Monalisa Foster is a versatile science fiction author. She’s written alternate history like the story “Catching the Dark” in “To Slip the Surly Bonds”. She’s contributed a number of science fiction anthologies like “Terra Nova: The Wars of Liberation.”


Tamara Wilhite: Congratulations on the release of “Ravages of Honor”. What is the book about?

Monalisa Foster: Thank you. I’m thrilled to finally have it out there. The short answer can be summed up by the tagline: Riveting characters in a gripping tale of interstellar intrigue, love, and impossible choices.

The long answer is that it’s THAT book, the one that we’re driven to write because it’s the story we wanted to read and no one was writing it so we have to write it ourselves.

So, what did I want to write about? Well, I wanted to write about a female character I wasn’t seeing anywhere else. I’d gotten so sick and tired of the stereotypical “strong female character” (SFC) that is the biggest, baddest, smartest person of any room she walks into. She can fight like a man, and talk like a man, and spit like a man, and dang it, if you look under the hood, she is a man, but with the wrong plumbing. She has no thoughts or aspirations that aren’t a man’s and if she has any flaw at all it’s a fake one. She’s as genuine as a three-dollar bill and if you were to swap out every “she” for a “he” and call her “Fred” instead of whatever her name happens to be, you wouldn’t have to change much about her character, her character arc, or the way she thinks or acts, except maybe for the token fact that she has boobs and you’d have to alter her spacesuit.

Ravages of Honor is about a woman named Syteria. She was kidnapped when she was twelve-years-old, taken off her home world, and forced to become a slave-soldier. Against her will, she serves a tyrannical Matriarchy, until one day, they send her out on a mission with orders she refuses to obey. Despite a decade of brainwashing and “therapy”, she is still herself. So, we have this woman who has been treated brutally for the last ten years, who has been altered against her will, but has somehow still managed to hold on to her honor. And because of that, she chooses treason and the price for treason is death. But something inexplicable happens on the way to her execution…

I drop her across space and time (you’ll have to read the book to find out how) into a society so advanced, their technology might as well be magic (thank you for that wonderful analogy, Arthur C. Clarke). Aggressive, feudalistic, the donai (think of them as genetically-engineered samurai) rule here. Going back to the idea that I wrote this story because I wasn’t seeing what I wanted to read, the other thing most often paired with the “strong female character” is her weak male counterpart. In order for the “strong female character” to be the be-all and end-all of everything, the males around her must be either drones or incompetents. I recall one particular scene from The Expanse TV series where there is a fist fight between the Martian Marine SFC and a “man” from Earth and he just stands there as she beats the crap out of him (apparently males in the future have lost the will to live in face of the awesomeness of the SFC). Not only is that bad writing, it’s completely unrealistic.

Unfortunately, I see a new trope forming with the rise of the SFC: if the males are competent at all and don’t bow down before the aura of the SFC, they are either villains or rapists or murderers. With the donai, I take that trope and decimate it. Darien is Syteria’s counterpart in Ravages of Honor. He is an honorable man, although maybe at first, you won’t think so. A strong, honorable woman deserves and demands a strong, honorable man, but that doesn’t mean that surviving in his world is going to be easy. Syteria must adapt by learning his people’s language and customs. She must not only survive, but thrive. And most importantly, she must rediscover herself and all that she can become because this is not a space opera about hyperdrives, but about human drives. It is not a space opera about space battle tactics, but about what it means to be human, what it means to be free, and the price of power.

True to its title, this novel is very much about the ravages of honor. Doing the honorable thing wreaks havoc on the characters’ lives, bringing them face to face with impossible choices again and again.


Tamara Wilhite: We both contributed to the “MAGA 2020 and Beyond” science fiction short story collection. Your short story there is now available as a standalone work on Amazon called “Dolus Magnus: The Great Hoax”.  You’re calling it a prequel to “Promethea Invicta”. What is “Promethea Invicta” about?

Monalisa Foster: We all know the story of Prometheus. He brought fire to man and it angered the gods and he paid a heavy price for his “crime.” Promethea Invicta plays off that myth, with Thea Rhodos, the CEO of Helios, bringing mankind a similar gift and paying a heavy price for doing so. But this story is hard science-fiction, and it involves lunar colonies and private space enterprise.


Tamara Wilhite: How would you describe the Sovereign Republic of Texas?

Monalisa Foster: The Sovereign Republic of Texas (SRT) is what I would like to think Texas would become if the USA were to fragment and split up into regions. We already talk about the coasts and fly-over country as if they were separate countries, and more and more it feels like we’re becoming balkanized. In the SRT we have the free world’s commercial space industry. We have a lot of the conditions we talk about when we wish we could get a do-over on the things that have led to the reductions in our constitutional freedoms in the USA today. It is an ideal setting for this story because it takes pioneers to go out there and set up a colony on the Moon and commercialize the whole thing. Promethea Invicta, is a tribute to Robert A. Heinlein and all the influence his writing had on me growing up.


