Some of my inspiration for Salvage – the portions aboard the merchant crewe ship where Ava lives in particular – came from growing up as a preacher’s daughter in a small, rural church. In the town where I lived, everyone knew everyone, and there were very strict expectations about behavior, especially for girls. I wanted to write about the phenomenon of women simultaneously being put on a pedestal, yet also treated as weak or incapable, but when I tried to write about it in a contemporary setting, it felt tired and flat. I’ve always been a huge science fiction and fantasy fan, though. I believe those are some of the best genres for reframing real-world issues in a different light. So in 2009, I wrote a short story called “Bad Matter” that was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Part of that story took place aboard Ava’s ship, the Parastrata. When I finished the story, I knew I wanted to keep exploring that world. Salvage grew out of that desire.
* Is this a stand alone? If not, can you give us any hints for the sequel? If so, what's next for you?
Salvage isn’t part of a series, but I do have a companion novel in the works. It picks up the story of Miyole, who is a little girl in Salvage, when she is a teenager aboard a research ship. I have to be a little bit mysterious about it at this point, though.
*If your books were to be made into a movie, who would be your top picks for the cast?
Ooh, I’m really bad at this, but it’s so much fun. Okay, for Ava I’d pick America Fererra. I loved her in Real Women Have Curves and Ugly Betty. For Perpétue, I’d pick Lupito Nyong’o, and for Miyole, Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in The Hunger Games. (Actually, I think she’s a teenager by now, but this isn’t real and she was an adorable kid.) Soraya would be Gina Torres from Firefly, because nothing is complete without Gina Torres. Now for the love interests. For Luck, I’d pick Richard Madden, who plays Robb Stark in A Game of Thrones, and I think Dev Patel would make a good Rushil. Have you seen how cute he is in glasses?
*Could you tell us a little about the ups and downs you have experienced in publishing?
I haven’t really had any bad experiences thus far. I started out writing short stories in my early 20s, which helped me when I moved on to novel-writing and trying to find an agent. I’ve certainly had my share of rejections and rewrites, but those things are part of the process and ultimately made me a better writer. What I have struggled with is juggling writing, my full-time job as a librarian, and grad school classes.
*What are some of your favorite books in the paranormal genre?
I ate up Rachel Hawkins’s Hex Hall novels, and I also loved Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish MaBride, which I just found out has a sequel. Both of those series have a great mix of creepiness and humor that reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As far as recent titles, I really liked Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by April Tucholke, and The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd.
*If you could tell readers one thing about yourself or your books, what would that be?
I love worldbuilding. I like bringing together music, myths, traditions, clothes, and food to make a believable culture, and I like reading stories in the worlds other people have created, as well.
*What is the craziest or at least most interesting thing you have ever done?
One time I went hitchhiking on the switchback mountain roads of the Alpujarras in southern Spain. My friends and I were trying to make it to the next town over in order to catch a bus back to Granada. The roads there were only wide enough for one car at a time, with a sheer face on one side and a thousand-foot drop on the other. Going around curves usually meant putting your foot on the gas and laying on the horn so anyone coming in the opposite direction could pull off into the ditch. The driver that gave us a ride had a Bristish pickup truck with a steering wheel on the right hand side of the cab, which meant he had almost zero visibility of oncoming traffic. Thankfully, we didn’t die in a horrible crash or get axe murdered, and we caught the bus on time.
*Finish this statement: "You'll like Salvage if...
. . . you like character-driven stories or science fiction based in sociology and medicine.
Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her short fiction has been published in several Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Her first novel, Salvage, is forthcoming from Greenwillow Books in April 2014. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Representation by superagent Kate Schafer Testerman of KT Literary.
Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean, in this thrilling, surprising, and thought-provoking debut novel that will appeal to fans of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, and The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood.