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An Interview with Marie Vibbert

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Hugo and Nebula Finalist Marie Vibbert has sold over 90 short stories to top magazines like Analog, F&SF, and Amazing Stories. She has won readers’ choice awards from Clarkesworld and Apex Magazines and has been translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, and Czech. By day she is a computer programmer in Cleveland, Ohio.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

My twin sister Grace drew a sketch on one of our shared school notebooks in eighth grade. The sketch showed three punk women lounging around a motorcycle. I decided I wanted to write something about them. I based one on myself, and one on a friend, and made up the personality of the third to be the sort of strong, silent type I secretly wished I was.

Years later, I was focusing on short fiction, and had challenged myself to write 50 short stories in 6 weeks. I ran out of ideas and decided to go back to my youthful dreams and write a story about those space biker punks. It flew from my pen, so fun and easy to write! My writing workshop all said, “This should be a novel,” and for once, I listened to them.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The version I wrote as a child was titled Kleptomaniacs because I had just learned that word and thought it was cool. I named the main character Klepto. The short story I wrote as an adult I titled The Formation of the Stardust Gang, because that was the name of the gang in the old novel. One of my writing workshop friends, Mike, casually remarked, “Rename them the Galactic Hellcats, that’d be a cooler name.” I took his advice because he was dead right. When I sold the book I told him the title was all him, and he didn’t remember having said that!

You never know when a writer is listening.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

My friend Darrin actually made me a mix tape when the book came out. I just adore it. “Girls to the Front” by Diet Punk, “Hello Spaceboy” by David Bowie, and Fiona Apple singing “Across the Universe” are among my favorites on it. I’d love a soundtrack by Daft Punk with Trent Reznor in the movie. Tron meets Pretty Hate Machine. Or rather maybe some female artists, given the book is, well, about a female biker gang rescuing a gay prince and all.

Describe your dream book cover.

Something with that 1980s airbrush feel, and CHROME, with starscapes that wrap around the spine. The sort of image that screams “Read with Space Truckin’ blasting from a boom box behind you on the beach.”

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I played women’s professional football for five years. I was a lineman, moving from defensive tackle to defensive end to offensive guard and tackle at various points. It taught me how far my body could go, what it takes to reach a goal, and how to be tougher, emotionally. I do, however, still fret if I think someone doesn’t like me.

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