05-20-2011: MilSciFi.com interviews author Judi Fleming, contributor to the anthology, No Man's Land, book four in the Defending The Future series.
MilSciFi: "Welcome. Please Tell us about your
story, and what was the inspiration for it?"
Fleming: "Believe it or not, I always have
little stories making themselves up in my head all the time. So when I
read DTF's guidelines for the anthology, the gears were turning each time I
drove to and from work, trying to find an intriguing fit. One of the more
frustrating things is to find something extraordinary for an ordinary soldier
to do. Most of us are ordinary people and few have little hope of having
extraordinary courage, or gaining sudden intelligence or something like amazing
mathematical abilities or physical strength and yet they all have a story to
tell. So what was there for ordinary female soldier to
accomplish? That was my inspiration. Be in the right place and time
and it can be thrust upon you, ready or not!"
MilSciFi: "Is it a part of a larger universe?"
Fleming: "No, not yet, but it easily could
be. Like I said, the stories never stop creating themselves in my
head. My writer's voice is asking the protagonist if she wants to say
what happens next, what happened before she arrived on the scene or leap into
the future of the universe that is the result of her choices many years from
MilSciFi: "Any plans to continue with this storyline?"
Fleming: "Yes, I believe so. I am
letting that voice work it out and see where how this ordinary person performs
in historic circumstances she has created."
MilSciFi: "Each story is accompanied by a
unique icon, can you tell us something about the relevance behind your own?"
Fleming: "My logo was inspired by a future
with the uncontrolled expansion of the human race beyond our sun. The
icon shows that sun with arrows going in all directions. It fit perfectly
with the story and the battle my protagonist was caught up in. That 'Go
West Young Man' mentality applied to space can get you into a lot of trouble
and it did. When the human race is losing way too many members as a
result of their reckless expansion that has carelessly wiped out other
life forms, you have to smile that they wear a symbol of the root cause of
their destruction on a unit patch. The irony was delicious to me."
MilSciFi: "How did you become involved with
the No Manís Land project?"
Fleming: "A friend of mine challenged me to
beat her to the deadline for submission. Maria V. Snyder can be a wicked task master. We both attended Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction Master's
degree program. Me for the fun of it because I love to learn and her
because she really wanted to be a full time writer. I've done nothing
with what I learned up to this point and she just wouldn't allow it. So
this time it was real challenge when she got the invitation to submit and she
meant it. I thought it over, wrote out the story in less than a week and
beat her by a mile. She owes me a nice dinner now. And it was great
to learn about the series since I really enjoy SF and short story
MilSciFi: "What were your thoughts about the
fact that this was a collection featuring all-female authors?"
Fleming: "Interesting. There aren't
many around. I wonder if there is a big audience for such books and I
really hope so. I was considered very strange as a girl who read SF at an
early age. That was for boys. But then again, so were hunting and
fishing and deciding to join the Army. I like things that break
boundaries, challenge stereotypes and encourage others to read outside of their
MilSciFi: "What tips would you given an
aspiring military science fiction author, female or otherwise?"
Fleming: "Know the military. Most
people reading the genre do, so you must know your audience. I don't care
if you were in the military yourself, was a military brat or spouse. Take
time to interview people who were in the military (any/all branches and
countries) and ask what they liked about it and what they didn't. You'll
find some universal themes there."
MilSciFi: "Is military accuracy important to
you, or can one simply 'fake' it?"
Fleming: "It is important for me to give a
good story to an audience. They can pick out a fake and it throws them
out of a story, so don't cheat them. I was in the US Army, so it is
important to me as a reader too. There is a certain discipline and
esprit de corps that folks who have none of that experience cannot
fathom. It flavors the words your characters speak, how they say them, the
pride in wearing that uniform and how meticulously it is kept and the
willingness to die for the people at home to uphold concepts."
MilSciFi: "Have you been involved with any
Fleming: "I have drafted a story for the
next DTF and hope to get that in. It could easily be the same universe as
I use the same voice, but this is a different problem entirely. I liked
the female protagonist idea and made this one a Sergeant with some new and very
MilSciFi: "With your growing success as an
author, do you plan to continue writing for the Defending the Future series?"
Fleming: "Absolutely. Being a writer
and a veteran of the US Army makes it an interesting project to combine these
two things. Short fiction is a fun challenge to write to deadlines with
rules binding me to a theme. I am just as much a reader as a writer
too. I'd love to have a book of short stories for those instances where I
have time to read but not enough time for a novel. This series is perfect
for that and the folks at DTF are great to work with as well. Very
charming and helpful, so it was a real pleasure for this to be my first fiction
MilSciFi: "Are there any upcoming projects
you would like to tell us about?"
Fleming: "I'm doing a final polish on my SHU
thesis novel for submission since Maria won't let me get away with just this
one short story and her agent asked me to send it on. It is SF as well,
but from a cargo ship owner's point of view. I have a strong military
presence in that novel too. As for projects, I'm an unusual writer
in that I don't mind writing either novels or short stories or jumping between
genres. I think this is because I'm an instructional designer in my day
job and switch from writing training manuals for whole courses to quick job
aides as needed. So I write during the day for the federal government,
push out heart-wrenching or creative non-fiction magazine and
newspaper articles for the non-profits I volunteer with, and then listen to
those crazy character voices in my head and write down what they say too.
I have two other novels started and switch between them to keep it fresh along
with a Bad-Assed Faerie story Marie challenged me to in the upcoming
'Elementals' anthology. What fun!"
MilSciFi: "And what events do you have in the
Fleming: "I always go to BaltiCon and I
believe I will be at MystiCon in Roanoke, VA in February 2012."
MilSciFi: "How can our readers find out more
about your work?"
Fleming: "If my day job would stop
interfering with the fun part of my life, I could update my website at www.judifleming.com
so my apologies to all for the skimpiness of it."
MilSciFi: "Thank you for taking the time to
complete this interview."
Fleming: "It was my pleasure and thank YOU."