Autumn Kalquist is the author of the USA TODAY Bestselling Fractured Era book series and is a singer / songwriter. Her stories have also appeared in several bestselling anthologies, and she's written tie-in fiction for Star Citizen (Cloud Imperium Games).
Would you briefly describe your currently available books and projects?
Almost all of my published books and stories are part of my USA TODAY Bestselling Fractured Era Series. My epic science fiction series spans nearly 1,000 years and follows the same families through generations as they survive worldwide catastrophes (Defective), search for a new Earth (Legacy Code), and deal with the consequences of centuries’ worth of difficult decisions (SunPath).
The books are very Game of Thrones meets Battlestar Galactica. Nothing is black and white, and they explore themes humanity has been struggling with for as long as we’ve been a sentient species, such as “When does the ends justify the means?”
What are your top three science-fiction books or authors?
I grew up reading Epic Fantasy (which might explain why my own series spans centuries), so those books have my heart. But I enjoy reading science fiction today. Some of my recent favorites include the Grimspace series by Anne Aguirre, Wool by Hugh Howey, and the Rebel Wing series by Tracy Banghart. I really enjoy reading short stories, too, like those found in The Future Chronicles, produced by Samuel Peralta. Even when I’m busy, I can still get lost in a well-written short story for a few minutes, and I find myself thinking about the themes and ideas in it for hours afterward.
When did you realize you were, truly and actually, a writer? Could you share with us your favourite, or one of your favourite, reader responses to your work?
When I wrote a full-length novel in one month during NaNoWriMo and felt high the whole time. I’ve been addicted ever since. I also wrote my first short story that month, and it placed third in a local newspaper contest. It seemed like a sign that maybe I had something here, and if I worked hard at it, I’d eventually write a book worth reading. (My first NaNo novel has already been rewritten once, and it will eventually be rewritten again since it takes place in the Fractured Era Series world.)
I love when my readers send me e-mails or write reviews about how hooked they are on the series. How they stayed up all night reading or how they refuse to read the last short story because then it’ll be over until I finish the next book. It’s awesome to know I’m not the only one addicted to this world and these characters. J
Are you an early morning or late night writer? What’s your writing style? Describe what surrounds you while you’re writing.
I work better in the morning… when I get up. I’m naturally a night owl but fighting to become a morning person. I like to outline my books before I write, and I now have hundreds of pages of notes on this series. It makes writing the first draft easier, but I still have to go in usually and do a significant number of revisions.
When I’m writing, I like to be facing my collage wall, which has images inspired by my latest work in progress. I usually burn a candle, and it’s always the same candle scent for the entire project. A wooden dish holds special stones I’ve picked up over the years, and I wear rings with the same kinds of stones in them. I always have a mug of coffee or hot chocolate sitting on my Stargate coaster.
Earbuds in, Spotify character playlist on, and I can begin.
Most writers have creative outlets other than writing. What’s yours? Could you tell us more about it, and what you get out of it that’s different from what you get out of writing?
I’m a singer. I write songs to go along with each of my books. Lyrics are fun to write, and I like coming up with melody lines and fleshing out the song structure. Hitting a complicated and difficult run lights up my brain like nothing else. But honestly, storytelling and song writing feel the same to me.
The key you choose for your song will affect how your listener feels. But almost all good songs have repeating patterns, a familiar structure with rising intensity, call and answer elements, harmonies, many instruments playing different notes in the same key, and a rhythm that carries it all.
Genre is a label to help readers choose the type of book they want to get lost in, but all well-told stories share certain elements. They have repeating thematic elements, a familiar three-act structure with rising intensity, subtle foreshadowing of later events, multiple plot threads that complement one another and inevitably connect, characters who tell their part of the story with their own unique voice, and good pacing – the rhythm that carries it all.
Star Trek or Star Wars? Any other favourite films or television series?
Labyrinth is my favorite movie of all time. But I don’t sit through many movies. I hate spending two hours getting into a world, and then it’s over forever. So I watch TV. The more seasons, the better. My favorite TV shows include: Battlestar Galactica, Stargate (all of them), Continuum, Farscape, The 100, Game of Thrones, Killjoys, Fringe, Firely, 12 Monkeys, and on and on. I’m in heaven with all the SFF shows on TV right now.
Is Deckard a replicant?
I had to Google this. *hides*
In my defense, I wasn’t even born when this movie came out, though I did see it… once. Ask me what I think about the end of Mass Effect 3, or the fact that the crew of the Destiny will be hanging out in stasis pods for the rest of eternity. Then we can talk.
Autumn Kalquist writes science fiction that asks compelling questions–often met with morally gray answers. Her preschool-aged ballerina and code-writing husband keep her sane and happy.
Each book comes with a song. Sign up for Autumn's newsletter at AutumnKalquist.com to learn more about her Fractured Era Series and get free songs and short stories.