Kristyn Merbeth, author of the Nova Vita Protocol novels consisting of Fortuna and the new release Memoria as well as the Wastelanders novels she writes as K.S. Merbeth. Kristyn was kind enough to sit down with GdM and discuss her passion for gaming, story creation, and the ultra-dysfunctional family that is at the heart of the Nova Vita Protocol novels.
GdM: Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?
I’m the author of the ongoing Nova Vita Protocol series (starting with Fortuna) and, as K.S. Merbeth, the post-apocalyptic Wastelanders books (Bite and Raid). When I’m not writing or reading, I’m often gaming. I also love to cook, make alcohol-infused ice cream, and hang out with my bulldog, Albus.
GdM: I read that you are a gamer. What games do you play? And what role does gaming play in your life?
Yes! I play all kinds of games – video games, board games, tabletop games. I have a D&D group that has been meeting consistently for about three years now, and some of my recent video game favorites have been Hades and the remake of Final Fantasy 7. Sometimes I game to socialize, and other times to immerse myself in a great story, but, perhaps most importantly, it’s one of the main ways that I can fully relax. It’s hard to turn off my writer brain when I’m doing other things, including reading, but games make it easy to get out of my own head for once.
GdM: What aspects of the science fiction genre attract you to it? What do you see happening to science fiction as a genre in the future?
Writing is often a way of processing and working through anxiety for me. So, I think I’ve always been naturally drawn to a genre that explores possible futures. It helps me approach the kinds of subjects and emotions that scare me without facing them head-on in a way that might be overwhelming.
I imagine I’m not the only one that pours my fears into my writing, which might partially explain why science fiction has been really thriving over the last few years. There has been such an incredible rise of new, diverse voices in science fiction, and some excellent books that have pushed the boundaries of what the genre can be. I look forward to more of that in the future. Bring on the genre-bending weirdness!
GdM: You have written the Wastelanders series and the Nova Vita Protocol, of which Fortuna and your newest book Memoria are a part. Was the process of writing the two series similar?
Writing them was very, very different for me, actually. I’m a pantser at heart, and my instinct is always to jump right in and start writing. That worked well enough with the Wastelanders, but when I tried doing the same thing with Fortuna, I found it impossible. I kept getting stumped by world-building questions and having trouble picturing scenes in a world so very different than ours. Plus, I usually jump around and write scenes non-chronologically, which is tough with multiple POVs. So I had to sit down and do quite a bit more world-building and outlining than usual before I could begin to write.
GdM: When you start a book, do you have an end goal in mind for the narrative and characters? Or do you go where the ideas take you?
I have a sense of where I want the characters to end up, and how I want the ending to feel, but I don’t know everything that will happen along the way. For me, a sense of discovery is the best part of writing, so I like to give myself plenty of room to explore as I go along. And even though I outlined more than usual with this series, on occasions where my outline tugs me in one direction and my heart pulls me in another, I always follow my heart.
GdM: Both your series have to do with family. What family is, specifically for Nova Vita, how a family can mold you. Is this an idea that you gravitate towards?
Absolutely. My family is very important to me; I have two brothers, in particular, that I’m very close with, and I’ve always wanted to write something with sibling relationships at the heart because of that. For many of us, our relationships with our siblings are the longest relationships we have in our entire lives. Years of inside jokes and stupid fights and shared experiences that no one else can ever truly understand. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of exploring all of the ways in which our families can bring out both the best and the worst in us.
GdM: Can you tell me about the Nova Vita Protocol thus far?
The Nova Vita Protocol is about the Kaisers, a deeply dysfunctional family of criminals who make a living smuggling illegal goods between the five human-settled planets of their system. It’s told from the POV of the two oldest siblings, former “golden child” Corvus who left the ship three years ago to fight in a civ