Please give a big welcome to Brenda Cooper! She’s visiting the virtual offices to chat about her Ruby’s Song series, and she brought along a copy of The Diamond Deep for one of you to win!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Brenda Cooper] Curiosity, passion, and fear drives me to write and talk about the future a lot. Techno-geek revolutionary bike rider. Loves dogs.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Diamond Deep?
[Brenda Cooper] Imagine coming from a farm in the hinterlands somewhere that hasn’t been covered by the Internet yet into the middle of New York City. Only in this case, you’re coming from a starship to the home that you left generations ago. You’ve struggled to even maintain your level of technology, and without the ship’s systems, you’d be almost feudal. But when you get home, time and the network effect have turned it into something you barely recognize.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Brenda Cooper] I’ve always been fascinated with the Eva Peron story. I love the musical and the glittery legend parts of the story, but more importantly, I’m curious about how a girl from essentially nowhere can end up with such influence that she changes the heart of a country. I wanted to tell that story in my own way. Ruby is not Eva, and she lives in a very different place. So I got to play with some of my favorite techno-social ideas and worries while writing about a dynamic woman who uses a combination of grit, courage, sexuality, and performance art to change a society.
Ruby Martin is the primary in the story, modeled a bit on Evita including some of the good and some of the bad bits. She’s not a kick-ass feminist with three black belts who almost never makes a mistake. I wanted to write a more complex character than that. In The Diamond Deep, Ruby is paired with Joel North, the driven leader of his society.
I worked in beats that echo the musical and other research I did on the real Eva Peron as well, but the story is also very different. It has very classic SF tropes and images, from robotic pirates to genemod humans. Readers don’t need to know or care about the historical story, and anyone wanting an exact re-telling will walk away confounded. So Ruby’s story is original, even though it has old roots. But I think the best stories ever have old roots that run deep into us.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Ruby?
[Brenda Cooper] Determined, Innocent, Passionate
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Joel is never without.
[Brenda Cooper] Worry.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Ruby’s pocket?
[Brenda Cooper] A comb, money, keys.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What has been the most challenging part of writing this series?
[Brenda Cooper] It’s a big story – and I had to fit the big story into two books. That meant I had to choose really carefully what to leave in and what to leave out. I think these are faster-paced than my other books because of it, so I think it was good. But being coherent with so few words to play with was a challenge.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Brenda Cooper] Wow. I’m going to go with genres here instead of individual people. I love hard science fiction because it gives me creative ways to read about the future and nice glittery ideas. I love folk music, especially the kind of rabble rousing slightly rocky music that came out of women’s music movement, like Holly Near and the Indigo Girls. I also like musicals – we have season tickets to musical theater here and what I love about good musicals is that they compress story down the fine emotional bits.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Brenda Cooper] Time, sleep, and a warm dog at my feet.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Brenda Cooper] Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” – the audio version where he reads it. Listening to Neil read his own work is a bit like a good cuddle next to a roaring fire.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Brenda Cooper] I love long bicycle rides (really long – like 100 miles at a time), walking the dog, travel, time with family.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
My website is at www.brenda-cooper.com. I can be followed on Twitter @brendacooper and I’m on FaceBook.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
About the book:
What if a woman as strong and as complex as Eva Perón began her life as a robot repair assistant threatened by a powerful peacekeeping force that wants to take all she has from her?
The discovery ship, Creative Fire, is on its way home from a multi-generational journey. But home is nothing like the crew expected. They have been gone for generations, and the system they return to is home to technologies and riches beyond their wildest dreams. But they are immediately oppressed and relegated to the lowest status imaginable, barely able to interact with the technologies and people of the star station where they dock, the Diamond Deep.
Ruby Martin and her partner, Joel North, must find a way to learn what they need to know and to become more than they have ever been if they are to find a way to save their people.
About the author:
Brenda Cooper writes science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. Her most recent novel is THE DIAMOND DEEP, out in October 2013 from Pyr. It’s book two of a two-book series that started with THE CREATIVE FIRE. She has seven novels out and numerous short stories. Brenda is also a technology professional and a futurist, and publishes non-fiction on the environment and the future from time to time.
See her website at www.brenda-cooper.com
Brenda lives in the Pacific Northwest in a household with three people, three dogs, more than three computers, and only one TV in it.
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