Stina Leicht is joining us today to talk about her novel, Persephone Station. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.
Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner, caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drank at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who sought to employ them.
Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing is asked to perform a job for Rosie. What this job reveals will effect Persephone and put Angel and her squad up against an army. Despite the odds, they are rearing for a fight with the Serrao-Orlov Corporation. For Angel, she knows that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. That doesn’t mean she can’t damned well try.
What’s Stina’s favorite bit?
Persephone Station is about four women of color, two gender-fluid aliens, an Artificial General Intelligence housed in a vat grown clone, and a non-binary crime boss. They’re a group of criminal misfits who go out and save the day in the tradition of The Magnificent Seven. The novel is a found family story featuring battle mechs, dog fights, and gun battles. Because I feel women and other genders should get to have those kinds of stories too. I know I’ve always wanted to read something like that. So, really, the whole book is my favorite bit, but I have to pick something specific. So, I’m going with the characters.
Character development is my favorite thing. It’s magic when a character leaps off the page. I enjoy making characters whole people and I’m fascinated by how other authors accomplish it. Sadly, a lot of the time non white cishet male characters aren’t given the same amount of attention. I definitely didn’t want to make that mistake. I wanted the women and other genders in my novel to have reasons to do things that didn’t involve a white cishet male—most of the time. So, I’m going to talk about a couple of characters: Lou and Enid.
Lou is a mechanic and Kurosawa’s hot shot pilot. She was pretty easy to write. She lost an eye during her tour of duty and so has a prosthetic. Unlike most female mechanic characters, she’s an adrenaline junky. She’s sarcastic and sex positive and has a boyfriend. She has quick reflexes. The inside of her head is kind of a mess—so is her apartment. She likes vintage clothing and works on engine parts in her kitchen. She can’t cook. She also owns a snake named Brenden. She talks a lot—particularly when she’s under stress. Her emotions are big and obvious. I let her apartment say a number of things about her, but I also let her chatter.
Enid was more difficult. She’s the sniper. She’s reserved, controlled, and doesn’t talk much. Subsequently, she doesn’t reveal herself in the ways the others do. So, I lay down hints via the other characters and let the reader put the pieces together. She’s not shy. There’s a distinction between shy and reserved. She’s not a frightened person but she doesn’t trust people easily either.
So, here are a couple of bits involving the two characters. It mainly involves Lou, Lou’s pet snake Brendan, and Enid.
“How about Lou secures the snake?” Angel asked. “It’ll never leave the cockpit.”
“Sounds safe enough,” Sukyi said. “Unless snakes can chew through steel. In which case—”
“Fuck off, Sukyi,” Enid said.
Enid hates snakes, but Enid doesn’t say why. Most of her character has to be displayed through her actions and other people’s dialog. The group is a family of sorts. So, revealing Enid’s past directly to Sukyi (and therefore the reader) isn’t an option. It’d be a privacy violation. Thus later, we discover the reason during a conversation involving several others (but not Enid) about past battles they’d fought. One happened to be on a swampy planet with guns that didn’t do well in humid conditions. The planet’s fauna is also briefly discussed and that’s when we hear about the overabundance of snakes. The reader is left to fill in the rest for themselves.
Stina Leicht is a science fiction and fantasy writer living in central Texas. Her second novel, And Blue Skies From Pain, was on the Locus Recommended Reading list for 2012. She was an Astounding Award for Best New Writer finalist in 2011 and in 2012. In 2011 she was also shortlisted for the Crawford Award.