I'm pleased to kick off my author interview series with Sandra Ulbrich Almazan! Sandra writes science fiction based on a future Earth, whose citizens have the ability to travel through a wormhole to an alternate Earth just like ours--except 100 years in their past. Her latest book, Twinned Universes, has just been released, and she's offering to give a FREE electronic copy to one lucky winner! (Entry form below.)
Hi, Sandra, and welcome! Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a lab tech for an enzyme company. I grew up in the Midwest (Wisconsin and Illinois), and I currently live near Chicago. My undergraduate degree is in molecular biology/English from UW-Madison, and I have a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree from Miami University. I’m married with one child.
What are three of your favorite things? Three of your least favorite things?
Some of my favorite things are my Kindle, green tea, and chocolate. My least favorite things include eggplant, winter driving, and being cold.
When did you start writing? What inspired you to start writing your own stories?
Although I wrote a few things when I was a teenager (including poetry and a very simple play in German), I didn’t start writing fiction regularly until grad school. I wanted to write the stories I couldn’t find in the bookstores.
What is Twinned Universes about?
In the wake of a family tragedy, Paul Harrison, a young actor, discovers he’s the clone of a TwenCen rock star named Sean Lyon. Paul believes the best way for him to find out what happened is to impersonate Sean, and he travels to an alternate universe where Sean is still alive to learn directly from him. However, Sean died violently in Paul’s universe, and others want to keep history on track. Ultimately, Paul must decide between pursuing revenge or saving Sean.
How did you get the inspiration for the Catalyst Chronicles series?
I’m a big fan of the Beatles, and I wanted to write a story about a time traveler from the future seeing them perform. As I asked myself why the time traveler was there, I got the idea she was there to clone John Lennon. (Ultimately I chose to create a new rock star character instead of using real people.) That was the inspiration for the first book in the series, Lyon’s Legacy. Then the clone wanted to tell his own story in Twinned Universes, and the ideas just kept coming.
Do you have a favorite character or characters you’ve created? Which character(s), and why?
I must admit Paul is my favorite character. He’s a multidimensional character with a special talent, but he also has plenty of flaws and quirks. I enjoy seeing him evolve from story to story.
Is there a book or a story that has had a profound impact on you at any time in your life? What was it, and how did it impact you?
One of my favorite books is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It affected my views on science and philosophy, taught me the importance of gumption, and inspired an interest in Taoism.
Have you studied the craft of writing (formally or on your own)? How has that affected the way you write?
I studied technical writing in grad school, so I try to keep my writing clear. As for fiction writing, I’ve read a lot of books on the craft, written my million words of less-than-stellar stuff, and participated in a variety of critique groups. In particular, the critique groups help me figure out what works and what I need to improve.
As an author, what other writer(s) have had the most influence on you? Why?
When I first became interested in science fiction/fantasy, I read a lot of Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey. I don’t read them as much anymore, but I picked up using interior monologues from them. One of my favorite authors these days is Patricia McKillip. I love her poetic style, but that’s beyond my skill, I’m afraid.
Why do you write science fiction? Why do you think this genre appeals to readers?
As a science geek, I enjoy stories that demonstrate the value of science and the effect it has on our daily lives. The genre is also very versatile; you can use many different settings and themes with it. Plus, it also provides a sense of wonder and escape from ordinary life.
How has your background in science influenced your work? How do you meld the factual, rational mindset of science with the creativity and imagination of writing fiction?
As a lab tech, I know what type of supplies you might find in a lab and what’s involved in keeping the lab functioning. I’ve used these details to make the genetics lab discussed in Lyon’s Legacy and Twinned Universes more realistic. I don’t think being rational is necessarily at odds with being creative. It’s not enough to have an initial idea for a SF or fantasy story; you need to work through the implications of that idea to build your world and your theme. You may even want to connect that idea to another one. It may be necessary to switch between mindsets for different phases of the work, but that’s a skill you can practice.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I spend most of my free time with my family. We go to a variety of museums and other child-friendly places. I also enjoy reading, crocheting, and listening to classic rock. My husband and I took up archery last year, but we need more practice and lessons.
If you had a genie that could grant wishes, what would you wish for?
Success as an independent author.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have three more stories planned for the Catalyst Chronicles series. In addition, I have some unrelated fantasy short stories that I plan to publish later this year. On the back burner is a fantasy series about a group of four women who pool their magic to protect their country from a recurring magical weather storm.
How can readers get more information about you and your work?
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/SandraUlbrichAlmazanSffAuthor
Support the Author!
Twinned Universes is available from the following online retailers:
Buy at Amazon.com
Buy at Barnes & Noble.com
Buy at Smashwords
Win an ebook copy of Twinned Universes!
__Lauren Sweet is the author of the Bitter Snow series, a modern fairy tale in nine novellas, and Aladdin's Samovar, the first of a series starring Amber Polaski and Jasper the genie. Lauren lives near Portland, Oregon, where she is a freelance writer and editor.