Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.
Zilla: Sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to warn readers that this interview has some mild swearing and sexual language. We put the interview under a cut just in case you’re reading this at work!
Sabitha: Today we have a very special interview! This week, we’re interviewing Vera Valentine and J.L. Logosz (Lowe-gish) about their novel Planet Oster: Fertility Fusion. A two-header interview! And not only did we love reading this book, it’s very dear to our hearts because it forms a part of the Night Beats Extended Universe. Before I give away any spoilers, why don’t you tell us about your book!
Vera: Our most recently-released book (April 2022) is Planet Oster: Fertility Fusion, a queer, polyamorous sci-fi epic that zooms through the omegaverse, terrible phonetic puns, weird alien anatomy, and a surprisingly stubborn adherence to secular Easter themeing, if you know where to look.
Sabitha: I think it’s fair to say there’s a lot of wonderful weirdness in this book. What inspired you to write it?
Vera: Oh god. Uh. Well. Honestly, dicking around in Twitter DMs, which is where we birthed the last four Kindle sins that bear our names. We’ve been slowly working our way through the year, writing holiday-themed smut novellas, and ovipositing Easter bunny aliens won out over leprechauns in our brainstorming sessions. Sorry March, better luck in 2023!
Sabitha: It’s hard to pick a favourite scene, but Ch’ik meeting the crew at the bar was such a delightful, violence-filled meet cute. What was your favourite part to write?
J.L.: The climactic battle in the mushroom farm – there’s nothing better than fight choreography in a dynamic environment when stakes and emotions are running high!
Vera: There is -so much- I genuinely love about this story that it’s hard to choose, but Al’ghi is definitely a high point. When J.L. built the framework for the one-sided-alien-conversation trope gag at the Scrum, I got to fill in the “color” on that scene and I spent an entire night cackling to myself over the keyboard. She was absolutely right to talk me into including it, because (in my opinion) it’s one of the funnier bits of the book.
Sabitha: From favourite scene to favourite character—which character do you relate to the most and why?
Vera: Wow, hard-hitting journalism catching us flat-footed here. Well, I think it’s fair to say you’ll find pieces of us scattered throughout the Koton’s inhabitants and the vile cast of characters in the Scrum. We are, as humans, vulnerable, playful, riddled with unnecessary guilt, amorphous, full of eggs (depends on the time of day), and unnervingly confident in situations where we really have no right to be. (Who hasn’t stripped a few live wires with their teeth?)
Sabitha: How did you choose the title?
J.L.: A low-key mutual fetish for alliteration met Vera’s lifelong Paganism in a title that we wanted to scream “HEY SHE GETS KNOCKED UP BY EASTER BUNNIES.” Not to brag, but I think we kinda nailed it.
Sabitha: If you could pick any author to read your book, who would you want to read it? Why them?
J.L.: Cormac McCarthy. I want to leave one of the greatest literary fiction authors of our era baffled and perturbed by tentacle dick.
Vera: Damn, J.L. stole my answer. I kid, I kid. Honestly, Dave Barry. He’s a brilliant Floridian humorist, author, and columnist and one of my earliest writing influences. I think I’d straight-up cry if he ever said he liked my work.
Sabitha: Did anything change from when you started planning your first draft to the published version? What?
J.L.: We largely edit as we go – two of us working in tandem means there’s a second set of eyes to proofread and pick up continuity issues while that first draft is still in progress. We also have an alpha reader (shout-out to Sierra Cassidy) who helped catch issues as we worked. Vera, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the only substantive change between the first draft completion and the published version of Oster was you going back to add an additional sex scene and a quick round of SPAG edits.
Vera: Ditto on props to the amazing Sierra Cassidy for cheerfully wading in on our nonsense. Just to demonstrate how SUPER PROFESSIONAL we are I’d like to emphasize that I absolutely did not have to Google what SPAG meant just now because I totally knew. Honestly, I think the reason we can write so quickly and comprehensively – I think Oster took us slightly over a month, if that, from start to finish – is because we just keep moving forward. If a character changes at all, like Jau getting an eyepatch about halfway through, I usually pop back up the document and make sure the pieces get sewn in to make sense in the narration. J.L. works up a pretty solid character snapshot for most of our characters in the very beginning, so it’s super-helpful for keeping us consistent throughout.
Sabitha: What do you most want your readers to take away from reading your book?
Vera: That the bewildered staring-into-the-middle-ground feeling you get after finishing one of our books isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Secondly, those kinks you just unlocked? Consider ’em a gift with purchase.
Oh yeah, and also that love is love, no matter your gender, orientation, planet of origin, or existing number of partners, but consent and communication should always be the first things you invite to your own cluster. 😉
Sabitha: We’ve already given away the secret that we loved Planet Oster: Fertility Fusion. Our review will be in an upcoming issue of our newsletter, and then on our blog two weeks later. But if our community wants to get their hands on the real thing, where can they buy a copy? And where can they find you?
Vera: Our titles are available as eBooks on both Amazon Kindle and through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited membership program, and we’re expanding our back catalog just as fast as our weird little brains can spin up seasonal smut ideas. Info, content notes, and links for the rest of our series are available on my website. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok.
Sabitha: Thanks so much. I can’t wait to see what your devious minds dream up next!