I discovered writing late in the game, a few years ago when I quit my corporate job to be a stay-at-home Mom. I’m someone who needs a creative outlet or I get crazy, so when I discovered the emerging world of self-publishing, I suddenly felt as though nothing stood between me and a published book. It was exciting and opened the floodgates for my confidence and creativity to flow into SIRENS. I began knowing next to nothing about creative writing, and now I am truly in love with the craft.
Q ~ What’s something that you never leave home without?
My Kindle! I still love turning the pages of a real book, but the kindle makes reading so accessible. It’s harder and harder for people to read these days. People fancy themselves readers, mean to read often, but in reality find that the daily grind keeps them from reading... and I’m talking about reading fiction. Novels. People read most of their news online now rather than watching it on TV. But with Internet and social media, I think the good old-fashioned novel has taken a backseat. Hopefully, the growing popularity of e-readers will help with that, because, now more than ever, there are some fantastic books out there.
Q ~ If you could have coffee (or tea) with any author who would it be and what would you ask them?
Neil Gaiman. I recently read The Ocean at the End of the Lane and thought it was such a unique and creative story. I would ask him how he’s able to strike such a good balance of magical realism and fantasy with a very grounded feel and sincerity to his stories. I find his writing dreamy yet substantial. It’s powerful.
Q ~ How do you think people perceive authors?
Head in the clouds? In a way, you have to be dreaming a lot to be an author. A huge part of the writing process takes place in your mind when you’re not looking. I have to say, I fit the bill.
Q ~ Ebooks, paperbacks, or hardcovers?
If I could afford it, all my books would be bound in leather with gold gilding and satin ribbon page markers. And they would of course have to be shelved in a library of mahogany with one of those rolling ladders. But since I cannot afford that (until J.J. Abrams calls for the film rights to SIRENS), it’s mainly ebooks.
Q ~ What was the first science-fiction novel that you ever read?
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeliene L’Engle. Still one of my favourite books of all time.
Q ~ Why did you choose to write science-fiction as your primary genre?
I love science. In another life I would have been a marine biologist. I think it’s so much fun to take facts and insert fun fiction around them. The sirens, for example, are real people who evolved alongside humans but developed aquatic capabilities over millions of years in order to adapt basic needs such as turning to the sea for hunting, escaping land predators, etc. I tried my best to make them believable by using real science wherever possible.
Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
It was simply that a story came to me. My desire to write SIRENS drove me to learn the craft of creative writing. I had to tell my story, and I wanted to tell it well. I dove headfirst into learning everything I could about the writing process, techniques, etc. And being an avid reader all my life helped it fall into place.
Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?
My brain turns to mush at night, so I have to write in the morning. When I can do it, getting up super early before my family is a great time to write. I feel so fresh and alert in the morning, and with a cup of coffee, my creative juices flow. And chocolate seems to help too. Yeah, coffee and chocolate.
Q ~ Do you prefer to write in a small town or big city setting? Why?
I love the big city setting. In SIRENS, I write about a futuristic DC where the Washington monument is dwarfed by towering white skyscrapers and mini-drones called Dragonflies dot the sky, zipping back and forth to deliver packages to people’s windows. Oh, and an angry ocean laps hungrily against a desperate barrier of canals, threatening to take it all down. I love all the possibilities of the urban landscape. No matter how grandly we build, there are greater forces that can tear it all down.
Q ~ When you write, do you lay out a solid outline before beginning, or start writing and iron out the kinks later?
There will always be kinks to iron out, but the more solid the outline, the better. This doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible when writing, but really, you must know where the characters and plot are going in order to get them there. Writing is a lot of working backwards from a specific ending so that everything builds toward it in a creative and suspenseful way. You see a lot of TV shows suffer from this... they often implement the “write as you go” strategy to draw out the series as long as people are watching and sponsors are paying. The story can suffer.
Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release and what inspired you to write it?
Lost World, the second SIRENS book, was released in December. At first, SIRENS was one very, very long story. My editor suggested splitting it in half at a natural division. Once I did, I felt liberated to expand on both books so that they are much fuller arcs. However, because of this, Lost World is a must-read after Rising Tide, book one. Rising Tide ends on a cliff-hanger and Lost World picks right up where the action leaves off, then takes the reader to the full climax and resolution. Though, there is still a little something at the end that will leave the reader wanting more... I hope. Book three is in the works.
Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?
I loved writing about Lorel’s and Mello’s dive to the bottom of the Blue Hole in Rodinia. I had so much fun describing the unique flora, fauna and geographical features of the submarine landscape. I tried to get into Lorel’s head and imagine what it would feel like to be there. And I must say, it was super freakin’ awesome!!
Q ~ What is your process for choosing character names?
Names are a big part of the setting and feel of a story, and so the siren names were really important. I didn’t want them to feel associated with any particular culture because these were people of a disconnected, lost society. I wanted them to sound exotic, but not too crazy. Mello fit the bill for one of my main characters. Lalique, Silas, and Isla are a few other siren names. I also like to weave in history. The sirens island, Rodinia, (meaning "The Motherland" in Russian) is a Neoproterozoic supercontinent that was assembled about a billion years ago and broke up around 600 million years ago.
Q ~ What characters did you find yourself especially drawn to and why?
People that know me probably read my book and think I’ve based Lorel on myself, but I relate the most to Mello. He has a huge heart. He is loyal to a fault, idealistic and makes a lot of mistakes. But he is constantly seeking ways the world around him can be better, even if it’s an impossible vision that may lead to frustration. He is unafraid to voice his convictions and fight for what he believes in. What he believes in is the goodness of people. And he’s a hot, badass siren.
Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
SIRENS book three! I am in the midst of writing the last book in the trilogy and am incredibly excited about it. It is epic. There is more focus on PanDivinity and Beacon, and a lot more about the island of Rodinia is uncovered. I’m having so much fun writing it and can’t wait to get to the end and share it with everyone who has read the first two.
Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Dream big, but take small steps to get there. You will get there.
In 2098 human survival depends on genetic research to develop aquatic capabilities. It has never been more dangerous for the elusive sirens to be discovered. Until now they've remained eclipsed from human eyes, inhabiting a secret island. But when their youth rebel, the sirens decide to test the waters of open society by striking a deal with megacorp DiviniGen Inc. And they risk everything to do it. Will the risk be worth it or will the sirens be forced to face the darkness of eternal isolation?
Both books in this series are on sale at Amazon through April 15/16.
Drum Roll Please!
Enter to win in this fantastic in this fantastic giveaway for a signed paperback copy of both Rising Tide and Lost World (Sirens #1&2) by T.L. Zalecki.
Contest is open internationally, where applicable by law.
Entries close at 11:59pm Mar 25/16.
Winners will be drawn Mar 25/16.
Winners will be notified via email to the email provided to the giveaway and will have 72h to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.