Saturday, November 23, 2013

Repost - Reader's Questions Answered (Part One)

Back at the first of the year, I invited my readers to send me their questions about my writing.  Since that time, my readership has grown by a substantial amount.  People new to the Clans of Kalquor series and Shalia's Diary have begun to ask me some of the same things we've covered before.

I thought it was time to re-visit those wonderful questions long-time readers had posed.  Today and next week, I will post that two-part blog once more so our new friends can play catch up.  I hope to do an new Q&A with you next year, so start thinking about what you want to ask.

Q:  How did you come up with Kalquor and is it what you originally envisioned or has it developed as you write?

A:  You know, it has been so many years since I initially came up with Alien Embrace that I’m not quite sure where the exact idea originated.  I knew I wanted to write erotica.  I knew what appealed to me as far as that went.  I also was a huge sci-fi geek who wanted to write futuristic tales.  But as for the first moment the Kalquorian universe beckoned, I can’t remember.  What I do recall is hanging out with girlfriends, talking about my idea for the book, laughing and discussing the physical attributes alien men should have when they took us away to re-populate their dying world.  From that point, the whole thing just seemed to explode into being.

Kalquor and the universe it inhabits just keeps developing in ways I never expected.  After all, I’d only planned to write the one book.  I was halfway through Alien Embrace when I thought there might be a sequel worth doing.  However, I had no intention of writing that sequel until I found a publisher for the first book.  That happened, and then Alien Rule came along, a war between Earth and Kalquor started, the books hit bestseller status, readers begged for more, and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Yikes, I’ve got an entire series on my hands.’ 

With every book I discover something new I hadn’t known before about Kalquor.  The series keeps on going.  The coming rebellion, which started with Empress Jessica and others being abducted (Alien Interludes), caught me by surprise.  Lately, I’ve noted another enemy on the horizon waiting to cause major trouble.  Just as I start to wonder if Kalquor’s main storyline is winding down, it throws something new at me. 

Q:  The Dramoks, Nobeks and Imdikos are pretty much the three groups of stereotypical males. How did you come up with the Kalquorian males? The fangs, the self lubricating cocks, coloring, breeds, etc. Were they a formulated creation that was inspired by different things making them the ultimate hottest alien race ever or were they something you dreamed up that you felt compelled to have to right about?

A:   I’m glad you think they are the ultimate hottest alien race!  It goes back to part of my answer to the first question.  Me and some of the gals sat around throwing ideas around about what attributes would get us to run off with alien men.  Fangs were my thing, since I’m also into vampires.  Coloring as well; I’ve always been attracted to dark men (I married a Native American).  In the end, it comes down to the conversation of four horny chicks hanging out and laughing our fool heads off.

Q:  I've often thought while I've read (and re-read) the series, how much I would enjoy seeing a woman for the Kalquorians who wasn't so subjugated by Earth society ... then my brain, loving sci-fi like it does, thought about the portals to Earth - the 'Bermuda Triangle'. And the bombs and destruction of the planet ... which then I think - huh, wonder if time travel could ever get worked in there somehow where a woman from our time ended up somehow transported to Earth. I know it’s far-fetched but it would be an interesting dichotomy of a modern woman who's comfortable in her sexuality to see how society has gone backward and what she'd do to survive in the new world.

A:  That would be a fun story, wouldn’t it?  I’m not quite sure it would fit the tone of the series as of now, though I’ve learned to never say never!  As for a woman comfortable with her sexuality, we had a touch of that with the indomitable Ray-Ray (probably my favorite heroine thus far).  But how someone from our time would handle the nightmare of pre-Armageddon Earth...that would be very interesting.  Thanks for the idea; you never know.  Those portals, especially one as unstable as the Bermuda Triangle, probably have a few tricks we haven’t seen yet.

Q:  Though we really don't see much of Kalquorian females, it seems to me from what has been said that they have basically the opposite problem of Michaela, she could conceive but not carry to term and they cannot conceive. So the question would be, could they be implanted with embryos created from Earth females? And what has been becoming of the Kalquorian females? As they are infertile they don't clan, right? So what do they do? Just sit around waiting to die since they seem to have no real purpose? Do they have an enclave of some sort that they go to in order to be with others in their same situation? I'm sure most would be bitter about the Earth females that are clanning with all the Kalquorian males when they can't clan themselves. Or are there clans that have Kalquorian females even though they can't conceive?

A:  Great questions.  The Kalquorian Mataras have not been addressed much because, except for Narpok, they’ve had little impact on the stories I’ve written. 

Yes, they could be implanted with the unused embryos of Earther women who got pregnant and weren’t ready to have children.  Since Mataras in the lottery are encouraged to explore all realms of compatibility with prospective clans, sex is going to happen and pregnancies are going to happen.  With every embryo precious to the nearly extinct Kalquorians, they will not go to waste.

