Hooray Publication! Q&A with Linden A. Lewis

Today The Books are Rising celebrates two milestones! One is the start of [Hooray Publication!], a separate series apart from Spotlights to celebrate publication releases. Another is the release of The First Sister, which I have raved about here! I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to review the book courtesy of NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton; and to speak to the author Linden Lewis for this celebratory Q&A. The First Sister is an epic space-opera debut poised to start a trilogy. Check out its description below :))

First Sister has no name and no voice. As a priestess of the Sisterhood, she travels the stars alongside the soldiers of Earth and Mars—the same ones who own the rights to her body and soul. When her former captain abandons her, First Sister’s hopes for freedom are dashed when she is forced to stay on her ship with no friends, no power, and a new captain—Saito Ren—whom she knows nothing about. She is commanded to spy on Captain Ren by the Sisterhood, but soon discovers that working for the war effort is so much harder to do when you’re falling in love.

Lito val Lucius climbed his way out of the slums to become an elite soldier of Venus, but was defeated in combat by none other than Saito Ren, resulting in the disappearance of his partner, Hiro. When Lito learns that Hiro is both alive and a traitor to the cause, he now has a shot at redemption: track down and kill his former partner. But when he discovers recordings that Hiro secretly made, Lito’s own allegiances are put to the test. Ultimately, he must decide between following orders and following his heart.

Without further ado, here’s our conversation in this first installment of Hooray Publication!

Let’s start from the beginning: This is your debut novel!

It is, and I’m so excited to have it out there in the world.

How are you feeling now that we’re so close to the publication date?
What were the greatest challenges you found yourself grappling with in the writing or editing process?

Worldbuilding was definitely the hardest for me. I wanted things to be believable even if I didn’t explain every bit of science. If it were up to me, all my characters would be in white rooms talking to each other, because I’m good at characters and dialogue… 

How did you approach your worldbuilding process? Did you find yourself challenged on any aspect of the craft?

Soooo much. I ended up asking several science-minded friends (including an astrophysicist friend-of-a-friend) to help me build something plausible. They gave me a lot of great ideas of things that could work, if we had the technology, and that led to the creation of hermium. Once we created hermium, we had something that could plausibly power dome-cities, warships, etc.

Would you happen to have a playlist to go with THE FIRST SISTER?

I do! I don’t listen to a lot of music when writing, just a few songs over and over, but the ones that inspired me the most are on this playlist:

Who was your hardest POV to write in this novel?

First Sister, for sure. I always joke that Lito is my good child, and Hiro won’t shut up… which leaves First Sister. I always feel like I have to beg her to work with me.

Which authors were your greatest influence in writing this book?

Margaret Atwood is a huge inspiration of mine no matter what I’m writing. I’m also very lucky to have met Rebecca Kuang of THE POPPY WAR and Farah Naz Rishi of HOPE YOU GET THIS MESSAGE at the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2016, and they’re huge inspirations of mine.

[Self-musing: Aw dang! THE POPPY WAR just happens to be my favourite series of all time!]

Name some SFF book publications you’re excited about for the rest of the year!

I read a lot, and I have so many books I’m excited for. HARROW THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir, STAR DAUGHTER by Shveta Thakrar, LEGENDBORN by Tracy Deonn, THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by VE Schwab, and BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse are just a few!

[Self-musing: I actually have a proof of BLACK SUN to read – I just need to stop procrastinating and get into it]

I cannot help but notice the irony of having a divine matriarch within the religious canon in THE FIRST SISTER. Will we be delving into more layers of this belief and how it came to a place and culture of oppression in the sequels?

Perhaps a bit more, but the idea behind the Sisterhood is the same as the oppression found elsewhere in the novel, in that humans are ultimately selfish creatures corrupted by power. Believe it or not, the Sisterhood itself with its ideas of women keeping other women down came to be after I saw how many white women voted for Trump. That was just more proof to me that white cishet women will stab other women in the back for their own good and directly led to the creation of the Aunts and the Agora.

What was your favourite aspect to write in this space epic? What other space fantasies that gave you inspiration for this world?

RED RISING by Pierce Brown was definitely a big inspiration. The Expanse series as well. I wanted something that spanned the universe but talked about the oppressed underdogs. My favorite aspect of writing is probably Hiro’s smartass remarks, because at the end of the day, it’s the characters that make me excited to dig into a project.

When you reflect on the time you spent writing, what passages or sequences do you remember most vividly?

There’s a passage that comes towards the beginning of the book when Lito and Hiro meet for the first time at the Academy. It’s that bit I remember writing the most, becuase when Hiro talks about being nonbinary, it felt like I was coming out alongside them.

Being as vague as possible to avoid spoilerific territory, summarise the rest of the trilogy in 2 words and 3 memes :))))))

I’ve actually had these saved because of how much they make me laugh when I think about my future books. So here are some spoilers without context. 🙂
Book 2:

Big oof, Linden, that really hit right in the gut :”))

Book 3:

OMG Linden, I am TERRIFIED of what this may entail…?
Can you give us any information about the next instalment in The First Sister trilogy? 😉

More Synthetics! More Asters! More crying. :’)

Thank you so much for answering these questions! Best of luck with your writing and debut celebration!

Thank you!!!!

The First Sister is now available to purchase in your major book retailers! My utmost congratulations to Linden for a very enthusiastic debut, and my thanks again for participating in this interview! I cannot wait for my gorgeous copy courtesy of Goldsboro Books to arrive!

My review of The First Sister can be found here if you need a little bit more convincing to pick it up 😉

About the Author

Linden A. Lewis (she/they is the author of The First Sister. Linden is a queer writer and world wanderer currently living in Madrid with a couple of American cats who have little kitty passports. Tall and tattooed, Linden exists only because society has stopped burning witches.

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