Exclusive Interview: “Ghostdrift” Author Suzanne Palmer


With Ghostdrift (hardcover, Kindle, audiobook), author Suzanne Palmer is concluding The Finder Chronicles series she launched in 2019 with Finder, and continued in 2020 and 2021 with Driving The Deep and The Scavenger Door, respectfully.

In the following email interview, Palmer discusses what inspired and influenced this humorous sci-fi space opera novel, as well as why it’s time to give this series’ main character, Fergus Ferguson, some well-deserved time off.

Suzanne Palmer Ghostdrift The Finder Chronicles

Photo Credit: L.L. Vadeboncoeur


For people who didn’t read the first three books — Finder, Driving The Deep, and The Scavenger Door — or the interviews we did about Finder and Driving, who is Fergus Ferguson, what are The Finder Chronicles about, and when and where do these books take place?

Fergus, is a finder, i.e., he finds things, not always by entirely legal means. In the first book, he is essentially an interstellar repo man, looking for a stolen spaceship in a backwater deep space outpost a little over 400 years in the future. While there he manages to catch the interest of some powerful aliens named the Asiig, who decide to mess with him for their own, unfathomable reasons, and the rest of the series is Fergus trying to get back to his old self and old job and finding his life has become a lot more complicated.

And then for people who have read those novels, and thus can ignore me writing SPOILER ALERT, what is Ghostdrift about, and when and where does it take place in relation to The Scavenger Door?

At the end of Scavenger Door, having made himself a very wanted man by both the authorities and some powerful enemies made along the way, the Asiig shuffle him off to safety, away from everyone and everything he knows except his cat.

Ghostdrift picks up about three years later, where we find he has been hiding out on a beach, just as an old friend named Qai arrives after finally tracking him down. She needs his help to get her kidnapped partner, Maha, back from space pirates, and Fergus is happy to help; unfortunately, she has different ideas of how he can be of use.

When in the process of writing the other books did you come up with the idea for Ghostdrift, and what inspired its plot?

After I wrote Finder, the first book, and started thinking about what happens next, I wanted the last book to be where we finally learn at least a little more about what motivates the Asiig, and where Fergus finally makes peace with himself and his past.

I originally thought this would be book three, and book two would be him getting back to Earth, but as I started trying to pull book two together I realized I had things that needed to happen before either of those things. So Driving the Deep came about, picking up right after Finder, and setting the stage much better for Fergus’s return to Earth in book three.

But specifically, other than the very vague shape of what I want to happen and cool things I want to find an opportunity to use, I don’t necessarily know much about where a book is going to go until I am very close to the end of a first draft — very much a figure-it-out-as-I-go process.

Suzanne Palmer Ghostdrift The Finder Chronicles

The previous books were sci-fi space opera caper stories. Is Ghostdrift one as well?

Hmmm. Good question. I mean, he’s still trying to find something — several somethings, in turn, as it happens — but it’s less of a caper and more a mystery. I don’t know that it was a conscious choice, but I had lots of things I wanted to wrap up, and that meant it couldn’t really end with Fergus running off to the next thing the same way he usually does. It doesn’t feel all that different to me, because he still gets to be sneaky and get in and out of trouble and be extremely frustrating to the people around him, but I do think the books ties things up quite nicely by the end.

The three previous books were also situationally humorous. Does Ghostdrift strike the same tone?

I hope so! As is probably evident, I have a fairly dark sense of humor myself, which it has gotten me through some tough things in real life. So I want there to be at least a small lifeline of humor, and hope, even in the more serious, scary parts of my stories. I’m not a huge fan of unrelenting grimness, and if that’s what folks want, they can always just turn on the news.

Are there any writers, or specific stories, that had a big influence on Ghostdrift but not on anything else you’ve written, and especially not the previous The Finder Chronicles novels?

Not specifically, no. I don’t get to read as much as I used to, because writing comes out of reading time (if I’d known that going in, I might have decided to stick to being a reader) but everything I read becomes sort of a part of the weird primordial soup in the back of my brain — little bits of scene that struck me, the lingering feels I get from a work, and so forth. And of course that mixes with day to day lived experiences, too.

Suzanne Palmer Ghostdrift The Finder Chronicles

What about non-literary influences; are there any movies, TV shows, or games that had a big impact on Ghostdrift?

Well, space pirates is something I always wanted to play with, because how cool are they? And that is certainly influenced by a lifetime of things like anime (Captain Harlock!) and shows with rogue crews like Red Dwarf and Firefly and so forth, plus of course lots of Earth-bound ocean pirates, especially of the pre-Jack Sparrow era.

