My Favorite Bit: A.D. Sui talks about THE DRAGONFLY GAMBIT

A.D. Sui is joining us today to talk about her novel, The Dragonfly Gambit. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Nearly ten years after Inez Kato sustained a career-ending injury during a military exercise gone awry, she lies, cheats, and seduces her way to the very top, to destroy the fleet that she was once a part of, even at the cost of her own life.

Ennis Rezál, Third Daughter of the Rule, has six months left to live. She is desperate to end the twenty-year war she was birthed to fight. But when she brings Inez aboard the mothership, a chess game of manipulation and double-crossing begins to unfold, and the Rule doesn’t stand a chance.

What’s A.D.’s favorite bit?


Every protagonist needs motivation to do protagonist-y things. Some do it for the call of adventure, others, to save their loved ones. At times, the world might even be at stake. My favourite motivator, however, is spite.

            My protagonist, Nez, is exclusively fueled by spite (and caffeine). Following an accident that leaves her with a career-ending injury, Nez is abandoned by her friends, abandoned by the military, and I think deep down, she abandons herself to the deep well of self-loathing she steeps in for nearly a decade. It is spite that eventually sharpens her resolve until it is a blade she expertly wields to achieve her goals.  Because if not spite, what else does she possess?

            Where traditionally morally grey protagonists’ flaws and faults can be justified, Nez holds no moral virtue. She has taken a part in the Rule’s regime, willfully becoming a cog in the military machine. She is no saint, no stranger to using dubious means to achieve her ends. In the spectrum of “grey” she is wet asphalt. While Nez can justify her actions as righteous to an outsider, reading between the lines we see that her vendetta is nothing more than a rampage to repair her broken ego and hurt those who have hurt her. It’s easy for us to imagine a scenario where Nez is never injured and continues to serve as a proud member of the Rule’s fleet.

            But the injury changes her world in more ways than physical. It changes the dynamic Nez has with the world. When she loses her function as a pilot, she fades and fades until she is invisible to everyone: her friends, her lover, and the very institution she was a part of. But below the self-loathing, there is grit, and there is spite. From this point on, Nez’s entire character arc can be summarized as watch me.  

Spite as motivator is very familiar to me. Every step in every single career I had was marked by spite. In my athletic career, I was deemed too weak and too short, often standing as the shortest fencer at World Cups and Grand Prix. I was moderately successful simply because I refused to count myself out when everyone else had. I started writing at thirty because I failed as an academic and was told for the duration of my Doctorate that I was a poor writer. Spite got me to write my first short story, and my second, and this novella. I admit, my biggest motivator was proving that I was better than how others perceived me and rub it in their faces.

While spite isn’t regarded as the healthiest of motivators, my self-tested theory is that spite ultimately comes from a place of self-love. Spite emerges when we’ve been wronged, and our sense of self-worth is challenged. When everything else has been stripped away, when there is no one in your corner, when hope has long cashed out and left town, spite says that you are better than what everyone else has relegated you to and you should prove it. Spite is the tiny voice inside your head that gets you to stand up for yourself and return the favor, no matter how hopeless your position is. Without spite, Nez is just another invisible person, discarded by the Rule when they’re no longer useful. With spite however… you’ll have to read to find out.

I hope that through Nez, I can convince you to embrace your spite, to dig in and let it be the fuel for your excellence. I hope that we can embrace this negative emotion and use it for our own goals, instead of letting it rot us from the inside.

Now, get up, get petty, and get it done.


Book Link





A.D. Sui is a Ukrainian-born, queer, disabled science fiction writer, and author of THE DRAGONFLY GAMBIT. She is a failed academic and retired fencer. Her writing has appeared in Fusion Fragment, Augur, and others. When not wrangling her two dogs, she’s posting away as @thesuiway on every social media platform. 

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