June 12, 2012

Interview with J. Grace Pennington

Today I have the honor of participating in Grace Pennington's blog tour, celebrating the release of her novel Firmament: Radialloy.  Grace has supported Scribbles and Ink Stains for quite a while, and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to return the favor as her debut science fiction hits virtual shelves.  And what's more, Grace is also doing a giveaway of one copy of Radialloy!  To enter, just leave a comment with your email address.  Giveaway ends June 29, so don't miss the opportunity!

The year is 2320. Andi Lloyd is content with her life as the assistant to her adoptive father, a starship doctor, but her secure world turns upside down when she begins uncovering secrets from her past. When her father mysteriously starts losing his mind, she finds that she can no longer count on him to guide or help her. With mutiny breaking out on the ship, and two factions desperate for a valuable secret she holds, she must race to save her father and herself before time runs out.

the interview

1. To start off (as usual), could you tell readers a little about yourself? Short bio, extra-writing hobbies, cats, dogs, or fish? 

Hello, and thank you for having me! I’m a homeschool graduate, oldest of nine kids, living in the beautiful Texas Hill Country with my family. I love writing, obviously, but I also enjoy many other things—reading, watching films, playing piano and a little guitar and violin, playing with my siblings, chatting with friends, and riding my horse, Pioneer.

2. To what prime factors would you credit your writing, and how did you get started? Was it something you always saw yourself doing? 

Probably the biggest factor in my writing was reading and watching other stories. Every time I experience a great story, I feel a strong longing to create something just as beautiful. I started writing as soon as I realized I could, about age five. I knew then I wanted to be a writer, and I wrote prolifically until I was about fourteen, though I never finished anything. After that, I sort of gave up for awhile, and didn’t get back into it until I was nineteen. At that time, I finally got serious about writing, and finished several things

3. What would you say is your philosophy of writing, your way of looking at what it is you do? 

My first and foremost goal is to bring glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and serve others. Sometimes that means writing about God’s laws, sometimes it means demonstrating a virtue that mirrors His character, and other times it just means making someone laugh. But everything I write is weighed against that standard in one way or another.

4. Writers tend to have very different processes in the crafting of a story. Can you summarize yours, or does it change from one novel to the next? 

I’ve experimented with different things, but I do have a basic pattern I usually follow. I generally start with several things I have in mind—a first line, a bit of dialogue, a scene, a character, a relationship, a twist, an image—it could be anything. I freewrite until I have a general premise or idea of a plot that uses those things, and then I start writing the rough draft. I often plan as I write, taking a break to do some freewriting and plan the next couple of chapters. So I guess I’m sort of a cross between a panster and an outliner.
5. You primarily write science fiction, and Firmament: Radialloy falls in that genre. What sort of research and brain-storming goes into creating a story that takes place in such a different world? Are there things about sci-fi that you believe make it more difficult to write than other genres? 

It depends on what kind of sci-fi you are writing, I think. For instance, if you’re creating another planet, you have a lot of freedom to develop the setting, the rules, etc., depending on how scientifically accurate you want to be. If you’re writing it on Earth, on the other hand, you have to make sure you have not only science right, but you have to consider geography, realistic projections of future cultures (if you are setting your story in the future), and much more. And it can get more complicated—if you deal with time travel, for example, you have to work out the rules for that, and all the paradoxes that will result. So basically, science-fiction can be as difficult or simple as you make it, depending on the kinds of things your plot involves. My plots tend to be rather complicated and somewhat science-oriented, so they do require a fair amount of research, but not as much as very “hard” science-fiction, where there’s oftentimes more science than fiction.

6. Which sci-fi authors do you particularly enjoy, and which have had the most impact on your own writing?

Surprisingly, I haven’t read many sci-fi authors yet. One of the few I have read, I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, gave me a lot of thoughts about humanity. But thus far I’ve been more influenced by sci-fi films and TV shows, especially the Star Trek series, and the films of Steven Spielberg.

7. If driven to choose, what would you say were the three main things that inspired Firmament: Radialloy, both in its planning stages and in the writing of it? 

