AuthorsFrom the Wire

Calamity Jane in Space: PW Talks with Constance Fay

In this engaging interview, Mary M. Jones of Publishers Weekly talks with Constance Fay, author of the debut novel “Calamity.” This enemies-to-lovers romance takes place aboard a scrappy scouting ship in space, taking inspiration from the legendary Calamity Jane. Fay shares her motivations for writing the story, her love for science fiction, and her desire to bring a female perspective to the genre. She also discusses the development of her characters and the importance of crafting realistic, flawed individuals. With an intriguing premise and well-rounded characters, “Calamity” promises to be a unique blend of science fiction and romance.

Calamity Jane in Space: PW Talks with Constance Fay

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Inspiration for Writing Calamity Jane in Space

Writing a book is often inspired by a multitude of factors, and for Constance Fay, the inspiration for her debut novel, Calamity, came from a combination of fascination, passion, and a desire to explore new territories. Fay had always been intrigued by the story of Calamity Jane, a Western scout, and the mythos she built around herself. Drawing from her own upbringing in Arizona and her current life in Colorado, Fay wanted to bring the Western frontier to the sci-fi genre. She wanted to create a story set in space, where the unexplored frontier was no longer on Earth, but in the vast reaches of the cosmos. The idea of a character driven to scout new territories in space intrigued her, and thus, Calamity Jane in Space was born.

Why Sci-Fi Romance?

Fay had previous experience writing fantasy and science fiction, but she wanted to explore the genre of sci-fi romance. While her previous works may have had romantic elements, she had never explicitly intended to write a romance novel. However, she was drawn to the idea of incorporating romance into a sci-fi setting. She wanted to create a story that was a blend of both genres, with a balance between science fiction and romance. She recognized that science fiction, despite being a beloved genre, was not always the most female-friendly, and she saw an opportunity to create a more female-friendly science fiction genre. With Calamity, Fay aimed to showcase a strong female lead falling in love and create a story that would appeal to readers who enjoy both science fiction and romance.

Calamity Jane in Space: PW Talks with Constance Fay

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Approaching Temperance’s Backstory

When it came to developing the backstory of the novel’s heroine, Temperance, Fay wanted to emphasize the theme of facing consequences for one’s actions. She wanted to create a character who wasn’t always portrayed as perfectly good, but someone who made mistakes and had to deal with the repercussions. In a genre that often portrays “strong female characters” as flawless heroes, Fay sought to break the mold and show a more nuanced and realistic portrayal of a female protagonist. Temperance’s banishment from her powerful family before the start of the book plays a significant role in shaping her character and the challenges she faces throughout the story.

Characterizing Temperance’s Crew

The crew of characters in Calamity reflects Fay’s careful consideration of the roles required for a group of planet scouts. She envisioned the need for a biologist, someone who understands the horticulture of the planets being explored, as well as an engineer to handle the technical aspects of the spaceship. With a background in optical engineering, Fay recognized the importance of having an engineer on board. Additionally, she recognized the need for a medic and security personnel to handle unforeseen circumstances. Building on these foundational roles, Fay created unique twists for each character based on their background, making them multi-dimensional and relatable. Her goal was to make the characters as real as possible, with diverse personalities and traits that defy stereotypes.

Calamity Jane in Space: PW Talks with Constance Fay

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Appearance in Publishers Weekly

Calamity Jane in Space caught the attention of Publishers Weekly, and an article about the novel was featured in the magazine. The article provided information about the publication date and issue in which it appeared. Readers were treated to a headline that captured the essence of the book and piqued their curiosity. The appearance in Publishers Weekly was a significant milestone for Fay, signaling recognition of her work and generating interest among potential readers.

Debut Novel: Calamity

Published by Bramble, Calamity is Fay’s debut novel. It falls into the enemies-to-lovers romance genre, combining elements of sci-fi and romance. The story is set aboard a scrappy scouting ship in space, where the heroine, Temperance, embarks on a journey of adventure and romance. With Bramble as the publisher, readers can expect a professionally crafted novel that showcases Fay’s writing talent and her ability to seamlessly blend genres.

The Importance of Calamity Jane Mythos

Fay’s fascination with the mythos built by Calamity Jane played a significant role in shaping the narrative of her novel. She recognized the allure and intrigue of this iconic Western figure and wanted to adapt the mythos to a space setting. By incorporating elements of romance and adventure into the character’s journey, Fay sought to pay homage to Calamity Jane while giving her story a unique twist. The mythos surrounding Calamity Jane added depth and richness to the narrative, captivating readers and immersing them in a world that blends historical legend with futuristic exploration.

The Influence of Western Roots

Growing up in Arizona and currently living in Colorado, Fay’s personal experiences in the Western United States heavily influenced her writing. She saw an opportunity to integrate the Western frontier into the sci-fi genre, bringing a sense of familiarity and nostalgia to the story. By exploring the concept of a different kind of unexplored frontier in space, Fay aimed to give readers a fresh perspective on the blending of Western roots and futuristic settings. The combination of these influences creates a unique and compelling atmosphere throughout Calamity.

The Intersection of Science Fiction and Romance

Science fiction and romance may seem like polar opposites at first glance, but in Calamity, Fay found a balance between the two genres. She reflected on the portrayal of women in science fiction and wanted to showcase a strong female lead falling in love. By merging elements of science fiction and romance, Fay aimed to create a story that appealed to readers looking for both excitement and heartfelt connection. The intersection of these genres allows for a dynamic narrative that incorporates both thrilling action and emotional depth.

Realism in Characterization

One of Fay’s main focuses in writing Calamity was to create characters that felt as real as possible. She wanted to avoid presenting one-dimensional cookie-cutter portrayals and instead opted for a range of personalities and traits. By incorporating flawed, damaged, funny, and hopeful characteristics, Fay aimed to breathe life into her characters and make them relatable to readers. This dedication to realistic characterization adds depth and complexity to the story, enhancing the overall reading experience.

In conclusion, Constance Fay’s debut novel, Calamity, draws inspiration from the story of Calamity Jane, bringing the Western frontier to the sci-fi genre. With a desire to explore the character of someone driven to scout new territories in space, Fay creates a captivating narrative that combines science fiction and romance. Through the development of realistic and relatable characters, Fay crafts a story that appeals to a wide audience. The appearance of Calamity in Publishers Weekly further highlights the significance of this novel in the literary landscape. With Calamity, Fay brings her unique perspective to the blending of genres and creates a female-friendly science fiction experience that is sure to resonate with readers.