Infertile Kalquorian women do indeed clan.  In Sister Katherine, we saw that Dramok Simdow was unofficially adopted by a clan with an infertile Matara.  Neither love nor a woman’s worth on Kalquor depends on fertility, thank goodness. 

Mataras, no matter their fertility, have purpose on Kalquor.  They have dreams, aspirations, and careers for the most part.  There are simply so few of them, even the infertile ones, that we hardly ever get to see them.  They do have the advantage of not having to work if they don’t want to since the clan system specifically states the men have to prove they can provide for a Matara before they can have one.  Rather condescending of the boys, but they are the overwhelming majority on Kalquor, so that’s what the Empire is stuck with.  We’ll let them beat their chests...for now.

No doubt the infertile Kalquorian women are rather bitter that all the highest ranking clans are turning to their viable Earther counterparts.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes out as a factor as the rebellion grows in strength.

Q:  How do you come up with the Kalquorian names for characters and other misc alien terms?

A:  Uh oh.  Didn’t think this one would come up.  Now the secret comes out.  The names and terms are usually based on an actual names and words that I play around with.  I built the breed name ‘Imdiko’ (pronounced im-DEE-ko) around M.D. (as in ‘medical doctor’) since my first caregiver Flencik was a physician.  Rajhir came from ‘rajah’, the Sanskrit word for monarch; and ‘emir’, a Middle Eastern prince, commander, or governor.  As the clan leader, it fit him.  Unfortunately, I have completely forgotten where I got many names and words from.  Nobek?  No idea, nor the names  I based Breft and Flencik on. 

One name I thought would be almost too obvious was Degorsk’s, at least among sci-fi junkies like myself.  As a Star Trek geek, I based our space-going medic’s name on DeForest Kelley ... better known as Dr. McCoy.  There was even a little Dr. McCoy-Star Trek joke in To Clan and Conquer.  When Degorsk is informed he’ll have to learn a few Earther languages for his new spyship assignment, he complains, “Damn it, Tranis, I’m a doctor not a linguist.”

I am such a nerd.

Q:  Which story so far in the series was your favorite to write?

A:  Definitely Alien Redemption.  It was also my biggest headache, what with trying to build the murder mystery plot and dealing with every main character being so emotionally damaged.  Working with that level of pain from all those different people really wore on me.  I know it sounds like it shouldn’t have been my favorite to write considering how it wrung me out.  However, the amount of effort I had to put into it made it the most satisfying.

Outside of the main Clans of Kalquor series, I had the most fun with To Clan and Conquer.  I looked forward to each day I got to work on it.  It was the complete opposite of Alien Redemption in the ease of writing a story.  It was almost like the boys were right there, dictating it to me.

Q:  Why can the Kalquorians only clan once? I always thought it would make an interesting story. For a clan broken by some tragedy to have another shot at happiness. Maybe through the efforts of a Matara.

A:  This answer is going to be pretty in-depth, so you’ve been warned.  The matter of Kalquorians not replacing deceased clan members has more to do with the emotional investment clanmates make in each other rather than the actual laws.  The rules have been circumvented in certain cases, which I’ll get into later.  For the most part, Kalquorians take that ‘clanning is for life’ thing very seriously.  Clanmates have no intention of separating except through death, which in most instances happens far down the line.

There are other considerations too.  In the case of Mataras, there are too few to go around.  A clan that loses their female member would be incredibly hard pressed to find another one available.  Also, consider how the dynamics are set up in a group that suddenly loses one of its members.  For example, think about a clan that has been together for twenty or more years.  The Imdiko suddenly dies.  We know that next to Mataras, Imdikos are the rarest breed.  They get clanned rather young in many cases because they’re harder to find (Krijero and Degorsk are notable exceptions).  So you have an older clan with an established way of interacting and many years of companionship.  Imagine how hard it would be to bring a young Imdiko into this scenario, one who doesn’t share the others’ history.  He’s going to feel very much the outsider in this longstanding clan.  And all three remaining members of the clan have to be compatible with him...they don’t have the option of ‘growing up’ together as they did with the first Imdiko.  The case of a new Dramok would be even tougher, as the clan would have to adjust to a whole different leadership style.

That’s not to say it’s never happened and won’t happen in the future.  In the story ‘A Family Affair’ in Alien Interludes, you’ll note Yuder warns his clanmates that his lover Tara is not interested in joining their full clan.  He wouldn’t bother with saying that if it wasn’t an option in some way.  When Imdiko Trusec lost his clanmates in Alien Redemption, his erased background (and mind) allowed him the opportunity to re-clan.  Though the issue has not been addressed yet, it would seem a very young clan still fairly new to each other, perhaps like Clan Bacoj, would be permitted to replace a male clan member if one died.  Clan Bacoj is a good example since in the ever-paternal Kalquorian males’ view, Imperial Sister Lindsey should have a full clan to take care of her. 

