Author Chat with Brian Tissot (Songs Of Thalassa), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Brian Tissot author of
Songs Of Thalassa.
Read on for more about Brian and his book, plus an giveaway.
Meet Brian Tissot!
Dr. Tissot is a marine ecologist and professor living in a small coastal town in the far Northern California. As a scientist and surfer, he has dedicated his life to exploring the world's waves and oceans and leading research on coral reefs and the deep sea. This is his first book with more to come.
Meet Songs Of Thalassa!
In a future where sporting competitions take place on distant planets, a Hawaiian surfer seeks to reclaim her fame and followers while defeating her nemesis once and for all.After a surfing accident claims her career and nearly takes her life, surfer Sage Thompson is at a crossroads. Still mourning her astronaut father's death on a mission to ocean planet Thalassa, a tragedy she might be able to put behind her with the help of her fans—if they still believed in her—she's not sure what to do, where to go, or how to move on. But when Milo challenges her to a contest on the ocean planet Thalassa, the asteroid- and tsunami-ravaged world that stole her father, she'll discover that she not only still has what it takes to win, but once she hears the songs of Thalassa, winning might not be the most important thing.Songs of Thalassa will appeal to fans of Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Martian, and Contact, and features a young woman on a journey of self-discovery struggling to develop a sense of place and connections between herself, her culture, and the universe on a virgin ocean planet.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
After dedicating my life to protecting the oceans through scientific research I realized I needed another way to draw attention to Earth’s plight. Science is super important, but it doesn’t always reach non-scientists. So, I came up with the idea of a science fiction book, which was based on an experiment: place a person with no environment awareness on a virgin ocean planet with indigenous life. I envisioned Thalassa as early earth before humans came on the scene. What would happen? I believe that person would connect and interact with its rich indigenous life, learn to appreciate the planet’s intrinsic beauty, and ultimately want to protect it from exploitation. This is Sage’s journey and it’s a roadmap to environmental consciousness.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Sage, the main protagonist. In some ways her story is my story as my environmental awareness grew while I watched our oceans deteriorate and our animals mistreated. Although Sage’s character is not based on my daughter, as a young marine biologist and surfer with a beautiful aloha spirit, my daughter’s love for the ocean inspired a lot of my writing. Because we desperately need young women as leaders in today’s society, I created Sage’s journey to inspire those looking for a path to purpose, which is not easy. But she has many mentors and learns to lean on her culture and listen to her ancestors, which we all should do.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. My original title was Legends of Tidefall. But after I finished my first full working draft I realized the songs of life on Thalassa was a stronger thread throughout the book and a better title.
YABC: Do you have a favorite writing snack?
No, but I have juice for sipping.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
As a scientist I have written many papers, but writing a sci-fi book was a completely different experience. Luckily, I asked for help and I went through many, many drafts until I got it right. The biggest lesson, which I learned through two developmental edits by Oren Ashkenazi at Mythcreants, was that characters need to change during the story with a strong, clear arc. To end up good, for example, they have to start out bad. Although it’s a basic plot concept, I found it difficult to make Sage unlikeable and environmentally indifferent in the beginning.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love the depiction of a stoic Hawaiian woman standing before an ocean planet in space. It’s her planet and she is defending it. I didn’t realize it at first but it’s similar to one of my favorite books, Island of the Blue Dolphin, which is set in the California Channel Islands. I spent a lot of time doing research in the Channel Islands which helped me write my parts of my book. So, the cover resonates with me at multiple levels.
YABC: What’s on your TBR pile?
Too many books! Right now, on the top, it’s Where the Crawdads Sing, Starborn and Godsons, Across A Billion Years, Tau Zero, and a pile of old SF novels I want to reread.
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
My all-time favorite book is The Mote in God’s Eye by Niven and Pournell. I’ve read it many times and still love the depiction of alien life and the slow discovery of the “moties” secrets.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I’m working on the next book in the series, Songs of Hina, the sequel to Song of Thalassa. It’s set in the future when a team returns to Thalassa to learn more about the indigenous life. Many of the mysteries in the first book are explored more deeply, including the animal songs and the Nesoi origins. Thalassa’s moon Hina has a prominent role.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
Hawaiian culture is featured proximately in the book because I believe it has much to offer to the world, particularly as it relates to love, family, and environmental stewardship. Like many indigenous cultures, Hawaiian practices were almost exterminated by western culture and a resurgence of these traditions has been instrumental in reviving many practices. I viewed Sage’s journey to Thalassa as an extension of Polynesian’s fantastic voyages and discoveries across the Pacific. Her reengagement with her culture and beliefs in the old ways was symbolic of Hawaiians discovering the power of their own culture and remembering their ancestors. I also hope my book will inspire readers to listen to authentic native Hawaiian voices and seek their wisdom, as I am not Hawaiian.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
Because I had to make Sage unlikeable and environmentally indifferent, one of the key scenes was when she discovers indigenous life while surfing. I had a difficult time making her responses believable because it went against everything I believe in.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest
The main antagonist, Milo, was the most difficult. I wanted him to be a classic villain but also human with enough backstory that explains how he got where he is. It was a challenge.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or
I definitely like drafting more because I download ideas in my brain and it’s exciting to see what comes out. Revising is a challenge and a painful process for me as I am brutal and delete and edit tons of stuff. During the editing process I deleted most of the book several times and started over.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
I’m good at boiling down a ton of complex science into straightforward, clear prose that’s easy for non-scientists to read. It’s super difficult because I incorporate new, cutting-edge discoveries in science and it’s a challenge to pack that information into an interesting story.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I love the Surfrider Foundation. It’s the perfect blend of bringing experts and volunteers together to protect the waves, oceans, and beaches. In another life my dream job would be to work with Surfrider.
Songs Of Thalassa
By: Brian Tissot
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: May 19th, 2020
Five winners will each receive a copy of Songs Of Thalassa (Brian Tissot) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*