And welcome to the blog tour for Megan Crewe's Earth & Sky! *looks at the date* Pffft. So we're a bit early. Who cares when it comes to books? ;)
Here's the (long, apologies to Megan) question I posed to Megan: "As I read Earth & Sky, I was intrigued by the visitors/aliens. Their watching over us, their manipulation of the planet. Their control over us. It's frightening, knowing we're not in control, but it's also nothing new when you look back at Earth's history in terms of colonialism and invasions. Here, it's certainly a lot more subtle because people don't know it's happening (unlike Skylar, in certain ways). Where did this aspect of the book come from, the idea to have the visitors/aliens not be the 'we come in peace' kind? Is there a specific reason? Was it inspired by something specific, like from history?"
I find that the developing of a book is something like a chain reaction for me: Two or three elements connect in my head in a way that sparks a series of questions, one leading into the next until I have an entire story. With EARTH & SKY, the elements that created that spark were 1) a character who can sense that the world has been altered in some disturbing way but doesn't understand how or why (or whether it's really happening or just in her head), and 2) wanting to write something more intensely science fiction-y than the Fallen World trilogy.
When I started playing around with that first element, trying to figure out what would be causing the alterations my character would be noticing, I was considering going for a more magical angle. But nothing I came up with felt quite right. It occurred to me that time travel could explain them, but I didn't want to introduce some Earth-based secret time travel society, which I'd seen done a lot already and didn't really excite me. I also wasn't sure I believed that people on Earth would continue doing something that was starting to harm their own planet, since that would affect them just as much as everyone else. So who could be doing the time traveling (and manipulating)? Well, I saw someone mention the idea of humans in an alien zoo in an online discussion, and that triggered the thought that aliens could be observing and experimenting with people right here on Earth, which handily coincided with a desire I'd had for a while (see #2) to explore science fiction on a broader scope, with space ships and interplanetary travel and all that. Aliens who had no stake in our planet wouldn't care if their time traveling started having negative consequences for us. Voila--solution found!
Having the aliens not care what happened to the Earthlings whose lives they changed, just interested in the results of their experiments from a scientific perspective, also made them a much more frightening enemy and made solving the problem both more difficult and more urgent for Skylar and the alien rebels. And as I worked out their motivations (that chain reaction of questions continuing: Why would they be experimenting on Earth? What were they hoping to gain? Why haven't they stopped yet? and so on), it became clear that they would only have continued to manipulate events on Earth if they saw Earthlings as significantly lesser beings than themselves, the way we view lab animals--or, as you suggest, in past times and still sometimes today one group of people has viewed another group of people as not being not fully human. Win even points that out to Skylar: "Earthlings do it all the time, to each other. How many of your wars have been fought because one group of you decided you had the right to conquer another group, to enslave them or slaughter them?" The way my aliens think about and treat Earthlings, both in this book and as Skylar gets more extensive experience with them in the rest of the trilogy, was very much informed by the all too common invasions, genocides, and slave industries throughout our history.
Thanks so much to Megan for answering my long-winded question (why are they so long when I think them up?). Go check out Earth & Sky when it comes out on October 28th (and go check out my review)! :)