Jacqueline Koyanagi is an author I became aware of because we both sold books to Masque. So I thought, how better to get to know her than to check out her science-fiction debut, ASCENSION, and ask her a few questions about the writing of it.
I just started reading Ascension this past weekend and it’s the kind of book you can really sink into. It has a wonderfully developed universe that I would love to see explored in future volumes. That cover art also speaks to the astronomer trapped inside me. I want to see all those distant places!
Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually-advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything-even destroying planets-to get their hands on her.
What is it about science fiction that drew to you the genre?
Possibility. I’ve always been more oriented toward the future than the past, both personally and ideologically. Potential inspires me. For my writing, this is much less about actual futurology and more about expanding the potential of any given story; Ascension deals less with broad possibility and more with inter- and intra-personal possibility, but it’s set against the backdrop of interplanetary travel by way of turning the stars into mythic images. I tend to blend science fiction and fantasy in most of my stories because myth has a place even in the midst of technology.
If this book had a soundtrack, what would the first three tracks be?
Florence + The Machine’s “Drumming Song” works well to represent Alana’s connection to the Tangled Axon, and Bear McCreary’s “Roslin and Adama” (yes, from BSG) and Balmorhea’s “Truth” both reflect the emotional core of the story.
Give us a glimpse into your writing process. Do you outline or are you a fly by the seat of your pants kind of writer?
I am most definitely an outliner. I have nothing but awe and respect for writers who can successfully complete a novel without an outline to go by. I’m a planner in general, though. I want to have a battle plan before I launch into anything.
What was the most challenging/difficult scene in Ascension to write?
Without spoiling anything, it was probably the scene in which Tev shares a part of her past with Alana. It wasn’t technically difficult, but talking about trauma is emotionally challenging.
What are you currently reading?
Fiction-wise: S.M. Wheeler’s Sea Change, which is delightfully mythic, and N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon. Both are worth savoring.
What’s next for you in terms of writing?
A fantasy short story about the end of the world, and the next novel I’m working on, which is darker and a little more solidly science fiction than Ascension but still incorporates mythic elements. I’m very excited about it!
Cake vs. Pie. Which wins?
The cake is a lie!
Tsk, as if the cake is ever fictional… Reader, if you would like to learn more about Jacqueline’s debut, skip over to Amazon and read a sample! In addition to the ebook, Ascension will be out in paper later this year – pretty sure you can pre-order that edition now! (You can also find it for the Nook.)
I plan to track down more Masque authors and subject them to random questions, so stay tuned!