S E Sasaki

‘So many books, so little time!’

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In the beginning, tell me what made you decide to start writing.

I was always writing from a small child. I always had a pad of paper and a pencil or pen and I was always writing stories. I lived in my head. Then I went to school, did a B.Sc. and a Master of Science degree in Neurophysiology, went into medicine and practiced Family Practice for over twenty years, raising two kids and running a solo rural GP office. Twice I burned out. I did not realize it at the time, but I had suppressed the stories for so long that I think I was dying inside. I retired from family practice and started assisting in surgery, which freed up my mind enough to allow the stories to come back. Now I write my stories and still work but I am a lot happier. If you are a writer, you have to let the stories out.

Are there any authors or artists who influenced you?

Many! Frank Herbert, Roger Zelazny, J.R.R. Tolkien, William Gibson, Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, Anne McCaffrey, Terry Pratchett, Lois McMaster Bujold, Neal Stephenson, Ian McDonlad, Steven Erikson to name a few.

Tell me about your series.

In Space, Medicine Can Be Murder

I started the series about a medical space station to give people a taste of what it is like to work in an emergency medical facility where you never knew what was coming in next. I placed it in the future so I could address issues in today’s world but push it far enough away so I could extrapolate on problems. Prejudice. Immortality. Artificial Intelligence. Superbugs. Abuse of Technology. Man’s abuse of Nature. War. Intolerance. Racism. Religious Intolerance. These are just some of the issues I try and tackle in my books but the themes are often hidden. You have to look for them. I like to ask, ‘What if?’ ‘If we do nothing, what then?’

  • Welcome to the Madhouse (Book One of The Grace Lord Series)

  • Bud by the Grace of God (Book Two of The Grace Lord Series)

  • Amazing Grace (Book Three of The Grace Lord Series)

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have a YA science fiction novel, titled Hiro’s Hardship, on which I am going through the final edit. Book Four of the Grace Lord Series, Saving Grace, has been completed in rough draft and needs to be polished up for the editor. I have a fantasy trilogy for which books one and two are done and book three partway written in rough draft. So much to do, so little time!

Tell me about a principal character in your book. What makes them memorable?

Most people tell me they LOVE Bud. Bud is the android who falls in love with my protagonist Doctor Grace Lord at first sight. Bud is a ‘budding’ AI and has trouble dealing with his new-found emotions. He is constantly making modifications on himself to better protect Grace and he follows her everywhere, unbeknownst to her. Bud is learning what it is to be human, but will never be accepted by the society as such. Saving the medical station from destruction on several occasions, he is a rather tragic, lovelorn hero.

Indie or traditionally published – and why?

I am old! A publisher offered to publish Welcome to the Madhouse and Bud by the Grace of God but it was not going to be published until 2021 or later because of their schedule. I was afraid I would be dead by then! I could not afford to do the agent hunt thing as it would take too long. I could be dead before I ever saw anything in print, so I decided to publish as an Indie author. The traditional publishers are taking fewer chances with new authors and you have to publish before an agent will show any interest in you.

It’s said to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

I agree completely with that statement, especially in science fiction. You need to know your genre. You need to write in a fashion that readers will enjoy and want to come back to you. You need to understand about plot and theme, conflict and character development, spelling and grammar, and you need to develop a writing style that resonates with your audience. You must read to know what people like, what has been done before, what is original. Especially in science fiction, where the readers are quite intelligent and particular about their science, if you don’t get the science right, they will immediately put the book down.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I have to say that I am somewhat of a pantser. I know where I would like the book to go but often times it does not get there! I have tried to completely plot out the entire book in advance, but once I had done that, I was so bored with the project, I could not even start on the writing of the book. I guess I write to find out what is going to happen and, believe it or not, I am always surprised!

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I also paint collages using acrylic paint and Japanese papers. I have won best artwork in show twice at Ad Astra in Toronto for my dragon collages and I have shown at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington. You can see some of my pieces on my website at http://www.sesasaki.com.

What is your opinion on the belief that Indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

I believe there is some truth to that. I have read some Indie books that should not be published. They are badly written and should not be out there. On the other hand, I have read some Indie works that are very well written and excellent reads. The problem is determining which is which and there are a lot of books out there with false 5-star recommendations. I use a very experienced editor that edits for a publishing firm (which publishes science fiction and fantasy) and he has been editing for 30 years. He is expensive, but he is worth every penny. If he tells me to rewrite the first half of the book, I rewrite the first half of the book. As a writer, one has to be open to criticism and learn everything you can from everyone more experienced than you. I don’t know if most Indie writers hire top level editors or even take their advice. Because the traditional publishers are feeling the pinch of competition, I believe the books that get traditionally published these days either have to be by a successful author like Patterson, who just has ghost writers churning them out every month or it has to be an exceptional story, if it is a first time author.

Sharon, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!