Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Guest Blog & Giveaway: Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher

UFI welcomes Theresa Meyers Author of The Truth About Vampires. Thanks for Joining us!!


Thank you for having me over today! When I received the list of topic ideas, "Character's Book Picks" immediately caught my eye. GHOST PLANET's reviewer from RT Book Reviews noticed and mentioned the homage I'd paid to other authors, and I realized that I tend to do this in all my work. I thought it would be fun to talk about how and why specific book references ended up in GHOST PLANET.

Early in the book, my heroine (Elizabeth) finds herself bound symbiotically to the hero (Murphy), which means she's trapped in the same apartment with a man she barely knows -- and who completely ignores her. One morning as she sits next to him on the sofa, trying to work up the nerve to negotiate a bit of freedom in her oppressive situation, she examines a stack of “antique” books on his coffee table.

PHINEAS FINN by Anthony Trollope
First, I love Trollope, and this is probably my favorite book of his. Second, the story is about a young Irishman from the country who makes good in the British parliament. Murphy is a young Irishman from the country who makes good as a psychologist on Ardagh 1 (the “ghost planet”).

PAINGOD by Harlan Ellison
This is a short story in a collection I read many years ago. It's about an alien being whose job it is to dispense suffering to humanity, the premise being that we cannot experience pleasure and joy without pain as a foil. I thought of it because of the questions the heroine is asking at this point in the story: Is there a being or entity responsible for her reincarnation as an alien? What is the true nature of her existence? Has she been created only to suffer?  

SOLARIS by Stanislaw Lem
The ghost-aliens in GHOST PLANET are reincarnated beings who are triggered by the colonists' connection to dead family and friends, similar to the aliens in this sci-fi classic. Before writing my book, I saw, and was very moved by, the Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney film adaptation of Lem's novel. I then read the book, which takes less of a romantic approach, but was fascinating. I took these concepts further in GHOST PLANET, creating a symbiotic link between ghosts and colonists, and between the ghost/colonist pairs and the planet itself. I also wrote it from an alien’s point of view, and gave her the smarts and determination to overcome her victim status.

WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams
This was my favorite book as a teen (though it's not a YA novel). It's about a group of rabbits who abandon their warren based on a premonition that it's going to be destroyed. The story follows their quest to find a new home. It's loaded with politics, conflict, and poignant emotion. The rabbits consider joining two warrens that turn out to be frighteningly unsuitable, and I wove characteristics of both into Devil's Rock, the rebel camp where Elizabeth and Murphy take refuge.

Shortly after the sofa scene, in a moment of feeling particularly oppressed by her status as a "ghost," Elizabeth writes a line on the wall of the closet she's sleeping in, "Don't let the bastards grind you down." The line is from:

THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood
This grim tale made a huge impression on me. The heroine (Offred) is forced into this biblically inspired role of "handmaid," which is a euphemism for reproductive slave. Offred sleeps in a small room in the house of her master (Fred), much as Elizabeth sleeps in the closet-bedroom of Murphy's former ghost. One night Offred discovers that the previous handmaid carved the Latin version of this line into her cupboard.

Finally, I slipped another of my favorites into the story as Elizabeth reads to a cranky Murphy in an effort to distract him from the immobility required by broken ribs. He smugly guesses the book is PRIDE & PREJUDICE, but it's actually:

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte
It would be a stretch to try and tie this to GHOST PLANET, although now that I think about it both novels have a big mystery with a supernatural flavor. But I included JANE EYRE because it was my "gateway" classic English novel -- it drew my attention to a whole new category of books that brought me countless hours of happy reading.

How about you? What books have inspired you to create, or have somehow changed the way you look at the world?

SHARON LYNN FISHER is the author of GHOST PLANET, coming from Tor Books on Oct. 30. The book -- a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist -- is a sci-fi/romance blend that offers a "fresh and fascinating take on the human-alien problem" (says author Linnea Sinclair). She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is hard at work on her next novel and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne.

Find Sharon and her books

Ghost Planet

Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion, Powells
 Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world—a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she'd struggle with the requirement to shun these "ghosts." She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.

As a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy—creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone—oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love—Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.

But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man that she loves.
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