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6 April 2011

'Why the Heroine in my Science Fantasy Romance Is a Geek' by Lindsay Buroker - and a giveaway

It's my great pleasure to welcome Lindsay Buroker here today, as part of her Goddess Fish Virtual Book Tour, to publicise her book Encrypted'. I'm sure you'll be as curious as I was to know what inspired her story and her characters.
They say to write what you know, and I’m afraid I don’t know much about being a gorgeous bombshell who can seduce men with a wiggle of her hips. I wear glasses, I’m an introvert, and I keep waiting for someone to nominate me for What Not to Wear. A guy at the gym once told me I had nicely developed….calves. Hm.

Needless to say, it’s natural for me to write slightly geeky heroines. With Encrypted, I went further: I wrote a geeky heroine. A six-foot-tall, spectacles-wearing, professor with a knack for tripping over her toes (and other people’s toes too).

Why would I do this? Aren’t love stories usually about pretty people falling in love? And even in science fiction and fantasy romances, aren’t the leading ladies usually of a certain (AKA: cool) type? Starship captains, warrior women, pirates, sorceresses, pilots, smugglers, and thieves, oh my!

You could say I have a fondness for being a little different. For example, when I garden, it wouldn’t even occur to me to plant orange carrots when there’s an option of planting yellow, purple, and red ones. Thus, when I was mulling over the heroine in the novel that eventually become Encrypted, I decided to stray away from the typical archetypes.

Tikaya is a philology professor and, thanks to a pesky little war, a cryptanalyst. The latter was inspired by a book I was reading at the time: The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography.  (If you didn’t believe me before, now you know I’m a geek!)

One of the challenges with writing a scientist or a professor is that these characters don’t usually run off and have adventures (Indiana Jones, notwithstanding), so you have to build a plot that throws them into the thick of things while allowing them to use their skills. I’m someone who comes up with the characters first, then crafts a story to suit them, though, so this was a challenge I enjoyed.

In Encrypted, Tikaya gets kidnapped by the enemy empire because they need her cryptography skills. Along the way, she has to dodge assassins, outsmart her captors, solve deadly alien puzzles, and figure out how the heck she’s going to get back home. In other words, her brain gets put to good use.

To make things more interesting, she also has to “decrypt” that mysterious stranger with the quirky smile. 

Federias, the male lead, has a geeky streak, too, though he comes from a militaristic empire, so naturally he can hold his own in a fight. With him, I wanted to create a character that would compliment Tikaya, so he’s a math-loving engineer who, much like her, isn’t afraid to ramble on about his passions (to the chagrin of the non-geeks in the group).

I’ve done “opposites attract” love stories before, but I have a fondness for heroes and heroines who seem to be meant for each other. Too bad this Federias fellow comes from the wrong side of the tracks, er, ocean. We can’t make things too easy on our lovers, now, can we?

I suspect geeks going on adventures and finding romance may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but, if you’re interested, you can sample the first 50% of Encrypted at Smashwords. And, of course, you can also grab the ebook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For more on me, my ebooks, and my adventures in e-publishing, stop by my blog and say hi.  Eventually, I’ll have print versions of my stories out, too, so let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in. Thanks for reading!

The blurb:
Professor Tikaya Komitopis isn’t a great beauty, a fearless warrior, or even someone who can walk and chew chicle at the same time, but her cryptography skills earn her wartime notoriety. When enemy marines show up at her family’s plantation, she expects the worst. But they’re not there to kill her. They need her to decode mysterious runes, and they ask for help in the manner typical of a conquering empire: they kidnap her, threaten her family, and throw her in the brig of their fastest steamship.

Her only ally is a fellow prisoner who charms her with a passion for academics as great as her own. Together, they must decipher mind-altering alchemical artifacts, deadly poison rockets, and malevolent technological constructs, all while dodging assassination attempts from a rival power determined the expedition should fail. As if Tikaya didn’t have troubles enough, her new ally turns out to be exiled fleet admiral, Federias Starcrest, the man who recommended taking over her nation. To trust him could be a mistake; to fall in love with him would be a betrayal to her people, her family, and the fiancĂ© she lost in the war. Those runes cloak more than mysteries, however, and he may be the only one who can help her unravel them before their secrets destroy the world.

She eyed the bodies in the corner. If enough people attacked at once, she and Rias  could end up like that before dawn.   
No, she decided, watching him standing with his ear cocked. Despite the hour, he was  alert, rifle across his arms, hand on the stock, finger near the trigger. Not tense but  relaxed and ready. She imagined he could fight off superior odds for a long time.  
Rias saw her watching him and lifted his eyebrows.  

Tikaya felt silly to have been caught gazing at him. “I was wondering if you could get  my mind off this for a moment.”   

Rias joined her. He set the rifle butt on the floor and rested his forearms across the  muzzle. He surveyed her, and she felt a self-conscious twinge. No doubt she had strands  of hair sticking out in all directions and dark smudges assailing her eyes.   

“A question.” Rias’s gaze rested on a chalkboard, though he did not seem to focus on  anything. “If someone from Kyatt were to decide to marry a Turgonian, would they be  allowed to live on your island?”   

Tikaya was not sure what she had expected him to ask, but that was not it. “That  wasn’t a marriage proposal, was it?”   

He coughed. “No, no, just hypothetical. If it were a proposal...” He offered his half  smile. “There’d be soft music, excellent food, romantic ambiance...” He tilted his head  toward the corner. “Fewer corpses.”   

“Ah, I wasn’t sure how they did it in the empire. Given your people’s reputation, I  thought bloodshed and mangled bodies might be standard at social gatherings.”   

“Bloodshed perhaps.” 

Accolades for Encrypted:

Encrypted (A+) is a fun romp, an adventure in the Lois Bujold Barrayar spirit...which I highly recommend if you like your sff fast, page turning with action, mysteries and a dash of romance. --The Fantasy Book Critic

This is a fast-moving, nicely-written romp set in a parallel world. --K.J. Moore

Thanks Lindsay, what an intriguing excerpt! Thanks so much for featuring on my Blog today.

Lindsay has offered to giveaway a $25 Amazon.com Gift Certificate to one randomly drawn commenter on her tour. To enter all you have to do is leave a comment and your e-mail address.
Contest ends  15th April and is open to all.
Follow Lindsay on her tour and comment for more chances to win