Author Interview: ‘Callisto 2.0’ by Susan English

About the Book:

She had to travel beyond the planet to discover her true self. Will she find the courage to walk through the doorway to a new future?

Shambhala Space Station, 2097. Solitary physicist Callisto (physics, after all, is a jealous mistress) never accepted conventional wisdom. So when she’s recruited to work on faster-than-light technology by a beautiful and mysterious older woman, she eagerly accepts the career opportunity at the women-only research station orbiting Earth’s moon. But her enthusiasm suffers when her first discovery is unexpected heartbreak.

Throwing herself into work on a problematic warp drive prototype, Calli blossoms in the utopian female community that shows her love and acceptance for the first time in her life. But when a twisted conspiracy, a disingenuous affair, and a disastrous betrayal test her place in this unique environment, the brilliant scientist must dig deep to find her moment of truth.

Will Calli embrace her destiny in an unexplored cosmos?

Callisto 2.0 is the transformative first book in the Shambhala Saga feminist science fiction series. If you like compassionate characters, deep-space intrigue, and hopeful visions of the future, then you’ll adore Susan English’s cosmic adventure.

 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Excerpt:

Prologue

My body trembled slightly as I waited to connect, and I felt a little sick to my stomach. When my father answered the holochat, I was stunned. My father avoided holochatting like the plague—he claimed it was like talking to an avatar and not a real person. I hadn’t seen him in over a year, not since the last time I visited my parents.

“Hi, Dad.” My voice was barely more than a whisper.

“Hi, Sweet Pea. How are you?”

I forced myself to speak louder. “Good, Dad,” I lied.

“Your mother is worried about you. She’s been watching the news and she wants you to come home.”

“I know, Dad, I talked to her earlier today—” I almost added: before I knew what was happening, but I stopped myself.

“I don’t know, Sweet Pea, none of this makes sense to me. But I’m an old man. What do I know?”

“I promise you, Dad, what they are saying in the newsfeeds, it’s not true.”

“If you say so, then I believe you.”

I felt a lump in my throat.

“Do you remember that joke you used to love when you were a little girl?”

I nodded, not trusting myself to speak.

“How did it go? What did the ion say to the atom? I think I lost my charge. Then the atom asks, are you sure? And the ion says, I’m positive!” My father laughed, and I was reminded of when I was younger, when he was younger. I remembered when he taught me to ride a bike, how he held me in his arms when I’d fallen, knees bloody and tears streaking my face. He had loved me. I was loved.

“You’re a good dad,” I said.

“And you are a good daughter.”

I felt my eyes fill with tears. I had been so angry with my parents for so many years, I realized, and had buried that anger deep inside me. No, not angry—hurt. Hurt that they didn’t understand me, that they couldn’t truly accept me for who I was. But then again, I hadn’t accepted them, either. Now that it was too late, I felt all those years of pain wash away, to be replaced by a profound sadness. I desperately wanted to change the subject.

“How’s the kitchen remodel going?” I managed, keeping my face neutral. It was the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life.

“It’s going beautifully. Your mother convinced me to hire a few young men to help. You know my back’s not so good.”

“I know, Dad. Is Mom there?”

“No, Sweet Pea, she’s taking a walk with her friends.”

I felt the heat in my face. Seeing my father, so old, so frail, looking at me, his face trusting, almost childlike, I felt my heart break. I couldn’t tell him, couldn’t say what needed to be said. There was so much, too much.

I knew it was only a matter of seconds before I broke down, and I didn’t want my father to see. I wanted this, our very last conversation, to be easy. I would send them a holomessage, explain everything, there was still a little bit of time left. “I have to go, Dad. I love you so much. Tell Mom I love her.”

“We love you, too, Sweet Pea.”

I ended the connection, and burst into heaving sobs.

 

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’ve always loved books. When I was young, I think I read every single book in our school library. I was never happier than when I was up in a tree with a book in my hand. Writing came a little later in life, though I feel like I’ve always had it in me. And now, finally, I have time to devote to writing. Yay!

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I can literally write anywhere. I’m lucky in that I’m perfectly comfortable using pen and paper, so you might find me writing scenes on a piece of junk mail, or scribbling dialog on the back of a grocery store receipt (and using tiny print when I have a lot to say and so little space). These days I try to keep a notebook and pen in my bag, to be ready to take advantage of any down time, like waiting in line at the bank or grocery store. My ideal writing situation is to have hours (or days!) of uninterrupted time. What a luxury, having a few days or even a week with nothing to do except create, no disruptions, no expectations. Let’s just say that these experiences are few and far between. I totally understand why a writer might be attracted to going on retreat.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Some ideas come pre-formed, some I struggle to define, and there is a vast field in between. I would say I rely more on my imagination, but my personal experiences have a way of sneaking in. It’s a nice thing about having lived for so many years, lots of adventures and interactions to draw upon!

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I have a general idea of where I want my story to go, but my unconscious brain has a way of surprising me! Sometimes I can’t wait to start writing a chapter or a scene because I really want to know what will happen next.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I’ve written several short stories and a travel memoir (all here), and my latest book, Callisto 2.0, is science fiction. I am drawn to sci-fi for a couple of reasons. One, I’m a big science geek! I have a master’s degree in physics, and I love that the goal of science is an unbiased understanding of nature and the universe. Another reason I decided to write in the sci-fi genre is because it allows me to imagine and create the world I want to live in. The science fiction genre has more than its fair share of dystopian novels, so my goal is to offer a more positive vision of the future.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

I am very poorly suited to answer that question, because I am terrible at recognizing actors. For example, I can watch a movie starring some famous actor, and then see another movie with that actor, and I have no idea that it’s the same person. Very weird. I used to think I had a mild form of face blindness, but it’s not that. I really can’t explain it. I also have a terrible time recognizing myself in photos, and I can’t even begin to fathom how witnesses to a crime can describe a suspect for a police artist. I think that this is the reason why I created images of each of my characters in Callisto 2.0—I needed to actually see their faces. (The character portraits are all on my website, shambhalasaga.com)

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I go through phases, like many readers. There have been times in my life when I’ve read three or four books simultaneously. Okay, not simultaneously, that would be a feat! But you know what I mean. One of my all-time favorite authors is Jane Austen. I adore her wit and humor, and her intuitive understanding of the quirky complexity of us humans.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Lately I’ve been more focused on non-fiction, doing research for my sci-fi novels. I’ve been delving into warp drives, lunar colonization, and terraformation, as well as gene splicing and theories of consciousness and the self. So much to read! Hurray for audio books, right?

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Now that’s a tough question! In this very moment there are at least a dozen books in my head vying for the spotlight, shouting “pick me, pick me!”. Every time I try to choose one, the others clammer to be heard, so I think I’ll just give a short list instead.

Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, is one of my all-time favorite books, because it has all the elements of a deeply compelling novel—it’s an adventure story, an epic quest for self-enlightenment, and a philosophical treatise, and the writing is agonizingly, breathtakingly beautiful.

Then there’s A Man Called Ove. The main character, Ove, is a grumpy old curmudgeon, and his voice is exquisitely wrought. Sometimes I laughed so hard that I cried, and sometimes my tears were shed for the tragedy of the human condition.

Another of my favorites is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I loved the point of view—Scout is the perfect protagonist for this story. Looking through her eyes we can so clearly see that racism, injustice, cruelty, the mob mentality—none of it makes sense.

There are plenty more books on my favorites list, but I’ll stop here.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

We all have stories to tell. And stories are such a big component of being human. My philosophy is if you can imagine it, you can create it through writing. So my advice is to go for it!

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

Website: www.shambhalasaga.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Susan-English-Author

Twitter: @SusanEnglish001

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/20596038.Susan_English

Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/Susan-English/e/B08G1SZ2D2

YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCmsDW2HZdAM_r1pM40eOehQ

 

About the Author:

Susan English is a born adventurer, a world traveler with an insatiable intellectual curiosity. She holds a master’s degree in physics, once lived on a sailboat in the San Francisco bay, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia, and spent five years on the Big Island of Hawaii, where she owned an off-grid, completely self-sufficient farm in the jungle. Now she is happy to be living with her partner in beautiful Medellin, Colombia, the city of eternal spring.

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