Saturday, July 13, 2019

Kali Wallace Interview - Salvation Day

Photo Credit: Jessica Hilt, 2015

For most of her life Kali Wallace was going to be a scientist when she grew up. She studied geology in college, partly because she could get course credit for hiking and camping, and eventually earned a PhD in geophysics researching earthquakes in India and the Himalayas. Only after she had her shiny new doctorate in hand did she admit that she loved inventing imaginary worlds as much as she liked exploring the real one. She is the author of the young adult novels Shallow Graves and The Memory Trees and the children's fantasy novel City of Islands. Her first novel for adults, the science fiction horror-thriller Salvation Day, will be published by Berkley in 2019. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, F&SF, Asimov's, Lightspeed, and She was born in Colorado and spent most of her life there, but now lives in southern California.


What inspired you to pen your first novel?
I've loved writing stories nearly my entire life--since I was about seven years old--but I didn't think about doing it professionally until I was in my thirties. In 2010, I attended the Clarion Writer's Workshop at UCSD, and I came away from it thinking that maybe I could try the whole being an author thing for real. I sold a couple of short stories and finally found the courage to write--and finish! finishing is key!--my first novel. It's been all downhill from there.

Or, rather, uphill. Writing never really gets easier. But it does get more fun.

Tell us your latest news.
Besides the book that's coming out right now? That's all the news I have at the moment! I've turned in my next book, but it doesn't even have a title yet, so there's nothing to share from that department.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I'm not sure how to answer this question, because the answer is everything. It's not like a writer can pick and choose which of her life experiences is not going to influence the stories she tells. Everything I've read, everywhere I've traveled, everything I've learned, everyone I've met, it's all bubbling somewhere in the swampy quagmire of my brain, and I'm forever adding to it by learning, see, doing more things. Sometimes I don't even know what influences I'm drawing on until after a story is finished and I can see patterns and themes I didn't know I was writing.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope Salvation Day gives them an exciting, spine-tingling ride full of chills and thrills and surprising, while also persuading them to think a little bit about what kind of world we're creating with the choices we make, especially when those choices are about how we treat people who are desperate, hurting, and in need of help.

Did you learn anything from writing SALVATION DAY and what was it?
I would say the biggest thing I learned as how to write multiple actions scenes without defaulting to the same thing over and over again. Writing action has required a steep learning curve for me, and I couldn't avoid it in this book. It was a process, to learn to frame and work through each action scene to accomplish what it needed to accomplish, and to make sure they weren't repetitive or confusing or boring. It wasn't easy, but I'm glad I did it.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Zahra?
Writers talk a lot about being clear about what a character wants and what's preventing them from getting it--and for good reason, because those are what form the core of any really powerful story. With Zahra, it was a journey for me to figure out that knowing what she wanted wasn't enough; I also had to know what she would do and how she would change when her hopes and dreams all turned out to be built upon lies. I had to learn how to get inside the head of somebody who was doing something rather terrible for questionable reasons, how to make the actions understandable and those reasons sympathetic, and then turn it all inside out when things go wrong.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would arrange for Zahra to hang out with Murderbot from Martha Wells' Murderbot Diaries, because I would love for her to spend some time with somebody else who's had to learn the hard way that it's our choices, not our programming, that defines who we are.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Bill & Ted said it best: Be excellent to each other.

If your life was a song, what would the title be?
"The Never-ending Story." Wait, is that already one taken?

What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My keys, my wallet, my phone, my sunglasses. I'm boring and responsible and live in sunny southern California.

If you could live in any period in history, where would it be and why?
I want to live in the future as depicted in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Can we make that happen? I don't even care that there are the Borg. That's where I want to live. Anybody can go into space! Scientists are heroes! New worlds to discover! New people to meet! Money doesn't exist! And Data could be my best friend! Let's go.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
I honestly can't remember. I do send out holiday cards, but that hardly counts.

Where can readers find you?
I post news and event information on my WEBSITE. I'm also on Instagram as @kaliphyte, where the news and updates are interspersed with cat pictures. And anybody who only wants to get the news when it happens can sign up for my very occasional newsletter HERE

A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.

They thought the ship would be their salvation.

Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.

But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.

And then they woke it up.


"Kali Wallace, the world needs you--and this book. Salvation Day is a taut thriller, a near-future look at where we're headed next, a mirror reflecting the best and worst of humanity. It is all that, and so much more. I'd follow the rebellious heroine Zahra anywhere--especially into another nail-biter of a story like this." James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Demon Crown

“Salvation Day is a masterful story set at a screaming pace. It had me holding on for dear life all the way through. I loved it.” —Mur Lafferty, Hugo Award-winning author of Six Wakes

"Breakneck pace with real thrills and chills—plus lots of meaty stuff to think about. One of the major science-fiction debuts of 2019. Kali Wallace is a force to be reckoned with." —Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Quantum Night

"A smart, gripping thriller you just can't put down. Explosions, betrayals, morally gray choices and twisty secrets; all set in the world that comes after the end of ours. Perfect for fans of Aliens and locked spaceship murder mysteries." Kameron Hurley, Hugo Award-winning author of The Light Brigade

"More than a science fiction novel, it's a good old-fashioned thriller set in the future--every page filled with breadth and scope and twists and turns. An exciting, dangerous, magical quest for truth." —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Malta Exchange

“A suspenseful journey with complex characters and a riveting universe that is as bold as it is fascinating, Salvation Day is a space thriller that will infect you with its gripping narrative as much as its mind-bending viruses.” Peter Tieryas, author of Mecha Samurai Empire 

"Wallace delivers an exciting sf thriller that shines a light on government secrets, shifting blame, and elitism and class in a future society. The tight plot and well-developed characters create an engrossing read" Library Journal

You can purchase Salvation Day at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KALI WALLACE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Salvation Day by Kali Wallace.