Interview: Kate Rauner, Science Fiction Author

Kate Rauner is a science fiction author from New Mexico, USA. She’s been writing science fiction novels for a while now and has a series of novels, namely, Colony on Mars. In this interview, Kate introduces us to her books and tells us more about her process as a writer. I enjoyed doing the interview because Kate and I both love Mars and wrote about colonies that would, one day, be established on the Red Planet. With the way things are going recently, it may be sooner than either of us anticipated! Watch this space…

Right now though, let’s see how Kate answered my questions…

Q1: Tell us a bit about your book series, Colony on Mars – What’s the main premise of the series and who are the stand-out characters?

My premise comes straight out of today’s news. Real-life visionaries want to send people to Mars. Not just highly trained military or NASA astronauts, and not just for a visit. People like you and me, planning to stay.

I wondered what life would be like on Mars – the real planet we’re learning so much about. Mars can kill you in many ways, from the cold, unbreathable atmosphere to cosmic radiation. We’ll need technologies to fix the problems. Well, except gravity. We can’t change that, but we don’t know how bad Martian gravity will be for the human body. Maybe humans can survive long-term.

Technology is a challenge today. We aren’t ready to send people to Mars yet. So, my colony gets an amazing orbiting power station – wish we had that for Earth right now. Also, some cool robots and an artificial intelligence (the only character who survives through all five books) and advanced medicine. It frees the characters up for adventures.

Technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Human failings may be the worst threat to overcome. My settlers struggle with themselves and each other, on Earth and on Mars, as well as the dangers of the Red Planet.

In some ways, the stand out character is Emma Winters, a roboticist and migrant to Mars in the first book. Since she’s born on Earth, she’s easy to relate to. Or maybe you can relate to someone born on Mars and stuck in a dying colony, whether he likes it or not. Or to a roboticist having a mid-life crisis. A young woman who just wants to have fun in Mars’ biggest city, or someone with plans to change the entire planet. They’re all part of the colony.

Q2: Why would fans of Mars science fiction like your Mars series? What can they look forward to?

If you’re interested in Mars and not a generic planet, you’ll enjoy the stories. Each of the five books is set in a different generation of the colony, so each story is complete and stands alone. The colony evolves and adapts to its hostile world, but there’s always someone who doesn’t fit in, who wants more from life. Look forward to authentic people striving to build lives in a strange place. Someday, real settlers will tell stories like these.

Q3: Are you currently working on a writing project? If so, when can we expect it to launch?

My next story will colonize Saturn’s moon Titan. We’ve sent the Huygens probe to land on this bizarre world of ice sands and liquid methane lakes. Be inspired, like me, by what it saw. This YouTube has cool extras, is narrated, and includes actual video from the probe’s landing.

Titan’s the only body in the solar system where you could stand on a solid surface and not be bombarded by cosmic radiation and solar storms. But it’s a terrible place to settle because resources are so limited. Only crazy people will try. (She smiles mysteriously. You can read the first chapter here.

Everything takes longer than I plan, but I’ve got the story drafted and am editing now. With luck, it’ll be available in January. Sign up for my readers club and I’ll let you know by email when it’s published so you won’t miss out.

Kate Rauner

Q4: Tell us a bit about yourself: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What prompted the change in career from engineer to writer? Where do you get your inspiration to write?

I was tricked into writing by a dear friend and colleague of mine. After retiring, he started a blog, planning to put up three posts a week, including one review of a non-fiction book. That’s a hard pace to maintain so he asked me to write guest posts. I thought, hey, I can do book reports.

Then he wrote a children’s book with his grandkids and asked me to help beta-read and edit it. That was fascinating.

When Write a Novel in a Month rolled around, he encouraged me to try. I always loved science and sci-fi, so I wrote about a spaceport and its missions. I decided my first attempt was… not-terrible.

But I could do better. There’s a lot to learn about writing stories and I love learning.

That first book started as a dream – an image in my half-awake mind of a spacecraft peeking through an anomaly in space to an unknown star. When Mars One began talking about sending regular people to colonize, I knew I had to go too – in science fiction.

Q5: What’s your current favorite reading material?

I still love to read non-fiction, on topics from physiology to space to anthropology. In fiction, I’ve recently read some classics, including Isaac Asimov’s Robots of Dawn. Writing styles have certainly changed over time. It’s hard to imagine some classics being published today, but reader reviews show they’re still popular. What does that tell us?

My reading turns up on my blog. You’ll find posts on science news and reviews of sci-fi books, along with poetry inspired by Richard Feynman’s challenge. Everyone should write some poetry as Feynman suggested.

You’ll find me in lots of places. Amazon of course – the Big Dog of books – and many other favorite stores. Also on the web, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. For me or any author you enjoy, consider leaving a book review. That’s how readers find an author, so we all appreciate reviews.