Joyce retired in 2008 after 45 years in the scientific information business and turned from fact-based literature to fantasy – but it’s still tinged sometimes with science.
Three of her short stories were published in anthologies and the first three books of her Crystal Odyssey series have been published. In addition, she has published a YA Science Fantasy novella, A Bite of the Apple.
She lives in New Mexico with her husband. The window wall at the back of their house has a wonderful view of the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.
What kind of books do you write?
I write about brave young women and their struggles as they learn about themselves and their worlds, Nissa in The Crystal Odyssey series and Bet in The Portal Adventures series, even Bekka and Cora in So You Want to be a Dragon. None of them need a man to help them achieve whatever they want.
Can you describe your writing why?
When I was at school, most young women studied to become teachers or nurses. I earned a degree in Chemistry instead. I want to encourage girls to go into STEM fields or to do whatever they want, even if everyone tells them only boys do that. That’s how I conceived of The Crimson Orb and the opening scene where Nissa is watching the boys at their sword practice and must go back to the sewing room instead of joining them.
Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most
From The Crimson Orb. I read this at my launch at a cupcake store and convinced the owner to make fortune cupcakes.
I wondered what he meant. I was already surprised by the two on my plate. One was a white cake topped with an orange frosting and sprinkled with bits of colored sugar. The second was dark cake with lighter brown frosting. I sniffed the second and was rewarded with a chocolate aroma. I adored drinking cocoa in the cold months of winter, but the powder to make it was rare in Holmdale, and chocolate made from it was a special treat for celebrations. However this cupcake seemed to contain lots of cocoa powder. I suppose I should have realized that in a port town like East Harbor, anything could be obtained.
I bit into the white and orange one first, saving the chocolate for later. There was a fruity jam inside, sweet but not cloying. But that wasn’t the most amazing thing. Tucked in the jam was a long strip of paper. I was glad I hadn’t bitten it. There was a message written on it. It said, Follow Your Heart. I smiled.
A few bites later, I’d finished that cupcake and was ready to start on the second. I wondered what I’d find inside that one. It turned out to be even more chocolate in a somewhat liquid form. I think I could have eaten several of these if I hadn’t filled myself with my sandwich. And then I found the message inside this one. Quite different from the first, it read, Go South First. It seemed to be an instruction but from whom?
Tell us about your latest project
I have two near completion but let me tell you about the first story in a series about forty people who survived a train catastrophe. They were in the last three cars of the train on their way to the western parts of the US, but a trestle over a ravine blew up as the first cars started across. Stranded with farm fields all around, they were devastated by what happened to those at the front of the train.
In addition to the bridge blowing up, they learned electricity and communication of all kinds had been disrupted. In the first book, people in a town eight miles away suggest they stay at an abandoned motel while they find out what caused the disruptions. The train people make themselves at home at the motel and help the townspeople cope with the loss of electricity. Not everyone’s cooperative, and their achievements aren’t easy.
I suppose you could call it a story about survival.
In the second book, groups from the town, the motel and a small city nearby set out in two directions to learn more about what happened, and what anyone’s doing about it.
What is your favourite cake?
I’d have to say seven-layer cake with mocha cream and dark chocolate coating. And I do count the layers.