Post by: Ticana Zhu
I’ve been having writer’s block. Like, really bad writer’s block. The usual tricks weren’t kicking it. I went for long walks, a few late night drives. I found new tunes that were inspirational. I ate healthy and took naps. I even picked up a few books, but my heart wasn’t into reading. This rarely happens. I knew I needed to step outside my comfort zone.
In trying to find ways to summon the imagination, I wondered what kids did. I considered that my characters were, in ways, imaginary friends. I thought about a typical tea party girls played with imaginary friends, and felt a spark of inspiration. Embarrassment quickly followed. How silly would I feel if I set out a cup of tea across from me? Wasn’t I too old for those games?
Yet, maybe I could do it all in my head. Maybe if imagined sitting down across my from character(s), I could interview them with a list of questions. It would allow me to consider their responses. Thus, helping me re-immerse into their worlds.
Below are two interviews- in my head- with Rose (Rosi) Tian and Princess Summer.
T: Good morning Rosi, how are you liking your tea?
R: It’s nice, but I prefer chicha morada. (smiles apologetically, and takes a sip)
T: I’m sorry, it’s all I have in my humble home. Tell me about where you live?
R: For the moment, I live in Shonds, on Mars. (her eyes gaze wistfully to the sky)
T: Is it cold there? How do you stay warm?
R: It’s not so bad. There are biodomes deep in the crust. The districts are interconnected and climate controlled. (Rosi’s eyes spark as she speaks endearingly)
T: You seem to love Mars a lot. How does it compare to Earth?
R: (eyes drooping) I miss Earth a lot. It’s hard for me to come back to visit. There’s lots of sad memories here.
T: Would you like to share?
R: No. (appears to shut down)
T: That’s okay. Why do you live on Mars?
R: (reserved) my job.
T: (waiting for Rosi to say more. When she doesn’t) What do you do?”
R: (Eyes cold) If I told you, I’d have to kill you.
T: (chills down my spine, giggling nervously) Well, I wouldn’t want that. Umm… well, I hear you’re well traveled. What are some of the places you’ve been, and where’s your favorite?
R: (easing) Jupiter and Palettia. There’s nothing more rejuvenating that Jupiter’s deep cloud hotsprings. There’s a chemical reaction that helps people who’ve been altered to survive extraterrestrial conditions. Palettia is a planet filled with good people and great times. I have many joyous memories. It’s like a second home to me.
T: Are these places I can visit?
R: (shaking her head) Not unless you get a body alteration, but you need a DNA test to confirm you’re viable for one. Only a small percentage of the Earth’s population is. Humans of Earth’s evolution have made them poorly equipped to leave the planet. Besides, Earth’s a silent planet. You can just leave without permission of the local systems’ government.
T: What’s a silent planet? What’s the local systems’ government.
R: A silent planet is one where the inhabitants wish for their descendants to be oblivious to life elsewhere. Haven’t you asked yourself why humanity on Earth can’t pinpoint their origin? It was by design. There’s many reasons why a culture would wish to do this. Earth in particular was done by peoples who wished to lead a simpler life. The local systems’ government is just that. They’re a republic made up of local solar systems.
T: You keep referencing humans of Earth. Are there human’s elsewhere?
R: (tender smile, as if pitying me) Of course. Humans are just one of many sentient species across the universe.
T: Universe? There’s life in other galaxies?
R: (nods curtly) definitely.
T: Well, what about-?
R: (a device on her wrist beeps, she interrupts) I need to go. (She pulls open my window and hops into my backyard. A craft appears from thin air and Rosi jumps in. Before I could comprehend what I just witnessed, she disappears into the clouds.)
(Later that day)
T: (bowing deeply) welcome to my humble abode, Princess Summer.
S: (long robes cascading behind her, she fingers my book shelf) These are strange-looking scrolls.
T: They’re called books. Would her majesty like some tea?
S: (beaming sweetly) Jasmine please.
T: (pouring a cup) Would the Princess like a seat?
