TJ Berry grew up between Repulse Bay, Hong Kong and the Jersey shore. She has been a political blogger, bakery owner, and spent a disastrous two weeks working in a razor blade factory. She now writes science fiction from Seattle with considerably fewer on-the-job injuries. TJ co-hosts the Warp Drives Podcast, in which she explores science fiction, fantasy, and horror via pop culture and literary lenses. It’s smart, snarky, and just a little bit saucy... just like TJ. Her debut novel, Space Unicorn Blues, arrives July 2018 from Angry Robot Books.
Ms. Berry has her book coming out on July 3, 2018!
A little bit more about TJ; TJ Berry grew up living between Repulse Bay, Hong Kong and the New Jersey shore. Her favorite pizza is a plain slice from Three Brothers in Seaside Heights. She can be coaxed into a trap using any type of cheese.
TJ has been a political blogger, bakery owner, and she spent a disastrous two weeks on the assembly line in a razor blade factory. She now writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror from Seattle with considerably fewer on-the-job injuries. TJ is an activist and a feminist.
She has been writing since the age of ten, when all of her stories were thinly-veiled Famous Five fan fiction. Her writing resides in the liminal space between science fiction and fantasy. She enjoys creating work with a strong voice as well as marinating her characters in the mundane horrors of daily life.
TJ also co-hosts the weekly Warp Drives Podcast in which she explores science fiction, fantasy, and horror via pop culture and literary lenses. It’s smart, snarky, and just a little bit saucy… just like TJ. Her debut novel, Space Unicorn Blues, arrives July 2018 from Angry Robot Books
TJ Berry identifies as Bisexual and prefers the pronouns She/Her.
Ms. RASPberry (I'm sorry, I'll show myself out) sat down for an interview with us!
1. Besides LGBT+ OwnVoices, anything else in your books OwnVoice (mental illness, physical disability, etc.)
Space Unicorn Blues includes a group of societal outcasts who have been forced to cooperate in order to deliver a precious cargo. First, we have Jenny Perata—a queer Māori starship captain who uses a wheelchair due to a catastrophic spine injury received while serving in the military. Jenny reluctantly teams up with Gary Cobalt, an asexual part-unicorn man who has just been released from prison for the murder of Jenny’s best friend. Needless to say, the situation is tense.
Joining them is Ricky Tang, a shrewd transgender con-woman whose bar has just been demolished by Jenny and her “brilliant” plan to rescue Gary and his faster-than-light ship. Finally, Jenny’s business partner Cowboy Jim Bryant. He’s a ticked off old straight white guy who just wants a decent grilled cheese sandwich.
2. What is the best money you've spent as an author?
Sensitivity readers! I drew on my own queer experiences and knowledge to write Jenny and her wife Kaila; however, I needed to reach out to friends and experts in order to approach the other main characters with care and respect. I hired about a half-dozen people to read the book and offer their expertise and not only was it money well spent, I made some new friends in the process.
3. Do you view writing as a "spiritual" practice?
I view writing as a discipline, like meditation or exercise. It’s hard to get started, but you have to push through the mental and logistical roadblocks. I am extremely privileged to be a full time writer and I treat this blessing with reverence. I have worked so many terrible jobs in my life (surprisingly, the razor blade factory was not the worst one) and I’m grateful for every moment that I am able to dedicate to storytelling.
4. Have you ever googled yourself? Anything interesting?
I share a name with a conservative legislator from Missouri and my fervent desire is that someday someone accuses him of writing queer space opera with unicorns.
5. What part of life do you write most about? (Child, Teenager, Adult, etc.)
My stories are decidedly adult in subject matter.
6. You've been transported to the world of Harry Potter! What House do you want to be in? Who do you try to date (if anyone)? Is Harry your BFF or the antagonist?
They're going to lift the Sorting Hat and within three feet of me it will shout, "Ravenclaw!" I would probably be in a smoldering long-distance relationship with a student from the Scandinavian Durmstrang Institute. Harry Potter who? [RAVENCLAW! Hopefully we can still be friends, even if I go to Slytherin]
7. You meet your favourite author! They tell you they've read your book and LOVED it! What is your reaction?
I'd play it cool in person with a smile and a casual, "That's fantastic, I'm so glad you liked it!" Later, I would head to the restroom and hyperventilate in a stall while posting the conversation verbatim on four different private slack channels with liberal use of the scream emoji. [Personally, the scream emoji is necessary here]
8. You're at the club (I know we're both probably introverts but like, play along) Your favourite song comes on! What is it?
At the moment, I'm completely in love with Kimbra's song Top of the World.
9. You're transported to your WIP! What is your relation to the MC?
I'm a rival space shipping company captain and we race each other for deliveries across the galaxy until fate throws us together for a delivery and we join forces and become the best of friends.
10. Anything else the readers of this world should know about you?
I wrote Space Unicorn Blues after getting dozens of rejections on a particular story because it was “too weird.” Multiple people advised me to try writing something more commercial and sellable. Instead, I dug in my heels and spite-wrote the bizarre queer unicorns in space story of my heart. I want to see everyone do the same. Write your heart.
If TJ Berry sounds like your kind of author, please follow her on Twitter @TJaneBerry
Where Can We Find Your Books?
Angry Robot: https://www.angryrobotbooks.com/shop/sf/space-unicorn-blues/
We thank Ms. Berry for joining us today!
Tune in tomorrow for our next author,