Star Trek was one, since my series is very loosely patterned after those shows, and it was what got me very interested in sci-fi. But before that I was growing interested in sci-fi due to a talk given by Mr. Doug Phillips at the 2009 Christian Filmmakers Academy about science-fiction and why it was important for Christians. If I had to pick a third influence, it would be my readers—I had test readers both of the type who squeal over each chapter and beg for more, and of the type that pick every paragraph to pieces, and some in between. All of which are very necessary to me, because I crave feedback in order to keep going.

8. Without giving any spoilers (which are evil), can you tell us what it is you would most like your readers to take away from your debut novel? 

In many ways, this is an introduction. It tells us who everyone is, what their relationships are, and the way things are on a starship in the twenty-fourth century, so we can move on to the more complex themes and stories of later books. But it also stands as its own story, as Andi learns to grow and mature. I’d like my young readers to learn and grow with her, and for my older readers to perhaps remember a little of what they learned once, when they were trying to finish growing up.

9. If I’m not mistaken, Radialloy is the first in a series. Where do you intend to take your future books? Will they all be closely tied together, or loosely linked instead? 

Indeed it is the first in a series. There are eighteen books planned in all, and they are definitely tied together, some more closely than others. Some almost stand alone, while others are in clusters that could be categorized as a trilogy within the series, due to events and character arcs carrying over. But there is an ongoing arc for everyone, especially Andi, as she journeys from being a young lady to being a woman.

10. What project are you currently working on? 

 I have a few different projects in different stages right now. Never, a historical western mystery in the revision stage; Machiavellian, the third Firmament novel, in the drafting stage; and Chroma, a cyberpunk thriller in the outlining stage. It’s going to be a busy year, as I’m hoping to write a couple novels and get Never published, perhaps in November. We’ll see where God leads!

Thank you so much for having me on Scribbles and Ink Stains, Abigail!

Thank you for adding Scribbles to your blog tour!  I'm looking forward to reading Radialloy.

Radialloy is available for purchase through Amazon, where you can also find reviews.  If you would like to connect with Grace and stay updated on her other works, be sure to check out her website and blog, or follow her on Twitter (@jgracetheauthor). 


  1. I cannot wait to read this book!

  2. Christian-grounded sci-fi! Yes! I'm excited about this! And also, I'd like to point out: I'm a Christian, a writer, Texas Hill Country resident, homeschool graduate, and a 2007 Christian Filmmakers Academy grad. Whoa. Just a little freaky. Maybe I should point out that while I'm the oldest, I'm only the oldest of two. :)

  3. Wow, Melody! That's a lot in common. I wonder how far apart we live? I wasn't at the Academy in 2007, but I was at the Festival that year, so if you were there, maybe we met! ;)

  4. Lovely interview! Thanks for hosting it, Abigail :).

    Even though I've never read/watched sci-fi Firmament: Radialloy sounds very intriguing, especially that it is Christian-based.

    Grace, I identify so much with this sentence "Every time I experience a great story, I feel a strong longing to create something just as beautiful."!

    Your other novel, 'Never', sounds great too :).
    God bless.

  5. Awesome interview! Thankyou for hosting it, Abigail! :)

    And Gracie has read I,robot? O.O *must track Gracie down and interrogate her about cool book* :D

    Oh, and my email address is: bushmaidATgmailDOTcom

  6. I keep getting more and more excited about this book, Grace! Thanks for the tour.

    My email address is: GodsPianist20[at]gmail[dot]com

  7. Excellent review.

    I'm not entering, since I already own the book. ;)

  8. Wonderful review! Thank you for hosting it, Abigail!

    Firmament:Radialloy sounds like a fascinating book! Sci-fi is one of my favorite genres, which probably explains why my current novel is science-fiction/fantasy ;)

    I'm using my sister's email since I don't have one, I hope that doesn't disqualify me.


  9. OOoh, I really want that book! It sounds/looks amazing! 'Chroma' also piqued my interest!

  10. A giveaway! How fun!


  11. A Trekkie! I love you already. ^.^

    Godsforlife at gmail dot com.

  12. This story sounds really intriguing!! And thanks for posting this fun interview! :)

    Kiri Liz (silverkeyofpoetry[at]gmail[dot]com)

  13. I'd love to read your book, Grace. londongirl93@gmail.com

  14. How fun! My email: scarolinagirl14@gmail.com.


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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