Cat Rambo is joining us today to talk about her novel, You Sexy Thing. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off in this fantastic space opera You Sexy Thing from former SFWA President, Cat Rambo.
Just when they thought they were out…
TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it.
Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance.
But, some wars can’t ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren’t content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.
What’s Cat’s favorite bit?
Before I wrote You Sexy Thing, I’d always found writers who talked about their characters coming alive for them and talking to them a bit twee. How ludicrous, I’d thought, running across an interview with someone talking about their fictional creation as though they were a real person.
And then I wrote this book.
It didn’t start that way at first. I wanted to sit down and write a book quickly, trying a new writing process, and writing something for fun, the sort of thing I’d pick up to read purely for enjoyment. Something immersive, something set in a fabulous, cool space opera universe, with an ensemble of characters.
The first two came to me quickly; I sat down and wrote the scene with Captain Niko and her sergeant Dabry arguing about where he was going to get an eggplant. In the course of pantsing my way in, I learned that a food critic was on her way to the restaurant, and some of the other characters began to stick their heads, demanding attention. Skidoo, my affectionate space octopus. Gio, an augmented chimpanzee, deadly with cleaver. Thorn and Talon, magical twins. Lassite, a reptilian priest driven by an internal vision since childhood. And others, including the ship itself, You Sexy Thing, with its own unique contributions to make to the plot.
I wrote the book at a madcap pace, 5,000 words each weekday (a pace only achievable by avoiding the Internet scrupulously until word count had been hit), and maybe that’s why the characters asserted themselves so strongly in my head. At night, falling asleep, I had them talking in my head, reacting to the day’s adventures and letting me know what came next. I woke up in the morning thinking about what scenes I’d write that day.
Certainly I don’t mean to make it sound like writing the book was effortless; every book’s a slog in its own inimitable way. But this one came with plenty of rewards along the way, and one of the biggest was acquiring a cast that I still talk to in my head.
I’m also not denying agency for writing these characters, or pretending they were delivered to me. I hate that way of talking about writing, as though it came from the outside. Like all writers, I’ve written about pieces of myself when documenting these characters, but I definitely chose those pieces, and fitted them to the story as it unfolded in my mind.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit that when I got the book contract, I went inside my head to talk to the cast and let them know that they were actually committed to three books, and that they were – and are still – pretty excited. (Skidoo says hi to everyone right now.)
I’m still talking away to them, or rather they’re still talking away, and telling their stories, and I’m excited to see what happens next. Last month I turned in book two, Devil’s Gun, and am outlining the third while also finishing up the last book of my fantasy series, Gods of Tabat.
Will the characters continue to talk to as we go along? I certainly hope so. I channel my inner Niko for alertness when driving, and sometimes Dabry and I talk while I’m cooking. There’s other characters that I’ve recently met who I’m looking forward to introducing to readers, and I’m anticipating having a great time with them for quite some time to come.
Cat Rambo is an American science fiction and fantasy writer and editor. She was co-editor of Fantasy Magazine from 2007 to 2011, which earned her a 2012 World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional nomination. She collaborated with Jeff VanderMeer on The Surgeon’s Tale and Other Stories, published in 2007.