Backlist to the Future is a weekly Thursday feature highlighting science fiction romances from authors’ backlists.
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By Sharon Fisher
In hindsight, GHOST PLANET was a miracle book. Honestly when I look back now, it seems astonishing it was ever published. (This was back before indie publishing was a thing, you know, eons ago.)
First of all, I was deep in undiagnosed postpartum depression at the time I wrote it (2008). In a way, it saved me. Postpartum is not rational, and despite the fact I had a beautiful little baby, it was the writing of this book that really kept me engaged with life during those hard months. I’m an introvert, and I think the book helped me maintain my connection with myself during that period when I had another creature depending on me.
Second, I wrote the book (originally nearly 100K words) in just 8 weeks, a feat I’ve never managed to repeat. This despite the fact I’d only completed one full-length novel up to that point. Like I said, it was keeping me going.
Third, I went through two agents, a round of submissions, and several rounds of major revisions over the course of the following year. The final revision—requested by an agent who inherited me after my first agent suddenly left—involved starting with a blank document. That agent helped me tremendously, but just wasn’t feeling the story even after the rewrite, so I started looking for another one.
And found one! But like many sci-fi romance authors, we kept hearing from editors, “no market for this,” “too much romance, not enough sci-fi,” “too much sci-fi, not enough romance,” and so on. In the end we got lucky with a Tor editor who was just as nerdy as me and happened to love my voice.
So GHOST PLANET was published, and went on to be nominated for an RWA RITA Award for best first book, and was selected by Felicia Day’s book club. And just last year we got rights reverted and indie published for a much lower price.
Ghost Planet blurb
A world in peril. A bond deeper than love.
Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world—a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she’d struggle with the requirement to shun these “ghosts.” She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.
Reincarnated as a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy—creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone—oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love—Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.
But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man that she loves.
The New Seattle Counseling Center was several times the size of the modular, nearly identical structures lining the streets. These uniform buildings were what had earned the Ardagh 1 colonies the nickname “cities in a box”—the materials arrived on huge container transports, ready for assembly, and they went up almost overnight. The counseling center was the first building I’d seen constructed of what looked like local materials: massive wood beams still fragrant from cutting, and rounded river stones in every imaginable shade of gray and brown.
We trotted up half a dozen steps and were passing through the glass doors when Murphy said, “We’ll be scanned by security just inside. I hate them being here, raising people’s anxiety level in a place where we want them to feel safe. But all new arrivals pass through here, and someone decided it was a good idea.”
Thinking about the illicit-substance-and-weapons scans in all the airports and public buildings back home, I raised my eyebrows. “What’s it for?”
“To get a sort of fingerprint on everyone,” he explained, walking through the doorframe-shaped scanner. “Just to make sure we know who’s who. They can’t do it at the transport terminal because no one has ghosts when they first arrive.”
I followed him through the scanner, and a long beep sounded somewhere off to my left as I joined him inside. Murphy’s head jerked toward the sound. His eyes moved to the glass doors we’d just come through, and slowly back to me. He glanced at the security desk on our right.
“Where is it?” Murphy called to the guard, whose fingers were flying over his keyboard. The guard’s ghost leaned against the wall behind him, little more than a shadow.
The man stopped typing and looked up. “I’m sorry, Dr. Murphy?”
“I heard the alert go off, but I don’t see her. My ghost, Simon,” Murphy added, growing impatient. “Do you see her?”
The guard blinked at him a couple times. Then he cleared his throat. “She’s standing right next to you, Dr. Murphy.”
An RWA RITA Award finalist and a three-time Golden Heart Award finalist, Sharon Lynn Fisher writes stories for the geeky at heart—meaty mash-ups of sci-fi, fantasy, suspense, and romance, with no apology for the latter. She lives where it rains nine months of the year, and she has a strange obsession with gingers (down to her freaky orange cat).
Sharon has always loved speculative romance, and here’s why (from an interview for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog):
“What I love best, as both a reader and writer, is to follow a heroine and hero to a place where the rules are different, stakes are high, and every plot twist triggers a fresh sense of wonder.”
Sharon’s works include Ghost Planet, The Ophelia Prophecy, Echo 8, and Before She Wakes.
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