Hi everyone and welcome to my interview series Saturday Night Author Fever, where I interview authors with a bit of a 70s music and diversity theme. I personally love 70s music, especially disco music, and sometimes on Friday nights when no one is looking you can find me dancing to classic 70s songs such as September, Bennie and the Jets and We Are Family. However, books are my true passion and because of this, I thought it would be a great idea to mix my two loves and start this interview series. The questions will be similar every week, but with a new author every time, and I hope you’ll enjoy the answers as much as I have. Now let’s get this party started!
This Saturday Night we welcome Zoë Sumra. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today in my galaxy of books.
Zoë, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books? What do you think about 70s music?
I’m a child of the 80s and, as such, a lot of my favourite bands or soloists started their careers in the 70s and continued into the 80s – particularly I’d like to single out Queen and Meat Loaf. My first published book, Sailor to a Siren, is named after a Meat Loaf song (from 1984… my favourite Meat Loaf periods are probably the 70s/earliest 80s and the 90s, but this one song from the mid 80s always stood out to me). Sailor to a Siren is a space opera novel: it’s a gangland thriller set on an alien planet, with magic, explosions, and quite a lot of shouting.
When did you feel like this is it, I’m an author whose words are going to be read by, and have an impact on, others?
I started writing novels at twelve – I’d read all the fantasy section in the mobile library so started my own trilogy. From there I branched out into writing science fiction and space opera. By the time I was fifteen and fully entangled in space opera I was determined that I would one day be published.
What do you want your readers to take with them after having read your books?
That trust is fragile and family – blood or found – is critical: that humanity’s seedier side will likely follow us to the stars, assuming we get there: that anyone can take the lead in an adrenaline-heavy thriller (I don’t have that many straight, white characters. Connor Cardwain, the protagonist of both my extant and immediate future novels, is of mostly South Asian descent and has far more relationships with men than women).
What does the future look like for you, Zoë? Future projects, releases etc.?
I have a new novel coming out in ebook format on 9th June and in paperbook format in late July/early August: it’s called The Wages of Sin and is a space opera thriller with a few murder mystery aspects. An arms dealer trying to work out who murdered his cleaner realises she might have become mixed up in someone else’s interstellar smuggling shenanigans. I’m excited – it’s been a hard past year putting it together but all the effort feels very much worth it now the finished item’s ready to come out. The ebook is available to preorder at the moment.
If one (or several) of your characters got invited to a disco, what would be the most unforgettable part of their night and why?
Early on, Calad and Atalanta would become busy dancing the rest of the couples off the floor (they’re more into ballroom but can turn their hands to disco, Atalanta especially), though they might spend so much time arguing that they didn’t realise. Logan would spend a lot of the evening pre-plotting which side to take in the inevitable bar fight late in the evening, and Connor, putting up with the music more than enjoying it, would ferret out where the bar bought their hard liquor, and would make them an offer they couldn’t refuse for a range of much more interesting and better quality alcohol.
You can easily look back at the 70s and see how the times have changed. If you look at the book community and publishing world today, what changes would you like to see for the future?
We are gaining a more joined-up diverse reading community at the moment, and that’s a change I’d like to see continuing. I’d like to see big publishing houses’ output become more sensitive towards diversity issues. We still see too many releases reinforce negative stereotypes about ethnicity and sexuality (there are many counterexamples of great diverse trad books, including some I mention in my next answer, but every problem book causes damage). That won’t change till there are more sensitivity readers embedded in large publishers and until marketing teams realise the damage poor representation causes.
Zoë, can you recommend two already published diverse books you’ve read and loved and one you can’t wait to read?
Two I’ve read and loved are The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin and The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard, both fantasy novels chock full of brilliant characters and ideas. At the top of my to-read list at the moment is The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley.
Lastly, to end this interview, do you have a favorite 70s song to recommend your readers?
The Prophet’s Song by Queen, from their iconic fourth album A Night at the Opera. (Picking just one is quite difficult!)
Thank you so much, Zoë, for answering my questions. I hope you readers enjoyed this interview, I know I did! Eager to find out more about Zoë Sumra? All information about her and her books can be found on her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Goodreads, and buy her books on Amazon.
About The Author
Zoë was born in London, but spent her later childhood living in Lancashire, where she started writing novels at the age of twelve due to extreme boredom. After completing the obligatory epic fantasy trilogy in her teens, she spent four years at the University of St Andrews, where she learnt to fence both foil and sabre and cemented her passion for space opera. She now lives in London with her husband and a collection of swords.
Since I promised a very 70s music-themed interview series, I have one last surprise, a favorite 70s song of mine (and there will be a new one every week yay). Now let’s get those dance moves on, here’s Superstition by Steve Wonder.
Do you want to listen to all of the songs from my Saturday Night Author Fever interview series?
To make things easier I have created a Spotify playlist that features all of the songs mentioned in my Saturday Night Author Fever posts. You can check out the playlist below or go here. Every time a new interview is published new songs will be added to it.