I recently had the amazing oprotunity to interview S.J. Kincaid after blasting through her newest book The Diabolic! Guys I read this book so fast and I was so wonderfully surprised by how much I absolutely ADORED it! I’ll be working on a full review, expect to see that a little bit closer to release day! In case you haven’t heard of The Diabolic here’s what it’s about:
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.
As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.
You have to say that sounds amazing. Trust me it is. Also as someone who normally REALLY doesn’t like Dystopian books? I loved this one. It’s that good. THAT GOOD. Anyway! Moving onto the questions!
Sondra: Where did you get the idea for The Diabolic?
S.J.: During the writing of the INSIGNIA series, I pretty much incorporated every story idea I had into VR simulations. I decimated all my historical and mythological interests. My futuristic, quasi-cyberpunk story thus featured Tudor England, Nordic myths, Tombstone, King Arthur, and so many others.
The only thing I loved that I hadn’t integrated into INSIGNIA was the devious, fiendish antics of the Roman Emperors at their worst, like in the BBC miniseries I, CLAUDIUS. I considered writing an ancient Roman historical YA, but I’m a sci-fi girl, so I set this story in a galactic empire. It took me a long while to figure out what to do with my galactic empire idea. I’d finished a trilogy from a boy’s POV, and I imagined a boy for the YA sci-fi I, CLAUDIUS but I honestly wanted to write a girl’s POV for a change.
I came back to a single page I’d written about a girl named Nemesis meeting a girl named Sidonia again and again. One day, it clicked into place that page could be the starting point for my space opera, and that boy born into a murderous royal family could be a secondary character to Nemesis. Everything came together from there.
Sondra: With such an amazingly in depth world it would almost lend itself to a longer series, why did you decide to just go with a standalone?
S.J.: Thank you so much! I had just come off a trilogy, and really wanted to have a complete story in one book. There is so much pressure involved in signing up a series that I didn’t appreciate until I was in that position. I also had a pretty complete storyline in mind for this story. I’m pleased the world comes across as in depth. I think a lot of the credit goes to I, CLAUDIUS, for I was reinterpreting Ancient Rome as depicted there through a sci-fi lens.
Sondra: Tell me a little bit about your writing style. Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
S.J.: Plotter all the way! I have pantsed, and it never ends well. I have to know what I’m writing towards or else I can’t set things up beforehand. Plotting also reflects my preferences as a reader. I love, love reading too much into the worlds of others. I love when there is foreshadowing or forethought that a very discerning person can use to figure out the future in the story. One TV show, BABYLON 5, was wonderful in this respect. So for those readers, I try to have a plot in mind in advance so they can overanalyze and possibly come up with an accurate prediction.
Sondra: The writing at the start of The Diabolic is so stark, did you find writing it to be difficult?
S.J.: Beginnings are always tricky for me, but I really loved writing through the point of view of such a pitiless, cold-hearted character. There is something so refreshing about not having to establish the character’s feeling for other people or empathy for them, because when the story launches, there is truly only one person Nemesis values.
Sondra: In Sorcery In The Bookshelves tradition, what Hogwarts houses would you sort your characters into?
S.J.: Tyrus: Slytherin. (Maybe Ravenclaw)
Sidonia: Ravenclaw. (Maybe Hufflepuff?)
Nemesis: Hufflepuff (really! Not for the kindness thing—for the loyalty thing).
Thank you so much to S.J. for taking the time out of her day to do this interview! Be sure you go and preorder this book. You won’t regret it trust me! Also keep an eye on the blog for a full review coming soon!