I think the overall theme is about guilt and redemption but in a nutshell, the blurb below gives it all:
When drug-addled assassin Isadora DayStar finally snags a major interplanetary kill job she thinks it will both support her habit and revise her status as the laughingstock of her profession. Instead she embarks on a journey that brings her face to face with her tortured past.
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
It took about a year and a half of rolling the idea around, coming up with various, sometimes unrelated scenes which is not how I write at all. But I had a trilogy coming out that I was working on, a book every four or five months for my publisher so Isadora was on the back burner so to speak. I’d sneak in little hand written scenes at night before I went to bed after working on the novels during the day. Finally, Isadora really began to demand attention so every time I was stuck on the trilogy books, I’d pull up her document and work on it. I did begin to get a little obsessed with it after all my other deadlines were met.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
This is a true story! First I’d read an interview article with an author who, when asked why she gave a particular main character such huge obstacles to overcome, said she disliked that character so much she wanted to torture her, lol! The interviewer told her that those obstacles were the reason she loved that character! That started me thinking if it was possible to intentionally create a main character that you hate intensely as the author. I began an opening for the story and tried to make Isadora (no name at the time) as repulsive as possible. I got about twenty pages done and realized that I’d started to be interested in, if not liked, Isadora. As I mentioned earlier I wrote her in fits and starts. I also used to watch a program called “CreationScapes” on the DayStar Christian Channel late at night and I was hooked on it. One night the DayStar logo came up and I thought “what a great last name for a sci-fi character, especially a female. About five minutes later, Isadora popped into my head and that was it: Isadora DayStar. By that time she had entire story.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
I really don’t know. I think I see her as someone who I have the potential to be if I’m not careful.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Isadora is always my favorite, probably because I like losers, I like people who have false bravado and just keep going, keep trying no matter how insane the obstacles. Isadora has a great ability to deal with negativity and trauma and I think that’s due to the giant amount of guilt she carries around inside. When you have that much inner torture, outside torture can seem minor in comparison. Iphedea I like because she sees something in Isadora that’s good, she recognizes Isadora’s potential and herself in her as well though that isn’t obvious to her. Rafe Tucker is just an all around bastard.
Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?
Wow. Again, it’s got to be Isadora. She’s just so determined to survive and prove to not only everyone else but herself as well that she still has some type of worth and she can be ridiculously soft-hearted in spite of herself. She has this fragile shell around herself that cracks with all the abuse but never quite breaks and she tries to be tougher than she really is; she pretends to herself that she’s tough though deep down somewhere she knows she’s vulnerable. It shows in her relationship with Iphedea and in the guilt she bears.
How long did it take you to write your book?
Total about a year and a half to write it but then writing speeded up once I’d made all my writing commitments. By the time I could sit down and concentrate on Isadora, it was all pretty much written. I just had to type it all out.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
Well, I usually have two arcs like a double rainbow: the top arc is the overall story plot, theme, etc., that is the Beginning A to the End B; the arc below that is the plot action that gets me from point A to point B. So I may not know all of the details until I begin that lower arc of action. I know the first line and I know the last line.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
Actually I do. I write sequentially, that is from the first line and go straight through to the end. I have one WIP that has taken me ages and is awful to write because I wrote the scenes out of sequence. I’ll never do that again!
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
As I said, I know the first line and the last line. When I get to that last line I am done. I write “The End” and it’s over but for editing.
What is your goal for the book, i.e.: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
I want them to remember it and to feel that they’ve been on the journey with Isadora. I want them to sympathize if not empathize with her—root for her—feel her pain (to quote President Clinton). I want them to relate in terms of guilt and redemption. I want them to like her even if she doesn’t.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
There’s almost always a moral to the stories I can’t help but put it in. People say the messages are subtle but there and I never think they’re that obvious.
What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
Writing the prostitution scenes was definitely the hardest. Isadora had to reduce herself to doing pretty much anything to survive—it was hard to watch her humiliate herself, hard to write it.
Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?