And what about your “Very Large Fluffy Dog”? How did they influence Ghostdrift?

I have a very large fluffy dog named Mochi, and an even larger scruffy dog named Tolkien. The former is a rescue, and she’s about 85lbs and likes to greet people with the High Velocity Nose Boop, which is where she suddenly stands up on her hind legs and rams her face into yours with all the force of a fuzzy wrecking ball. Tolkien is an Irish Wolfhound, about 130lbs (he’s on the small side) and he likes to slide up next to you when you are not paying attention and suddenly lean on you.

I have found that there is no better way of dealing with being stuck while writing than to go take a dog for a nice, long walk. The change of scenery, the good four-legged company, and the peacefulness of just being outside and moving, tends to be just what I need when I get back to my computer to be able to start making progress again. I wholly recommend owning dogs for writers.

Mochi, Tolkien


Now, as we’ve been discussing, Ghostdrift is the fourth installment of The Finder Chronicles. But you’ve also said it’s the last one as well. Did you decide ahead of time that it was time to end this series, or was there something about Ghostdrift that made you realize this was a good place to stop?

Well, partly it was a joint decision with my publisher, who wanted the series wrapped up, though they were certainly open to a new series with Fergus, and that may eventually happen. But I very much felt I left too much unfinished business at the end of book three to make a clean start of a new series, so this book was, I think, exactly the right time and note to end on.

I think at the point where Ghostdrift ends, Fergus’s life and purpose has changed, and it would have felt weird to treat that as a middle, if that makes any sense? And one thing that makes me bonkers as a reader is things leaving off on cliffhangers, where there’s uncertainty and things don’t feel satisfactorily resolved, and I sorta did that with the end of Scavenger Door, so I very much wanted to end the series at a point where the story felt rounded-off, complete, and where if there’s more Fergus down the line it won’t feel like an extension but a new beginning.

In the Finder interview we did, you said that some of your short stories were set in the same fictional universe, as is your novella Lazy Dog Out. Has there been any talk of collecting these stories and the novella into a collection?

There’s been some talk about a collection of my short fiction, although not specifically focused on the stories that are in the same universe, but so far nothing concrete.

I do anticipate a collection of my Bot 9 stories in the not-too-distant future, but that is a different universe than Fergus. I don’t have dates on that yet, so I can’t give specifics, but the hold-up is entirely waiting on me finished a fourth story in that series.

Upon hearing that Ghostdrift is the end of The Finder Chronicles, some people might decide to read all four books back-to-back. Do you think this is a good way to take in this story?

On the one hand, absolutely yes! I mean, better than skipping around out of order, because then I’m not sure it would all make sense, and a lot of the little easter eggs I’ve left throughout the series would be even harder to spot. But is it necessary? No? The last two books might be confusing without reading the first two at all, but I don’t think as a reader you have to have everything down to the tiny details fresh in your head to follow what’s going on. It’s the nature of publication that there’s a time gap between books in a series being released, and since I have a terrible memory myself, I don’t want anyone to feel like they should have been taking notes.

Now, in the interview we did for Driving The Deep, you said you though it and Finder would work as movies, and with James McAvoy [Split] as Fergus, Chiwetel Ejiofor [Doctor Strange] as Harcourt, and Katey Sagal [Sons Of Anarchy] as Ms. Ili. Do you still feel that way, or would you like to change any of your casting suggestions?

Yeah, that would still be an awesome series of movies, right? And, ya’know, Henry Cavill would make an excellent Bas Belos if you scruffed him up enough.

So, is there anything else people might need to know about Ghostdrift and The Finder Chronicles?

More than anything I want people to enjoy the books, to feel like the characters have heart, and could be any of us, could be people we’d hang out with or find ourselves chatting with at a party, like a brief, boisterous, fictional friend gang that you’re never wholly certain won’t get you into trouble.

Suzanne Palmer Ghostdrift The Finder Chronicles

Finally, if someone enjoys Ghostdrift, and they’ve already read the other books of The Finder Chronicles, what sci-fi space opera novel of someone else’s would you suggest they read next?

This is such a hard question to answer. There’s so much great space opera out there, and there’s obvious answers like just about anything by John Scalzi or Becky Chambers, or of course Martha Wells’ gloriously wonderful Murderbot books.

But if I had to pick one book, I’m going to say Elizabeth Bear’s Ancestral Night, which felt very much akin to the specific, complex composition of feels I aim for with my own books, except of course in Bear’s expert hands meatier and more adeptly done.



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