Tuesday, February 14, 2023

S.B. Divya Interview - Meru

Photo Credit: David Perry Photography

S.B. Divya (she/any) is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma. She is the Hugo and Nebula nominated author of Meru and Machinehood. Her short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and she is a former editor of Escape Pod, the weekly science fiction podcast. Divya holds degrees in Computational Neuroscience and Signal Processing. She worked for twenty years as an electrical engineer before becoming an author. Born in Pondicherry, India, Divya now resides in Southern California with her spouse, child, and two fur babies. She enjoys subverting expectations and breaking stereotypes whenever she can.


Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Yes, when I was in eight grade English class, we had an assignment to write a short story and then trade it with a partner to give feedback. My partner, who was also my friend, insisted that my “cliffhanger ending” was not satisfying and that I had to tell her more of the story. I discovered then that having a reader is really important to me as a writer, and as I continued the story, I also realized how much I loved writing. It was a science fiction story, which is what I loved reading at the time, and while I put writing as a career on the back burner for two decades, I never stopped dreaming of being a published author one day.

  • 1. Where teeming masses of humanity had once dumped their excess garbage, megaconstructs now tore down ancient concrete and steel structures with their metal appendages.
  • 2. Out of respect for Jayanthi’s privacy, her parents had withdrawn their access to her body’s information network after she reached the age of sixteen.
  • 3. Ambition and materialism lead to greed and exploitation.
  • 4. Veera had intended that Vaha would soar through the air like a great eagle, but zie never had a chance to try it.
  • 5. Greatness finds those who work without fear.
  • 6. Reality transits allowed beings to cross vast distances in an instant, but only after someone took the slow, physical way to a new destination.
  • 7. He waited for a response with the vast patience of someone who had lived for centuries.
  • 8. What would it feel like to set foot on a planet, to have every move guided by gravity’s pull?
  • 9. Achievement in a vacuum doesn’t gain you a legacy.
  • 10. This great experiment demonstrated that humans prefer to live on Earth, where we naturally fit.
What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I would love for my readers to get transported into a very different kind of future and find it immersive. MERU takes place over a thousand years from now, and it should feel strange at first, but hopefully by the end, people will feel comfortable in the world. I also hope that readers love the sense of adventure and exploration that runs through the plot.

I also hope that the book raises some questions in the minds of readers. I like my fiction to be thought-provoking, and this one is no exception. Some of the questions I explore in the novel are: What is humanity’s responsibility to the objects in the universe? What does it mean to preserve genetic diversity, and what could be lost if we don’t? Can we build a society that’s free of physical violence? What will it take for us to live in outer space? How do we define concepts like consciousness, intelligence, and life?

  • 1. Antarctica
  • 2. Machu Picchu in Peru
  • 3. Seychelles Islands
  • 4. Serengeti National Park in Tanzania
  • 5. Galapagos Islands
  • 6. Great Barrier Reef
  • 7. Mt. Everest Base Camp
  • 8. Pompeii
  • 9. Volcanoes National Park in Hawai’i
  • 10. Iguazú Falls in Brazil
What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
For the character of Jayanthi, I really loved writing a character who defies the expectations of who can be heroic and adventurous. She has sickle cell disease, which can be absolutely debilitating, but with the right support, she can also thrive. We don’t often see main characters in science fiction and fantasy who have chronic illnesses, and as someone who’s experiencing that first hand with Long Covid, I wanted to bring that to readers.

For the character of Vaha, I loved writing someone who starts out very uncertain about their destiny and gets to find their own path to happiness. I grew up with the weight of expectation on my shoulders to “fulfill my potential,” and it’s been both motivating and burdensome. I channeled some of that into this character, and I hope that it’s something my readers can relate to.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
The most dangerous thing I’ve ever done was to descend 1000 feet under the sea in a hand-made submarine. This happened off the island of Roatán, Honduras, back in 2005. The sub was built and operated by Karl Stanley and used for deep sea research, so I felt fairly confident about it, but I also understood the risks.

My spouse and I were the passengers, while Karl piloted. He took us down to the edge of the Grand Cayman Trench. Being that deep underwater means there’s no escape if something goes wrong. Luckily nothing did! And the experience was truly otherworldly. There’s a stillness down there that’s like nothing else I’ve known. I’d love to go into outer space, but in the meantime, this was the next best thing.

One woman and her pilot are about to change the future of the species in an epic space opera about aspiration, compassion, and redemption by Hugo and Nebula Award finalist S. B. Divya.

For five centuries, human life has been restricted to Earth, while posthuman descendants called alloys freely explore the galaxy. But when the Earthlike planet of Meru is discovered, two unlikely companions venture forth to test the habitability of this unoccupied new world and the future of human-alloy relations.

For Jayanthi, the adopted human child of alloy parents, it’s an opportunity to rectify the ancient reputation of her species as avaricious and destructive, and to give humanity a new place in the universe. For Vaha, Jayanthi’s alloy pilot, it’s a daunting yet irresistible adventure to find success as an individual.

As the journey challenges their resolve in unexpected ways, the two form a bond that only deepens with their time alone on Meru. But how can Jayanthi succeed at freeing humanity from its past when she and Vaha have been set up to fail?

Against all odds, hope is human, too.

You can purchase Meru at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you S.B. DIVYA for making this giveaway possible.
2 Winners will receive a Copy of Meru by S.B. Divya.

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