Thursday, January 9, 2014

Meet P.M. Griffin

Pauline (P. M.) Griffin has been writing since her early childhood.  She enjoys telling a good tale, and since she always works with characters and situations deeply interesting to her, she finds the research as rewarding as the scribbling/keying.

Griffin’s Irish love of story telling coupled with her passion for history, the natural world, and the above-mentioned research have resulted in seventeen novels and ten short stories, two Muse Medallion Award winners among them, all in the challenging realms of science fiction and fantasy.

She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her cats Nickolette, Jinx, and Katie and three tropical fish aquariums.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

That’s hard to answer.  I was playing with my own stories preschool.  I began writing “real” stories mid grade school, about fifth grade, my first novel in sophomore year high school.  (All of these were learning experiences, totally unpublishable.)  However, the moment when I knew I must write is fixed in my memory.  I was in the second grade, 7 years old, and I had borrowed Andre Norton’s STAR RANGERS on my first visit to the public library.  One scene so affected me that I knew I had to do the same thing, that I had to create on the same level, had to give on the same level.  I describe all this as an adult, of course, but I’ve never seriously wanted anything else.  That does not meant I didn’t intend to support myself and live as a decent, functioning human being as well.

Do you have a schedule when you write or do you write whenever there’s some peace and quiet? If you have a set schedule, share it with us.

Not a schedule, but I do have a method developed over the years.  First, I think through a scene in my mind.  I then write it out, pencil on paper and edit that once.  After that, it is inputted on the computer, being edited as I key.  The editing process is continuous, because I keep cycling through earlier material as I enter later chapters.  The book is fairly well polished by the time it’s finished as a result.

Any odd rituals that get you in the mood to write? Where do you write? What’s on your desk?

No rituals.

I do the initial thinking stage anywhere or everywhere when I’m not actively scribbling.  I carry the writing materials with me, and the pencil comes out on subways, waiting to be served in restaurants, waiting at an appointed spot for friends to arrive.  The keying naturally takes place on my computer.

My desk contains the computer and peripherals, printer, some general reference material, and my pencil mss.

Tell us where the idea came long it took to write...difficulties you may have encountered and how you overcame.

The ideas come as a flash, often a line of dialog.  The time it takes depends on the book or story.  Some move faster than others.  I tend to write quickly, especially when I’m really fired up about a scene or situation.  My biggest danger is getting so involved in the research, which I love, that I delay in picking up that trusty pencil.

Pick three words that describe you as a person.

Animal lover
Serious minded

Pick three words that describe you as a writer.

Just plain happy writing (well, that’s more than a word, but it’s accurate)

As a multi-published author do you find the process of writing, editing, promotion getting easier? Also, how many published books do you have?

There’s no change in the initial stages, but the advent of computers has made the whole editing and polishing process easier.  It allows the author to submit a much more polished, a much better, manuscript, and it is a blessing during the formal copy, line, and galley edits.  No more mailing hard copies back and forth and discussing questions via telephone or clipped-on notes.

Currently, I have seventeen novels and ten short stories published with several more of each contracted or awaiting contract.

Since your books touch on romance what would you consider the most romantic thing a man can do to show a woman how much he loves her?

Be there for her.  Give her respect, love, and support in life’s joys and in times of difficulty.

How hard is it to step away from characters you’ve spent time with and finally pen THE END? Do you have an impulse to continue their story?

I love my characters, especially those in the Star Commandos series, and I know them very well, including their past and future lives.  However, I am not driven to continue the series beyond the point where I recognize that it has reached its natural conclusion.

Do you picture a famous movie star when penning your hero? If so, name a few. Same for the heroine.

No.  Since I watch very little fiction, I’m not really familiar with the current contenders.  I gave up movies and TV long ago along with a number of other “extra activities” when I realized they had to go if I was to both write and fulfill the responsibilities of living.

What advice would you offer to new writers?

Write.  It’s the only way to learn how to use words, how to get them to convey your ideas and emotions to others.  They are to us what notes are to musicians and paints are to artists.

Remember, once you seriously begin to write, you may have to wait a while to be a published author, but you are an author.  Don’t lose that knowledge.

Commando-Colonel Islaen Connor is working undercover to investigate an illegal colony on the planet Vishnu.  Warned by her foremost opponent in the recent galactic War, War Prince and former Arcturian admiral Varn Tarl Sogan, the pair escape ambush and flee into the unexplored wild country beyond the young settlement.  There, as they struggle to survive in a harsh, perilous land, they discover the living terror against which all Vishnu’s other life forms have been forced to adapt.  Their presence unknown by interstellar authorities and, therefore, unsupported, the innocent colonists face certain and gruesome annihilation unless Connor and Sogan can raise the alarm in time and then conquer in the desperate battle they must wage to hold back and defeat a foe that they know to be of nearly elemental power in its hunger-driven determination and inconceivable numbers.

Connor, Sogan, and Karmikel are on the planet Jade where Vishnu’s former colonists have been resettled.  There, they have several encounters with the local animal life, some dangerous, some pleasant.  They bond with a young gurry whom they name Bandit.  They discover a plot by a high-ranking official to stage a murderous pirate raid to annihilate the colonists and appropriate the planet’s rare gemstones.  In order to thwart that danger, Sogan and Connor must not only fight a space battle against vastly superior odds but also draw upon the massed telepathic powers of Jade’s wildlife.

