In the virtual studio today is…drum roll, please…Sherri Fulmer Moorer, author of the sci-fi novel Progenitor. 😀
(This post’s title didn’t give away the fact that she’s here, right? It didn’t? You’re not just saying that, are you? Phew! That’s good to hear. I was aiming to surprise you all. Alright, then — back to business.)
Before we sit down with Sherri Fulmer Moorer, let’s take a look at the blurb of Progenitor.
Humanity’s greatest achievement exposes our greatest weakness.
Kalea Kerner was an electrical engineer focused on taking over her father’s company, until her uncle sat up from his deathbed and healed her broken foot. The miracle of their healing without the aid of recently developed nanotechnology puzzles doctors, especially when other cases of miracle healings are revealed. When the witnesses to the resurrections begin to demonstrate abilities beyond human capacity, both medical professionals and government leaders are desperate to discover why witnesses to the healings are evolving, while the people who healed them are degenerating through their original diseases. These strange events on the brink of the twenty first century unite doctors, scientists, and ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down grappling with the possibility that something greater than their advanced technology may have come into the world.
Is it a miracle? Is it a side effect of increased technology? Or is it something else?
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
By day, I’m a program assistant working in professional licensing for the State of South Carolina, and by night, I’m an indie author writing mystery/suspense and science fiction. I’m from Columbia, SC, where I’ve lived my entire life near my family, and I graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor of science in psychology in 1997. I married my college sweetheart in 1998, and we now live as hermits in the woods on family land with our three parrots: Zack, Chloe, and bubbles. I also enjoy reading (I’m a reviewer for Readers’ Favorite) and crafting, particularly counted cross stitching.
2. When did you start writing?
I’ve always been a writer. I’d draw pictures in the margins of my books as a child, and I’d handwrite stories in the front and back covers and on my school papers. I did get away from writing during high school and college, but came back to it after I got married and we got our first home computer in 2001. I’ve written several books and stories that have been published, both through epublishers and self published (although I prefer to self publish now). I started out as a Christian writer, but moved on to fiction when that area dried out for me. My fiction titles include four mystery tales: Blurry (a young adult novel), Anywhere But Here, Move, and Obsidian (all paranormal mysteries) and two scifi tales: Splinter and Progenitor – Book One of The Earthside Trilogy. I’m working on the remaining two books and one split off novel for The Earthside Trilogy now, but I do hope to return to mystery/suspense once these titles are published.
3. Why did you start writing?
Perhaps it’s as simple as an overactive imagination. I see stories everywhere, and the inspiration keeps coming. I love to write and publish my stories so other readers can enjoy them. As a reader, I know how much power and joy there is in a novel that reaches you, and I hope my stories can add to that joy.
4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for Progenitor ?
Absolutely, it was while watching a scifi movie in the summer of 2014. I can’t remember the movie title, but I do remember thinking: these visions of aliens are ridiculous. It would be more powerful if the aliens were us, or a part of us. That’s when the idea for Progenitor really started to form. It continued to form over the summer, as my father-in-law was in his final decline with dementia. He passed away in early August 2014, and I started writing Progenitor five days later. Something about his passing really catapulted that story into reality for me.
5. Could you tell us about your book’s title? Were there others which you were considering?
The title was changed just before I published. I wrote the entire story and even sent it to my beta/proofreader under the title of Fracture, but for some reason, Progenitor came to me as a better title as I did the final edits on the manuscript. I did think it was more appropriate, and that it would stand out amongst the masses of scifi ebooks on the market better than Fracture would, so I changed it.
6. Does your story have a moral?
I generally like to let readers take what they will from my books, because it’s such a personal thing. One person won’t take the same message as another will, as I’ve seen in the reviews coming in for Progenitor. However, I do write it with a theme in mind, and my theme for the entire Earthside Trilogy is how people deal with pain. Everybody hurts in some way, and we all handle it in such different ways. I thought, what if aliens did come to Earth and saw this torment? What would they make of it? How would they understand what we ourselves don’t understand? It’s such a complex thing. How could an outsider understand what we don’t understand about ourselves? I’ve heard that all scifi revolves around the essential question of what it means to be human, and that’s certainly true of Progenitor. Dealing with pain – or the sudden removal of it under unexpected circumstances that aren’t understood – are a major factor in the entire trilogy.
7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
I have two characters that are favorites: the protagonist, Kalea Kerner, and her cousin, Annaliese Kerner Boyce. Kalea is an electrical engineer and Annaliese is a psychiatrist, but they grew up close and are more like sisters than cousins. They’re alike, and yet there are subtle differences in how they see the world that were interesting to see develop as I wrote the novel. Both are bold, accomplished women with a strong tie to family and a high sense of service to others, but their way of carrying it out is different. Kalea is more outwardly focused on the things and systems of life, while Annaliese is more inwardly focused on how you see and perceive the world around you. It’s an interesting dynamic, especially when you see the contrast between them as the perspective shifts from one character to the next, and you watch how both work together to a bigger whole.
8. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Progenitor.
Kalea is intelligent, driven, dedicated, determined, and loyal.
9. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
It varies, because I have a full time job. I write what I can, where I can. It makes my laptop invaluable, because I can take it to work to write on a lunch break, or carry it around the house to write in any room where it works out. One thing is that I never write in public places. I find it too distracting and prefer to write at home or in my office on a lunch break. I don’t listen to music either, because I usually have other distractions to tune out (televisions, other peoples’ radios, conversations, birds playing or screaming, etc). I generally try to write 2,000 – 3,000 words a day when I’m drafting a novel, because that’s pretty good progress in a full life that keeps things moving at a good rate. And I usually write indoors, because I have sensitive sinuses, and frankly, the weather in South Carolina is unpredictable. It’s too hot to be outside most of May – September, and the weather can vary too wildly the rest of the year.
10. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I’m against them. I tried, but the story usually winds out going in different directions than I plan, so it’s best just to let it flow. I go in with a general idea of how I want the story to unfold: beginning, end, and major events between the two, and write through the gaps to connect them. By and large, I find that outlines usually get deleted pretty early on in my writing process, so I stopped with them. They were invaluable writing Christian non-fiction, but useless to me in writing fiction.
11. What is your favorite book genre?
I go between reading and writing science fiction and mystery/suspense. I’ve shifted to reading more mystery now, probably because I’ve been writing scifi for two years now and I’m ready for a change. I also enjoy reading political thrillers and an occasional fantasy series.
12. What are you currently reading?
My current reading and TBR list are in limbo, since we’re coming off Thanksgiving and I’m shifting from scifi back to mystery/suspense. I’m trying to read more indie authors too, so I’m always on the lookout for new books.
13. What is your favorite book?
The Bible is my all time favorite. I’m a lifelong Christian, and I have a daily reading plan so I read it every day. It really is an integral part of my life. As fiction novels go, I’d say The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) and A Song of Ice and Fire (George R.R. Martin) are my favorites. For indie titles, I’d name The Exodus Trilogy (Andreas Christensen) and Mercury Ice – The Seventh Coordinate (Michael Morrow) as favorites. All of these fiction titles really resonated with me because they’re unique, brilliantly written, with a great plot and characters that are easy to relate to and like (or hate, depending on the circumstances).
14. Any project in the works?
The remaining two books of The Earthside Trilogy: Metamorphosis (Book Two) and Emergence (Book Three) are in progress now. I also recently wrote another stand alone novel that runs along the same timeline as the trilogy tentatively titled Trigger. I would like to turn back to mystery/suspense after I complete and publish these books, because it’s been a while and I’m starting to miss it.
15. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
A rough draft usually takes me six to eight weeks, if I write the 2,000 – 3,000 words, about five or six days a week (I do usually squeeze in some extra writing time on weekends, if I can).
After that, it’s typically about a year to eighteen months for me to do rewrites, revisions, edits, etc, before I’m ready to send it to my beta/proofreader and to publish. All told, the process usually takes a year and a half to two years. But I also typically work on multiple projects concurrently, so I usually have novels at various stages of progress at any given time, and typically try to publish at least one new thing every year.
16. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
A unique premise, a strong plot, and likable, believable characters. There’s nothing new under the sun, so a writer’s challenge is to present things to readers in a way that’s unique to them. It’s like what I said about aliens being ridiculous in scifi these days: the scary, big head, slimy creatures taking over the Earth are overdone, and I’m ready to see them come at us in a new way. That’s why I wrote The Earthside Trilogy – to show that things can happen in ways you don’t expect.
17. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. This is a rejection heavy business, and it takes time to build up your skill, to find your voice, and to establish yourself as a writer. Be patient and keep at it. Do what works for you, be true to yourself, write what’s in you, always do your best and strive to learn, but above all don’t give up!
And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
2. Summer or winter?
3. Ebook or physical book?
4. Nights out or nights in?
5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Travel to future
6. Making a phone call or sending a text?
7. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
8. Working in a group or working alone?
9. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
10. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
I could easily go without movies/tv for a week.
11. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a hurricane or finding yourself caught in the middle of a snowstorm? (Note: in both scenarios, you’d be outdoors and have no access to shelter.)
12. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
I’m so short that being two stories tall sounds interesting!
13. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
I’m a new Walking Dead fan, so put me there.
14. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be [insert your favorite holiday here]?
Holidays can be stressful, so let it be Saturday.