LSQ: Multiplying lava lamps, smart carpets, and moving walls—this story and its setting are wildly imaginative! Where did you come up with these ideas?
Michèle: My first inspirations were from the mind-blowing pics of Ganymede and Jupiter taken by NASA, where the swirls and bands looked to me like a lava lamp. It became one of the first sentences in the story, and it stuck there, even when I computed the angular size of Jupiter in the sky of a satellite in a locked down orbit (always facing its planet). The smart, litter-disposing carpet was not such a great stretch of imagination for anyone doing the chore of picking up litter. (Of course, make sure to choose a good setting if you want to keep your guests!) And the “stupid” walls blaring music and scrubbing the air were fun.
My way of finding ideas for setting is to look at annoying problems (like, flossing my teeth) and imagine solutions (like, the dental cleaner microbots featured in my first published novels).
LSQ: What was your favorite part about writing this story and why? What was the hardest part?
Michèle: Easier was finding the lamps’ characteristics and describing the little rituals of cappuccino coffee in social gatherings. I loved coming up with the formidable Big Martha as the head of the colony (I’m working on a story about her own difficult youth). It was fun seeing the relationship between Beth and the adults around her, and their mixed reactions to her gift. The hardest thing was computing the apparent diameter of Jupiter in the sky and justifying the characters’ extra digits. I loved writing the mind-boggling images first and then checking the feasibility later. In the story, Jupiter’s strong magnetic field clashes with Ganymede’s, so the settlers link their under-ice machines with insulated wires (and typing in hexa-code works faster with 8-digit hands).
LSQ: Are there any other projects you’re currently working on? If so, could you tell us a bit about them?
Michèle: Yes I do. I am currently working on a steampunk trilogy with a different style of narration for each one. The first novel is done and in revision. In editing I take the occasion to enrich the culture, the names, and the idioms used. It is a risky project but I love building that universe and its inhabitants.
A second SF novel, in a different setting, is in French, and will be out in 2021. The story is about friendship, guilt, and hope among teens growing up on a weird and hostile world.
My own small company Echofictions reprints my short-stories and publishes fun and upbeat F&SF stories, and some semi-sweet stories.
Too many projects, too little time.
A lot of wonderful women in my life have been big women. They have had to cope with the social repercussions of not having the perfect silhouette. I love to put fat & savvy women in my stories. My short-story, “Women are from Mars, Men are from Venus”, follows a fat Martian scientist who lives through fat-shaming and overcomes her own difficult situation. I am preparing a short-story about Big Martha’s teenage days, the moral hazing and harassment she went through, and how she later went on Ganymede. There are people on the other Jovian satellites too, that should get their stories.