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Friday 19 February 2016

ℚ♫ Horizon [1] - Tabitha Lord

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Horizon (, Wise Ink Creative Publishing, 320 pages), a Science Fiction novel.

In Horizon Commander Derek Markham awakens stranded on an uncharted planet. His copilot is dead, his ship is in ruins and he’s only alive because a beautiful young woman is healing him with her mind. As Derek regains his strength, he learns the disturbing tale that lead his rescuer, Caeli, to find his shipwreck — a tale of genocide, tyranny and love.

But when Derek convinces Caeli to leave her world with him, Horizon shifts gears from a grounded planetary romance into a full-blown space opera complete with spaceship battles and interplanetary terrorist plots.

Mixing romance, survival fiction and science fiction with gritty and allegorical portrayals of oppression, Horizon doesn’t slot neatly into an established — and thus predictable — genre. “People appreciate a good story,” Lord said. “And if that story doesn’t fit neatly into a category, they still want it.”

Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to début author Tabitha Lord; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

To start Tabitha has shared with us her music playlist for Horizon, which includes one of my favourite pieces: Numb by Linkin Park - enjoy!

What was the inspiration for Horizon?
"Thoughts for my stories come to me in different ways.  Sometimes it’s a character that appears in my head, fully formed – personality, career, physical appearance, and name – ready for me to create a story around.  Other times, there’s an interesting scene that builds up in my imagination over time.  Or sometimes there’s a theme or idea I want to explore.

With Horizon, I had two distinct parts of a story floating in my head.  The first was the opening crash sequence.  It was more basic at the time of its inception – just a young man who crash lands on a planet, and a young woman, in some kind of trouble, who saves his life.

The second part was more complex.  I was playing with the idea of what would happen if one segment of an already small isolated population evolved differently (either naturally or by design) from the other.  What if some had gifts that enabled them to imagine a different kind of future for themselves and their world?  What if they were empathic and could sense each other’s emotions and thoughts?  What if some of them could heal with their mind?  How would the unchanged people feel about their neighbours?  It created such an interesting premise I knew I had to find a way to make it into a story."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"There’s a big chunk of survival fiction in the first part of Horizon.  Caeli is living alone in the wilderness, fending for herself, and living off the land.  I grew up in a rural neighbourhood until I was twelve years old and spent most of my playtime outdoors, in the woods, exploring and climbing trees.  I distinctly remember the smell of pine, the quiet in the forest after the first snow, the taste of wild blueberries.  I tried to call on my own childhood memories to give Caeli’s experience authenticity.

And as an adult, I’ve had a few adventures that influenced this particular aspect of the story!  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of accompanying students on several class trips.  We’ve hiked the rain forests in Costa Rica, paddled dozens of nautical miles in the open ocean off the coast of Maine, and camped in the mountains of West Virginia.  I have actually tended a cooking fire, carved utensils, found edible plants, bathed in the ocean, and slept outdoors.

I’m also a medical school dropout!  But my experience in medical school, and for years as an EMT, I think gives Caeli some authority as a healer."
Gasmask Girl II by Steven Meyer-Rassow
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Horizon - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I’d love to give a big shout out to Horizon’s cover artist, Steven Meyer-Rassow.  He is incredibly talented and amazing to work with.  You can check out Steven’s website here:

One of the first things we talked about was how Horizon crosses genres.  I’ve been asked to describe my book in ten words and here’s what I came up with: science fiction meets romance meets survival fiction meets military thriller!  The cover, therefore, needed to have wide appeal. It needed to be intriguing and eye-catching enough for non sci-fi readers to pick it up, yet stylistically still fit in with its main genre.  Steven accomplished this brilliantly.

Horizon is the first book in a planned trilogy, and we also discussed “branding” the series somehow.  So in addition to amazing cover artwork, Steve created a title treatment that will carry through and give all the future Horizon books a cohesive look."
Why should we read Horizon and what sets it apart from the rest?
"I think the premise on which I based the conflict on Caeli’s world is really interesting and unique.  The ethical challenges of an empathic civilization were really fun to explore.

