Hello, and welcome to another author profile. This time I would like you to meet sci-fi writer Judith Rook.
About Judith Rook
I am a semi-retired person, and very glad of it. A couple of times each week I’m back in the world of gainful employment, but it’s very much on my terms now. It was not like that not very long ago. The alarm clock was the hated tyrant of the morning and at the end of the day, I’d be thoroughly exhausted.
I should say at this point, though, that I ended my professional life as a music teacher and found enjoyment and fulfilment in the job. It was just all the work it entailed that did me in.
However, all that came to an end. I closed the classroom door behind me for one last time, thinking, a little sadly, that next year another teacher would check out the guitars and drum-kits for lunchtime practices. Then I went for a sundowner with other retiring teachers, and we raised glasses to our new lives in the “goodbye to the sirens” world. (For ‘goodbye’, you may read a short and telling word, also beginning with ‘s’).
Now I write more or less full time; I live a fully creative life and consider myself to be a very fortunate person. Although I interact enjoyably with my family, it is not on a daily basis, and sometimes I feel annoyed when my schedule tells me it is time for some exercise, or food, or some similar trivial matter.
Where Judith began to write.
What I write
I have written four novels, two of which are straight-out Science Fiction, while the other two belong to the Space Opera genre (“Star Wars” is a space opera concept). I have also written a novella for young adults, in preparation for a full-scale Young Adult novel, which belongs in the field of ScienceFantasy. Then there is a rather hot Fantasy Romance, which I wrote as a sort of bet, and which I’ve published under a different name.
My two Space Opera books (two and a half, actually) are based in a solar system where some of the planets are sentient, particularly the one called “Circe”. They all have human populations, but Circe’s humans are slightly different from others. At the same time, in the same solar system and beyond (other galaxies are not out of reach—this is Space Opera we’re talking about) there are non-sentient planets. The largest and strongest of these (a sort of ‘alpha’ planet) is “First Home”.
For hundreds of years, Circe and her humans have kept themselves to themselves, but Circe has spotted a danger coming their way from far out in the cosmos. She decides that on her own, she cannot deal with this approaching peril, so she contacts First Home and asks for help from the humans there, humans who do not believe in sentient planets. You can imagine what happens.
I choose to write my books on the grounds that I enjoy reading books with similar storylines. I could never have become a writer if first I had not read hundreds of books.
Although I can never hope to be the stylist that he was, the influence which led me in the direction of writing was Isaac Asimov, the incredibly prolific author of ‘hard’ science fiction writing. For some reason, I became objectively interested in the way he used the language to express his concepts, and found that I could detect technical patterns in his works.
When I began to write, the fact that a technical understanding of writing must support the unfolding of ideas was very much with me. In fact, it is never out of my mind now, and more often than not, recognising an author’s technical ability is part of my reading enjoyment.
With Science Fiction particularly, an author has to form ideas of place and existence that are not the same as the ones we come across in our everyday lives. However, there have to be physical laws which hold any existence together, and my main type of research is in the field of popular science, and in non-scholarly books about physics. I find a never-failing source of possibility in the videos issued by the “World Science Festival”. As I watch the forum discussions, ideas come into my mind, ideas about things that could be.
The biggest challenge posed by my “Circe” series was to make the idea of a “thinking” planet plausible. I was helped by a family member who tends to refer to the whole planet Earth as “she”, as though Earth has a human personality. Although Earth does not have a human personality, it has something. And when one thinks about it, the planet does communicate with us. It reacts to us and what we do, and yet at the same time it has an individually magnificent, incredibly powerful, existence that we can’t control.
So, the author in me thought about a planet whose mind has become self-aware, and whose humans follow a rule of living which provides the very best for both planet and people—and Circe appeared.
I am half-way through writing the final part of the “Circe” trilogy. It is taking longer than the first two books because I broke off to write my Young Adult novella and to begin its follow-on novel. However, the third “Circe” story is very much on its way, and its completion will be my main writing goal .in the coming months.
Advice to Fellow Writers
I have taken on the responsibility of self-publishing. There are a number of reasons for this, the foremost being that I would like to give other people the chance to read what I write. This means that as well as writing, I must spend hours and hours editing and revising so that my books become polished and truly professional products which immediately engage, then keep, a reader’s attention.
Some independent-publishing authors claim to “hate” editing. I can’t understand that position. Editing is where a writer brings their technical skills to the fore, where they look at what they have written and, although it may be pretty good already, they set about making it better.
If there is any advice that I would offer to self-publishing authors it is: enjoy your editing hours, and be prepared to go through a book at least twice in fine detail. If you can’t do that, then I would suggest that you either don’t publish your MS, or put it into the hands of a professional editor. You will not regret it, and your readers will thank you for it.
Reading leads to Writing and Back
Referring again to Isaac Asimov, the scientist/writer who triggered my interest in Science Fiction, I am proud to admit that I have completely worn out the full set I had of his seven “Foundation” novels. When they got to the stage where the paperbacks had so fallen apart that individual pages had separated from the others, I ordered a replacement set through a bookshop, some distance away from where I live.
“Get them on the internet,” I was told. But, making the special trip to the bookshop was what I needed to do. While I was there I browsed and came away also with other authors: Ursula K. Le Guin, Arthur C. Clarke, Terry Pratchett, C.J. Cherryh, Julian May, A.E. van Vogt, Orson Scott Card. I had ten new books to take with me, and a very special order placed. For a Science Fiction writer, at that moment, there was little else that the world could offer.
Where Judith writes now.
Thank you for a wonderfully in-depth interview Judith.
You can find Judith’s books online at the links below:
“Planet Woman” http://geni.us/p1w2
“Man of Two Planets” http://geni.us/m1o2p
“First Steps for a Hero” http://geni.us/Hero1
Follow and keep in touch with Judith:
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JudithRookBooks/
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/JudithRook2