R.M. Olson is the author of the Ungovernable series. She promises she hasn’t done all the things she writes about. Honest. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.
My name is R.M. Olson. I’m a Canadian, a lawyer, an author, and the mother of four kiddos. I love to travel, and I admit, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie–I’ve jumped off the highest bungee jump in the world, trekked across mountains in pouring summer storms, gone cage diving with great white sharks, and maybe most frightening of all, taken all four of my kids on a three-day backcountry camping trip all by myself. I’m an unrepentant bookworm, and always have been. I love corny jokes, campfires, and hot tea, preferably all together. Autumn is my favorite time of year, and I’ll never get tired of the sight and smell of leaves the colour of sunshine against a grey autumn sky.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I think my first completed work was when I was about six. I’d heard my parents talking about Shakespeare’s tragedies and decided it couldn’t be that difficult. And it wasn’t. I killed off my MC and his entire family and all his friends in the course of about three pages. Not sure even the Bard beat that record.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Only about five years ago, honestly. Although I’ve been writing my whole life, that was when I first started taking it seriously–working intentionally on my craft, querying, and putting in a sustained daily effort to writing.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Well, I write fairly quickly, so my current WIP changes on a regular basis. But I can tell you a bit about my series. I’m currently finishing up a space opera science fiction series that follows the adventures of a motley group of ex-cons and their mysterious leader. It’s called The Ungovernable, and it’s a sort of Ocean’s Eleven meets Firefly, with all my favourite tropes–laser guns, smugglers, explosions, heists, jailbreaks, deep-space casinos, carnivorous plants, political intrigue, and most of all, a fumbling, ridiculous, and ultimately loveable found-family crew.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’m a sucker for clever heists, and for sprawling space adventures, enemies-to-friends, groups of clever misfits who love each other in spite of their quirks or even because of them, and lots of action. I’d just finished watching Ocean’s Eight yet again and I thought, why not do something like that, but in space? And so The Ungovernable was born.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My style tends to be fairly fast-paced–lots of action, snappy dialogue, never too long between something exciting happening, but ultimately character-focused. There’s usually romance, but it’s usually slow-burn. One of my beta readers left a comment once that sums up my style pretty well, I think. She commented, “I was expecting sexytimes, and instead I got a near death experience!” And that basically says everything there is to say about how I write.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Ha ha, it wasn’t easy. I spent a lot of time consulting with friends about it. But ultimately, the series title, The Ungovernable, is the name of the crew’s ship, and the title of each book is based off a hacker/computer term, since hacking plays a big part in the plots. The titles of the released and upcoming books are Zero Day Threat, Jailbreak, Time Bomb, Insider Threat, Blacklist, Trojan Horse, Blue Team, Attack Path, and Threat Agent. You get a point for each of the terms you can identify without looking them up!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Honestly, as much as these books are all about the action, their real message is friendship–about learning to love people for who they are, and learning to be loved for who you are. About the kind of friendship that means they see you at your ugliest, and your weakest, and your stupidest and most awkward–and they love you anyways.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well–there’s a lot of me in Jez. I’m also ADHD and bi, and I certainly had a lot of the same feelings of alienation and not fitting in as she has throughout the series because of those things. And I, too, have managed to stumble into a group of friends who I could count on at any time and for anything. And the world itself is based in large part on places I’ve traveled–a year or so before I started this series, I traveled across Siberia on the Trans-Siberian railway, and I fell in love with the mix of cultures and the complex history of that area of the world. A lot of that found its way into the world I created for these books.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
I’ve always loved Terry Pratchett. I love his ability to make you think while making you laugh, and to portray the ugliness in the world while still believing that people are basically good. I love Neil Geiman and Harper Lee for much the same reason. And while I only wish I could compare my writing to any of theirs, I hope that at least I can manage, in my own awkward way, to convey a similar message.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
Hmmm. That’s a tough one. If I had to pick, I think I’d go back to Sir Terry. There is so much about his writing that I’ve loved and studied, and he deeply inspires the way I write and the things I chose to write about to this day.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
The first three covers were designed by Jesh Studios. He’s a fantastic artist, and was able to put down on paper what I had in my head for these characters. I loved every one of his covers, but because of unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to complete the covers after book three. I switched to KDS Cover Concepts, because I was looking for someone who could work in a similar style, and I’ve absolutely loved her work. I’d highly recommend her.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just keep writing–don’t let rejection discourage you. It’s part of the process, and it forces you to improve. I thought I’d be ready to publish when I wrote my first book. But looking back, I’m so glad that book wasn’t published. My writing has improved and deepened so much since then. I have several manuscripts and short stories that I submitted to agents and publications that were rejected over and over. But each time I re-wrote them, or wrote something new, I got a little bit better. And as much as it was frustrating at the time, that was when I really started to hone my craft–when people stopped praising me and were honest enough to tell me I needed to improve.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
First, a heart-felt thank you for reading. I’d be a writer no matter what, but I couldn’t be an author without you. So thank you for letting me live my dream. And I hope that somehow, my crazy crew of misfits has brightened your day, made a rough week a little better, or maybe showed you that you don’t need to change who you are in order to be loved. You just need to find your people. And they’re out there, whoever you are–even if you’re an irritating ADHD ex-smuggler pilot with a penchant for getting into trouble. ❤
Calgary Alberta, Canada
All my books are only available on Amazon. Here’s a link in the US store to the series page:
And here are universal links for the four books that are currently released (although I can update this again before the interview goes live, as there will likely be another one or two out by then.)
Zero Day Threat