Good morning, readers! Every once in awhile, things just work out, and today happens to be one of those days. Over the last week or so I’ve been preparing a guest blog by science fiction author (and scientist!) Neve Maslakovic. She returned the answered questions last night, and this morning Neve’s novel Regarding Ducks and Universes is the Amazon Deal of the Day! So after reading about Neve and her books below, please head straight here and pick up her first book for only $1.99. Behold, Seven Questions with Neve Maslakovic!
Good morning, Neve, and thanks for stopping by. When I was looking at your website I noticed that you have a Pronunciation Guide so people will be able to say your name correctly. Is there a story behind why you finally just put it on the site? Was there a straw that broke the name-mangling back?
I always figured I’d need the Pronunciation Guide for my last name (which, by the way, is pronounced Mah-SLAH-koh-veech) but didn’t realize I would need it for my first name as well until the day my agent and I spoke on the phone for the first time. We had been only exchanging emails up to that point. She had assumed it was Neeve, and I had to explain that, no, it was Nehv, like Neve Campbell. Then I realized that some readers were pronouncing it yet another way, Nay-Vay. So I hastily added that to the Pronunciation Guide.
Your book Regarding Ducks and Universes is about a man who spends time in two different universes. Being from Yugoslavia and now living in Minnesota, did you find yourself empathizing with Felix’s of-two-worlds problems?
Yes, but not only because of my background. I think all of us have more than one world that we live in—our home life and our work life, for instance, or our inner life and that which we share with our family and friends. Navigating those can be tricky sometimes. (I’m reminded of George Costanza’s complaint about worlds colliding.)
In the book, Felix , who’s from Universe A, gets to confront his counterpart from Universe B, find things about his life, talk to him, and so on. All of which sounds very serious, but it was a fun novel to write—and hopefully to read as well!
Your Incident novels contain time travel, which means you probably get a lot of questions about what celebrity you’d meet if you could time travel. I’ll ask a different one: if you could time travel to anytime, anywhere, but you HAVE to kill someone, who would you kill? (CAN’T be Hitler. Too obvious.)
I actually don’t have an answer for that one. It would be very hard for me to consider killing anyone (except a character in one of my books, and I find even that to be somewhat of a hard thing to do – I don’t know how George R.R Martin does it!) But also I’d get stuck on overthinking it, trying to predict what changes in the timeline would be the result of my action, and what if they were even worse, and so forth. I’d never be be able to get past that point!
You’ve got a reading coming up at Uncle Hugo’s books in Minneapolis. What’s your favorite thing to read and why?
The upcoming event at Uncle Hugo’s will be a book signing, so no reading this time, but as to what I would choose to read—I’d say my work in progress, Book 3 of the Incident series. That way I could get instant feedback from the audience and fix the manuscript if something isn’t working quite right. Once you’ve published the book, it’s too late to change anything!
What’s your biggest crutch when you’re writing? Caffeine? Coffee shop food?
I like to have that cup of coffee by my side, yes! A dark chocolate bar is good too.
How much of your work as a scientist goes into your books?
Not much of the actual engineering work, but many of the daily experiences of academic life do. There are plenty of scientists in my novels but none of my main characters so far have been scientists—Felix in Regarding Ducks and Universes is a culinary writer and Julia, the main character in the Incident series, is a dean’s assistant. What it does mean is that I’m aware when I fudge things, like with the time travel machine in The Far Time Incident. I describe it as a labyrinth of mirrors and lasers in an oversized lab, which sets the stage but doesn’t really say much about the mechanics of it, how the machine actually works. Because obviously, I really don’t know. It’s fiction.
When I visited your blog last week you asked me if I read my Amazon and Goodreads reviews. Same question.
I used to, but realized that I was becoming, how shall we say, a bit obsessive about it? I found myself focusing way more on the negatives said than on the positives. But I do keep an eye on the number of reviews and the average, because those are key to the books making it onto visibility lists, especially on Amazon. In the end, though, the only thing that you can do is try your hardest to come up with a good story and hope your books find an audience.
Neve Maslakovic is the author of the Incident series (time-travel whodunits), as well as a stand-alone novel,Regarding Ducks and Universes. Before turning her hand to writing fiction, Neve earned her PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford University’s STAR (Space, Telecommunications, and Radioscience) Lab. Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Neve currently lives with her husband and son near Minneapolis/St. Paul, where she admits to enjoying the winters. Booklist called her debut novel, Regarding Ducks and Universes, “Inventive… a delight.” She is currently hard at work on Book 3 of the Incident series.