Please welcome Ginger Smith to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Rush's Edge is published on November 10, 2020 by Angry Robot.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?
Well, I was about ten when I read The Elfstones of Shanara by Terry Brooks, and I was crushed by the ending (I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but a character that I loved died in what I had felt was a really unfair way). I got so upset and angry that I decided right then and there to write my own novel. That way I could have it end how I wanted it to, and I wouldn't let anyone die at the end! It was a sprawling 300-page hot mess of a fantasy novel, complete with good and evil twin brothers, mages, dwarves and a beautiful princess. I worked on that novel for two or three years when I was between 10 and 13 years old, and I still have it today. It remains unpublished (lol).
TQ: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?
Ginger: Oh I'm a pantser all the way, but an obsessive rewriter. I usually start with one scene or even several objectives in mind for the story and build from there, layering in all the details like a painter. Unfortunately, this approach requires a lot of editing passes and rewriting, but it works for me.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Ginger: Editing is always a challenge. You really have to step back from your writing to see it clearly, and sometimes that can be very hard to do.
TQ: What has influenced / influences your writing?
Ginger: I love hero stories; the transformation of an unknown protagonist into a hero fascinates me. Soldiers returning from war and finding a place in society is another subject that's close to my heart. My father served during the Vietnam War, and the difficulties he went through after he returned home somewhat inspired The Rush's Edge.
TQ: Describe The Rush's Edge using only 5 words.
Ginger: Adrenaline, found family, hero's journey.
TQ: Tell us something about The Rush's Edge that is not found in the book description.
Ginger: This is hard because there's a lot that's not in the description, of course. I guess I could tell you a little about vats. Vat soldiers are created and genetically modified in a lab, then placed in artificial wombs full of growth accelerator for four years. When they are the size of a two year-old, the vats are implanted with an interface and educated virtually. At the size of a twelve year-old, they're "born" and begin a standard five years of training. Then when they are seventeen, they go through a year's basic combat training before they become fully active soldiers. They don't have a lot of real-world experience, and that's why they struggle with everyday life when released from service.
TQ: What inspired you to write The Rush's Edge? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?
Ginger: My father had tons of space operas and hard sci-fi novels from the 60's-70's around the house, and he let me read whatever I wanted as a kid. We would watch Star Trek and Star Wars together, and those were some of my favorite times. This rich sci-fi/fantasy environment I grew up in shaped what I love to read, and the types of character-rich stories I want to tell.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for The Rush's Edge?
Ginger: First, I researched the experiences of soldiers who had been in combat. In several TED talks and articles, Sebastian Junger, a war correspondent, discusses the difficulties soldiers face when they return to "normal" society after war. Junger makes the point that they miss the camaraderie of their fellow soldiers and some of that research was instrumental in developing the bond between Hal and Ty. I also had to do a lot of thinking about the military and governmental structure of the universe I wanted to create. Luckily, my husband is a military historian, so conversations with him were indispensable to crafting the world of the Edge and Spiral.
TQ: Please tell us about the cover for The Rush's Edge.
Ginger: Oh my goodness, I love my cover so much! I had an amazing artist named Kieryn Tyler who works with Angry Robot. I gave her some ideas here and there, and she came back with a few different designs. When I saw my cover, I knew it was the one. Hal and Vivi are the two characters depicted.
TQ: In The Rush's Edge who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Ginger: Tyce Bernon was probably the easiest for me to write. He's a lot like me: we're both thoughtful and introspective. He is very observant of others and able to see things from someone else's point of view, which helps him understand Hal. Also, he cares deeply for his little found family on the Loshad, and I feel the same for the friends that I call family.
Hal was the hardest to write at first. I had to do a lot of thinking about how he would react to certain situations; being artificially gestated and raised in a vat facility means his life experiences are very different than Ty and Vivi's. While he's a force on the battlefield, he is a bit baffled by the nats in his life, but he's trying to understand. The longer the novel went on, the easier he became to write.
TQ: Which question about The Rush's Edge do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Ginger: I guess I would ask, "What do you hope people will get out of The Rush's Edge?" My initial answer would be that I hope everyone who reads this book has fun. I wanted to write a book that reminded me of seeing the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time… with the same adventure, danger, and tight bond between characters. I hope that the audience comes for the action but stays for the characters as they grow and change throughout the events of the story.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Rush's Edge.
#1: [Hal] was beginning to think that maybe loyalty was very different than obedience. Obedience meant you did what they told you because they made you, but loyalty couldn't be demanded. It was given. Given to someone like Tyce.
#2: Vivi fought hard against panicked tears. Seeing Ty down was like watching a sun go out. It was horrifying, but she couldn’t tear her gaze away.
TQ: What's next?
Ginger: I have a few short stories set in the Edge that I'd like to find a home for. Even though The Rush's Edge is a stand-alone book, I'm working on a sequel to it that will expand on the characters and add more layers to the universe of the Spiral.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Ginger: You're welcome! Thanks so much for having me.
The Rush's Edge
Angry Robot, November 10, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 328 pages
With the help of his commanding officer, a genetically
engineered ex-soldier fights back against the government that created
him and others like him to be expendable slaves…
Halvor Cullen, a genetically-engineered and technology implanted
ex-soldier, doesn’t see himself as a hero. After getting out of the
service, all he’s interested in is chasing the adrenaline rush his body
was designed to crave. Hal knows he won’t live long anyway; vat soldiers
like him are designed to die early or will be burnt out from
relentlessly seeking the rush. His best friend and former CO, Tyce, is
determined not to let that happen and distracts him by work salvaging
crashed ships in the Edge.
Then Hal’s ship gets a new crewmember - a hacker-turned-tecker named
Vivi. As they become friends, Hal wonders if he’s got a chance with a
natural-born like her. Then on a job, the crew finds a sphere that
downloads an alien presence into their ship…
Multiple clashes with the military force Hal and his crew to choose
sides. The battle they fight will determine the fate of vats and
natural-borns throughout the galaxy. Will they join the movement against
the Coalition? What has invaded their ship’s computer? And can there be
a real future for a vat with an expiration date?
File Under: Science Fiction [ Toy Soldier | On the Brink | Against the Odds | Stars are Crossed ]
Ginger Smith has worked as a record store employee, freelance writer, bookstore assistant manager and high school teacher of English. In the past, she has played in many tabletop RPG groups and even run several of her own. She collects vintage toys, sci-fi novels and comic books, as well as mid-century furniture. She currently lives in the southern USA with her husband and two cats, spending her free time writing and watching classic film noir and sci-fi movies.