If you saw my recent review of Goddess in the Machine you would see that I am OBSESSED. Fantastic world building and masterful plot manipulations! I just need to shove this into the hands of all my fellow YA SF fans. As soon as I finished I knew I had to see if Lora Beth would let me interview her. Keep reading this author interview to see all my questions immediately after finishing!
Goddess in the Machine
When Andra wakes up, she’s drowning.
Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists–including her family and friends–are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth.
Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne–if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her.
With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?
Part of what I love about GODDESS is the mixture of magic and technology, can you talk about how it was to create the world? Did you have an idea and slowly build on it? Did you always know how the world would develop?
Thank you so much! I had no idea how the world would turn out when I first started writing, so I’m glad it ended up connecting with readers. I usually start with a concept—in this case, a girl waking up from cryonic stasis to discover she’s a space goddess—and build the world around that. The mixture of magic and technology was born out of that idea, but also my love for sci-fi stories written as though they are fantasies, like Star Wars. I was also heavily influenced by my studies in linguistics in grad school. Once I realized that the world Andra was waking to used different terms than Andra, it was a short leap from there to the mixture of magic and technology.
I loved Andra and Zhade’s POV, how did you balance writing each of their stories? Was one of them harder to write or go through more changes than the other?
The first few drafts were only from Andra’s POV, but I quickly discovered that there was information the reader needed that Andra didn’t have access to. Zhade was originally a very small character, but his personality was so big—and he had access to so much information—that he grew into a lead with his very own arc after a few drafts. That being said, it was definitely harder to write his POV, not because of who he is as a character—which was a blast to write—but because his chapters are entirely written in the weird dialect I invented for the people of Eerensed.
The plot was masterful and there were so many great reveals, how did you start drafting GODDESS? Did you already know some of the twists beforehand and just needed to build up to them?
Thank you! That means so much! If I recall correctly, I started GODDESS with the concept, the first line, and a vague idea of the final chapter. As for what happens in between, I had no clue, and it took me more drafts than I care to admit to get the plot to where it is now. There were even some mysteries I didn’t know the answers to until I started drafting the second book. It can be a stressful way to construct a complicated plot, but I’ve learned to trust my instincts.
Do you have some other favorite SFF YA books you’d like to recommend?
If you’re looking for fast-paced, intricate plotting, with exquisite sci-fi elements, then pick up THIS MORTAL COIL by Emily Suvada. The final book in the trilogy came out earlier this year, so you won’t have to wait for sequels. For fantasy, I recommend LEGENDBORN by Tracy Deonn. It doesn’t come out until September, but go ahead and preorder it. You won’t regret it. The characters are astounding, and it’s so cinematic. Months later, I’m still thinking about it.
How did the first scene come to you? Was that the first scene from the beginning?
The first scene is the only scene—other than maybe the last one—that has pretty much stayed the same since the initial draft. When I first wrote it, I wasn’t quite sure of what the plot would be, only the concept, so I started with the only scene I knew I needed: Andra waking up from stasis. I was influenced a lot by similar scenes from other sci-fi like THE MATRIX and Beth Revis’s ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. The idea of waking up from stasis seems so traumatic, and I wanted to show that while also exploring the image of Andra drowning in the middle of a desert.
In order to cope with the wait for book two, what media (tv, movies, books) would you recommend?
Star Wars. Always Star Wars. It’s my go-to media whenever I’m in between books or tv seasons. It’s the perfect amount of swashbuckling action/adventure. And there’s so much of it! The movies, of course, but also the tv shows, the comics, the books. It can definitely last you until next year.
Also, maybe someone will write some GODDESS fanfic, which I would highly encourage!
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About Lora Beth Johnson
As an only child, Lora Beth Johnson grew up telling herself stories and reading past her bedtime. She spent her adulthood collecting degrees, careers, and stamps in her passport before realizing her passion for creating fictional worlds. When she’s not writing, she’s teaching college English and learning new languages. She lives in Davidson, NC with her little roommate, Colocatire the Yorkipoo. Goddess in the Machine is her first book.