Science fiction author Kathy Tyers is known for her Firebird series and the Christy Award-winning Shivering World, not to mention her Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. Her classic Christian SF novel Crystal Witness has been brought back into print by Enclave Publishing. In our exclusive interview, Kathy talks to FamilyFiction about Crystal Witness, gives us an overview of her leading lady, shares her initial inspiration for the novel, and explains how her faith intertwines with her writing of speculative fiction.
Kathy, what was your inspiration for Crystal Witness?
The plot is loosely based on the plot of a book I enjoyed in my early teens: Mara, Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. McGraw’s heroine is caught in a palace intrigue in ancient Egypt, a slave girl trapped between two warring factions, recruited by both sides with threats and promises. One side holds power. The other side wants to take over.
Eventually, she has to decide which side to support. In Crystal Witness, Ming faces a similar predicament in a far-future setting and plays an even more decisive role at the book’s climax.
What can you tell us about your main character, Ming Dalamani?
Ming, an artist, is caught up in her clan’s attempt to smuggle “sunstone” jewels across interstellar space. Legal shipping is controlled by a giant commercial enterprise, the Renascence Shielding Corporation (Renasco), and when the clan is caught red-handed, Ming is memory-wiped and enslaved.
Ming is intriguingly described as a “Renasco-trained calligrapher in three dimensions.” Can you unpack for us what that means?
Her Renasco captors sentence her to an artist’s version of hard labor: exacting, laborious, un-original work. They train her in ribbon calligraphy, using broad-nibbed injection pens to create ribbons inside a gel medium that eventually hardens. She must move the pen’s nib at precisely the right speed, from exactly the right angle, to create various alphabet fonts.
Renasco guarantees that she will hate the work—but she will excel at it. Ming manages to find ways to turn this work into creative endeavors, and eventually, she finds a way to turn it against Renasco.
What especially draws you to write speculative fiction?
I have always enjoyed trying to come up with answers to the big “what if?” questions that drive speculative fiction. I enjoyed reading outer space stories as a pre-teen and discovered J.R.R. Tolkien as a young teenager, so I was shaped by that intersection of science fiction and fantasy.
Finally, as C.S. Lewis wrote, what a writer is will come out in the work, whether or not he or she tries to put it there. I hope that my love of God and His people shines through all I have written.
What’s been your biggest challenge in writing speculative fiction from a Christian worldview?
Actually, I don’t see it as a challenge. Like all that I do, I try to keep it God-honoring. That call is just part of life as I know it, in every aspect of life.
Although Crystal Witness takes place at the end of an era during which God seems forgotten, there are that His memory lingers on many worlds. I’m currently writing a sequel series, in which He makes His presence known again. Overwhelmingly.
Visit Kathy Tyer’s Author Page HERE!