I also feel that Horizon is an accessible sci-fi story, even for those who don’t regularly read this genre.  It’s a traditional space opera in the sense that it contains battle scenes, adventure, and a good vs. evil plot, but the relationship between Caeli and Derek is also central to the story and I hope will hook readers in."
Can you tell us something quirky about Horizon, its story and characters?
"I really had fun naming my characters and planets!  Some of the names I took from star charts or cities around the world, but Caeli’s planet is actually named after the astronomical and mathematical manual written by Ptolemy around 105 BC – The Almagest."
Who would you recommend Horizon to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I’d definitely recommend Horizon to fans of space opera, or lighter sci-fi.  But I’d also say that it’s a human story, painted on a science fiction canvas, and to tell it the way I wanted, I had to worry less about genre and more about authentically creating my characters and their worlds.

The relationship between Caeli and Derek, the two protagonists, is central to the story.  I didn’t want to water it down, or put less of a focus on it to please a segment of my audience who prefer more of the hard-core sci-fi.  On the other hand, I didn’t want to lose or disappoint those readers who were counting on a sci-fi action adventure.

Ultimately, my goal is always to tell a good story, and I think readers are willing to give something a try if they believe that’s what they’ll get.  My characters face threats, they fall in love, they lose loved ones, and they have an epic adventure!  Even readers who generally don’t lean toward sci-fi might find something that resonates with them in Horizon."
If you could / wished to turn Horizon into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Oh, this is such fun to think about!

If I could tap Ronald Moore to adapt the book to television, he would be my top choice.  He handled the reboot of Battlestar Galactica brilliantly, and I am beyond impressed with his work on Outlander.  I think Horizon lends itself to a series more than a movie, but I’d be hard pressed to refuse either!

Regarding actors, I can imagine Lily James as Caeli.  She portrayed such a lovely, resilient Cinderella!  I’m not sure I can choose a Derek, though!  I have a not-so-secret crush on him, and I’m not ready to turn him into a “real” man yet!"
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I’ve always been a big sci-fi fan, so when I finally started writing fiction, I knew I would start with sci-fi.  When I want to be inspired, to play with possibilities, to ask what if, and then create brand new worlds where I can explore the answers, my imagination goes straight to sci-fi.  For me, this genre is also a place to consider serious, meaningful issues in a different context, slightly removed from the real world.

But I’m definitely planning to write in different genres.  I’ve started a speculative thriller, and I have plans for a historical fiction novel.  I’d love to write horror, and maybe some straight-up romance too.  Literary fiction would be a stretch for me, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

As for reading, my tastes are eclectic.  I love most types of genre fiction including sci-fi, and I can lose myself in a good literary novel.  I belong to two book clubs, and I’m a contributing writer for a book blog – - so I have the pleasure of reading many, many wonderful books!"
What is your writing process?
"I’m a loose outliner.  Generally, I have the concept for the book well worked out before I dive in, but I leave plenty of room for interesting plot twists.  During the first draft, I write mostly sequentially, but if a later scene just won’t leave my head, I’ll jump to it and spend some time on it.

When the first draft is finished, I let it sit for a while and work on something else.  Then I do a few rounds of edits myself before sending it out to my beta readers.  Once I have some common feedback from the beta readers, and have integrated them into another round of edits, I send that version to my editor.  She and I will go back and forth until we’re both satisfied.

When I wrote my first novel I didn’t understand how much of the process was editing!  I would say, of the total time spent working on a book, one-third of it is spent writing the first draft, and two-thirds is spent editing!"
What is in store next?
"I’m currently drafting Horizon’s sequel.  It’s about one third of the way finished, with the rest pretty well outlined.  In Horizon, Caeli leaves her world just as it’s on the brink of another major uprising. In the second book, she’ll return and re-join the resistance movement."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"In general, I am not a dog person. I love cats. I will probably always have a cat. But recently, we adopted a black-lab mix from a rescue, and I ADORE her!  She is my hiking buddy, my work from home buddy, and just an overall love!

Since she was adopted from Texas, she’s never seen snow before this winter. It was so much fun to take her out in it for the first time."

That's lovely - it is always fun when they discover things for the first time :-) One of my cats just started running around the snow covered garden and could not get enough of it! (yes, I have odd cats.)

Hello Gabby! Lots of head scratches and belly rubs from all of us!

Thank you so much for sharing her with us, Tabitha. It was a pleasure having you here!

Available NOW!

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