Tabitha Chirrick is an author of things speculative, geeky, and/or badass. Her most recent release is the YA space opera Overshadowed, which she feels includes an about-right number of explosions. Her home base is in a little-known town so close to San Diego that it’s much easier to say… she lives in San Diego.
Q: Tell me about Overshadowed. Who’s the main character and what makes them special?
Sure! So, Overshadowed is a YA space opera that I like to pitch as a mix of Star Wars and Avatar: The Last Airbender. It’s got aliens, conspiracies, explosions, action, and just a dash of romance. Its main character, Tayel, is a refugee of a conspicuously large raider invasion that ravaged her home planet. She’s sent to a refugee camp in the same system, where slowly she starts to uncover the truth behind this bolstered raider threat. She’s a neophyte in the ways of stealth, combat, and resistance, so she develops a lot over the course of the story. She answers the question of what an “everyday person” could do in the face of interplanetary war, and that made her limiting, but fun to work with.
Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?
Well, I’m not sure which one of these is my “favorite” but I write in only three places: my desk at home, my couch, and the coffee shop–any coffee shop! So long as it has wifi and good coffee. That last one seems a little cliche for a writer, I know, but coffee joints have a mood about them that just inspires creativity. Maybe it’s the caffeine, maybe it’s the people-watching. Who knows? Sometimes the busy atmosphere and smoky scent of coffee is what I need for a scene.
Q: Any tips for other would-be writers?
That’s tough. I don’t like to be prescriptive when giving advice. The biggest rule to live by, in my mind, is to do what works for you, and politely leave the rest for someone else. For myself, the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is to constantly incorporate narrative thrust into the story. Some of my writer friends actually tease me for screaming out NARRATIVE THRUST in critiques, and I’ve joked about getting a tattoo of the phrase, probably in fancy lettering. This is still a raging internal debate. But the idea of narrative thrust is to have plot be the result of actions and consequences. Basically: let the characters’ actions drive the plot, not the other way around. As far as what not to do… I’ve seen authors do things I would never do, and then make millions from it, so I don’t even pretend to know.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
Ooh, another tough question! Rachel Aaron (also Rachel Bach) is a favorite. I read her Paradox Trilogy in four days, and I’m currently devouring her Heartstrikers series. Anthony Doerr is amazing. His Pulitzer winner, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, blew me away, and his short story collection is really unique. Emily Skrutskie launched her debut last year and I LOVED it, so I’m looking forward to more from her. Other authors I love are Neil Gaiman, H.L. Burke, Raymond Feist, Orson Scott Card, Lovecraft, and Vonnegut. I could really go on for a while. And if we count screenwriters among “authors,” then Joss Whedon and Dan Harmon would make that list of favorites, too. There’s a lot of greats out there, huh?
Q: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional books?
I like a mix of both. Unfortunately, I can’t afford my dream library, so shelf space is limited. As is, I have a lot of books buried in boxes in storage. So my rule for buying hard copy is that the book in question must be one I know I’ll love and probably reread, or one that’s a special edition with a fancy cover – maybe some extra forwards if I’m lucky. The most recent hard copy book I purchased was Neil Gaiman’s NORSE MYTHOLOGY. Read it in a day, can’t wait to read it again, and damn, check out that cover! Totally worth getting in physical form. All that said, I love ebooks. I can get them from the comfort of my own home – or anywhere with internet – they don’t take up any space, and they’re wonderfully portable. DMV appointment? Take the kindle. Long flight? Take the kindle. Going to the ‘rents for a weekend? Take the kindle. Plus, a lot of indie authors don’t sell paperbacks, so having an e-reader is the only way to enjoy their work. Basically, both is best!
Featured Writers is a series dedicated to discovering the talents, motivations, and strategies of writers all the world over. I don’t care how experienced you are, whether you’ve published anything, or what you’re writing about: If you’ve got a story to tell, I want to hear about it! To share your process or project with my readers, contact me with a brief bio and a little bit of information about what you’d like to talk about.