Books·Magic 8 Q&A

The epic novel that gives YA sci-fi writer Caryn Lix courage

Caryn Lix, the author of Sanctuary, answers eight questions from eight fellow writers.
Caryn Lix is the author of Sanctuary, a teen sci-fi thriller. (Tanya Plonka/Simon & Schuster)

Caryn Lix's action-packed debut Sanctuary follows trainee guard Kenzie, a citizen of the powerful corporation Omnistellar Concepts. As Kenzie is taken hostage by criminal teens with superpowers in space prison, sinister creatures attack the Sanctuary station and force her to join her abductors in a fight for survival. 

Below, Lix takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.

1. Erin Bow asks, "Do you love your villains?"

Villains make the story, so of course I love them! But even more than my villains I love my antiheroes… the ones who start out seeming kind of villainous and become more relatable and understandable as the story goes on, maybe even surprising themselves. Mia is a great example of this in Sanctuary she starts off absolutely horrible, but by the end you want her to succeed!

2. Teresa Toten asks, "Where in the entire writing process (from first draft to waiting for reviews) do you feel the most vulnerable?"

That's tough because the whole writing process is so vulnerable. But for me it is the reviews. I know that as authors we are supposed to let them slide off our backs; I know that not everyone will love your book. But it can be so hard to see something you poured yourself into torn apart. Definitely reading reviews.

3. Lesley Choyce asks, "If you weren't a writer, what would you be?"

When I'm not writing, I'm teaching. So I already have an "if I weren't a" job. But if I were to replace writing with another artistic endeavour and if my own skill at that endeavour wasn't a factor, I would pick pottery. I love working with clay. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes I'm not, but I always have fun!

4. Robert Wiersema asks, "If someone were to create a comic book based on your life, what would your hero name be, and what would be your special gift/skill?"

Just based off my real life, with no supernatural abilities (and to be clear, I do want supernatural abilities), I would probably name myself Ghost and my special gift would be drifting through life on three hours of sleep a night!

5. Lesley Livingston asks, "What is the very first thing that attracts you to a potential story?"

I'm always attracted to the conflict. If there's an interesting problem in the story, that'll draw me in right away. That isn't to say that there aren't stories I've read where the conflict was secondary to some other amazing things — characters, fantastic world building and stuff like that — but if I pick up a new book at a store, it's usually because I'm already imagining how to navigate the world's problems!

6. Ausma Zehanat Khan asks, "If you write a particularly desirable character in your books, is that character based on a personal attraction you once had? Do you have a type that you think is most attractive to yourself or to readers?"

I think on some level I find all of my characters attractive! At least on a conscious level, I don't write characters' love interests based on my own personal attractions. Actually, sometimes I find my characters stubbornly attracted to people I would prefer they avoid...

7. Eric Walters asks, "What would you like to experience — as research — for a new book?"

Since I write a lot of sci-fi, it would be amazing to go into space and experience all of the things I write about firsthand. Obviously that's a pretty unlikely thing, but… you never know.

8. Anne Michaels asks, "Which book gives you courage?"

So many books give me courage. Maybe every book gives me courage. Even if the characters aren't being particularly courageous, the very act of reading often makes me feel like I'm re-energized and ready to take on the world again. But if I was going to name one particular book that stayed with me, I would say Kenneth Oppel's Airborn. It's such an amazing story, and it makes me feel like there's a place for adventure in every life.