Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.
Sabitha: Sarena Ulibarri joins us to talk about her solarpunk novella, Another Life. Sarena, tell us about this warmhearted eco-fiction!
Sarena: Another Life is a science fiction novella set in a peaceful ecovillage called Otra Vida. When a scientific method of uncovering past lives emerges, the founder of Otra Vida learns she’s the reincarnation of the previous generation’s greatest villain. This shakes the foundations of Galacia’s identity and her position within the community, threatening to undermine the good she’s done in this lifetime.
Sabitha: What inspired you to write this book?
Sarena: What if there were a “23andMe” type test, but for reincarnation instead of ancestry? And how would a “good” person react to finding out their previous incarnation did some really bad things?
Sabitha: Tough questions! Was there any music that inspired you while you were writing?
Sarena: The playlist for this book starts with “Policy of Truth” by Depeche Mode, which captures the conflict Galacia feels about whether or not to reveal her past life to her community.
Because they share the same soul, Thomas Ramsey’s song is also by Depeche Mode, “Walking in My Shoes.” Ramsey is who Galacia was in her previous life: he was a manipulator and con-man who knew he’d made a villain of himself, but he had his reasons.
Sabitha: We have a lot of writers in our community. What’s your writing process?
Sarena: My process seems to be to write the wrong book first, and then yank out the spine and write a new book around that foundation. I’ve done this several times, though it’s not a method I recommend. Early drafts of Another Life had whole superfluous storylines and tangents. After letting the book sit for a couple of years, I went after it with a (metaphorical) cleaver, killing darlings with no remorse until I found the core of what I was really trying to say.
Sabitha: What book do you tell all your friends to read? Besides yours of course!
Sarena: A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys. It’s such a fresh take on alien first contact and the best example of solarpunk I’ve read yet.
Sabitha: Does the location the story takes place mean something to you or to the work?
Sarena: Because the story is about reincarnation, it seemed appropriate to set it in Death Valley. It’s a harsh and extreme place, but it’s also beautiful and full of life. That contrast fits the themes of Another Life quite well.
Sabitha: Thanks for sharing your story and your process. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?
Sarena: My website, Twitter, or Mastodon are the best places to find me! Preorder of Another Life is available from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, or direct from Stelliform Press.