S: (stares at my kitchen chair with a back. glances at me questioningly)
T: (I make the motion to sit, but not lowering my bottom on the seat. It would be rude to sit before a royal)
S: (slides uncertainly into the chair) This… is a strange cup. (she pokes at the handle on my British-inspired tea cup.)
T: I understand times are different now. You’re from the Xia Dynasty, about four thousand years before mine. What do you do during your days?
S: (gingerly lifted the tea cup to her lips. She blows gently, and sips slowly. Delicately, she sets the cup back down). I practice calligraphy and spend time with my sisters. (her eyes glaze) They’ve married and moved away though.
T: Oh? How wonderful. Do you have a love interest?
S: (appears nervous) I do. But we’ve been separated. There are dangerous people around me.
T: (gulps) I’m sorry to hear. How are they dangerous?
S: (eyes deep and woeful) They wish to take the Empire from my father. I was supposed to marry into the family overseeing a troublesome territory. The union was supposed to ease the strain of political relationships. But… (her eyes cast to the side) My entourage was attacked during the journey. I can’t go home. If I do, it’ll be seen as a betrayal.
T: Is your love interest the man you were supposed to marry?
S: (cheeks deepen in color, appears ashamed). No. He is a friend of my brother’s. But I know I can never be with him. I know my father will try once again to resolve conflict. In doing so, he will need me to marry.
T: It must be difficult. How do you deal with it?
S: (lips smile, but eyes do not) I accept my fate. Personal happiness must be sacrificed for the greater good.
T: But what if you’re given a path that allows you to choose?
S: (eyes danced briefly with hope) I’ll say this to you because you are in a time not my own. If I should be given the choice to select my own destiny, I would take it, no matter how difficult the path. (the light leaves her eyes) But such is not the case for young women like me.
T: But… you never know…
S: It’s true, many things are uncertain. Perhaps I have yet to see what my fate brings. (smiles uneasily)
T: Is there anything else you’d like to share today?
S: Find a beautiful reason to live, and hold onto it. (sips her tea. Then pushes the saucer to me) It’s been a wonderful visit, but I’m afraid I must take leave. A princess has many duties.
T: Of course, thank you for your time.
S: (stands, and walks through a time portal in my wall)
This little dialogue practice helped me get in touch with the identities of my protagonists. Rosi Tian is the lead in Falling from Orbit, a sci-fi YA novel due out at the end of 2020. Princess Summer is the main character in Colors of an Empire, also due out at the end of 2020.
Falling from Orbit synopsis:
Rosi’s excited to learn that her mom’s old friend, Natasha is taking her to Space Camp in California. When their plane lands in Antarctica instead, Rosi finds her fate in the hands of a questionable woman. Hours later, she is at a Space Camp, but on Mars. Unable to tell her parents the truth, Rosi must keep life on Mars a secret.
The years roll on with Rosi second-guessing Natasha at every turn. The woman gives incomplete answers to all her questions and tells Rosi about the legendary Phoenix respawning the universe. The girl’s doubts double as Natasha places her in an elite squad, Division Seventeen. There Rosi makes new friends, many who comfort her when she’s forced to fake her death on Earth. As Rosi pieces together Natahsha’s shadowed past, she learns how their fates are tied.
Synopsis for Colors of an Empire:
Summer is daughter to the Emperor’s fourth concubine during the Xia Dynasty. After stumbling upon her half-brother’s corpse, she finds herself faced with dangers she couldn’t begin to understand. As if those troubles weren’t enough, she’s ambushed while traveling to her betrothed’s kingdom. Summer was meant to live in luxury and safety with her new husband, but instead finds herself amongst bandits.
With the aid of her brother from a shared mother, Winter, and friend, Hanming, she navigates her way back home to Zhenxun. Yet once she returns, Summer discovers treachery had been living alongside her in the palace her entire life. It’s not long before she finds herself a target.
Thank you for reading! I hope you’re all as excited as I am to have Rosi and Summer’s stories become available!
This is not a sponsored post. Tune in August 6th for our next post, by Ava Reiss.