Catherine Asaro: Taking Readers on Trips to Other Worlds, by Deborah Bouziden

Catherine Asaro blends science and art to create one-of-a-kind reading experiences. She says the science comes from her dad and the art (literature) comes from her mother. She was raised with both and from an early age she began creating new worlds and putting stories together in her head.

“I started making the Skolian Empire up as a child. As I matured, so did the characters and the complexity of the universe. When I wrote the stories as an adult, I filled in the details and fleshed out the plots. I have a lot of notes now, but the framework for the stories is still in my head.”

Continued interest in the arts led her to become involved in ballet, study classical piano and of course, read books. She enrolled in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to study dance, but after reading a chapter on quantum theory for chemistry, she was drawn to a scientific area of study. Asaro graduated with a bachelor of science degree from UCLA, and then continued on to earn a masters in physics and a PhD in chemical physics, both from Harvard.

From there the blend of science and writing became second nature to Asaro. She wrote stories in college and continued writing afterwards.

“The first full-length book I finished was The Last Hawk. I wrote it in graduate school as a way to unwind from writing my doctoral thesis. When I was postdoc, I sent it to a publisher. They returned it saying, “No thanks on this one, but try another.”

So she did. During a year she and her husband spent in Germany, she wrote Primary Inversion. Although she had two novelette sales prior, Primary Inversion was her first book sale. Most authors recall exactly where they were when they received the good news. Asaro is no exception.

“I remember it well. I was standing in the kitchenette of the apartment where we were living at the time. The phone rang. I answered it while eating a donut. When my editor from Tor made the offer for Primary Inversion, I jumped! It was great. The hardcover came out in 1995 and the paperback in 1996.”

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