Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Q&A with Marina J. Lostetter

Photo by Jeff Nelson
Marina J. Lostetter is the author of the new novel Noumenon Ultra, the third in her Noumenon series, which also includes Noumenon and Noumenon Infinity. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Lightspeed and Uncanny. She lives in Arkansas.

Q: This is the third in your Noumenon series--did you know when you wrote the first book that you'd be returning to this world?

A: I'd certainly hoped!

I had three "stages" in mind for the Web (which is the alien megastructure discovered in the first book). 

I saw it first as an artifact, then as a tool, then as a cog (those are the best ways I can think to describe it without giving too much away), and I wanted to explore each layer of it as an object of interest and as a metaphor for how the human experience evolves throughout the series. 

Q: How did you come up with the concept for this new novel?

A: Similar to how I wanted to expand the audience's understanding of and interaction with the web, I wanted to explore humanity and society through layered reveals. 

In book one, we see the convoy members in a sense becoming an alien society (relative to the people of Earth), and in book two that concept becomes almost literal. In book three, we get to see humanity interact with true aliens for the first time. Book two ended with some narrative threads that still need tied up, so character-wise I was able to jump off from there.

Q: Do you usually know how your novels will end before you start writing them, or do you make many changes along the way?

A: The endings are usually what I start with! I have an over-arching concept, but then usually one of the very first scenes I envision is the ending or something close to the end. Then I kind of work backwards, unraveling what led to the scene, discovering how the plot and characters all ended up there.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from Noumenon Ultra?

A: A sense of wonder, and a sense of fulfilment. I wanted this to be a hopeful epic, about people just trying to do their very best in extraordinary circumstances, where the characters delight in found family, curiosity, and empathy--despite the daunting tasks and life-and-death conflicts they find themselves in. Overall, I hope readers come away satisfied with the trilogy as a whole.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am currently working on a not-yet-announced new stand-alone sci-fi novel for Harper Voyager. It's a much smaller-scale story than the Noumenon series. And more action-oriented. It features soft robots, Jovian mines, an unreliable narrator, and the thrill of being trapped on a small spaceship with an enemy that could ultimately aid or kill you.

Should be released next year--likely in August--so stay tuned!

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I also have a new epic fantasy series coming out next April from Tor.  Book one is called The Helm of Midnight, and I like to pitch it as Silence of the Lambs meets Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn. It features enchanted death-masks, serial killers, mind-altering magic, and deals with the themes of bodily autonomy and manipulative power structures. 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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