Author Interview: Kristyn Merbeth

Today I am interviewing Kristyn Merbeth, author of the new science-fiction novel, Fortuna, first book in the The Nova Vita Protocol series.

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DJ: Hi Kristyn! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Kristyn Merbeth: Hi! Thanks so much for having me (again!). I’m the author of the post-apocalyptic Wastelanders series as K.S. Merbeth, and Fortuna is my first step into the space opera genre. I love video games, Dungeons and Dragons, cooking, and my bulldog, Albus. Since the last time you interviewed me here, I moved from northern California back to my hometown of Tucson, Arizona.

DJ: What is Fortuna about?

Kristyn: Fortuna is about the Kaisers, a family who smuggles contraband between five human-settled planets. After the family matriarch takes a risky job, the smugglers are drawn into the system’s first interplanetary war. The story is told from the alternating points of view of Scorpia, the pilot and family screw-up, and Corvus, who was the favorite child and intended heir before he left the family three years ago.

DJ: What were some of your influences on Fortuna and the series? 

Kristyn: The story began as a mash-up of the real-life discovery of Trappist-1 and the idea of a family of criminals from the show Animal Kingdom. Beyond that, it’s always hard for me to draw direct lines of influence, since I feel like I’m always subconsciously absorbing inspiration from all of the stories I read, watch, and play, across a variety of genres – from fun space opera jaunts like Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, to games like Starcraft II and Frostpunk, to the work of my favorite authors, such as Kameron Hurley, V.E. Schwab, Paul Tremblay, and Riley Sager.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?  

Kristyn: The book has two main characters: Scorpia and Corvus. Scorpia is a bit of a disaster, prone to drinking too much and making bad jokes at inopportune times, but she’s also the one who’s been trying to step into her older brother’s shoes and hold the rest of the family together ever since he left. Corvus is the former “golden boy” of the family and previously the one who kept Scorpia and the others out of trouble, but three years ago he left to fight in a civil war on his birth-planet, and those years have turned him into someone his family barely recognizes. I think of them both as messy-but-lovable characters; they’re deeply flawed and burdened by their pasts, but I hope that watching them struggle to shake off the influence of their horrible mother and try to become better people will win over readers’ hearts.

DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role for the story? Why? 

Kristyn: Ooh, there are a lot of fun side characters in this series that I absolutely love! Aside from all of the family members, I really enjoyed writing about the crew members of the Red Baron, a pirate ship that has been hounding Fortuna and her crew for years. The longtime rivalry provides some fun dynamics between the crews… and of course, writing space pirates is just a lot of fun.

DJ: What is the world and setting of the The Nova Vita Protocol series like?

Kristyn: The Nova Vita system has five human-inhabited planets which are all very different, both geographically and culturally. There’s Pax, a desert planet that produces most of the system’s tech; Deva, a rainy and wealthy planet overgrown by dangerous jungles; Nibiru, an ocean world with humanmade islands whose people prefer a simpler life; Gaia, scattered with the ruins of a long-dead alien civilization; and Titan, an icy, cruel world that is torn apart by civil war. They each have different laws, governments, levels of technology, etc., but one thing the planets all share is an intense distrust of one another. When Fortuna begins, almost all interplanetary travel has been cut off, and the planets have hardly any contact despite being very close together.

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Fortuna

Kristyn: Though I had a ton of fun writing all of the action, humor, mysterious alien discoveries, and more, my very favorite scenes to write were the brief moments of peace when the family is all together and having fun, either eating a meal or playing a game together.

DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?

Kristyn: I hope that the relationships between the various members of the Kaiser family, particularly the fraught and complicated dynamic between Scorpia and Corvus, will leave a lasting impact on readers. 

DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the The Nova Vita Protocol series? Fortuna is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?

Kristyn: When I first sat down to write Fortuna, all I knew was that I wanted to write a story about family, and especially about siblings. A theme emerged naturally as I was writing – about how family can shape us as well as hold us back, hurt us or lend us hope and strength, and how to break free from the shackles of the past and move forward – as individuals, or families, or as a species as a whole – to be better than those who came before us.

DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Fortuna that you can share with us?

Kristyn: Here’s an early moment in Scorpia’s POV that really shows what kind of family we’re following in this series…

“Keep your weapons hidden and try not to shoot anybody,” I say. “And if you do have to shoot someone, hide the body somewhere clever.”

The twins grin their identical grin, gummy and gap-toothed. I’m not convinced there’s a single clever bone between the two of them, but they’re Kaisers, and Kaisers are nothing if not resourceful.

DJ: Now that Fortuna is released, what is next for you?

Kristyn: Right now, I’m working on book two of the series, which continues to follow the adventures of the Kaisers. It has more of everything I loved writing in Fortuna: sibling drama, moral dilemmas, and plenty of fun fight scenes!

DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?  

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01N5XQQCL 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ksmerbeth/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ksmerbeth 

Website: https://www.ksmerbeth.com 

DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Fortuna and the The Nova Vita Protocol series that we haven’t talked about yet?

Kristyn: I believe I mentioned them briefly, but: the aliens! Long before humanity settled on the five planets of Nova Vita, the worlds were inhabited by an intelligent alien species called the Primus. The Primus mysteriously disappeared many years ago, but some remnants of their civilization remain, from the huge statues on Gaia to the strange, organic technology that certain people are a little too eager to dig up and put to use. The alien tech plays an important role in the events of Fortuna, and in book two, the Kaisers will delve into some long-buried secrets about the Primus.

DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions! 

Kristyn: Thank you for the fun interview, it’s been a pleasure!

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***Fortuna is published by Orbit and is available TODAY!!!***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Goodreads

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About the Book:

Fortuna launches a new space opera trilogy that will hook you from the first crash landing.

Scorpia Kaiser has always stood in Corvus’s shadow until the day her older brother abandons their family to participate in a profitless war. However, becoming the heir to her mother’s smuggling operation is not an easy transition for the always rebellious, usually reckless, and occasionally drunk pilot of the Fortuna, an aging cargo ship and the only home Scorpia has ever known.

But when a deal turns deadly and Corvus returns from the war, Scorpia’s plans to take over the family business are interrupted, and the Kaiser siblings are forced to make a choice: take responsibility for their family’s involvement in a devastating massacre or lay low and hope it blows over.

Too bad Scorpia was never any good at staying out of a fight.

Perfect for fans of Becky Chambers and Catherynne M. Valente, Fortuna introduces a dazzling new voice in science fiction.


About the Author:

My name is Kristyn Merbeth, and I’m a sci-fi/fantasy writer represented by Emmanuelle Morgen at Stonesong Literary Agency. I live in Tucson, Arizona, where I spend most of my time writing, reading, and gaming.

I’m the author of the post-apocalyptic, mayhem-filled Wastelanders series, including BITE and RAID, both available now from Orbit! FORTUNA, the first book in a new space opera trilogy following a family of interplanetary smugglers, will be out Fall 2019.


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