Here at Breaking the Glass Slipper, we love to support new writers. I was trawling a list of ‘debuts to be excited about in 2018’ some time ago and came across the description of Implanted by Lauren C Teffeau. Not only did the premise sound fascinating, but I was intrigued by the book’s description as ‘hopeful’. I don’t think there’s enough optimism in genre fiction so it’s always great to see new authors embracing the possibility of a future that isn’t entirely bleak!
Not only has Implanted leaped to the top of my want-to-read list, but Teffeau is one of my new favourite humans. Anyone who appreciates Robin McKinley shows exceptional taste!
Your twitter tagline reads ‘Persistent AF’. (Love it!) What does this mean for you, especially in relation to writing?
My twitter bio has shifted over the years, but I realized my persistence has always been in the background. So I decided to start calling it out directly. To be a writer—knowing the odds and the time it takes to build a career after getting a foot in the door—you have to be both persistent and audacious. Sometimes that means being persistently audacious and audaciously persistent as well. You have to keep going when it gets hard. And the audacious part is to always believe your words will matter, regardless of how long it takes to get them out there. Being persistent is easier for me than being audacious, but both are exhausting for different reasons. Having “Persistent AF” in my bio now is a good reminder of all that when the going gets tough.
Your novel, Implanted, is described as a ‘hopeful’ post-apocalyptic tale. What made you want to write something uplifting when so many SFF stories deliver pessimism?
I love how science fiction is a whole genre built around thought experiments: if X happens, here are all the potential ramifications you probably didn’t think about presented in narrative form. The problem is for so long the field has been sounding the alarm on lots of issues and envisioning worst-case scenarios, real solutions often get overlooked in the spectacle.
My novel Implanted is “hopeful” in the sense that it takes things like climate change, war, and huge, disruptive shifts in population centers as a given, but then asks: how do we get back to an approximation of what we had before all the bad stuff happened? Humanity has had to retreat into domed cities to survive severe weather, pollution, desertification, and food shortages, but two things keep the population happy. First, neural implants that make the cramped conditions a bit more bearable. And second, the idea of Emergence—the day when the glass comes down and they can finally return to the land they left behind—that infuses all aspects of society. I wanted to present a future that is realistic about the challenges we have ahead of us but also show ways in which we can face them head-on. That balance is so important to have, and I like to think that I’m contributing in my small way to a better future as a result.
Being a writer of both SF and romance, are there any particular romantic tropes within science fiction you wish would never see the light of day? Any you’d love to see crop up more often?
So many! First, anything that makes the female love interest less than whole, whether it is objectifying her body or shallow character development where she only exists to support the (usually) male hero. Second is agency. I don’t understand romantic relationships that aren’t built on equal partnerships. Finally, depictions of rape that have no bearing on the actual story. Too often it is used as a lazy shorthand for character development or edgy writing. Going there comes with a huge responsibility, and frankly too many authors fall down on the job, which is why there are so many people out there now advocating for eliminating it from stories entirely.
As to what I’d like to see, I would love to have more healthy relationships realistically depicted in science fiction and fantasy. There are a lot of idealized characters and scenarios, and there is nothing wrong with reading and writing for escapism, but those depictions do not translate to the actual world we live in, which I think sometimes does a disservice to our readers. Emotional intelligence when it comes to romance can be a bit tone deaf in our field. I’m always surprised when it’s done well, instead of it being the norm.
What is your favourite SF romance and what makes it/the relationship so good?
This is so hard. I recently read Rachel Bach’s Fortune’s Pawn trilogy, which did a fantastic job depicting an equally-matched hero and heroine with great sexual tension, non-stop action, and an emotional payoff that felt earned over the course of the romantic ups and downs throughout the series. Even though it is not a romance per se, I liked Lois McMaster Bujold’s Paladin of Souls for her handling of Ista’s romantic arc, particularly since she is both a mother and considered “mad,” and in another author’s hands, she would be depicted as undesirable and desireless. I also want to mention Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, for somehow making her vampires feel both extremely alien but also sexy as hell.
Why should we be excited to read Implanted?
Take Johnny Mnemonic, add a dash of Person of Interest, mix with Logan’s Run, and wrap it all up in a Blade Runner-meets-solarpunk aesthetic, and you’ll get my book Implanted, out this August from Angry Robot. There’s high tech action and romance and intrigue as well, starring a young woman blackmailed into becoming a courier and what happens when the life she was forced to leave behind comes back to haunt her. I hope you’ll join me on the adventure!
Lauren C. Teffeau lives and dreams in the southwestern United States. When she was younger, she poked around in the back of wardrobes, tried to walk through mirrors, and always kept an eye out for secret passages, fairy rings, and messages from aliens. Now, she writes to cope with her ordinary existence. Implanted is her first novel. Check out her website or follow her on Twitter to learn more.