where the writers are
Guest blog - author Sunny Moraine on "Line and Orbit"

When I heard that Sunny Moraine, one of the wonderful, talented authors from our anthology Hellebore and Rue, had a novel cowritten with Lisa Soem coming out next week, I immediately asked her to write a blog post about the book, coauthoring a novel and whatever else she wanted to share. Line and Orbit will be released from Samhain Press on 2/5/2013; you can enter to win a copy on Sunny's blog and/or preorder it from Samhain or Amazon.


A short synopsis:
Adam Yuga, a rising young star in the imperialist Terran Protectorate, is on the verge of a massive promotion…until a routine physical exam reveals something less than perfection. Genetic flaws are taboo, and Adam soon discovers there’s a thin line between rising star and starving outcast.

And without further ado, Sunny's post:

Hi. I'm Sunny. Many thanks to Catherine for offering a spot on her blog in which to talk about writing and also to plug Line and Orbit, the book I have coming out in a couple of days. I actually want to talk about not just writing in general, but what the specific process of writing this book has been like, because it's been, at least to me, interesting.

A quick primer: Line and Orbit is a queer space opera – really almost SF romance – about the rising tension between two human societies in the far future. Caught in the middle of this tension is Adam Yuga, a once-promising member of the imperialist Terran Protectorate, now exiled, on the run, and increasingly stricken with a mysterious illness. The only people who offer him shelter are the nomadic Bideshi, the people Adam has always been taught to revile. As Adam struggles to adjust, he forms an odd and frequently prickly friendship with Lochlan, a pilot, carouser, and all-around ruffian. As their relationship begins to deepen into something more, Adam makes some worrying discoveries about the facts behind his illness, discoveries that point to a horrifying truth that threatens not only the Bideshi but all of humanity itself.

This book was unexpected. It actually kept being unexpected.

It wasn’t necessarily that the idea itself was out of the blue. My co-author and I had been friends for a while, had been writing together for a while, and I knew that I a) liked her well enough to be a creative partner with her, and b) that we produced good stuff when we collaborated. We’d never done anything book-length, but after a couple of failures in trying to finish long projects on my own, I thought it might be better if I had someone to work off of, to hand things off to when I felt stuck or unmotivated. I thought that, together, we might be able to start and finish something cool.

The idea for the book wasn’t all that unexpected, either. We both had a sense of the kinds of stories we liked, and of course our preferences matched up pretty well: We both liked epics, we both liked fantastic world-building, we liked extremely complex characters, we liked love and death and redemption. All of those things came together in a burst of inspiration about a nomadic people traveling endlessly in generational starships, and the document that at the time we called SPACE NOMADS and that eventually became <i>Line and Orbit</i> was born.

What kept surprising me about the book was where it went.

We had a rough plot outlined before we began, but we left a lot of it hazy, out of wanting to maintain a degree of freedom, out of the practical aspects of decision-making for both of us at that point in time, and out of laziness. The effect of this was that we created as if we were reading: everything was, to some degree, surprising, and the process felt like one of discovery rather than creation. We didn't really know our villains until halfway through the story; we didn't really come to a full understanding of what was at stake until the stakes got very high indeed. This isn't necessarily how I would suggest one write a book – I think it has a lot of drawbacks – but at the time, it worked. It was thrilling, right up to the end.

What also kept surprising me about the book was that it happened at all.

I should explain: I'm superstitious about books. I don't like to discuss them publicly until over 10k words in; I don't like calling them “a book” until at least 20k words are written. Given that I'd been pretty much unsuccessful when it came to completing large fiction projects on my own up until that time, there was part of me that always half-expected the thing to die on the vine. I and my co-author were (and are) both in very demanding doctoral programs; that alone should have been a kiss of death.

And yet it happened. Here we are, watching the days count down until release, and though I've had a couple of years to get used to the idea of having completed a book, that skeptical part of me still doesn't quite believe it. Who's to say when a book finally feels real? I guess we're all different when it comes to that.

Either way, I'm excited. I hope it feels real to everyone who picks it up. I hope the delight of discovering it is there as much for others as it was for us. And to the degree that it's delightful, I hope it also keeps being unexpected.

And for anyone who's interesting in getting a free copy, I'm running a contest until midnight on the 5th that features three copies (and some hand-made jewelry) to give away. Entry info is here! And more about the book itself is here.