Thursday, March 12, 2015

Interview with Genevieve Valentine - March 12, 2015

Please welcome Genevieve Valentine to The Qwillery. Persona was published on March 10th by Saga Press.  You may read an excerpt from Persona here.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. Persona is your third published novel, after Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti (2011) and The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (2014). Has your writing process changed from Mechanique to Persona? Do these 3 novels have anything in common?

Genevieve:  There are cosmetic differences from book to book, I think, in terms of structure and research and tone. But I feel like, for me, every book goes through the usual cycle of exhilaration, panic, self-doubt, and determination, and you just tend to forget it between books, so every time you get started is the same thrill of beginning, and the doubts start about ten pages after that as you realize you've totally lost the ability to write a novel.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Genevieve:  Finding the time for it. I left my day job about two years ago, and was lucky enough to score some film reviewing and TV recapping gigs to make ends meet. It's a dream job for me, but my life balance has gone from a day job that requires almost no writing to a day job entirely made up of writing, and sometimes it's hard to protect fiction-writing time when you know you could be turning in another review for an instant uptick in your paycheck. I'm working on this, but it's definitely been the most noticeable change.

TQ:  Describe Persona in 140 characters or less.

Genevieve:  When diplomacy is celebrity, having secrets is dangerous. For Daniel, it's the photo of a lifetime. For Suyana, it's just risking her life.

TQ:  Tell us something about Persona that is not in the book description.

In the novel, Suyana Sapaki is the Face of the United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation, which is a coalition between Brazil and Peru to combine their resources against foreign threats to what remains of the Amazon rainforest. It's still new, in the world of the book, and of course merely forming the alliance was enough to mean retaliation from the International Assembly (they can now only have one Face representing their interests, not two), but one of the things I wanted to have as a source of conflict early on is the idea of two countries being driven to these measures simply to protect ecological resources.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Persona? What appealed to you about writing a near-future political thriller?

Genevieve:  I think the seed of it was the disconnect between the national costume and swimsuit portions of the Miss Universe contest, and the interviews. They're contestants when they're expected to be pretty (and they are all expected to be nearly identically pretty), and ambassadors as soon as someone asks them a question about a difficult political or social issue they have no real power to change. From there it's a short leap to actual diplomacy, where looking quietly affable often masks someone with resources the outside world never sees. Trying to accomplish that under the flashbulbs of state pageantry was definitely the first seed from which the rest of the novel grew.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Persona?

Genevieve:  Well, turns out I'd been doing pageant and celebrity-culture research for years alongside everybody else, which was handy1 I also did some research into current politics for extrapolation (though this is as much a sidelong history as a near-future book), and some research into the ecological history of the Amazon rainforest just to decide the desperation of their current situation. (It's pretty desperate.)

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Genevieve:  At times, I often felt Daniel was the easier of the two main characters to write, because he's a smart guy but clearly a little out of his depth in a way that means he ends up helping Suyana but has a lot of understandably mixed feelings about what he's doing – he's cynical enough to recognize he's sitting on a great story, and still human enough to feel like a shitheel for thinking that way. (By contrast, writing Suyana was inevitably more intense, because she bears the weight of having to anticipate every eventuality; Daniel was free to be surprised by his own impulses in a way she never was.)

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Persona.


"Things someone could know, before they called you on a number that you never to make you realize, before they ever level with you, that you were going to do whatever they told you to do."

TQ:  What's next?

Genevieve:  Actually, I'm currently putting the finishing touches on the sequel to Persona; then it's time to buckle down and polish off some pitches for new things I'm excited about! (And maybe go outside, now that it's spring.)

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Saga Press, March 10, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

In a world where diplomacy has become celebrity, a young ambassador survives an assassination attempt and must join with an undercover paparazzo in a race to save her life, spin the story, and secure the future of her young country in this near-future political thriller from the acclaimed author of Mechanique and The Girls at Kingfisher Club.

When Suyana, Face of the United Amazonia Rainforest Confederation, is secretly meeting Ethan of the United States for a date that can solidify a relationship for the struggling UARC, the last thing she expected was an assassination attempt. Daniel, a teen runaway turned paparazzi out for his big break, witnesses the first shot hit Suyana, and before he can think about it, he jumps into the fray, telling himself it’s not altruism, it’s the scoop. Now Suyana and Daniel are on the run—and if they don’t keep one step ahead, they’ll lose it all.

Review here.

About Genevieve

Photo by Ellen B. Wright
Genevieve Valentine’s first novel, Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti , won the 2012 Crawford Award and was nominated for the Nebula. Her second novel is speakeasy fairy tale The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. Her third novel, political thriller Persona, is due from Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press in 2015. She’s currently the writer of DC’s CATWOMAN.

Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Journal of Mythic Arts, Lightspeed, and others, and the anthologies Federations, The Living Dead 2, After, Teeth, and more; stories have been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the Shirley Jackson Award, and have appeared in several Best of the Year anthologies.

Her nonfiction and reviews have appeared at, The AV Club, Strange Horizons,, Lightspeed, Weird Tales,, LA Review of Books, Fantasy Magazine, and Interfictions, and she is a co-author of pop-culture book Geek Wisdom (Quirk Books).

Her appetite for bad movies is insatiable, a tragedy she tracks on her blog.

Website  ~  Twitter @GLValentine

The Giveaway

Note: If you've entered The Giveaway at the review post you will not be able to enter here.

What:  One entrant will win a copy of Persona by Genevieve Valentine from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on March 21, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

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