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S.M. Schmitz is a new to me author who I am thrilled to have on my blog today as a part of the Women in SciFi series.  Not only is she a woman writing in the SciFi genre, she’s also using it as a way to discuss and explore gender roles and assumptions.  I have to admit, after doing this interview, I’m super intrigued and am going to have to pick up a copy of at least a few of her books to check out.  I signed up for her newsletter here: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/pLwvT and picked up a free copy of her book The Scavengers and I absolutely think you should do the same!

PK Tyler: Your trilogy Resurrected is a science fiction romance. What would a reader of a traditional romance novel notice that’s different about your books?
S.M. Schmitz: For starters, there are aliens. And portals and wormholes and descriptions of life on another planet. And quite a bit of violence on this one. All of my novels attempt to raise questions about something greater than the hero and heroine and whatever task they have to accomplish. In the Resurrected trilogy, the violence serves a purpose; it isn’t there for shock value.

PKT: Your book Peyton’s Myth doesn’t occur on earth. What was it like creating an entire universe outside of our planet for your characters to explore?
SMS: The first half of the novel does take place on Earth; they reach a new planet in the second book of the trilogy. Cambria isn’t that different than Earth, which I reasoned would be the case if the people from Cambria looked almost identical to humans. There are a few differences on their planet, but the more difficult part was actually constructing their language because it’s based on a real one, although not one that’s spoken anymore!

PKT: Speaking of characters, we noticed that some of yours don’t follow traditional binary norms. How does writing in the science fiction genre allow you to explore non-binary genders and bend the gender expectations of your readers?
SMS: When it comes to romance, there are still gender expectations, unfortunately. I’d love to be able to move away from that. Zoe in The Cambria Code trilogy shatters a lot of the gender expectations for a heroine in a romance; she’s snarky and independent and doesn’t put up with anyone’s BS. She’s not the sweet, innocent, docile girl that needs to be protected by some alpha male. On the contrary, she ends up kicking some major alien ass in books two and three. Even her best friend, Mia, has a streak of rebelliousness in her that we see in book three. In the Resurrected trilogy, Lydia is my character that I explored gender expectations with. In book one, I really amped up all of the gender stereotypes: she’s sweet to the point of seemingly naïve and feeble, and she appears helpless and completely dependent on Lottie. But Lydia is far stronger than one might think at first glance, and by book two, we begin to see how their experiences on Earth are bringing out these changes that are going to completely transform her by Final Sacrifice.

PKT: You mention on your website that you often set your stories in Louisiana (where you’re from). Do you have any favorite women authors who are from your area? If not, who are your writer role models and why?
SMS: No, although there are some notable writers from Louisiana, my biggest influences are writers who glorify quirkiness: Kurt Vonnegut, Andrew Smith, Joseph Heller.

PKT: We noticed that you use initials for your name. Is this on purpose, and if so, could you tell us what led you to make that choice?
SMS: Yes, I chose to use my initials because it’s slightly easier to read and say than putting my first and last name together, both of which start with a “sh” sound. That’s really the only reason!

PKT: How much of a role do you think gender plays in marketing and selling books, especially for women science fiction authors?
SMS: I think it can certainly affect certain genres. To flip this around, think about men writing in romance. We don’t see many male authors in romance categories. Why? Is it lack of interest in writing romance novels? Is it fear that they’ll be labeled as effeminate if they write romances? Or is it difficulties in marketing romances written by men? I think certain genres are still dominated by male writers, or at least male pseudonyms, perhaps out of similar concerns about marketing and labeling. One of the reviews in my Resurrected trilogy mentions the reviewer’s surprise that I’m a woman because of the violence in the series. There’s no reason a woman can’t write violent novels, of course, but it still surprises readers.

PKT: Have you ever tried to make up or use alternative gender categories in a novel, or write a genderless piece? Even if you haven’t, how would you imagine this making your writing more or less difficult?
SMS: I haven’t, but thinking beyond the gender binary is certainly interesting and SFR contains so many possibilities to explore such possibilities. When referring to gender as a social construct, there are already multiple genders among humans. But considering the possibilities of multiple sexes as well as multiple genders is intriguing, and in the right hands, could certainly offer readers a thought-provoking critique of the way we address gender issues in our own culture.

PKT: Time for a fun one! If your trilogy Resurrected were represented by a car, color and type of animal, what would they be?
SMS: This is kind of funny because the narrator in book one is German and his fiancée had a Passat. He was going to get a Passat like Lottie, but she insisted it was too clichéd for a German to drive a German car, so she picks out a Honda Accord Sports Edition for him instead – mostly because of its safety ratings and her future plans for children. That’s a long way of saying the car would be a Honda Accord; the color would be cerulean like Dietrich’s eyes, and not coincidentally, Lottie’s coffin; and the animal would be dolphins since in one of Dietrich’s memories of Lottie, they’re on the beach in Galveston and she gets excited when she spots dolphins playing in the waves in the distance.

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Fast Five:

PKT: Pick one mathematical construct, and tell us why: Pi, a quadratic equation, or a binary norm.
SMS: I’m a former college world history instructor. Why couldn’t you ask me to pick one person from history who changed the world – preferably for the better? I’m going to go with a quadratic equation because I did well in algebra.

PKT: We know you love to write paranormal and science fiction novels, but which wins in the end for your characters: love or lust?
SMS: I don’t write the kind of fantasy or SFR novels that are only about sex… or even mostly about sex.

PKT: Where would you rather explore – the deep south or far north?
SMS: 
If this refers to the U.S., then north since I live in the deep south.

PKT: Gumbo or a fish fry?
SMS: Gumbo, hands down. And I make awesome gumbo, by the way.

PKT: Traveling time! – Do you choose the future or the past?
SMS: I may not be teaching anymore, but I’ll always be a history teacher at heart, so past!

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About S.M. Schmitz

S.M. Schmitz has an M.A. in modern European history and is a retired world history instructor. Her novels are infused with the same humorous sarcasm that she employed frequently in the classroom. As a native of Louisiana, she sets many of her scenes here, and like Dietrich in Resurrected, she is also convinced Louisiana has been cursed with mosquitoes much like Biblical Egypt with its locusts.

http://smschmitz.com

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009846106046

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Giveaway

S.M. is giving away an ebook to TWO commentors! One winner will get an e-copy of Resurrecte and another will receive an e-copy of Peyton’s Myth!

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