High Five with E. J. Swift – A Lowest Heaven Exclusive

The Lowest Heaven So now The Lowest Heaven, a sci-fi short story spectacular which features some of the hottest names in modern genre publishing,  is out in paperback – and very handsome it looks to. We love this book so much (and are in constant awe of the amazing work that our friends at Jurassic  are doing) so we’re going to celebrate all over again with some more exclusive interviews with the authors involved.

To kick things off, here’s a High Five interview with the lovely E. J. Swift, whose debut novel Osiris is published by Night Shade Books and forthcoming from Del Rey UK, and is the first in a trilogy: The Osiris Project. Her short story “The Complex” published by Interzone magazine, was included in the anthology The Best British Fantasy 2013.

E. J. Swift’s story in The Lowest Heaven is called Saga’s Children.


What was the inspiration behind your story in The Lowest Heaven?

My story is based around the dwarf planet Ceres, so I had two sources of inspiration: the planet itself, and the myth. In Roman mythology, Ceres is the goddess of maternal relationships, fertility, agriculture and so on. I wanted to write something that was epic and actually set in the solar system, because it was the first time I’d really done something like this, so for me that in itself was a challenge. And I wanted to write about the relationship between a mother and her daughter, or as it became in the end, Saga’s Children. Plus, writing from the children’s perspective was a chance to use the first person plural, which I’ve wanted to do ever since reading The Virgin Suicides.

What is it that attracts you to science-fiction as a genre and what one sci-fi thing, be it book, movie or real life event, has influenced you the most?

It’s the sense of possibility, having the world’s largest playground to explore, and all you need to unlock it is words and imagination. I’ve tried writing realistic fiction but it doesn’t suit me, I always end up going off at some tangent or other. As for influences, I would probably have to name Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I read it as a teenager and it’s lost none of its magic, and it’s gorgeously written.

Okay, so you’re going on a mission in to space. What is your mission? What three people (alive or not so alive) will you take with you? And most importantly what cool name would you give your ship?

I would have to take my friends M-P and Björn, because they were the first people I ever wrote science-fiction with, and they would kill me if I didn’t. And then I will take David Attenborough please (although we may have to cryo-freeze him first) because we need someone to narrate amazing documentaries about the extraordinary things we find along the way. Our ship shall be named Battlestar Velmatica, in honour of my favourite sci-fi TV series and my most evil cat, who has the personality of a Caprica 6.

The age old question: do you think we’re alone in the universe?

Impossible to say! On the one hand, the sheer size of the universe makes it seem ridiculous that we could be alone, on the other, life on earth is the product of so many series of chances, you wonder what is the likelihood of it being replicated elsewhere. I can’t really imagine there is anything like us out there.

Finally, we say J for Jetpack, you say J for…?

Jellicle cats!

We’re going to have to google that last one . . . thanks E. J.! 

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