Today, I am very excited to welcome Sharon Lynn Fisher, author of Echo 8. A Prism award finalist in the Futuristic category, Echo 8 was one of my favorite reads of 2015. Proving that the Prism award committee has good taste!
Sharon, congratulations on becoming a Prism award finalist! Thank you for joining us today.
Will you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in the Pacific Northwest, on a small acreage in the Seattle area. I have one daughter of my own, age 9, and a sweet stepdaughter, age 6. We have eight chickens and a city cat who is taking very slowly to farm life. In my day job I’m a freelance technical writer and instructional designer. But I telecommute so I get to wear my pajamas all day. And it’s a good thing, because for my current project I have a 6 AM meeting every Tuesday!
Tell us about the Prism Awards.
The Prisms Awards are run by the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal (FF&P) chapter of RWA. They’re for published novels only. Winners are announced every year at their big RWA nationals party, The Gathering. They also run a contest for unpublished manuscripts called On the Far Side. ECHO 8 won that contest back in 2009. FF&P’s categories are all speculative – light paranormal, dark paranormal, futuristic, steampunk and time travel, and fantasy.
What inspired you to start writing?
I started writing when I was about 6. It was definitely my love of reading that got me started. My earliest stories were often tributes to the books I loved. I always loved speculative stories the best (and as I got older, speculative stories with romance), so they’re still influencing me today.
What are some of your favorite books?
As a child I read A WRINKLE IN TIME and WATERSHIP DOWN many times. As a middle-grade reader they were definitely my favorites. Then later THE LORD OF THE RINGS books. In college I developed a love for classics, and some of my all-time favorites are JANE EYRE, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, and anything written by Anthony Trollope. I love how authors back then were not ashamed of writing romance. They recognized that it’s part of life, and is often a strong motivating factor in our actions and decisions. I’m also a big fan of OUTLANDER, though I only ever read the first book. I loved the Scottish setting, and I also couldn’t stand the idea of the HEA getting spoiled, so I quit there!
Echo 8 has what I consider to be a singular plot. Where did you get your inspiration(s) for the story?
Thank you! The first inspiration came from this visual I had in my mind. There was a man confined in something like an asylum. He was being kept there because he was dangerous, but he didn’t understand that he was. I began to associate the visual with this circa-1900 school building in Seattle, the Colman School. It was abandoned and boarded up for a while, but eventually it was renovated and reopened as an African American History museum. I went to visit the museum and took a bunch of photos, and from there it became my setting, The Seattle Psi Training Institute.
I also got a lot of inspiration from the book ENTANGLED MINDS, by parapsychologist Dean Radin. That’s where the notion of a relationship between quantum physics and psi came from. Dr. Radin reviewed parts of ECHO 8 for technical accuracy.
(Note from Riley: this explains why I felt smarter after reading Echo 8.)
If you had the opportunity to travel to a parallel world, would you want to? Would you want to meet yourself?
Since I love to travel in general, I’d like to think so. But if I’m honest with myself, I like where I’m at. My dad loved to travel, but only within the United States. He had no interest in going to Europe or South America or Africa or Asia. He had such a sense of adventure, so I never understood that. Especially since I love to travel myself. But when I think about traveling to a parallel world, I think I begin to understand his point of view a little! There’s so much right here I’d still like to see. I CAN imagine traveling to space, though.
It’s very hard for me to imagine a meeting with a parallel version of myself. I think if the other me was different enough, it would be a lot like meeting a family member for the first time. But if she was very similar, I think it could be challenging. Can you imagine meeting someone and knowing everything they’re thinking because you’re thinking the same thing? It’s hard for me to get my brain around. Maybe it would be like meeting a long lost twin.
What writing projects are you working on now?
I’m currently working on an alternate-history romance with paranormal and steampunk elements. It’s set in 1880s Ireland and is loosely based on a classic tale (Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). It features an inquisitive and unusual young woman, her search for the lost fairy race, and the secretive and passionate earl who just might be her undoing.
I conceived this as a follow-up to my release coming out in July—BEFORE SHE WAKES. That book is a collection of erotic fairy tales. One of my favorite stories in that collection is a steampunk retelling of the Merlin/Vivianne story. I enjoyed writing it so much that I wanted to write a full-length story in the same vein. I expect this new book to be one of those that authors refer to as “book of my heart.” Of course they’re all books of my heart, really, but sometimes you have a more personal connection with certain works. I’ve been obsessed with fairies since I was a kid, and I have a respectable library of fairy reference books.
What are you reading now?
Irish folk tales! I’m in the thick of researching my current book. I tend not to read fiction when I’m writing a first draft. It’s easy to be influenced by another author’s voice. Up next on my Kindle is A DESPERATE FORTUNE, by Susannah Kearsley. She writes really cool parallel timeline stories.
Sharon, thanks again for joining us. I wish you well in the final determination!
The man on the floor was transparent.
