Sailor to a Siren is a space opera thriller heavily influenced by contemporary gangland fiction, and is in some respects a heist novel in reverse. Two brothers, both working for a crime queen, and their colleagues successfully complete a heist in the first chapter, but the consequences cause them endless difficulties throughout the rest of the book. Interstellar coteries of warring magicians and their reactions to events add an extra layer of difficulty for the characters. Sailor is a genre mashup in the best science-fantasy tradition!
2. Is it a standalone book or part of a series?
It will be part of a series. I have outlines or drafts for several other volumes charting the characters’ future lives and those of their offspring; there is also scope for me to write a few volumes of historical back-story if I so desire.
3. Who inspired your main character?
Connor Cardwain could fit straight into gangland thriller canon. Though deeply crooked, he is intelligent and resourceful, constantly taking advantage of every situation he finds himself in, however perilous: he spends the novel working out how to be an effective leader of men, women and non-humans. The British thriller canon, at least, has an infrequent tradition of gay gangland protagonists: Connor is a gay man, and along with most of the cast is a man of colour.
4. Are you a plotter or do you just write whatever is in your head?
I plot, but very lightly; I typically decide that the characters need to get from A to C via B, but however they get from A to B and then B to C is really up to them – rather like picking from a few routes on a map rather than using a sat-nav. I put together more detailed outlines when the characters’ situation becomes particularly multi-layered.
5. Do you require silence when writing or do you need background noise?
I live next to a busy road, so having nothing playing in the background while I am writing does not equate to silence. Usually I write to classical music or sports on the radio – Test Match Special makes for a fantastic writing background sound – but that can vary according to the book. One of my recent drafts started progressing far more smoothly than prior when I created an entirely-Bon Jovi playlist.
6. Are you writing your next book?
I am partway through two first drafts at the moment: a direct sequel to Sailor to a Siren set a couple of years later, and another volume set about fifteen years later. Working on both at once allows me to swap from one to the other according to which seems easiest at any one moment!
Zoë was born in London, but moved to Lancashire in childhood, where she started writing novels at the age of twelve after reading the entire fantasy shelf in her local mobile library. After completing an epic fantasy trilogy in her teens, she spent four years studying at the University of St Andrews, where she learnt to fence and cemented her passion for space opera. She now lives in London with her husband and a collection of swords, and still fences for two clubs and, occasionally, a county. When neither writing nor fencing, she works as a print controller for an advertising company.