A Conversation with Lynette Meija
Your story, ‘Steady State’ is very well-written and touching, and is an excellent example of the sort of ‘hard’ science fiction that we love. Where did you get the idea for this tale, and how did you research it?
Although I’m a writerly-type person, I’ve always been interested in science, and I’ve loved reading science fiction since I was a kid. “Steady State” came to me one day as I was puttering around on the web, reading various blog posts and articles. One of them mentioned steady state theory, and the phrase just sort of stuck in my mind. I started thinking about the idea of time being frozen, and whether or not that could ever be a desirable thing.
For help with getting the science right, I turned to an old friend who was my roommate in high school, and who is now a professor of astrophysics. She was very gracious, and let me send her a long list of questions about black holes and what scientists think an event horizon might look like. It was really helpful, because she could give me answers to many of my very specific questions about how time behaves under such immense gravitational forces.
In your story, the sense of loss and desperate hope are palpable. Can you tell us how you approached this story?
Regardless of genre, all stories are human stories at their core. I wanted this to be a story about time, and black holes, and relativity, but as I thought about it, I couldn’t help but think about how personal time is for all of us. We all have those days in our memories, those perfect days that you just wish you could make last forever. And I thought, how many of us, if given even the tiniest chance, would go back and capture that moment, just stay there forever, suspended in bliss. Would you risk everything for that chance?
On your website, you mention a novel that you’ve been writing. What can you tell us about it?
The novel is something I’ve been working on for a few of years now. It’s about Lilith, Adam’s first wife, who was cursed by God for refusing to submit to the will of her husband. She is variously depicted in Jewish folklore as either a demon or as an immortal, perpetually fallen woman. I started thinking about what it would be like to be given immortality, not as a gift, but as a curse. The novel takes place in modern times, after all these millennia wandering the Earth, as she finally comes to grips with her own power. I hope to have it finished by the end of the year, and send it out into the great big world.
In ‘Steady State’, your voice, through your protagonist, was identified by several members of our team as having a “Southern feel” (Southern United States). Do you self-identify as a ‘Southerner’ and how do you see your background as influencing your writing?
I was born and raised in South Louisiana, so yes, I’d definitely identify myself as a Southerner. South Louisiana, however, is something of its own little niche within the region, and it’s this very specific place that calls to me as a writer. Also, I think that the South is somewhat underrepresented in contemporary sci-fi and fantasy, and I’d like to change that. We have such a history of storytelling here, and I’m very interested in extending it, within the realm of speculative fiction, beyond vampires and voodoo.
Do you remember the first SF story to really ‘grab’ you, and can you tell us about it?
I think the first book I ever read that could be called science fiction was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I think I was ten or eleven, and it just completely rocked my world. Not much later I discovered Isaac Asimov, and that’s when my love of the genre really took off. I still remember reading “Nightfall,” and just being totally blown away by the idea of a planet where the entire concept of civilization is based on having more than one sun. From then on I was hooked. When I was in high school I wanted nothing more than to be a scientist, specifically an astrophysicist, until I came to the realization that what I really wanted to do was write about science.
What are you working on now?
I’ve got a couple of short stories I just finished. One is about a boy with autism who may, or may not, be a superhero. The other takes place in the far future, during the next Ice Age. It’s about a young woman meeting a mysterious stranger who teaches her the lost art of reading actual books. I’m also smack dab in the middle of getting a master’s degree in English Literature, which takes up a lot of my time these days. This semester I’m studying John Milton and William Blake, though, so I don’t mind a bit!
Where can our readers read more of your excellent work?
Last year I had two short stories in small press anthologies. One is a Steampunk meets Frankenstein story set in 19th century New Orleans, in a collection called Penny Dread Tales. The other is about a werewolf who’s also a priest in an anthology called Children of the Moon.
Where can our readers learn more about you and the things that interest you?
Just check out my website, www.lynettemejia.com. I have a blog that I keep there, where I post the latest news on my work and occasionally rant about this or that.
Thanks, again, for the opportunity to publish ‘Steady State’, and we look forward to working with you again in the future.
Thanks for the great interview questions. I look forward to seeing the March issue!