Writer Wednesdays with Mary Fan

This week, I had a chance to chat with Mary Fan, author of the sci-fi novel Artificial Absolutes, which I’ll get the chance to read later this summer. You can check out the trailer here.

Tell us about yourself:

I’m an opera-singing, kick-boxing, violin-playing millennial currently residing in New Jersey. During the day, I work in financial marketing, and at night, I write books. I was a music major in college (specializing in composition), and although I’m not pursuing that at the moment, I still scribble songs in my spare time (when I have any).

Tell us about your book:

Set in the distant future, Artificial Absolutes is a sci-fi adventure through space and cyberspace that follows a young woman’s efforts to save both her kidnapped friend and her falsely-convicted brother from a powerful, invisible enemy known only as No Name. It plays on familiar sci-fi tropes—chases through space, laser gun battles, virtual worlds—while focusing on the characters and their internal as well as external conflicts.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes and no. I’ve always loved reading (I was that weird kid who spent lunch hour in the library and lugged around books too big for me), and I also liked making up stories in my head. My favorite projects in elementary school were the ones that involved writing a story or making a book. I started writing in earnest in middle school and continued through high school, then had to give it a rest because I had too much work to do for college. Also, I realized how freaking hard this whole writing business was and thought maybe I wasn’t cut out for it, especially since I was really getting into music (which, funnily enough, is even harder).

A few years out of college, though, the writing bug bit me again, and I haven’t been able to stop since. Even during the years when I wasn’t actively writing, I was still making up stories in my head and just telling them to myself. So I figured, why not write them down and see how far they go?

Who is your favorite character in your book, and why?

Jane Colt is my protagonist, and so naturally she’s my favorite. She’s ordinary in that she’s not a bounty hunter or secret agent or anything like that — she’s a 22-year-old office worker with dreams of becoming a musician. When it comes to fighting bad guys, her skills include flying a ship and… not much else. But although she is somewhat aware of her disadvantages, she sticks to the belief that she can do anything. She’s very headstrong, perhaps with a touch of arrogance, but at the same time, she can be very insecure. She hides her insecurity behind a mask of confidence and, when in doubt, isn’t above charming her way out of a problem.

Are any elements of your book autobiographical or inspired by elements of your life?

Anyone who knows me will see that Jane’s a composer working in an office, and I’m a composer working in an office and instantly conclude that she’s me. I must protest! While elements of my personality did end up in her character, she’s a mishmash of many people—my sister, Scarlet O’Hara, Princess Leia, Elizabeth Swann… at this point, I think she’s just herself. I did draw upon my experiences in music to bring hers to life.

I think pieces of myself ended up in each of my characters, including the villains, which I think is inevitable since they all came from my head. However, nothing comes directly from real life. Especially since Artificial Absolutes takes place in outer space.

What’s your favorite scene or location in the work you’re currently promoting, and why?

My favorite scene to write was chapter 2, where the reader is first introduced to Jane. It depicts just how dull her life has become–she just gets up and goes to work–and it reveals a lot about who she is. She’s a dreamer who won’t allow herself to pursue her passions out of a somewhat misguided sense of rationality, a self-proclaimed loner who misses having company, and an opinionated young woman who has a hard time keeping her some of her not-so-nice thoughts to herself. It’s something of a “day in the life” chapter, and it gave me a chance to show the reader a bit of what life in the Interstellar Confederation is like.

Then her friend gets kidnapped at the end of chapter 2, and everything starts getting crazy.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

Yup—too many for my own good! While Artificial Absolutes was conceived as a stand-alone book, I left the ending open enough to invite a sequel just in case. Well, I couldn’t help wondering what would happen next, so I ended up planning out two more books. The second installment, Synthetic Illusions, was recently picked up by Red Adept Publishing and will be out in spring 2014.

Meanwhile, I have a YA dystopian fantasy series under contract with Glass House Press, called “Flynn Nightsider.” It’s a five-book series set in a future in which, following an apocalyptic battle with the evil Lord of the Underworld, the magical Enchanters have taken over the world and oppress the ordinary, non-magical people. The first book, Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil, is scheduled to be released in March 2014.

So that’s already two more books I’ll be editing and promoting side-by-side, and for some reason, I thought it’d be a good idea to start a third project entirely removed from those two series. It’s a YA sci-fi/paranormal romance, and it’s kind of new territory for me because I’m accustomed to plot-driven adventures while this project is more of a drama. So we’ll see how it goes…

Finally, where can we find you? (blogs, website, facebook, twitter, etc.)

I have two blogs: Zigzag Timeline (http://zigzagtl.blogspot.com), where I blog about books and post reviews, and Astral Musings (http://astralcolt.tumblr.com), where I post whatever randomness happens to come to mind. My website is http://www.MaryFan.com, and I’m on Twitter as @astralcolt and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mfanwriter (all my social media links can be found on my website).