May 7, 2012

Interview with Pamela Sargent, author of EARTHSEED

In 1983, award-winning author Pamela Sargent introduced readers to Ship—a sentient starship sent to populate the planet Home with the seed of humankind. This novel, EARTHSEED, captivated and inspired a generation of young readers. It was named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, a Booklist Young Adult Reviewer's Choice Selection, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age selection.

Now, Paramount Pictures has teamed up with Melissa Rosenberg—adaptor of the Twilight films—to release EARTHSEED through Rosenberg's Tall Girl Productions.

Book blurb (from goodreads):
The classic YA science fiction adventure by Nebula and Locus Award–winning author Pamela Sargent The ship hurtles through space. Deep within its core, it carries the seed of humankind. Launched by the people of a dying Earth over a century ago, its mission is to find a habitable world for the children—fifteen-year-old Zoheret and her shipmates—whom it has created from its genetic banks.

To Zoheret and her shipmates, Ship has been mother, father, and loving teacher, preparing them for their biggest challenge: to survive on their own, on an uninhabited planet, without Ship’s protection. Now that day is almost upon them...but are they ready to leave Ship? Ship devises a test. And suddenly, instincts that have been latent for over a hundred years take over. Zoheret watches as friends become strangers—and enemies. Can Zoheret and her companions overcome the biggest obstacle to the survival of the human race—themselves?

Pamela Sargent has won the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and has been a finalist for the Hugo Award. She lives with writer George Zebrowski in upstate New York.

Lori: You have an amazing bibliography. Of everything you've written, is there any one piece you'd consider a favorite?

PS: Usually my favorite is whatever I'm in the middle of writing because it's what demanding my attention. Looking back, though, I have a soft spot for my novel The Shore of Women, because it seems to have touched a lot of readers over the years. Even though it came out in 1986, I still get emails and comments from readers about that book.

Lori: Similarly, are there any pieces you'd consider the best representations of your best work?

PS: I hate to single out anything as the "best." If a reader likes historical fiction, then that reader would probably most appreciate my historical novel Ruler of the Sky – that one is about Genghis Khan, with his story told largely from the points of view of the women in his life – or Climb the Wind, an alternate history set in the American Great Plains during the post-Civil War period. Science fiction readers who like detailed world-building might like Venus of Dreams. It really depends on the reader, and I enjoy writing different kinds of books and stories.

Lori: For readers new to your work, what would be a good piece to introduce themselves to your writing?

PS: My short fiction collection Thumbprints, because it contains a number of my stories in different genres – historical fantasies, straight science fiction, contemporary fantasy, and suspense. It’s still available in hardcover from Golden Gryphon Press, a publisher that does beautiful hardcover books, but it also just came out in electronic formats for e-readers.

Lori: What was the original idea or inspiration that led to writing EARTHSEED?

PS: Believe it or not, it was Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie that was the inspiration for Ship, the artificial intelligence in Earthseed, although Ship's character changed during the writing. I also liked the idea of having all these young people growing up entirely on their own with only Ship as their parent or guardian.

Lori: Earthseed features a strong female protagonist. In your opinion, what qualities make an ideal protagonist?

PS: That also depends on the kind of story you want to tell. Zoheret is an ideal protagonist for Earthseed because she has courage and loyalty to her friends, but also because she has weaknesses as well as strengths. She has her own insecurities and failures, and she makes mistakes.

Lori: Melissa Rosenberg is set to write and produce the film adaptation. Will you have a hand in the final screenplay?

PS: I have no idea, although I would love to read the screenplay when it's finished. Right now I am keeping my distance, because it's important for any scriptwriter to find her own way into the story in the beginning of the process; the last thing she needs then is the author of the novel being adapted looking over her shoulder. A movie is a different medium from a novel, so what I hope for is something that's true to my story, that portrays the characters and explores the ideas in a way that seems true to my vision. That doesn't mean working in every last detail; sometimes what works in a novel doesn't necessarily work on-screen. But I'm fortunate to have someone writing the script who's already had to deal with adapting some very popular novels.

Thank you so much, Pamela, for answering my questions. And I hope you guys enjoyed her answers as much as I did! I'm super excited to see EARTHSEED adapted into a movie.

EARTHSEED, A Tor Teen Trade Paperback; $9.99
Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Happy Monday, all!


Eliza Tilton said...

Great interview!

Bluestocking said...

I enjoyed this and am looking forward to the movie!

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