It all started with a Chinese space station laid out like a Suzhou garden.

Well, that was the unexpected idea-germ, at least. For Reign & Revolution, I had a lot of pre-existing constraints that needed streamlining and refining into the narrative. It’s the third (and final) book in a series, which meant there were long-running plots and character arcs to wrap up.

From the series’ beginning, I’ve known the general shape of the whole tale. Book-smart Rhiannon would start at home, go out and explore, and come home to find her world (and herself) changed. This is a standard triptych for adventure stories and for coming of age stories, both of which this series is.

So I had all those constraints… and I also knew that I wanted to set a large portion of this novel on a Chinese space station laid out like a Suzhou garden. In order for that to happen, I had to figure out why it was necessary (other than that I wanted it).

  • Why are my characters on the station? (The initial motivation here was easy. I sent them to a physics conference being held there. I based those moments on conventions and conferences I’ve attended for writing and other jobs.)
  • How can the setting be relevant? (Well, once I realized that you’d only lay out your station like a Suzhou garden because you wanted it to seem larger than it was, that meant “small” was the watchword. The station’s motto became “smaller is safer.” Which implied my heroes would run into serious safety issues! Because of my quest to make the station relevant, my characters almost died—entirely for environment-based reasons—more times than in any other of my novels.)
  • Why do the station residents live there? (It’s small. It’s dangerous. Why do they stay? Answer: it’s the best place in the universe! It’s great for career, for making connections, and for being at the forefront of technology. Everyone who lives there loves it. No one plays “anywhere but here.” …until my heroes come to visit, that is. There’s some serious cultural disconnect.)

Discovering these facts about the setting informed what would happen inside of that setting. On the Suzhou-style space station, flourishing nature (and friendships and love) is juxtaposed with the inhospitable inexorability of hard vacuum (and hull malfunctions and cross-cultural attitudes about death).

Refining these thoughts and constraints made the whole novel come together. I like to think that Reign & Revolution is the pinnacle of the series.


About Reign & Revolution

Reign & Revolution (Hive Queen Saga, #3)
by Janine A. Southard
Publisher: Martian Cantina
Publication Date: April 12th 2016
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult


The Hive Queen Saga’s Thrilling Conclusion!

Rhiannon and her Hive have mastered space travel. Sort of. At least, they’re better at it. They’ve outsmarted kidnappers, survived severe oxygen deprivation, and heisted back their own ship engine from would-be thieves.

Since joining up, they’ve traveled further and further away from their home planet. But out on Yin He Garden Station (in Chinese-owned territory), home catches up at a physics symposium.

When Alan’s former research advisor makes an offer that’ll bring them home as respected members of society, Rhiannon knows she has to accept. But home isn’t exactly as she left it, and a hostile space fleet stands between her aging ship and her new/old life. Should she be running towards the fleet, or scurrying back into international space as fast as her craft can go?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00067]





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About the Author

Janine A. Southard is the IPPY award-winning author of Queen & Commander (and other books in The Hive Queen Saga). She lives in Seattle, WA, where she writes speculative fiction novels, novellas, and short stories… and reads them aloud to her cat.

All Janine’s books so far have been possible because of crowdsourced funds via Kickstarter. She owes great thanks to her many patrons of the arts who love a good science fiction adventure and believe in her ability to make that happen.

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