I had the recent opportunity to interview Ryan Galloway, author of the YA Science Fiction novel Biome. In this interview he talks about some of the psychology behind the story concept, the challenges faced by his main character, and what is next on his writing horizon.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
|Author Ryan Galloway|
What inspired your latest book?Biome was inspired by a kind of psychological curiosity. I wondered how we might treat each other—for better or worse—if we could literally see the way we all think about the world, one other, and the ourselves, firsthand. When Lizzy is given the memories of her peers on Mars Colony One, she is challenged to do exactly that.
How would you categorize your book?The book is classified as Young Adult Science Fiction, though I’d say it leans more toward New Adult. That category is (currently) still developing.
Introduce us to your lead character. What is it about this character that appeals to you as a writer?
Elizabeth is a strong person, but her strength comes from denial and repression. Understandably, she struggles to relate to other people—even her closest friends. For me, getting to see how Lizzy grows (or struggles to grow) when she is more-or-less forced to relate, is compelling.
How did the book come to be titled and how does it relate to the story?
A biome is a naturally occurring habitat in which certain plants can grow. While there are literally biomes on Mars in which the cadets cultivate certain species, the title relates more to the social and psychological bubbles in which we live. As Elizabeth’s bubble is “popped,” she is forced to exist in a more difficult, uncomfortable environment.
Tell us more about the cover design.
The base photograph for Biome’s cover was originally part of a fashion look book called "Digitalized," which was created by Spanish designer Alba Prat. My partner, who is a graphic designer, used that base to create the cover you see today. Being an indie author, I was grateful to have so much input over the final product.
How much of your experience is in your book?
When I was writing Biome, I did my best to be vulnerable. Which is to say, I put a lot of my personal experiences, ideals, and beliefs into the story. Though I hope the book reaches a wide audience, I also recognize that vulnerability can be a tricky thing. Some people will connect with my convictions—others may not.
How much research did you put into your book?
Naturally, any Science Fiction novel requires a lot of research. It helped that we’ve learned so much new information about Mars over the past few years. Though my origins are in fantasy—making up your own rules requires its own kind of homework—it was a lot of fun to study another planet, and to dream about scientific breakthroughs in the near future.
What advice might you give aspiring authors?
In my experience, your most extreme praises and criticisms can be pretty off-target. I think the truth lies more in the middle. The best advice I can give an aspiring author is to simply be who you are. Write your own convictions, and write them honestly. No one else can tell a story from your perspective. If you really want to connect with readers on a deep level, you’ll have to go deep with them. It may not be popular with everyone, but it’ll be real. And that’s what matters.
What specific authors or books influenced how you write today?
I’ve always been most inspired by the books in which an author speaks honestly about a difficult truth. J.K. Rowling, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Nicole Krauss are some of my favorite authors. The History of Love is a book I consistently come back to.
What is next for you?
Next up is an alternate-history novel about the dawn of industrial magic in Athens, and the only young man in the city who can’t use spells. I’m hopeful for a late-summer release in 2017. The sequel to Biome is on my list after that.
Biome SynopsisInside the gleaming domes of Mars Colony One, seventeen-year-old Lizzy Engram and her fellow cadets work to make the Red Planet habitable. They spend their days growing plants in the giant biomes, eating meals pumped out of 3D printers, and waiting for the terraforming to be complete.
And every Sunday night, the doctors erase their memories.
Week by week the procedure is carried out, and no one suspects a thing. Until one morning, Lizzy wakes up with all of the missing memories. And not just her own, but the memories of every cadet on the planet—from the boy who falls in love with her every week, to the girl who wants to ruin her life, to the cadets who have disappeared since landing.
Now balancing the desires, fears, ideas, and secrets of the entire colony, Lizzy has six days to figure out what the doctors are hiding—and how to stop them—before they erase her memories again.
Or worse, make Lizzy the next to disappear.
You can find more information on Ryan Galloway and Biome at the following places:
Biome Book Page
Ryan Galloway Author Page