As befits a heroine who can beat light speed, the first-person narrative, studded with tech speak and earthly slang, sprints off the blocks in a streak of pure adrenalin. The reader guns for Sirantha from the get-go, and it's a mark of Aguirre's skill that she is more than just a tough action gal. She is a real person, strong, romantic and rueful. She never loses the sense of wonder she first experienced when her parents took her on a space cruise as a teenager.
It's also the world around Sirantha that makes Wanderlust so impressive. The details of communication, travel, politics and power in a greedy, lively universe have been devised to the last degree, but are presented effortlessly. Aguirre has the mastery and vision which come from critical expertise: she is unmistakably a true science fiction fan, writing in the genre she loves. As with all great works in this genre, the laser blasts and gizmos, as cool as they are, are only the surface embellishments of a wide-ranging recon mission through the huge questions of war and peace, commerce and greed, colonisation and defence.
Isn't that brilliant?
See, if a thousand people tell me they loved my book, it doesn't diminish my delight in hearing it from 1,001. Most writers don't tire of hearing they moved or entertained someone. I don't expect everyone to love (or even like) my books. I write the best stories I can, but reading is a subjective experience. Each reader brings his own frame of reference, and sometimes what I produce is too far from what they can appreciate. It happens. I still bask in the moments when I realize this reader connected with what I did.
But here's something that might surprise you -- the one single thing that bugs me most about this gig. It's not deadlines. It's not reader criticisms. It's not even the delayed gratification. I mean, I want to talk about a book with readers right after I finish it! Unfortunately, you guys won't get your hands on that book for at least a year and sometimes it's longer than that. By that time, I've written four or five more books, and I'm not even thinking about that book anymore. It frustrates me because I get questions like, "What inspired you when you wrote (X-Y-Z scene)?" I'm going, "Hell if I know, that was two years ago, and I can't even remember what I had for breakfast last Tuesday." Even so, that's not my least favorite thing about this business.
At least, not directly. It's more of a peripheral issue. I loooooooove getting fan mail, puffy heart it with sugar-on-top-and-chocolate-candy-sprinkles love it. It makes me sing inside to read those lines from someone who was overwhelmed with happy by something I wrote and had to dash off a few lines to tell me so. I glow for days over those emails. I do, srsly. Ask my husband. He keeps asking if I'm knocked up.
No, baby. It's just the fan mail.
So what's the problem, you might ask. Those notes almost always end with a plea for me to write faster. And that's what bugs me most. There are precious few authors in the biz who write faster than me. I do my drafts in six weeks or less. Within two months, I will have my book polished and turned in. I'm not bragging; that's a fact.
However, I have no say over my release dates. The publishers choose them according to some arcane algebraic equations to which I am not privy. Dear readers, if you want my books more often, then instigate a letter writing campaign to Penguin, letting them know you have the wherewithal to purchase as fast as they can print them up. Cos I have nothing to do with it, and it makes me feel like a slacker when people beg me to produce faster when I'm already the Speedy Gonzalez of the book world. To give you an idea, I sold nine books in a little over a year. I've now written six of those. I have only three more left to do, and I anticipate I'll be finished with all my contracted work in six months or so.
Thus, the delays from my desk to your house? It's not me, I swear.