Strong women in sci-fi: An interview with Sarah Ettritch
Sarah Ettritch writes science fiction and fantasy novels with strong female leads. Oddly enough, this isn’t all that common in the male-dominated world of sci-fi/fantasy—to the point that there’s actually a meme floating around Facebook featuring a Joss Whedon answer to the question “Why do you write these strong female characters?” with his response, “Because you’re still asking me that question.”
Based in Toronto, Ontario, Sarah writes novels for a living, after many years spent as a software developer. She has authored the Rymellan series (including Disobedience Means Death, Shattered Lives and The Triad), concerning a society that chooses people’s mates for them, as well as The Salbine Sisters and Threaded Through Time. We caught up with her via email and popped a few questions concerning her unique world view and late-life entry into the writing game. Here’s what we discovered.
Who are your favorite authors and/or influences?
I read and enjoy so many authors that it’s difficult to choose one or two. Most authors I’ve read have influenced me in some way, at least on a subconscious level. My favourite authors write character-driven stories with strong female protagonists—the same type of stories I write.
Do you have a favorite quote about the writing process?
“It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.” —Sinclair Lewis
How does your geographic location influence your writing?
Since I write science fiction and fantasy, I usually make up worlds and locations. When I do write stories set in the “real world,” I set them in my country (Canada). Other than that, my location doesn’t influence my writing in terms of story. I do use Canadian spelling, though.
Has your past influenced your writing at all, and if so, how?
I think many writers draw on their experiences to some degree when writing, but my stories aren’t about me in any way.
Tea, with milk and one sugar.
Do you have any special writing routines, exercises or superstitions when starting a new project?
Beyond sitting at the keyboard and opening a new Word file, I don’t have any superstitions or routines.
What are your hobbies, outside of writing?
I’m an avid computer gamer. When I’m not creating my own worlds, I’m usually playing in worlds created by others. And, of course, I’m an avid reader.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I haven’t always been a writer, and I enjoyed my other profession, so that’s an easy question to answer. I’d be a software developer.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Right where I am!
As a self-published author, do you have any advice specifically for self-publishers?
Work with an editor. Read, read, read! Every time a published author (self- or otherwise) says they don’t have time to read, an angel loses its wings.
What are you currently working on, or what’s next for you?
I’m working on the first book in a new contemporary fantasy series. The Atheist, the first book in the Deiform Fellowship series, will be released in August 2012.