Women in SFF Author Spotlight – Ginger Smith (THE RUSH’S EDGE)
Ginger Smith has worked various jobs as a record store employee, freelance writer, bookstore assistant manager and high school teacher of English. She plays in various tabletop RPG groups and even run several games of her own. She collects vintage 1970’s toys, 50’s and 60’s sci-fi novels and comic books, as well as mid-century furniture. The Rush’s Edge is her first novel, which will be published by Angry Robot in 2020. Currently, she lives in the southern USA with her husband and two cats.
Welcome to the Hive, Ginger. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
The most recent book I’ve finished is Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire by Dan Hanks. It’s a pulp-style adventure story complete with a shadowy government agency, ancient artifacts, and fantastic chase scenes! It was such a fun read with a heroine you couldn’t help but like.
Dan will be on the Hive next week!
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
My typical character class is a thief, which is strange because I always seem to end up in parties with paladins or other do-gooders and have to hide my character’s true motives and profession. A dagger of venom would be my weapon of choice to give me an extra boost against monsters with higher hit dice.
When you’re not crawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit?)
Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
I have about an hour’s worth of driving to my day job each day, and that’s when I get inspired to think about my latest plot points or plan what I’m going to do next, but it’s very unstructured.
I’m definitely a pantser. It all falls apart when I try to plot on paper in advance, but I have used sticky notes on white board during a structural edit. Being a pantser means I might have take one step forward and two steps back sometimes, but I don’t mind because I’m free to let things and ideas fall naturally together. I like the idea of an author being a gardener because sometimes you plant things and they grow where you wanted them to, but sometimes these unintended little blooms of detail pop up and you decide you like them just where they are.
Music is also important to my creative process. I have playlists for brainstorming, and then playlists for writing fight scenes, or setting a mood. Each work seems to have its own individual soundtrack that I come back to again and again.
I write everywhere: in my living room, dining room, bedroom…wherever. I use Word on a Lenovo Yoga right now, but I wrote The Rush’s Edge on a little HP Pavillion. I never handwrite because I can type so much faster and capture my thoughts more easily that way.
What (or who) are your most significant female fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
I come from a pretty traditional background of 50’s and 60’s sci-fi, and the field was mostly male dominated at that time. Lately, though, I’ve been discovering some great female authors. I read the entire Murderbot series by Martha Wells in about a week, and it was amazing. I’m a fan for life.
Right now, I’m reading vN by Madeline Ashby (and I love it), and next up is Amanda Bridgeman’s The Subjugate.
I haven’t gotten a chance to collaborate with anyone, but I’m up for it, if the chance ever comes my way.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
I watched Love, Death + Robots. I’m a sucker for sci-fi anthology series, and this one combines great animation with great stories. It’s like Black Mirror meets the Twilight Zone meets 1981’s Heavy Metal, and that’s makes it perfect for me.
I don’t have the time to do too much gaming, but I really like Fallout. The whole universe is so unique, and I love the mid-century vibe it has.
Oh my days Love, Death + Robots! The episode with the robots and the cats was brilliant.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
If we were in a Post-COVID world, I’d probably spend it with my husband poking around antique stores and flea markets. Then I’d probably come back and do some reading because there’s never enough time for that. I would definitely work a nap in there somewhere and probably end up watching some old classic sci-fi at the end of the day.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I have a couple of short stories set in the Rush’s Edge universe that I’m polishing up. I’m also working on rewrites for my next novel. That’s all I can say right now or I might jinx it!
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The most helpful piece of writing advice is you have to find your own way. Everyone’s process is different and just because one person gets up to write at five every morning doesn’t mean that it will work for you. The best thing you can do is to learn how it all works for you and then work that process.
The worst writing advice was not to use the word “was” in the first sentence of a piece. Someone literally told me that it wasn’t allowed. Of course, I immediately rebelled against that. There are plenty of perfect first lines that contain “was”. Bradbury starts Fahrenheit 451 with this simple, yet effective sentence: “It was a pleasure to burn.” Specific rules like this one are silly, in my opinion, and best ignored.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
Motivation really isn’t a problem for me. I have an artist friend who decided a few years back that he would create a piece of art every day for a year. I thought if he could do that, I could write every day. Once it becomes a habit, you just do it. I feel weird if I don’t write. Falling into the story I’m working on, even if it’s only for a few minutes each day, is a wonderful escape for me.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
I would go to England during the Middle Ages for the history and literature of the time period. I enjoy Middle English literature and I’ve attempted to learn some Old English, so it would be a blast to be immersed in those languages.
Who are your favourite female characters in literature or pop culture? And do you have a favourite type of female character you enjoy writing?
I like Ahsoka Tano a lot—I think her journey from Padawan in the Clone Wars to where she is at the end of Star Wars Rebels is such a great story. I’ve always liked the hero’s journey, so my favorite female character would be one that grows from an uncertain novice finding their footing to a badass who knows what she wants. Really, though, there are wonderful things about every character type, and I love them all.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
It took me a long time to answer this question. One book that really stands out to me as obscure is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It is a sort of Lovecraftian story about a family that finds their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. A mysterious hallway and closet appear, seemingly leading into another dimension where a nameless horror waits. No summary can hope to describe the labyrinthine layers of narrative. I’ve never read anything quite like it.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
Lab-grown “vat” soldier Hal and his friend Ty scour the Edge salvaging crashed ships. He knows vats like him don’t fall in love; they die on the Edge, chasing the adrenaline rush they’re programmed to crave. Hal meets natural-born tecker Vivi and sees a possible future together, but first, they must figure out what was downloaded into their ship by a strange alien artifact and why the government will do anything to keep them silent about it. You should read it because it is the story of a man who, with the help of his friends, fights to become more than he was programmed to be.
That’s brilliant! Thank you so much Ginger, and good luck with the release of your debut!
The Rush’s Edge is out November 10th. It’s available for pre-order from: