Q&A with Linden Lewis - Author of The First Sister | Comic Years
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Q&A with Linden Lewis – Author of The First Sister and The Second Rebel

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BY July 16, 2021

Linden Lewis is the author of last year’s acclaimed novel The First Sister. The story follows a nameless woman aboard a spaceship, who is one of many ‘sisters’ required to perform sexual acts for the male crew and captain. Everything changes when a female captain comes aboard, and sparks begin to fly between the two of them. We recently included Lewis in our list of great queer authors who are changing the genre. Linden Lewis agreed to do a little Q&A with me in advance of the release of her follow-up novel – The Second Rebel – which is due out in August.

Linden Lewis Q&A Author Linden A. Lewis | Image via Simon & Schuster

Q&A With Linden Lewis – Author of The First Sister And The Second Rebel

Simon & Schuster provides an official synopsis for The First Sister.

“First Sister has no name and no voice. As a priestess of the Sisterhood, she travels the stars alongside the soldiers of Earth and Mars—the same ones who own the rights to her body and soul. When her former captain abandons her, First Sister’s hopes for freedom are dashed when she is forced to stay on her ship with no friends, no power, and a new captain—Saito Ren—whom she knows nothing about. She is commanded to spy on Captain Ren by the Sisterhood, but soon discovers that working for the war effort is so much harder to do when you’re falling in love.

Lito val Lucius climbed his way out of the slums to become an elite soldier of Venus, but was defeated in combat by none other than Saito Ren, resulting in the disappearance of his partner, Hiro. When Lito learns that Hiro is both alive and a traitor to the cause, he now has a shot at redemption: track down and kill his former partner. But when he discovers recordings that Hiro secretly made, Lito’s own allegiances are put to the test. Ultimately, he must decide between following orders and following his heart.”

First Sister Linden Lewis Image via Simon & Schuster

First Sister was your debut novel, what can you tell us about your background as a writer and how you got to the point of publishing this book?


Before The First Sister, I tried querying a YA novel about Vikings and magic that didn’t go anywhere. I knew something was missing from my writing, so I attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in the summer of 2016. That changed everything for me. Almost directly after the workshop, I sold my first short story to Beneath Ceaseless Skies and began writing the novel that would become The First Sister.


What was your inspiration for the story and/or your biggest influences?


Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale as well as the Oryx and Crake trilogy were huge inspirations to me. Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series was too. Finally, the Mass Effect trilogy of games really sparked my interest in science fiction and contributed heavily to the setup.


New Mass Effect Game Liara Mass Effect | Image via BioWare

The book is hailed as a queer, feminist space opera. Why was it important for you to incorporate these themes into the story?


I didn’t go into the story intending to write anything other than a space opera. Being a queer person, the characters were queer because that’s what I wanted to see. The feminist element came because I am, at heart, a feminist. To be honest, the writing of The First Sister was completely selfish. But hey, it worked out!


The novel follows several different protagonists whose stories don’t overlap very much. Was it difficult to navigate the different characters and their trajectories in the text?


In The First Sister, it wasn’t hard to navigate between the characters. Hiro’s chapters were all set some time in the past. While First Sister and Lito’s chapters were happening more or less at the same time. There was really only one overlap to navigate, so it gave me plenty of wiggle room in the rest of the book. The Second Rebel, on the other hand, was much more difficult. There are a total of four POV characters, and the things one character does influences the world, and thus the other characters have to react to it. It took a lot of editorial work to nail down the timeline.


The story deals with abuses of power and corruption in religious organizations and governments. Did you intentionally write in these parallels to the real world?


Absolutely. I once read that Margaret Atwood didn’t put anything into the Handmaid’s Tale that hadn’t happened in real life, and I was inspired by that. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and saw firsthand how bad things would happen and be swept under the rug. After I left the church, I naively thought the bigots would get older and die out, leaving only people who believed in equality. Obviously, that’s not how it happens at all!

Margaret Atwood Maddaddam Adaptation Hulu Author Margaret Atwood | Photo by George Whiteside via Authors Website

The story also deals heavily with trauma. How does this impact your characters?


Are we really writers if we don’t get to inflict our own trauma on our characters? In a way, having my characters deal with their trauma was a way for me to deal with mine. Plus, it’s just really fun to write characters who make things harder for themselves. Instead of like, you know, going to therapy and working stuff out the healthy way.


The follow-up book The Second Rebel will be out in August. What can you tell us about the next chapter in this series?

The Second Rebel Linden Lewis Image via Simon & Schuster

The Second Rebel picks up exactly where The First Sister left off and expands the war by introducing more Asters, the asteroid belt outlaws, and the mysterious Synthetics. I really enjoyed writing it as I got to dig into the worldbuilding roots of all the different factions.


Do you have the entire trilogy mapped out already? Do you know where it is all going?


I do! I’m actually currently editing book 3. Plus, The Second Rebel and book 3 were outlined simultaneously. I always considered them a pair, like Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.


Who is your favorite character in the series?


Hiro is definitely my favorite to write for (their voice comes so easily to me!) But I’m not sure I can pick a favorite. I will admit I have a soft spot for Castor, who has a minor role in The First Sister and a much larger one in The Second Rebel.


What does the future hold for you as a writer? 


I’d love to write a prequel for The First Sister during the Dead Century War about the Synthetics, and I’m also working on a YA duology about Spanish mythology. Hopefully those will hit shelves one day!


The First Sister is out now from Simon & Schuster, and the next book in the trilogy The Second Rebel will be out on August 24, 2021. Stay tuned for a special episode of the Comic Years podcast where I sit down with Linden Lewis for a longer Q&A session to discuss her trilogy in depth. And for more news and reviews, be sure to follow Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter today! And many thanks to author Linden Lewis for doing this Q&A with us.
(Featured image of Linden A. Lewis via the Author’s Instagram)


Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

Female AuthorsFemale CharactersfeminismLGBTQLinden LewisSci-Fi BooksScience FictionThe First SisterThe Second Rebel

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