Character Interview: Lieutenant Lisa Carmichael
Q: Lisa, please can you tell us a little about yourself?
A: I’m a Lieutenant in Security Enforcement, Surveillance division, I’m also second generation Redfern, born and bred. My parents died in an accident when I was a kid and with no other family, the state took me in. After the orphanage I joined the enforcers, my father used to be the Commissioner and I kind of want to continue the family tradition. I’ve had to fight my way up the ranks, every step of the way, but surveillance, especially the night shift, is a dead end. I’m starting to look for something else to justify my existence. I’m not one of the ‘remembered’ like Ted, the only stuff I know about Earth are what I’ve read and seen on the history tapes. This planet, Redfern, is the only home I’ve known and I will defend it with my life.
Q: What is your role in the story?
A: It’s my story and it’s all about me, but doesn’t everyone think that? I just want to solve the mystery of ‘The Ashen Man’. I know something is going on that I don’t understand and that others don’t want me to understand. Well guess what, I want to understand and I won’t let them stop me. I want to know if there’s a threat to my home and if so, I want to stop it. I’m not around to be rescued like some damsel in distress, I will fight just like I always have and I don’t care if I don’t win, I just won’t give up.
Q: What is your favorite hobby?
A: Hobbies? You mean like tennis or football or something? I can do sports, I can win tournaments, I can beat male opponents in hand to hand combat, even those who don’t underestimate me. If it comes down to what I enjoy, I enjoy being around Ted Holloway. He calms me down and he makes me think that maybe there’s another way to live.
Q: What challenge are you trying to overcome?
A challenge? Living is a challenge, and I don’t mean the eating, breathing, sleeping part, I mean just having an identity, just having a place. I’m a Lieutenant in Enforcement, but that doesn’t mean I’ve arrived anywhere, that I get to stop. Every day I have to make decisions, solve problems, deal politely with people I’d rather throw out the airlock. It’s not the planet, it’s not Redfern, it’s the people on it that are the real problem. That’s why they’ve put me in Surveillance, because I can think and they don’t want me to. They put me on the night shift to break me.
Q: If you could make one wish, what would you wish for?
A: Ha, one wish would never be enough. I want all the things I can’t control to go away. I want my parents back from the grave to tell me what they want from me. I want, I wish, for a world that makes sense, where I make sense. It’ll never happen of course, in surveillance I watch so many people and you know what? They don’t have any more idea about how to live their lives than I do. I write reports, statistical analyses, I chart the minutiae of their existence, I watch them lie to each other, push each other, hurt each other, and I try to see the pattern, I try to make sense of it, see the order in the chaos. Guess what, there is none, it’s all made up, my superiors already know what they want me to say and even if I don’t say it, they hear what they want to hear anyway. The Ashen Man is something different, something outside, something I can get my teeth into, an enemy to fight. The other enemy I can never beat, the other enemy is me fitting in with the rest of ‘them’.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I’ve been writing since about the age of twelve or thirteen, but I haven’t always finished what I started and my writing wasn’t always as developed as it is now. The last fifteen years or so have seen me take a leap forward and even make some headway in competitions. I finally decided to write a book in 2011 which I published as ‘Threshold Shift’ on Amazon and then Hunter No More’ followed in 2014, initially under a publisher and then by me again. Finally I published ‘Redfern’ in 2016. It’s safe to say I don’t writing easy, but I do find it rewarding.
Q: Is this book part of a series?
A: None of my books form part of a series but there is a loose linking theme of being set in the same universe with an emerging future history. The AIs have taken over the Earth and human beings are colonising other planets under the supervision of the AI Hierarchy. I do pose questions about how ‘Machine Minds’ progress and deal with humanity but I also have a few alien species in the mix as well. Overriding everything is just the desire to create a good thriller that will keep the reader interested in the characters and invested in the story.
Q: What did you find the most challenging about writing your book?
A: Just getting down the first draft, which is proving more difficult as time goes on because I have a young family which takes precedence. Once the first draft is done, no matter how long it takes, the real nitty gritty is in the rewrites and the editing where the story can really be pounded into shape. That’s where you can really work on the form and the style and correct what are probably a multiple of mistakes, word omissions and remove all the flowery writing I do when I think I’m being clever.
Q: Which aspect of writing do you enjoy the most?
A: Definitely not the first draft. What I enjoy the most is when the characters begin speaking and acting for themselves and the story tells itself. There always come a point where the novel has a life of its own and you don’t know where it’s going, you’re just riding it and waiting to see where you go. That’s the exciting part about writing a novel. You start with a plot but inevitably the people inhabiting your creation have ideas of their own.
Q: Do you have any works in progress?
A: I have an idea for a new sci fi novel still set in my future history but exploring a different aspect of alien life. I also have an idea for a more earthbound novella, but we’ll see what happens. Like I said before, first drafts are hard, but I think once you write that first book, you know you can do it, and no matter how long it takes, it will get done.