Here’s our second Fast Fifteen of the year. Please help me welcome author V. R. Craft.
V. R. Craft always heard you should write about what you know, so she decided to write a book called Stupid Humans, drawing on her previous experience working in retail and her subsequent desire to get away from planet Earth. She has also worked in marketing, advertising, and public relations, where she found even more material for Stupid Humans. Now self-employed, she enjoys the contact sport of shopping at clearance sales, slamming on the brakes for yard sale signs, and wasting time on social media, where she finds inspiration for a sequel to Stupid Humans every day. She continues to write science fiction stories, some of which appear on her blog, Stellar Sarcasm.
Let’s give V. R. a warm welcome and check out her responses below.
Five Questions About Your Book
- How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I used to work in retail. I like to say that if you ever think you might be a people person, you should get a job in retail—you’ll be cured in no time! But while I didn’t enjoy working in a store, it did provide a lot of inspiration for my writing.
One day I helped a customer who had a six-pack of bankers’ boxes. “It says this is a six-pack. Does that mean there’s more than one?” she asked. I couldn’t figure out how to answer in a way that wouldn’t be insulting. “Well, duh!” didn’t seem like something my manager would appreciate hearing me say. Finally, I just said yes.
Afterward, I started thinking about how much better things would be if we could just round up all the idiots and ship them to another planet. Then I thought about the numbers. Logistically, because there were so many more stupid people than smart people, it would just be a lot easier to leave the dumb people on Earth. So then I started thinking about what the world would look like if all the intelligent people just moved to another planet and started over, and that’s how I came up with the world for Stupid Humans.
In the book, we “Earthers” are the ones who got left behind. The “People” aren’t too happy when we find the wormhole they escaped through and follow them home. I can’t imagine I would be either—it would be like every annoying customer I ever had in that retail store showed up at my home one day!
- What sort of research did you do to write this book?
I spent a lot of time reading about wormholes, special relativity, and the problems of faster-than-light travel. Although I tried to focus on the story and not get too weighed down with technical details, I did want the technologies I made up for the book to be at least theoretically possible.
- How did you come up with the title of your book?
I had considered other titles. For a long time I wanted to call it, You Can’t Go Home Again, which had multiple meanings within the book. But it’s also the title of a very famous book that has nothing to do with mine, and it’s vague enough that it doesn’t really tell you anything about the story. Stupid Humans summed up my motivation for writing the story, and a lot of the world of the story, so I decided to go with that.
- What are you working on now? Any chance of a sequel?
Yes, as a matter of fact, I’m currently writing what will be the second book in the Stupid Humans series. It’s tentatively titled Stupider Humans, although I can’t promise I won’t have a better idea for the title later. Stupider Humans continues the story of Samantha, a human journalist who travels through the wormhole and discovers the “People”—humanity’s slightly smarter and smugly superior distant cousins.
- Do you put yourself in your books/characters at all?
I have a feeling some of me ends up in a lot of my characters. Some of the colorful characters I’ve met at work or in other areas of my life also provide some inspiration.
Five Questions About You As An Author
- Are you traditionally published or self-published? What do you like about that path? What do you dislike about it?
I’m published by a small publisher called Oghma Creative Media. I met with my publishers at a time when I really wanted to self-publish, and I still think that’s a good option for a lot of writers. It was something I really wanted to do then, but I also realized that it would be helpful to have the support of a whole team, which is what I got from Oghma. They did a really great job with the editing and cover design and were very supportive when I told them I wanted to expand it into a whole series.
- What were some of the challenges you faced on the road to publication?
I decided to write Stupid Humans for Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, in November of 2012. And I finished in November…
of 2014. To be fair, the first draft was a lot more than 50,000 words—it was about 176,000 words. The second draft was about 150,000. I had that many useless words floating around in my book.
I’ve found writing the second book was a lot faster—of course, it was also shorter. I don’t think I’ll be writing any more 176,000-word first drafts, LOL.
- What does your writing space look like?
Well, it’s a plastic folding table with my laptop and various junk piled on it. There’s the thousand-piece puzzle I’m currently working on, the box of puzzle pieces I haven’t used yet, the remote for my TV, a couple packages of gum, and some candy. I’d include a picture, but it might need a trigger warning for compulsive cleaners. I read somewhere that messiness is actually a sign of high intelligence, so I’m going to go with that—I’m not a slob, I’m just very intelligent.
- Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?
I’m definitely a pantser. If I had to know everything that was going to happen in my book before I wrote it, I would never write anything.
I actually wrote a guest blog post for The Write Practice about the process of writing without an outline and what you should watch out for. If you’re interested in learning more about pantsing, you might want to read it.
Not every method works for everyone. I know some people who have to outline, and that’s fine for them, it’s just not something I could do.
- Is there anything about the writing life that you think is misunderstood by the public?
I think sometimes people might get the impression that writing a book is easier than it actually is. It’s a time-consuming process. You have to think about plot and character development and how you describe things. Character voice is really important, whether you have one point-of-view or several. You want all your characters to seem distinct, and you have to think about that when choosing words to describe things. Is that a word your character would use? Would they call that something else because of their personality?
And that’s just the first draft. Then there’s the second draft, and the third, and at some point your editor’s going to get involved and have suggestions. I spent a lot of time rewriting parts of Stupid Humans, specifically parts concerning the wormhole and certain plot points that happened around the middle of the book. I wasn’t writing a textbook, but I did want to be as scientifically accurate as possible, so after doing some more research there were things I wanted to change. And then when I would change one thing, I’d have to go back and change other things. I probably went through the whole thing ten or twelve times before I ever sent it to my editor.
Five Questions About You As A Reader
- Who are some of your favorite authors?
I have a lot of favorite authors. I read a lot of science fiction, and some of my favorite authors in that genre include Ben Bova, Jack McDevitt, and Hugh Howey. I also read some crime/mystery novels, and I’m a big fan of Jonathan Kellerman.
- What are some great books you’ve read recently?
I recently read Machine Learning, which is a collection of short stories by Hugh Howey. He’s really great at painting future worlds that seem very real. It got me thinking about writing some stories in a dystopian setting, but unfortunately, that’s not something I have time to do right now.
- What are your top three favorite books of all time?
That’s hard, because I have so many favorites. Definitely the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. I first read them when I was about 14.
- Can you recommend any new or upcoming authors to us?
Well, my friend Andrew Butters has a non-fiction book called Bent But Not Broken coming out soon, about his family’s journey through his daughter’s scoliosis treatment. Another of my fellow Oghma authors is Gordon Bonnet, who writes both science fiction novels and a really hilarious blog about skepticism that I read every day. I read his book Signal to Noise earlier this year, and I enjoyed the characters so much that I’m hoping he’ll one day use them in another book.
We fell one short in the “Author as Reader” section, so here’s an extra answer from the “Author’s Book” section.
- If your novel were being made into a movie, whom would you pick to play the lead roles?
Honestly, me, because I’m a frustrated actress and have been for years. And I would probably cast all my friends in the other roles. Well, the ones I could convince to be in the movie with me. And they would have to work for free because I’d need to spend the whole budget on special effects. I wouldn’t want cheesy special effects in my movie.
There you go. The fast fifteen from author V. R. Craft. Let’s show her some blog love and leave her a word of encouragement or ask her a question. In the meantime, here’s a peek her work and links where you can find her.
Samantha is a journalist who travels through the wormhole to New Atlantis and discovers that embarrassing reality when she meets the People, humanity’s more intelligent—and smugly superior—distant relatives. Unfortunately, thanks to humanity’s penchant for fighting, a Human/People conflict is brewing. She could almost forget she’s not on Earth, except the People have tails and don’t slap idiot warning labels on everything.
Plagued by anti-Human sentiment on New Atlantis and unwilling to return to Earth, Samantha moves to the Five Alpha, the space station closest to the wormhole, where Human—and People—stupidity lurks around every corner. Then the conflict worsens, causing concern for the security of the wormhole—and its closest neighbor. Naturally, politicians from both sides decide they can provide a diplomatic solution by holding peace talks on the station.
When sabotage puts both Five Alpha and her only route back to Earth in jeopardy, everyone blames Samantha—including a manipulative politician with her own agenda—forcing her to fight to uncover who is plotting to destroy the wormhole and cut off Human/People relations for good. Can she find a way to save the wormhole—and her sanity—before it’s too late?