Parley with an Author – S.J. Higbee

Ahoy there me mateys!  Well, all ye scalawags should be familiar with Matey Sarah’s blog and wonderful book reviews.  But some of ye may not be aware that she also be a writer.  (What be wrong with ye wretches?)  This week I reviewed her Sunblinded trilogy and enjoyed it.  So what better way to celebrate then giving ye knaves a parley with this author.  Arrrr!  So without further ado . . .

  • How did ye find this Captain and what made ye choose to send a parley communiqué?

To my great shame – I can’t recall when we first started chatting back and forth about books, but I do know why I started regularly visiting. The Cap’s quirky take on the whole business of reviewing books absolutely charmed me and under that quirkiness lies a sharp, perceptive take on a lot of books I also enjoy reading. What’s not to love? Of course I became a regular visitor.

  • When did ye start scrawlin’ yarns?

I cannot recall when I didn’t scrawl yarns. I was yarn-scrawling from the time I could pick up a pencil – and scrawling was the right word because my hand-writing is shocking. Thank goodness for keyboards! It was partly the consequence of a tricky childhood, but I think the urge to spin stories runs right through the heart of me. My eldest grandson has the same drive and watching the way it also runs him makes me realise why I’ve always been so profoundly unhappy when I haven’t been able to write stories.

  • How long did it take ye to write these yarns?

I wrote Running Out of Space and Dying for Space over a two-year period, which was reasonably fast as I was teaching full-time when I did so. Breathing Space took a little longer as I took several false turns in the middle and had to rejig it. But of course, the editing takes a fair amount of time, too.

  • What was the hardest part of writing this yarn?

Resisting the temptation to throw the kitchen sink at the story – this was particularly the case with Breathing Space. I’ve written three other books in the same world and know it very well, so wanted to give my hapless readers allll the cool corners of the world within that single volume. You’ll be shocked to know that the resultant bulging mess wasn’t all that coherent plotwise. Fortunately, that was when I conceived the idea of having Lizzy become a P.I. investigating a number of crimes in a spinoff series that I’m hoping to start writing next year, so calmed down sufficiently to fix the problem.

  • What did ye enjoy most about writing this yarn?

I loved writing Lizzy – she is my second-favourite protagonist, ever. I love her sparky relationship with Jessica and her streak of ruthlessness along with her over-developed sense of responsibility. And I also enjoyed exploring this world – after writing three other books in this setting, which will never see the light of day because they aren’t good enough, it was lovely to play in this corner.

  • Why did ye choose to sail the self-publishin’ route?

Running Out of Space spent three years with a small publisher, who fiddled about with it a lot until she finally told me she would only be publishing it as a paperback for far too much money. When I finally got it back and undid the clunky alterations she’d made, I promised myself that one of these days, I’d publish this one myself. But it took a while before I had all three books to the necessary standard and learnt enough to have sufficient confidence to launch them onto the world myself, with my own publishing imprint.

  • Are ye a full-time writer? If not, what be yer job that pays the bills?

No, I also teach part-time, but it’s my husband who pays the bills. He is a ferocious reader, who devours an average of eight books a week and genuinely loves my writing. He is a good proof reader and I pay attention when he pulls his grumpy gnome face and tells me that a scene doesn’t work, because he’s invariably right.

  • What be your ambitions for yer writin’ career and plans for the future?

My ambition is to be able to earn a living with the writing, which means more books. Next year, I’m planning to publish the third book in The Arcadian Chronicles about the adventures of an ancient, telepathic alien and also a duology about an alien infestation in a space station. That is already written, but needs knocking into something more readable. And I also plan to start writing the first Beth Wheeler mystery.

  • Do ye have any favorite words in the English language?

I have a raft of words I particularly love – sussuration is one. It just tastes so gorgeous in the mouth. But I’m a fan of any word with an onomatopoeic resonance – so that it sounds like it’s meaning. I’m something of a word nerd, which why I do use a sprinkling of constructed words and phrases in my futuristic dialogue.

  • Do ye have any hated words in the English language?

