Like a lot of people who’ve written space opera stories about total badasses, Ciel Pierlot cites the TV show Firefly as an influence on her new sci-fi space opera novel Bluebird (paperback, Kindle). But in the following email interview about it, she says that what really inspired this story is something a badass might have handy. Well, two things.
To start, what is Bluebird about, and when and where does it take place?
Bluebird takes place in a galaxy far far away, but far far in the future instead of long long ago. It’s about Rig, a rebellious gunslinger lesbian, who’s stuck between a rock and a hard place…assuming the rock is Rig’s captured twin sister, and the hard place is a superweapon that evil spies are literally dying to get their hands on. Along for the ride is Rig’s librarian girlfriend and a bounty hunter.
Where did you get the original idea for Bluebird, and how, if at all, did it evolve as you wrote it?
Rig carries two guns, sillily named Panache and Pizzazz, which basically inspired the whole thing. I envisioned a sort of…bard-esque character wielding those guns. And I do mean the Dungeons & Dragons, “I roll to seduce,” shenanigan-heavy bard. During the writing process it did undergo significant structural edits, as it started with a way too complicated plot and with a couple of characters lacking enough personality.
And is there a reason it’s called Bluebird as opposed to Jaybird or Redbird or Pigeon?
Oh, this one’s simple: Bluebird is the name of Rig’s ship. Ship equals bird, and Rig is a blue-skinned alien.
It sounds like Bluebird is a sci-fi space opera story…
It’s certainly a space opera in terms of scale, as in there’s a large universe and we get to see numerous different planets, factions, and bits of fun tech. But I think the cast is a bit smaller than most space operas. Given the found-family nature of it, I did keep the cast of characters rather contained. The genre of Bluebird is whatever the hell Firefly has going on.
Bluebird is your first novel. But I’m guessing it’s not the first thing you’ve written. Are there any writers, or specific stories, that had a big influence on Bluebird but not on anything else you’ve written?
I’ve written an absolute ton of stuff, across a bunch of different niches in the sci-fi area, but I think that the only inspiration that really only affected Bluebird was Space Opera by Catherynne Valente.
What about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or games? You mentioned Firefly earlier.
Oh, so many. In terms of TV, Firefly was a big influence as was Leverage. Games wise, I was influenced by aspects of Destiny 2‘s aesthetic and style (I couldn’t resist adding a Destiny easter egg into the book, so pop some bottles if you find it).
The Cat Is A Lie
And how about your cat? What influence did they have on Bluebird?
This may be where I’ve misled the Internet, and for that I do apologize, as I know the Internet loves cats to the point where this may come with a life sentence. I don’t actually have a cat myself, I merely mooch off my boyfriend and girlfriend’s cats. They’ve got two: Malcolm the floofy derp, and Desidemona who knows she is A Queen. In Bluebird, a bit of Ginka’s behavior was actually cat-inspired. Her species of alien has cat-like eyes and she’s very prickly in the same way cats are.
Speaking of the Internet, your website [cielpierlot.com] says that you’re a digital painter and that you, “…do a lot of original work for my own novels and characters.” Did you ever consider doing Bluebird as an illustrated novel or a graphic novel?
Nope, I never considered it. I’m absolute rubbish at comics. My skills lie in concept art, character creation, and narrative and character painting. I have done an embarrassingly large amount of art for Bluebird, though: some paintings of Rig, Ginka, and June, and a few bits of more cinematic-esque concept art.
Now, as you know, sci-fi space opera novels are sometimes stand-alone stories and sometimes they’re part of larger sagas. What is Bluebird?
Bluebird is a standalone. I’ve had people suggest that there could be a sequel or two for it, but, to be honest, I’ve never quite vibed with that idea. I feel like Rig’s personal story ends satisfactorily at the end of Bluebird, and I have the nagging sensation that if I tried to come back to it and continue it, it would end up cheapening the ending or feeling like an unrealistic continuation of her character. I think there could be more books in the universe, considering the scale of things and that there are other characters who could be the focus for another novel. But currently I don’t have any plans for those.
Earlier I asked if Bluebird had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games. But to flip the script, as you kids probably don’t say anymore, do you think Bluebird could work as a movie, show, or game?
Yes to all of those. I think that any adaptation from a book requires changes or tweaks, but I could totally see Bluebird and its associated universe fitting into a number of different visual mediums.
So if someone wanted to adapt Bluebird into a movie or TV show, who would you want them to cast as Rig, her sister, and the other main characters?
To be honest, I’m that person that never considers fancasts or dream casts. I haven’t the foggiest idea who should be cast, and I’d probably awkwardly hover around a casting director’s shoulder and let them do the hard work.
Okay. What if someone wanted to turn Bluebird into a game, what kind of game should it be?
There are two routes I think it could go (what, no, I’ve never thought too much about this, I promise). First, it could work as a single-player, story focused game, as I could easily see the different planets Rig visits being written as steps on a central quest line, with endless side quest potential. Think Dragon Age or Mass Effect, from Bioware (a game company I trust 80% of the time). Second, it could work as a first-person shooter. The focus on Rig’s guns or Ginka’s helltech weapons could adapt very well into a shooter game. Basically something similar to the Destiny franchise, by Bungie (a game company I trust 99.9% of the time).
And if either kind of adaptation happened, would you want to work on it as maybe a concept artist or character designer?
I’d love to work on an adaptation. I don’t think I have the industry chops to be a proper art director though, if I’m being perfectly honest. But I could really work anywhere, on writing / narrative teams or in character design or visual development. Anything, really, I’d just want to keep my grubby lil’ hands all over it.
So, is there anything else you think people interested in Bluebird should know before deciding to buy it or not?
At one point, it was suggested that I cut a silly and unnecessary sex joke. I did not cut it. That about sums up the tone of Bluebird.
Finally, if someone enjoys Bluebird, what thrilling sci-fi space opera novel of someone else’s would you suggest they read next?
A Big Ship At The Edge Of The Universe by Alex White. An absolute banger of a book.