I was extremely lucky this past spring to win a giveaway from Romina Russell for her amazing space opera series, Zodiac! I immediately read and fell in love with the world, the characters, the diversity! Honestly, everything about this book is amazing, which is exactly what I stated in my 5-biohazard review in August! Go read it! 😀
Actually, I loved the book before I was even finished. It was kind of amazing how quickly I fell for it, and it’s because I loved the book so much and so quickly (I was literally tweeting Romina while only 100 pages in because I was so excited about the story), that I decided to share the amazingness with all of you. Not just with my book review. But with an interview with amazing writer herself,
Hi, Romina! Thank you for joining us today! Why don’t we start off with you telling us a little about yourself?
Sure! I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I immigrated to the US with my family when I was five years old. I grew up in Miami, and I started writing poems and short stories when I was 9–in both Spanish and English. I finished my first novel my senior year of college, but it took me nearly a decade to finally get published. ZODIAC is the 6th book I’ve written but my first publication–so if you’re an aspiring author who’s tired of rejection letters, believe me I understand! And my advice to you is: DON’T GIVE UP!!!
That’s so inspiring, Romina! Now I have to ask: what was that first spark that inspired Zodiac? And tying into that, Zodiac is all about the stars and astrology. Are you yourself an astrologer? Or did you grow up with a fascination for the stars? Do you have a favorite constellation, perhaps?
When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with exploring our universe and imagining what might exist beyond Space; but since science has never been my strong suit, I realized the only way I’d make it out of Earth’s orbit would be through my imagination. Only I didn’t feel confident enough to write straight science fiction, so I sought to combine Sci Fi with High Fantasy—and it was my editor’s idea to use the astrological signs for that!
Astrological signs are a fun concept for this story! So, yay to your editor. Hee hee! How did you decide on the traits of the houses? Are they based off real-life zodiac traits?
I took the traditional traits of each Zodiac sign and reinterpreted them as the defining characteristics of twelve distinct nations. Just as the various countries of our own world have different governing systems and lifestyles, I approached each sign as its own race, which meant each population’s physical and personality traits would be a balance of nature and nurture.
There’s definitely balance in the story, another piece I loved about it! 😀 And speaking of real life zodiacs, why did you decide to write Zodiac from the point of view of a Cancrian when you are of House Virgo?
As a Virgo, I’m far too practical, fastidious, and controlling to give into my feelings and passions the way Rho does–she uses her heart in situations where I’d use my head–but in the end, it’s her huge heart that the ZODIAC really needs. In a world divided by differences, the kind of leader who can bring everyone together isn’t someone physically or intellectually powerful…it’s someone who’s able to inspire hope for a better, more united tomorrow. Someone whose power is in her heart.
Wow! That’s so beautiful! But now I gotta ask the technical question, I’ve only ever heard of twelve zodiacs in real life. Where did the idea of a 13th House come from?
NASA! Check this out–we buried the existence of Ophiuchus in our own galaxy, too: http://rominagarber.tumblr.com/post/150754413609/constellations-and-the-calendar
Woah! Now that’s a neat post (and I do love me some science. Hee hee!) Another science elemtn in the story that I’m very curious about is the idea of the Psy Network and how it came about that people are able to access it. Are we assuming the members of the zodiac are not human as we understand human? How did the Psy Network become such an integral part of the world?
I don’t think they’re human in the way we are, not anymore. I think over the millennia they evolved to best suit their new galaxy, which operates through different scientific laws. The Zodiac Solar System has always been special, filled with sentient stars who can See what’s coming, so once humans showed up and tapped into its energy, they began to change.
To tap into that energy, one must understand one of the most important pieces of the Psy Network: Centering. Yet, Centering, to me, is a very abstract concept as it deals with inner balance. Was it based on a real world meditation technique?
To me, Centering is about tuning out the outside world so we that can tune in to the worlds within us.
Oh! Worlds! That reminds me, have I mentioned just how much I love the world-building? 😃 How did you come up with so many diverse planets and societies? Did you find it difficult to develop so many?
34 inhabited planets! I loooved creating them. The first thing I did was write a galaxy guidebook with all the worldbuilding, and once I had the details down, I started drafting.
I used my Virgo pragmatism to build out these worlds. For instance, citizens of House Scorpio live in waterworlds within the planet’s ocean. This felt fitting because in addition to being a water sign, Scorpio is a sign associated with secrecy and mystery, so it makes sense their cities would be hidden and hard to access. The underwater setting means Scorps don’t see much sunlight—so their skin is almost translucent, and those who live in the deepest worlds have evolved red eyes that cut through darkness. And so on.
Wow! Zodiac truly is a rich, diverse, exotic story filled with some intense action and character relationships. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, especially now that the last book, Thirteen Rising, is published! Yay! Thank you so much for joining us today, but before we go is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much! I’m thrilled that the complete series is now available, and I love hearing from readers who’ve finished the books. For anyone who wants to get in touch, all my social media accounts are linked on my site: www.rominagarber.com. For more info about the ZODIAC galaxy, check out the official page: www.zodiacbooks.com.