Monday, May 19, 2014

Author Interview: J. Grace Pennington

Hello! I have another exciting author interview for you all today. Indie author J. Grace Pennington graciously let me interview her about her science-fiction series, Firmament. The first two books are Radialloy and In His Image. I highly recommend both, so after the interview you should go buy them, because they are exciting and fun.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet J. Grace Pennington!

Hi Grace! Thanks for joining me on Inkspots! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is J. Grace Pennington, and I'm an author. I'm also the oldest of nine siblings, and a loyal Texan! Despite being a country girl, I mostly love to write about outer space and other sci-fi adventures. I've self-published three books so far, among them two volumes from my sci-fi series, Firmament.

What is the Firmament series about overall?
The Firmament series chronicles the adventures of medical officer Andi Lloyd as she helps her father, a doctor, aboard the starship Surveyor. The purpose of the ship is to explore and document the galaxy, but the series is a lot less about science and a lot more about tough moral issues regarding family and faith.

What gave you the idea for the series?
It was mostly inspired by Star Trek: The Original Series and my frustration at the humanistic basis for so many of the episodes. At one point I had a dream that took one of the movies in a new direction, and I was fascinated by it, and tried to create my own sci-fi series with a spin -- it centers on an unranked young girl instead of a powerful officer such as a captain.

How many books will be in the series? Why that number?
Eighteen. Originally there were twenty-four planned, but I realized that a lot of them would be more powerful combined, or were too ambitious, so I got it down to eighteen. Just because that's how many ideas I had, no real reason..

Where did you draw inspiration from for the series, if anywhere?
I've already mentioned Star Trek. That's definitely my main inspiration. I also had some influences from Stargate, especially for the book In His Image. The main character, Andi, is largely based on myself. Other than that, each book is generally inspired by some idea or relationship I want to explore. Such as the Machiavellian principle, eternal life, or divorce.

What is your favorite part about writing the Firmament series? Least favorite?
Favorite part is definitely the characters and relationships. I love the drama and the choices that have to be made, and I love the complex interplay between different backgrounds and personalities. It's all just so fascinating to me.

Least, I'd have to say action. I hate writing action and am very bad at writing out clear logistics, so it's not a very good fit. But a dramatic sci-fi series has to have at least some action. So write it I must.

Is there anyone you based your characters off of?
As I mentioned, Andi is definitely based off of me. She's a lot more smart and outgoing than I am, but otherwise very similar. The Doctor is pretty clearly inspired by Star Trek's Doctor "Bones" McCoy. Other than that, I don't think the rest had any concrete models.

What is your writing process like? 
I come up with a basic premise, then I outline using the One Year Adventure Novel method. Once I have the outline figured out, I write through as quickly as I can--usually in about two months. Then I print it out, write notes for editing on it, then rewrite it from the beginning. Then I edit it until it's as good as I can get it!

What got you started writing?
I've loved reading since before I can remember, and one day while my mom was taking a nap, I thought it would be fun to write a story of my own, so I did. The rest is history!

What made you decide to self-publish?
I mostly wanted the control that comes with self-publishing versus traditional publishing. I wanted to decide what it looked like and who did the cover art and how it was represented and how much of a royalty I got. It's definitely harder, but to me it's worth it.

Do you have any writerly advice for aspiring writers?
The main advice I always give is keep going! Even the best writers feel at some point like what they are doing totally fails, so why should we newbies be any different? Even when every word is dragging and you hate your characters and you're convinced this is the worst story since Aaron tried to tell Moses the golden calf came out of the fire by itself, keep writing. After all, you can edit anything but a blank page.

Thank you for having me, Olivia!


J. Grace Pennington is the author of the Firmament Series and Never, a western novel. She blogs over at, and you can find more of her writings on Facebook and Twitter.

Where you can find Grace and Firmament:

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