You know I think every writer has that special book inside them—sometimes they call it “The Great American Novel.” Isadora is that one for me. I had this need to write an underdog story, a real need to do it, and I realized when writing it that I’d had various versions of this story inside my head for years and when it emerged it was all those versions congealed as one—Isadora DayStar.
What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?
My level of professionalism has shot itself into the upper stratosphere! When you’re young or not yet published, you don’t realize what kind of attitude you suddenly need once you are published. There’s no more fooling around, no wasting time, you have to devote complete attention to things like edits and revisions your editor(s) need.
How has your background influenced your writing?
I’ve always written from the time I learned the alphabet but I never wanted to give in to it. I was a journalist and then worked in radio and entertainment so all of that definitely influences how I write—concise and tight. I also know pretty much what it takes to entertain people on a professional level and make my work as accessible as I can.
Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?
No, and I’m desperately trying to find some, lol! I’m only half facetious about that—I’d love to have some cool preparation before I dig into the keyboard!
Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?
I’m a night person and don’t really get into functioning gear until late afternoon so mornings are pretty much devoted to email, FB, etc. If I’m working on a book deadline, I start as early as possible, every day and write as much as I possibly can or until I finish one or more chapters and need to stop and regroup to continue the story. Most of the time I begin serious writing about 4 p.m. and go as far as I can into the night or until my dog drags me to bed. The only time I count words is if I need a certain amount for my publisher’s deadline & word count requirements. Or if the story needs more count to be an actual novel—that’s where the concise and tight becomes a problem, lol!
Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?
Coffee and Diet Coke are my working poisons. If I could get them both via an IV drip I would, lol! I’ve drunk coffee since my grandmother gave it to me as soon as I could hold a cup! Popcorn—I love popcorn—without butter.
What are you working on right now?
Several things: I’m finishing up a paranormal crime thriller, I’ve begun an epic fantasy, and have several short stories to finish slated for anthologies, two sci-fi romances, and a couple of things I’m thinking of serializing.
Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?
I think I’m writing for those who read big commercial authors and I hope that doesn’t sound insanely egotistical. But my stuff isn’t strictly held to a genre. I don’t write super technical sci fi but I also don’t go overboard with romance either. My hope is that both men and women will like my books.
What was the first story you remember writing?
There was only one and it won the school district contest. It was a first person account of the life and care of the American Flag! I came in first and should have known back then but I did not want to be a writer at all! That small story triggered a love/hate relationship with writing that has only really ended in the last two years.
What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?
Coming up with a great premise.
Does writing come easy for you?
Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?
No. I create characters that are marked for death from the beginning.
How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?
No less than five. But as I’ve said, if I’m on deadline, I concentrate on the novel at hand.
What do you like to read?
Totally incongruent, but I LOVE ancient historical—both Christian and non-Christian. I’m a closet history buff and wannabee archaeologist!
What writer influenced you the most?
Two: Stephen King and Taylor Caldwell.
What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?
Again, two: Taylor Caldwell’s Great Lion of God and Dear and Glorious Physician. Oh, how could I forget? Pat Wallace’s House of Scorpio! That’s one romance fantasy that I wish I’d written! By today’s standards it’s perhaps a little mawkish and maudlin but such a clever and unique premise and setting/world building. I love it!
What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Don’t be self-indulgent. Don’t look at everything you write as perfect. Be your own harshest critic and that way no one else will have to be.
What are your current writing goals and how do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?
To get all of my stories written and published and perhaps get an agent would be my current goals. Promoting and writing? That’s the REAL trick of publishing today. Writing takes time, but for me at least, promotion is constant and at times overwhelming!
What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?
Be proactive—don’t expect everyone else to do it for you, especially your publisher.
Have you written any other books?
Yes, my sister and I have several:
Future Imperfect trilogy (Crucifying Angel, Miraculous Deception & Final Deceit) futuristic crime thriller
Inamorata Crossing, Borealis 1 anthology sci fi romance
Button Hollow Chronicles #1: The Leaf Peeper Murders
Lights! Camera! Murder!
Isadora DayStar, a dark sci fi adventure available now via Smashwords:
Information on all books and the authors can be found at P.I. Barrington/Loni Emmert’s website:
Thanks so much for having me Pat!