Catherine Haustein | Interview
Shaking up science with quirky fun.
Joining me today is Catherine Haustein, author of the Unstable States series. The third book in the series, Wrinkles in Spacetime, releases today! This sci-fi/dystopian/romance/satire sounds absolutely wild, and InD’tale magazine says the series has a “wonderfully unique dystopian setting . . . [in] a fast paced, sexy, drama that will keep the pages turning”.
Congratulations on the release of Wrinkles in Spacetime! Tell me a little bit about where you came up with the idea. What’s the book all about?
Wrinkles in Spacetime follows Stella, who befriends a resurrected Isaac Newton, ordered to make a homunculus by the nation’s autocratic dictators.
In college, I wrote a short story about the frustrations of going on a date with Renee Descartes. I wanted to write something else in which historical figures show up in a future time. Following a workplace visit by my governor, I got the inspiration for a series of novels where scientists are put into absurd ethical binds. The idea for a homunculus-a tiny man created without a woman-came from seeing how some people view women as being solely for reproductive purposes.
This concept is so interesting and unique! Can't wait to read it. What inspired you to become a writer?
I was the oldest of four kids and wrote to entertain myself and my siblings. This widened to writing comedies in high school and college. People laughed and I kept going.
LOL. That’s great. As a kid, I also made up stories for entertainment purposes, but I was the youngest and had to entertain myself! If you can, pick a favorite character from your new release and tell me why they’re your favorite.
The main character, Stella, is clumsy and overlooked at work. She’s stuck living with her parents. She’s got an unrealized crush on her boss. All she wants is a sexual fling along the lines of the how-to manual she finds in her attic. Like all of us, she’s imperfect and only wants a little love and appreciation. She meets a modern version of Isaac Newton, a flawed, temperamental man, and together they do things they wouldn’t have dared do alone.
Very cool. I love multi-layered characters. What time period did you choose for this book?
I set the book in the near future in which genetic advances have allowed for the creation of super sexy male escorts and for the resurrection of Sir Isaac Newton. It’s a society similar to ours but with some jazzy new science. It’s also tumbled backwards in terms of human rights and autonomy. Authoritarians have taken over. Like all dystopian novels, it’s a look at what could be. A few of the horrors of the first book in the series are close to coming true. But it isn’t a hopeless tale. It’s a satire with a touch of rom-com.
I like that take on it even though the world is getting scary right now. Describe your writing style or brand in three words.
Funny, analytical, and quirky.
Perfect! I enjoy that combo. What do you find is the most challenging thing about being a writer?
It’s so speculative. I can spend a year or more writing a novel but I’m never sure I’ll find a publisher or an audience. In a way, it’s like being a scientist. You want to make people happy and be useful to society. But how will society receive your creation? Another challenge: writing involves a lot of sitting.
So true. If you were bitten by a radioactive spider today, what existing secret skill do you possess that would be amplified as a newborn super hero?
I can find four-leaf clovers and I walk really quietly so I guess I’d sneak around bestowing good luck on deserving people.
That sneaking skill must have been useful with all those siblings LOL. If your latest release was a food truck, what would it be called and what kind of food would it serve?
It would be called Word Salad and would serve versions of the hodgepodge dish Salmagundi. I love my food all mixed together. “Here are your random ingredients all tossed together in a bowl on top of a bed of lettuce.”
As long as it’s delicious, I’m game! What’s a question you wished you were asked more?
“May I kiss you?” The answer depends on the circumstances but I’m leaning towards YES!
LOL. Definitely depends on the circumstance! What are you working on right now? Does it connect to your new release?
I’m writing a novel about a college for monsters. It’s not related to my new release except that it looks at individuals getting by under difficult circumstances and has comic elements.
And what about some social media links:
Twitter (but I’m kind of outspoken there so beware).
Tiktok is still in the works.
Thank you for joining me today! Wrinkles in Spacetime is available now here.
I had a crush on my boss, Sir Gotfried, who had taken me under his wing after I graduated from college with a degree in food chemistry. I thought he might do something special for me on my birthday. It had been uneventful. I was at work. It wasn’t as though my work made me sad. My lab was beautiful and filled with light from tall windows overlooking the Cedar River, struggling along with silt. I was content, yes, content, and yet, I wasn’t sure contentment was all I needed. I was too young to be this content and too old to be this virginal.
Minutes before I left for the day, he came into my lab. He was dressed in his uniform, green with a gold sash and adorned with silver, bronze and even gold corn kernels—all signs of his utmost loyalty to our empire of Cochtonia. Except for his eyes, he was a small featured man, with a wide leathery face, a twist of chin, grey streaked hair, and a tiny smear of sticky candy at a corner of his mouth. He put a hand on my shoulder. I thought this might be it. He’d spill his affection for me and I could say it was mutual. We’d kiss sweetly, thanks to his candy munching habit, gaze shyly into each other’s eyes, and rip off each other’s clothes in a frenzy I’d never experienced before.
He said, “Stella, I’ll have a new assignment for you Monday. I apologize. I have no choice in this matter as the Cochtons are all in.”
His tone alarmed me. It was dead serious, telling me our founding fathers wanted me to do something unusual. I’d been a solid worker, a food chemist with bundles of know-how. I’d help develop Porkies, the pork nuggets with extra fat and breading. As with all good chemists, stability was my goal. If only the leaders of my country, also the owners of my employer, Cochton Enterprises, were secure and not like a couple of dried up bottles of picric acid, which explodes when joggled. Notice I didn’t say uranium. Uranium decays but leaves daughter nuclei. Not the two Cochton brothers, head of our beloved nation of Cochtonia. They were aging and desperate for heirs. Sons preferred but daughters would do. They had neither, despite the technological advances of our nation.
My boss, averted his large, brown eyes, shaded by peppered brows. He reached into his pocket and drew out a handful of candy corn. He held it out to me.
“Want some? This stuff is about perfect.”
“Why you?” I asked, taking one kernel. “And why me?”
“Our projects aren’t the future. We could easily go to the pigs.” Being sent to the pigs was a way of saying people were killed for the good of the nation.
“No!” I said, the kernel shaking between my fingers. “Not the pigs.”