Author Interview: In the Quick by Kate Hope Day
Missing from the market are scifi and fantasy books in colors like PINK. We get so few! When I came upon In the Quick, I fell in love with its pastel pink tones and the astronaut on the cover. I wanted to know her story! We checked in with Kate Hope Day to talk about June and In the Quick. Check it out below and pick up In the Quick, out now!
In the Quickby Kate Hope Day
Published by: Random House
on March 2, 2021
Genres: Adult, Sci-Fi
A young, ambitious female astronaut's life is upended by a fiery love affair that threatens the rescue of a lost crew in this brilliantly imagined novel in the tradition of Station Eleven and The Martian.
June is a brilliant but difficult girl with a gift for mechanical invention, who leaves home to begin a grueling astronaut training program. Six years later, she has gained a coveted post as an engineer on a space station, but is haunted by the mystery of Inquiry, a revolutionary spacecraft powered by her beloved late uncle's fuel cells. The spacecraft went missing when June was twelve years old, and while the rest of the world has forgotten them, June alone has evidence that makes her believe the crew is still alive.
She seeks out James, her uncle's former protégée, also brilliant, also difficult, who has been trying to discover why Inquiry's fuel cells failed. James and June forge an intense intellectual bond that becomes an electric attraction. But the love that develops between them as they work to solve the fuel cell's fatal flaw threatens to destroy everything they've worked so hard to create--and any chance of bringing the Inquiry crew home alive.
Equal parts gripping narrative of scientific discovery and charged love story, In the Quick is an exploration of the strengths and limits of human ability in the face of hardship and the costs of human ingenuity. At its beating heart are June and James, whose love for each other is eclipsed only by their drive to conquer the challenges of space travel.
Interview with Kate Hope Day
Tell us about June and James. What motivates their story?
In the Quick centers on June, a brilliant but difficult girl with an uncanny gift for mechanical invention. The novel spans her life from when she’s a twelve-year-old girl to when she’s grown up and has become an astronaut. At the start of the novel, more than anything June wants to find the place where she belongs, but she’s different from other kids her age and has a knack for getting herself into scrapes wherever she goes. In this she is similar to some of my favorite characters in literature, film, and television, the ones who get in their own way, who create hardships for themselves simply by being who they are. For me Jane Eyre is the quintessential example, but there are so many great ones. Becky Sharp, Lisbeth Salander, Arthur Less, Fleabag.
When June eventually earns a spot on an orbiting space station, she gains a kind of family in her crewmates and sense of belonging, but she doesn’t find her true home until she begins working with James, a protégée of June’s beloved late uncle, and the only person who truly understands June and her unique mind.
In the Quick takes places across June’s childhood and into her adult years. What was it like building June’s world across her childhood and young adult years?
The most challenging part of the book were the early sections when June is twelve and thirteen years old, when I had to work hard to make her voice authentic for her age. But those sections were also some of the most rewarding. My own kids share some of June’s quirks, and my experience parenting gifted kids shaped my sense of June as a character in some unexpected ways. June so often feels alone and misunderstood, and it occurred to me that the narrator of the novel is the only one who understands her in those early sections. That always motivated me to try to get her point of view right, and to convey her voice with both truth and tenderness. Seeing the world through her eyes as a child and young adult brought me some real insight into the way my kids’ minds work too.
What were the important elements to include as June trained and became an astronaut?
When I started writing I really wanted to get at some of these nitty gritty details of life in space in a way that would make the novel feel more viscerally real, more embodied, and at times more uncomfortable for the reader. Reading memoirs and watching documentaries about life in space was helpful, but I didn’t want to just get the facts right in my book. More importantly I wanted to convey what it really feels like to live in space.
That’s how I ended up going to Space Camp (yes adults can go!). While I was there I gathered a lot of little details I needed for my book: what it was like to touch the controls of a real shuttle, what the toilet on the ISS looks like up close, what it feels like to move around in a bulky space suit. One of the things I got to do there was a simulated space walk in a suit, which involved being suspended from the ceiling by a metal cord thirty feet above a decommissioned NASA shuttle. Despite my huge gloves and awkwardly tethered tools I was able to successfully “repair” a broken control panel. A lot of details from that experience made it into the novel: what my breath sounded like inside my helmet, the vertigo of trying to create force with a tool while hanging suspended and “weightless,” and the almost euphoric feeling when I managed to complete the task.