He tracked Tess as she crossed the room, stopping a couple meters away from him. He studied her, and she knew he was trying to understand. Trying to remember.
Her heart ached for him. He was human, after all. At least he had been.
“How do you feel?” Tess asked, taking another step toward him.
“Close enough, Doctor.” The low, cautioning voice came not from the fading visitor, but from the FBI agent who’d moved to stand behind her. Tess did what she usually did when Ross McGinnis spoke to her in that tone. She ignored him.
“Where . . . am . . . I?” The visitor’s voice scraped like dry leaves blowing across pavement. “Who are you?”
“I can answer those questions for you, but . . .” Tess swallowed. “It’s going to come as a shock.”
He blinked at her, and his gaze slid around the lab. The equipment had been removed, leaving nothing to look at but the exposed brick walls, painted ductwork, and gleaming hardwood floors.
“Where am I?” he repeated.
There was no time to make him understand. He had maybe an hour to live. But he deserved what little explanation she could offer.
“You’ve come here from a different Earth.” His gaze snapped back to her face, and she could imagine what he was thinking. “There was a catastrophic impact event—an asteroid. The destruction knocked some of you loose from your own reality. Brought you to ours. We don’t know how or why.”
He stared at her, long and hard.
“Who are you?” His voice was stronger now, more insistent. But it still had a hollow, echoing quality.
“My name is Tess. I’m a parapsychologist.”
One corner of his mouth twisted. Tess started to ask if he was in pain—but then realized the half-dead transparent man was smirking at her.
“This is a joke, right?”
She frowned. “I’m sorry. No.”
Tess debated about how much to tell him. Compassion for the dying man warred with her sense of duty. She had a responsibility to glean as much information as she could from him. The lives of people on her own Earth depended on it.
“What’s your name?” she asked as he continued to study her.
“Jake, I’d like to ask you some questions.”
“How about you answer a few first. Like why do I feel like a pile of grated cheese?”
“That’s complicated.” She knelt on the floor so he wouldn’t have to look up at her. “Your dislocation left you unable to sustain life energy.”
“What does that mean exactly?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have a more scientific explanation for you. The impact somehow relaxed the laws of physics as we understand them. Weakened boundaries between our universes, which allowed some of you to pass through to our Earth.”
“I got a D in high school physics,” said Jake, “but I’m thinking that shouldn’t be possible.”
“Some scientists believe we might one day be able to communicate with parallel worlds, and communication is just an exchange of energy. But the short answer is since you’re here, it’s possible. And without the connection to your own world, well . . . you’re broken, for lack of a better word.”
“Yeah, I noticed that.” His eyes searched around the room. “There are others like me?”
“We know of as many as twenty. And more keep popping up.”
“Where are they?”
She studied his face, which was little more than a ghostly residue. “They died, Jake.”
“I’m dying too.”
“Without a transfusion of energy, yes.”
He gave her a tired smile. “I don’t think my insurance covers that.”
“I’d help you if I could. Unfortunately the effects of—”
“Doctor,” interrupted the agent, “I think you’ve told him enough.”
The Echo’s ticking clock, and her compassion for his situation, shaved a slice off her already thin tolerance for the Bureau’s interference. Glancing up she said, “Agent McGinnis, please do your job and allow me to do mine.”
The agent’s dark eyes registered no surprise. From their first handshake—months ago at the International Echo Summit in Washington D.C.—they’d generated neon sparks of animosity that had singed anyone within a three-meter radius.
As she glared at him, his gaze cut back to Jake. The agent frowned. “Doctor . . .”
She returned her attention to her subject—or to the spot on the floor where he had been.
“No,” she groaned. She stepped toward the empty corner, kneeling.
“Careful, Doctor,” warned the agent.
A dead bulb in the overhead light flickered on, and she jumped. Glancing down at the floor she noticed something that looked like chalk dust. She reached out and touched it with the tip of a finger.
“Tess!” the agent shouted. But it was too late.
White heat seared up her arm, and she screamed.
Sharp pains slashed down her body, a riptide of razors. Tess’s life gushed out of her and into Jake, who rematerialized before her eyes. He gave a long, low moan, and Tess felt him strengthening, pulsing with her energy.
He rose to his knees as she fell back onto the floor, head striking the hardwood. He crouched over her, hands sliding up the outsides of her thighs. She gave another cry of agony.
From far away she could hear Agent McGinnis shouting. But Jake’s arms coiled round her like serpents, and Tess knew she was beyond help.
Some of you know that I contribute to the blog Smart Girls Love SciFi Romance. My review of Echo 8 was my very first post at Smart Girls just over a year ago. If you are interested, you can take a look at my review here.
Find Sharon at:
Tomorrow, Whisky With My Book will be featuring Prism award finalist Angela Quarles, author of Steam Me Up Rawley. I hope you’ll stop by. For a complete list of the finalists, go here.