The Imperial Clans always manage to twist things to their advantage when it comes to challenging the rules of clanning – Clan Clajak broke its arrangement to clan Narpok in favor of Jessica.  Plus, for those of you who are sharp-eyed, you caught the mention in Alien Rule how Clajak’s female ancestor was only partially clanned when her parents died...which kept her from assuming the throne right away.  Yet the norm is that Mataras can only join full clans!  It wasn’t explained in Alien Rule (I’m fixing that in the re-edit which will come out next month), but since heirs and heiresses to the throne are almost always part of arranged clannings, she was allowed to go ahead and join with those whom she was destined for anyway.

The rules of Kalquor’s clanning system, with Earther Mataras coming along to throw tradition on its ear, are no doubt going to change as the series continues.  It’s inevitable. 

Q:  Can the women be reclanned but the men cannot?  Doesn't Sister Katherine’s clan have an Imdiko with a mom that declanned then joined another clan before she knew she was pregnant?

A:  The women, fertile women in particular, could indeed be re-clanned if something as cataclysmic as the loss of all the men of the clan occurred.  Remember, those paternalistic Kalquorians think it’s their sworn duty to take care of women, not to mention re-populate the Empire.  Refer to my earlier answer on the issue of replacing clan members.

Regarding Imdiko Vadef from Sister Katherine:  his mother wasn’t clanned when she got pregnant by one set of suitors.  She then clanned with the other set she’d been considering.  As you said, she had no idea she was pregnant when she chose which clan she wanted to spend her life with.  She only clanned the one time. 

Q:  It has been indicated that the Kalquorians bite injects a kind of drug, having read the books we all know the usual effects. However for "Earthers" there would be some that are adversely affected. The most innocent of medicines can affect some people in weird ways. Even caffeine usually keeps people awake but people who are ADHD use it to calm themselves. So I would think there would be those who are affected differently by the Kalquorian "drug". If someone were to have an extreme allergic reaction they could DIE before the Kalquorians figured out what was wrong. Goodness! I can only imagine the guilt they would feel if someone were to die from a bite.

A:  You know, I never really thought about allergic reactions to the Kalquorians’ intoxicating bite.  We’ve seen that Kalquorians and Earthers have slightly different reactions to the venom, but it never occurred to me that someone might actually have an adverse reaction and die from it.  It’s a good point. 

Q:  You have given some good examples that not all men were following Earth’s governmental party line: Aaron, Rachel's husband, Israla's guy (sorry I can't remember the names spur of the moment) perhaps more I can't remember off-hand, even Cassidy's father seemed to be a good guy despite his own father (or maybe because of him?). Anyway, my Mom said she would really like to see some of these surviving human men stand up to the remnants of the government. Also (again because she just finished "To Clan and Conquer") perhaps some of these surviving human men could join clans as there is such a shortage of Imdikos the human men could possibly be of help to this other Kalquorian need.

A:  You’ll see an Earther priest trying to do the right thing in Alien Refuge (his success is up for debate).  The 8th book of the series Alien Caged will include a renegade Earther battlecruiser captain who is a good guy caught in a very bad situation. That might make Mom happy.

I’m starting a new series tentatively titled ‘Clan Companions’ later this year.  This series will concentrate on Earther men who get involved with Kalquorians who prefer males over females.  I can also foresee Earther men building relationships with incomplete clans or single Kalquorians.  Since both species are fighting for survival now, it might make some sense to bring bisexual Earther men into clans that don’t have Imdikos.  I’ll definitely consider the option. 

Q:  Are some or any of your characters inspired by people you know? Are they similar or were there changes during the creative process?

A:  I am initially inspired by people I know or know of.  Sometimes a complete stranger I observe is the basis of a character.  However, my characters almost always take on a life of their own and end up telling me who they are rather than the other way around.  Probably the most true-to-life character you’ll find will be the autistic child in Alien Refuge.  Thomas Jenson is based on my own son.  They don’t look much alike physically, but the way Thomas acts and speaks is very much the way my little guy behaves.

I guess it’s only fair to point out who is usually behind my characters.  To paraphrase Ray Bradbury, every character is ultimately a facet of the writer.  You’ll find me peeking out of most of my heroes and heroines in some fashion.  Amelia’s nerve damage, Jessica and Clajak’s quick tempers, Degorsk’s love of shocking people, Dani’s impulsiveness (and big feet), Krijero’s awkwardness...those are all my attributes and detriments. 

That’s half the questions I received.  Whew!  Am I longwinded or what with these answers?  Since this blog is going so long, I will post the rest next Saturday in Part Two. 

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