Tamara Wilhite: How many of your short stories are in the Planetary Anthologies by Superversive Press?

Monalisa Foster: I had a story called “Enemy Beloved” in the Venus anthology. Since “Enemy Beloved” is a prequel to Ravages of Honor, I’m offering a longer, expanded version of it as a freebie to my newsletter subscribers. You can get it by going to and filling in the newsletter sign-up.


Tamara Wilhite: What led you to write “Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide”?

Monalisa Foster: I had the privilege of participating in WMG’s Anthology Workshop. It was six intense weeks of writing. On Monday we’d get the story guidelines (genre, word count, premise, theme, etc.) and we’d have until the end of the day on Sunday to write and turn it in. So, one story a week. Some were genres I’d never written in or had any intention of writing in, but I knew that if I skipped a week, I’d be missing an unprecedented opportunity to learn and possibly sell.

At the time, the in-person part of this workshop was being held on the Oregon Coast. Some of us flew in from all over the world to sit in a room in front of the editors who commissioned the anthologies.

So, imagine sitting there, with about two dozen other writers (all of whom had far more writing experience than I had at the time), and having each editor tell me what they thought about each story and whether they would buy it or not and why. Right there in front of everyone. It was the most profound learning experience.

I wanted to share that experience with my fellow writers because I know we all torture ourselves about rejections and wonder what we did wrong. As it turns out, a lot of times, it’s not about us or our stories (most of these folks already had pro sales in their portfolios). It’s about a lot of the things that go on behind the scenes that we, the writers, would NEVER imagine.

I originally released what was to become Rejection 101 as a series of blog posts. These posts got a lot of shares in various writers’ groups and someone suggested I put them all together and publish them, because “every writer needs to read this.” So, I did.

I wanted not only to share what I had learned about myself, my writing, and the editorial buying process, but also maybe help save some aspiring writer’s sanity. I know that I emerged from this experience not only with two professional sales, but with a whole new attitude about my writing and about rejection in general.


Tamara Wilhite: You’re working on a space opera series now. What can you say about it?

Monalisa Foster: Well, I can tell you that this universe is about to get a whole lot bigger. One of my professional sales at the WMG Anthology workshop was to Ron and Bridget Collins who were buying stories for Fiction River: Face the Strange, and “Dominion” is a novella-length story about two donai foot-soldiers from rival Houses who must work together to find the key to the donai’s survival. I don’t have a publication date other than 2020 for “Dominion” at this time, but I hope to see it in the early part of the year.

But … another short story called “Bonds of Duty and Love” is coming out on April 7, 2020 in Laurell K. Hamilton’s new anthology, Fantastic Hope.

We also have the story of Lady Yedon, (a minor character in Ravages of Honor) who has her own incredible story called “Featherlight” available as a stand-alone novella.

“Bonds of Duty and Love”, “Dominion”, “Featherlight” and “Enemy Beloved” are all prequels to Ravages of Honor and I’ve started working on the next novel in the series. When I started writing Ravages of Honor I thought it was going to be one book. The story that actually fit into the final version of Ravages is maybe 1/5 of what I had originally planned. As I learned the writing craft I realized it was going to end up a series, something along the lines of the Vorkosigan Saga or Outlander, not just because of the series format, but because of the type of story. It starts off with two people falling in love, and then becomes about the rest of their lives and the lives of their friends and enemies. And like both those series, I’m seeing shorter works pop up like crazy because these stories take place in very large, rich, detailed worlds which I hope to introduce you all to over the next few years.


Tamara Wilhite: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Monalisa Foster: Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you and Liberty Island’s readers.

I’d also like to add that I think I’ve been incredibly fortunate when it comes to my writing. My first pro sale was to Kristine Kathryn Rusch. And it was a story I wrote in nine hours and was sure would never see the light of day because it’s based on one incident in my childhood growing up under Ceaucescu’s brutal communist regime. And I never would have been able to write that story without the things I learned in Dean Wesley Smith’s classes.

No one was more surprised than I was when Tom Kratman invited me to write in his Carreraverse (the first book in that series is A Desert Called Peace) and I never thought I would be writing alternate history, much less writing it with him. He’s been an incredible friend and mentor. And as long as I’m mentioning mentors, I have to thank Scott Bell (who is an incredible thriller writer) for being one of the first people to believe in my writing.

And thanks to my co-authors and friends Kacey Ezell and Justin Watson, I got to write “Catching the Dark” which opened up a whole new universe for me. I’d like to thank James Young and Chris Kennedy for taking a chance on a new author in that genre and allowing me to be part of their new Phases of Mars anthology series.

My writing dance card has gotten full very quickly. I’m writing in genres I never thought I’d be writing in, everything from paranormal romance to hard sci-fi. I’m going to be in anthologies and collaborations with some truly incredible people thanks to Christopher L. Smith and Rob Hampson, and I’m really looking forward to it all.