Not as such. I do find myself disliking any words that are comprehensively over-used so that they become meaningless, particularly swear words. They are blunt, ugly words that are designed to be used in moments when you hammer your thumb, or are furious at someone’s unreasonable behaviour. They are not supposed to be used on an everyday basis as a universal adjective, because their constant use blunts and coarsens speech, and therefore the ability to think rationally and clearly.

Side note: I swear like a sailor matey!  Arrrr!

  • Name yer top five favorite authors.

C.J. Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold, N.K. Jemisin, Kage Baker, Jo Walton.

  • Name yer top three recent favorite reads.

Lent by Jo Walton – my favourite book of the year so far; Sweep of the Blade – Book 4 of The Innkeeper series by Ilona Andrews; Circe by Madaline Miller and How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury – Book 12 of the awesome How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. I know… I know… you said three, but that comes under the heading of Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

  • What are yer other hobbies outside of writin’?

Reading and I’d like to say walking – except I haven’t been doing all that much recently, as I’m not masochistic enough to walk in the pouring rain in November temperatures.

  • Who is yer most favorite pirate? (outside of this Captain of course!)

    Captain Pugwash. I always loved his adventures and the fact that Tom the cabin boy generally came up with all the better ideas. Besides, who could resist sailing on a ship named Black Pig.

Side note:  I be unfamiliar with this Pugwash fellow.  I will have to spy on meet this so called captain!

  • What is yer favorite memory involving the sea?

In another life with another husband, we owned a cruising catamaran. I was on watch on my own, sitting on the roof of the aft cabin while motor sailing across Start Bay in a flat calm. Just as the sun had cleared the horizon, a pod of dolphins broke the surface of the molten copper sea. It’s one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

Side note: Sounds absolutely lovely matey!

  • Have ye ever gone off the edge of the map? And if so, what happened?

Yep. Washed over the edge in a torrent of misery and unhappiness as white water thundered around me. And it was diving into stories about aliens and people battling for survival on distant planets that helped me bob towards the shore and scramble back onto dry land.

Thank you so much for your fabulous questions, Cap. It’s been so much fun answering them and giving me the opportunity to talk about my books and other stuff as well.

So much thanks to Matey Higbee for the glorious scroll exchanges, the chance to review her books, and this parley.  I am glad she came back from the edge of the map, gives us wonderful book reviews (Arrrr!), and above all that she continues to write and do what she loves.

Thus ends our parley an’ this adventure.  I be sad that this adventure be over.  But a new adventure can’t start until the last one ends.  I do encourage the crew to take a journey to read these fun novels and share ye tales of the experience with yer Captain . . .

Side note: Sci-Fi Month is hosted by Matey Lisa of Dear Geek Place and Matey Imyril of One More.  Check out their blog links for more info and join the fun!

Goodreads has this to say about the first novel:

Lizzy Wright has yearned to serve on the space merchant ship Shooting Star for as long as she can remember – until one rash act changes everything…

Lizzy and her friends weren’t looking for trouble – all they’d wanted was to prove that fertile English girls could handle themselves when on shore leave without being accompanied by a sour-faced chaperone and armed guard. Looking back, maybe taking a jaunt off-limits on Space Station Hawking wasn’t the best idea – but no one could have foreseen the outcome. Or that the consequences of that single expedition would change the lives of all four girls, as well as that of the stranger who stepped in to save them.

Now Lizzy has more excitement and danger than she can handle, while confronting lethal shipboard politics, kidnapping, betrayal. And murder.

To visit the author’s website go to:

S.J. Higbee – Author

To buy the first book go to:

running out of space – Book

To add the series to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Parley with An Author Log Entries:

Matey M.J.R. Parr

Matey Jim Morris

22 thoughts on “Parley with an Author – S.J. Higbee

  1. Thank you so much for the reviews and our lovely parley, Cap:)). I’ve been up to Brighton to spend the say with my daughter and my granddaughter, so it was lovely after a long slog through the rush-hour traffic to sit down and read this.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m very grateful that you took the time and effort to read the books and that you got what I was trying to achieve. As for your criticisms, they are noted. Now I’ve published my books, my job is to get out of the way and let the reader decide – for good or ill.

        But I’m thrilled you enjoyed Lizzy so much – and I’m not going to tell her about your offer, as she’s liable to take you up on it and stow away. And I warn you now, she’s a disaster magnet…

        Liked by 1 person

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