In the mood for a little sci-fi adventure along with your romance? Join me as I chat with the wonderful and talented Diane Burton about her latest book, THE PILOT.
TB: Diane, thanks so much for being here today! Your books sounds fun, fun, fun. Please tell our readers a little bit about your most recent work and which aspect of this particular story do you love the most.
DB: THE PILOT kicks off a sci-fi romance series about strong women on the frontier of space, the Outer rim. There’s no place like home and he just stole hers. Cargo hauler, risk taker Celera d’Enfaden must work with rule-bound Administrator Trevarr Jovano to save her brother from a galactic gangster. I loved watching Celara take on the establishment. She doesn’t let anything keep her down, especially not an official who confiscates her ship. I enjoyed watching Trevarr’s transformation from being such a stickler for rules to tossing them aside and following his instincts.
TB: That sounds like fun! It brings to mind a Hans Solo kind of hero. And who doesn’t love him? What do you plan to begin next?
DB: Right now, I’m doing revisions for the third book in the Switched series about twins who exchange places—from Earth to a starship and the reverse. I hope to have Switched, the Aftermath ready for release in April. Then I plan to work on the next book in the Outer Rim series.
TB: More fun in the Outer Rim! I’ve never written sci-fi so I imagine it’s both fun and challenging to world-build. What inspires you? Books? Music, People magazine’s most beautiful people edition?
DB: All of the above! I think music is the most inspirational. When I read about a new science fiction movie that was coming out in 1977, I thought it was just another cheesy sci-fi like the ones in the ‘50s or the dark apocalyptic ones that came after. But when I heard John Williams’ swelling overture on the radio I knew I had to see Star Wars. Like millions of others, I wasn’t disappointed. Good music adds so much to a movie. When I write, I’ll listen to instrumentals because music with words is a distraction.
TB: Ahhh, Star Wars! I was right about my Hans Solo impression! And I agree, music can enhance writing. I love the soundtrack from The Last of the Mohicans when I’m trying to get in the mood for writing historical. If you had to choose a 2nd genre to write in, what would you pick? What would the title of that book be?
DB: Romantic Suspense. I’ve completed several but none are published. My favorite is one that came out of a writing exercise during a Mid-Michigan RWA chapter meeting that I call One Red Shoe. One of these days, it will be published. How’s that for optimism?
TB: I love it for optimism. If we don’t have that, we are in the wrong business! Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?
DB: Jayne Ann Krentz. Whether she writes historicals as Amanda Quick, contemporaries as Jayne Ann Krentz or sci-fi rom as Jayne Castle, I love her books because of the interaction between hero and heroine. Janet Evanovich is another favorite. I love the Stephanie Plum series and wish I could write as funny. I just discovered Linnea Sinclair’s sci-fi rom books. (I know, late to the party.) Her fantastic world building and strong characters are so believable.
TB: Those are all excellent choices! Do you have critique partners and if so, how do you ‘work’ together?
DB: I have a critique partner who writes in the same genre (sci-fi romance) and is much more knowledgeable about “classic” science fiction than I’ll ever be. She’s always calling me on “info dumps” and making me write tighter. My contribution is to crack the whip “forcing” her to finish the book. Usually, we meet for lunch (always a great excuse) then share our insights into the other person’s latest contribution. I’ve had online critiquers and been in critique groups. Those have worked well, too.
TB: I would not get half as much done if my CP’s were not challenging me. They all write faster so I’m forever trying to keep up! What/where was your first writer’s conference and how did you feel attending it?
DB: Romance Writers of America’s conference in New York City in 1993. I was scared to death yet excited. I went alone and didn’t know my roommate who was a “match” done by RWA. I learned so much and came home with so many great ideas.
TB: That is scary and courageous. I was terrified at my first conference. I’m not shy but I know immediately I was in over my head. You have be willing to step out of that comfort zone, though, and be bold. So good for you! What advice would you give to an aspiring, newbie writer?
DB: Don’t give up. Listen, really listen to what others say about your stories. If more than two people say the same thing, pay attention. That being said, stay true to your vision.
TB: That is definitely a lesson to learn, and a fine balance to discover. What I have found is that everyone will have an opinion about your work and so in the end, you have to write the story you love. If you compromise, you’ll be dissatisfied. But there are subtle ways to ‘tweak’ a story to address feedback. Switching gears from page to screen, what is your all time favorite movie?
DB: I wish I could pick one. Among the movies I can watch again and again are Star Wars (of course), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, It Happened One Night (love Clark Gable), Casablanca (Bogie at his best).
TB: I love the old classic black and whites. And yes, yes to Clark Gable. Now, how about a little excerpt?
Excerpt from THE PILOT by Diane Burton:
Arjay extracted needle and thread from his uniform pocket and went to work on the back of the dress. Finally, he stood back.
“This will have to do. I dare not make permanent alterations to the garment which Merchant Namil appears to value. If you do not make any sudden moves when you meet with Administrator Jovano, the stitching will hold. Now, please walk over to the window so I can see how you look.”
“I look ridiculous.” Even though she groused, she did what he asked since the window was only three strides away.
When he reached for the door handle, she had to stop him.
“No. No borrowing anything else from Namil. From the length of this dress, his partner had to be a lot taller.” Most fems were taller. “She would have had bigger feet. My boots will have to do.”
To prove her point, she began to pull on her boots.
“Uh, Rega . . . I must admonish you not to bend over in the presence of the Administrator. Unless, of course, you wish to entice him with your mammary organs. I understand human males are easily aroused by—”
She glanced down. Sure enough, she could see straight down her undertunic, her puny little breasts in plain sight. Quickly, she straightened. “Okay, no bending over, no quick moves. Anything else?” Putting her hands on her hips, she tapped her foot.
“You must adjust your attitude if you wish him to release your ship. I have noted that human males respond more readily to a pleasant demeanor, a soft voice and gentle words. Also, an apology.”
She walked to the end of the narrow bed and plopped down on it. “I am not groveling.”
“No, no, no. You must not clomp around like that. You need to walk lightly. Glide.” He demonstrated from the door to the window.
“That does it,” she proclaimed, flopping back on the bed. “I am not swishing my way into his office.”
Undeterred, Arjay continued, “I believe you should swish as you walk away from him. Human males are also attracted to the sway of a female’s—”
With a groan, she threw her arm over her eyes. Then, she bolted upright, ignoring the sound of popping stitches. “Maybe you’ve got the right idea after all, Arjay. Why don’t I just strip off my clothes and jump his bones? Then he’ll be sure to give me back my ship. In fact, I should go and see him right now and get this over with.”
The thought of mating with the very proper Admin Man made her shiver.
“Awk.” Giving her a panicked look, Arjay ran to the door and blocked it much the same way she had tried to block Jovano from entering her ship. “It would be best to wait until morning. We still need to work on your speech. And your hair. And . . . and cosmetics to enhance your eyes and mouth.”
“Isn’t it time you shut down for the night?”
TB: Fun stuff, Diane!!! Can’t wait to read the rest.
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America as well as the Mid-Michigan, Young Adult and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal RWA chapters. She is the author of the Switched series, about twins exchanging places—from Earth to a starship and the reverse. With The Pilot, she begins a new series about strong women on the frontier of space. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband.
Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren. Diane Burton can be found around the Internet at:
Goodreads: Diane Burton Author
Thanks for joining us today!