GIVEAWAY****
Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, dreamer, writer, and a mom of two. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. A recovering gamer, but we won’t talk about that. Particular loves include badass heroines, British accents, and the smell of Band-Aids.
How did you decide to become an author? Any books, movie, or people who inspired you to pursue your dream?
I always had a book in my hand as a kid. Even in class, I’d be reading a book while the teacher went over things I already understood. I started reading my mom’s books in third grade. Her books of choice were Stephen King novels and Harlequin romances. So imagine a little red-haired girl hiding the covers of her books in school. I was afraid I’d get in trouble for them—especially the racy romance covers!
I was always reading. In college, I started doing some creative writing but it never amounted to anything but practice. That felt like failure at the time, but was a necessary part of the process. Then several years ago, a couple of friends encouraged me to start writing again. It didn’t take much nudging. My kids had started school and I’d had a story knocking around in my head for years. So I starting writing again, and have been publishing ever since.
It’s just a love of stories. For me, they’re the stuff of life.
Are you self-published or traditionally published? Why did you choose to go that route?
I’ve done both. I found that I prefer self-publishing. It’s an obscene amount of work, but I like having control over every aspect. It ensures that everything has the quality I expect, and that a book remains true to my vision.
Are you a plotter or a panster? Or a planster?
Plantser is a new phrase for me! But I do use a mix of the two approaches. I plan where I’ll start and where I’ll end up, along with a few points in between. For the rest, I write and see where the characters take me. Sometimes they really surprise me. I love it when they do that!
Why did you decide to cross the science fiction and fantasy genre line?
The two have a lot in common. Star Wars is science fantasy, and it’s a hybrid that works because of all the possibilities the two genres present. They both allow us to go to the limits of the imagination. Once we start pulling those threads of “what if,” we can explore possibilities and examine realities under a different light.
My first series is science fantasy. There’s a modern, tech-savvy world alongside a magical-realism component. My upcoming Dragonfire Station is straight-up spacefaring science fiction. The two aren’t that different, really, outside of the window dressing.
The Stargate series is a good example of a story could go either way. It could easily have been made into a fantasy series with different costumes and a magical rationale instead of a scientific one.
Science and magic aren’t that different when we’re talking about fictional advanced technologies. Geeks like me just enjoy the technobabble.
Your site states that you enjoy badass women! What are some favorite heroines of yours and how have they inspired you on your journey?
There are so many! It’s hard to narrow it down, really.
Leeloo (The Fifth Element)
Dr. Crusher (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Rose Tyler (Doctor Who)
River Tam (Firefly)
Kira Nerys (Star Trek: DS9)
Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)
Devi Morris (Rachel Bach’s Paradox series)
Only two of these characters have some sort of special powers. Only a couple are particularly educated. What they all have in common is grit and determination. Each of them is passionate about something, and puts herself at risk to fulfill her goals. It’s not about being a ninja or a weapon master (though that’s cool and definitely doesn’t hurt). It’s about strength of character and willingness to do whatever it takes to meet one’s objectives.
None of these characters are perfect people. They’re flawed and messy and all the more human for it. (Well, except for Leeloo and Kira, who aren’t actually human. But that’s getting nitpicky, which is a hazard of being a geek.)
Why do you think people feel drawn to the Science Fiction or fantasy genres?
They allow for the full range of human emotion. They inspire us about what we could be and what we could accomplish. They excite us for all the adventures ahead. And they scare us, because the potential for good comes with the potential for bad. More than other genres, they fill us with hope for what might be.
What scientific advancement do you feel is right around the corner?
I think we’re going to see some big things in immunology. If we can figure out how to take charge of our immune systems, we can solve so many problems like cancer, HIV, antibiotic resistance, autoimmune disorders, and viral infections.
I think this because it’s too terrifying to think it won’t happen. We live in such a mobile world that a pandemic is not just an interesting plot line—it’s an impending certainty. Vaccine creation and production is a tremendously long process, while the spread of disease is incredibly fast. If we can’t figure out how to manipulate our immune systems, we’ll see a global pandemic sooner rather than later.
Do any of your characters represent you as a whole or someone you know? Or are they qualities you admire in others?
My bard character Élan, who starred in the third book of my Guardians of Terath series, is based on an AD&D character I played long ago. She’s the closest of any of my characters to my personality (quirky, irreverent, funny), because she developed over many years as I roleplayed her. Not surprisingly, I’m particularly fond of her. Now that I think about it, Wren from the Dragonfire Station series has those same characteristics. The two are very different characters, but they both share some key personality traits with me.
I have a steampunk short story coming out in an anthology late this year or so that features my grandparents. The woman shares my grandma’s name and certain aspects of her personality, while the man is a looser interpretation of my grandpa. My grandparents have been gone for a long time, and it pleased me to give them an adventure story. My grandma would have gotten a huge kick out of it. She would have giggled about it for months.
Are there any genres of literature or movies that you won’t read or watch? What’s your favorite genre to read/watch?
Hmm, I like a wide variety of genres, though I focus on science fiction and fantasy. More important than genre, for me, is the character development and the ability to get me invested in the story with a dynamic plot that hits all the emotions. I need to care about it all to keep me interested. Otherwise my attention wanders and I go looking for something else.
That said, werewolves and vampires are themes that I don’t read or watch much of these days. Erotica isn’t my thing, either. I don’t have anything against those genres. They just don’t speak to me.
My favorite is sci-fi. I’ve watched endless reruns of Star Trek and Firefly. The stories just don’t get old, even though the production value or writing style becomes dated.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep going and going and going, and learn from everything you do. Never stop trying to improve. To become skilled at anything, you have to repeat the process many times, and the early attempts are usually not keepers. Can you imagine a sculptor expecting her first work to be a masterpiece? Proficiency takes time and persistence.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
The first book in My Dragonfire Station series, Translucid, releases September 15. The second book follows soon after on October 25. I’m excited about this series. It’s written in the tradition of other space fleet stories like Star Trek, Firefly, and The Expanse. There’s adventure and intrigue, but most importantly, a cast of characters worth caring about.
Fans of science fiction and fantasy books should check out my website http://www.WomenOfBadassery.com. I post reviews of books I recommend, author interviews, articles on writing craft, and what I’m adding to my to-be-read shelf each week. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter, which informs of upcoming releases and special promotions.
Thank you for joining me on THE KATY today, Zen!
Thanks so much for having me, Katy! It’s been a pleasure.
Zen is giving away 5 exclusive e-book ARCs of her new novel, Translucid. Be one of the first people to read it by entering here!
TO ENTER: Comment below (or on my original Facebook page post) with one thing you found interesting about Zen’s interview. FIVE lucky commenters will receive an ARC of Translucid