Connor, Sogan, Karmikel, and Bandit are joined by demolitions expert Bethe Danlo on a mission which requires them to penetrate the vast underground caves of the planet Hades in order to capture a planetbuster, an ultrapowerful weapon left behind in the aftermath of the recent War and now in danger of falling into the hands of pirates who have discovered its existence and allied themselves with a traitor in order to seize it.  Their own guide is violently anti-Arcturian and shows Sogan a considerable amount of hostility during the difficult and dangerous trek to their goal where a sharp fight and the peril of the armed planetbuster await them.

Sogan is too familiar with the planet Mirelle.  During the War, the crews of a fighter squad from his former fleet fell victim to the world’s deadly, seasonally active fungus, and the only vessel to return almost claimed his life.  Now, he must lead his unit there to destroy those derelicts before raiders can use them to wreak havoc on the ultrasystem with their weapons and even crueler destruction from the fungus impregnating the ships.  They make a long, hard journey through Mirelle’s caves, encountering the dreaded fungus, and then complete their mission in a cataclysmatic attack from both air and sea only hours before the dreaded spores will be released

Ships have been disappearing in Quandon Sector, and the Commandos planet on Omrai to discover why.   Formidable wildlife and bitter cold almost end the mission and their lives with it, but Connor discovers the horrifying answer to the puzzle.  A gigantic Arcturian battleship had crashed some ten years previously and is using slave labor and material from the captured vessels to reoutfit itself and return to a war its crew cannot know has ended.  To Sogan’s horror, he learns the workers are held, not by physical force, but by mental compulsion, and the mind slaver can only be a kinsman of his.  If this almost spaceworthy war craft and its renegade commander return to the starlanes, the results will be disastrous, but how can the unit and their on-world ally stop the twin menace?

Connor, Karmikel, and their former unit had served on the planet Anath for several months during the War.  Now, they and their current comrades are back in response to a call for aid to combat another invasion.  This time, the enemies are Britynons, old foes of Connor and Karmikel’s homeworld.  They are out to take Anath to settle on her and to rape her resources, and they are prepared to annihilate the governmental and major population center of the premech native people in order to break any hope of resistance from that quarter. Can a near-suicidal raid by the Commandos prevent that assault, which will otherwise come before the help they have summoned from the Federation Navy can arrive?

The Commandos find themselves facing an enemy more awesome than anything mere human foes could present.  They are on the planet Tambora seeking information about a stolen shipment of Navy arms when they realize the volcano dominating the world’s island capital is no longer dormant.  The challenges confronting them are enormous, perhaps insurmountable.  They must first convince the local population, who hate and fear off-worlders far more than the natural force with which they have always lived, of that fact.  Once they do, they must still struggle with the task of evacuating the very low-tech population before the inevitable and imminent irruption.  Connor and Sogan remain until the very end, with the eruption in full progress, in an attempt to save three youths who concealed themselves rather than evacuate.  Can they escape annihilation in the massive cataclysm?

The Navy has located a shipment of stolen arms shipment on the planet Amazoon, and the Commando unit has been sent to retrieve it.  Misfortune shadows the mission.  Their transport crashes, killing all the on-world support troops, and the four must make their way through Amazoon’s dense and deadly jungle alone if they are to fulfill their assignment.  Sogan’s ability to control and/or influence nonhuman life forms is tried to the breaking point as they encounter myriads of leeches, stinging wasps and other insects, and voracious frenzy-feeding fish.  The unit struggles against a variety of navigational problems on the rivers that are their highway to their goal.  When they finally reach their target, they find the raiders, whose affiliation is still unknown, are already loading the arms into their starships.  Sogan faces a terrible decision:  Let the ships lift with the munitions, dooming the population of some innocent planet to the horrors of a full military assault from space, or strike them down in a manner that will damn him forever in his own and in his comrades’ eyes.

Sogan, still writhing under the shame of his role in what he considers the Amazoonan atrocity and hungering for vengeance against the mastermind of the arms robbery, welcomes Connor’s announcement that the man has been discovered – until he learns their quarry is located not only on her and Karmikel’s homeworld, but on a farm adjacent to her family’s home.  They accept the challenging mission, but their investigation proves time consuming, frustrating, and increasingly perilous as several assassination attempts are made against them.  Of greater peril still are the planet’s fearsome storms, which threaten the entire unit with annihilation.  Above all is the nagging fear that even if they get the needed evidence, they may well be unable to profit by it.  Their on-world opponents are a large company heavily armed and well able to use their weapons.  Their enemies in space control a large, deadly fleet.  Failure against either party guarantees untold suffering and death for the people of the peaceful agrarian world, yet how can four Commandos and their surplanetary allies hope to thwart such powerful foes?

The Commandos team up with Navy Chief Admiral Gray Jack Dundee on a mission to eliminate raiders from the aptly named Pirate Stars.  Sogan assumes command of Dundee’s battleship to fight one of the most challenging duels of his life against a Pirate Stars opponent.  If successful, the unit must depart for what is likely to prove a suicidal assault on the heavily armed renegade base supporting the enemy battlecraft.

Even as they struggle in space, a new threat has developed at home.  The fact that Sogan survived his execution has at last been discovered by his former associates.  Four of them are on-world, and they question what to do about him, whether to ignore or eliminate him, while the Emperor himself conceives a very different plan for his disgraced former admiral.


Unknown said...

No wonder you don't have time for much entertainment -- you're list of accomplishments humbles me.
Best of success,

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Pauline! Much success in 2014

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Discipline comes in all forms. You are a disciplined writer, someone to emulate.

Susan Bernhardt said...

Pauline, what a wonderful interview! Congratulations on your many accomplishements!

Best wishes!
Susan Bernhardt

J.Q. Rose said...

P.M.-I enjoyed getting to know you through this interview. Continued success with your writing!

Cathy Keisha said...

Excellent interview. Even I learned so much more about Pauline.