‘The Diabolic’ interview: S. J. Kincaid chats about her epic new YA novel

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Described by The Bookseller as ‘Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games’, S. J. Kincaid’s epic new YA novel, The Diabolic, is published today in TWO striking covers.

Buy the book on Amazon here.

Buy the Kindle edition on Amazon here.

Watch the trailer…

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity inside her that is true and pure. Amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life – and the empire.

The Diabolic

CultBox caught up with author S. J. Kincaid recently for a chat…


Can you tell us a bit about the concept of The Diabolic?

“In short, The Diabolic is Terminator meets House of Cards in space. It’s set in the far distant future where humanity spans the galaxy.

“Nemesis is a genetically enhanced person created for one purpose: protect an imperial heiress named Sidonia at all costs. When Sidonia is summoned to the Emperor’s court to face punishment for her father’s treason, Nemesis disguises herself as Sidonia and goes in her place.

“The idea of the story was to place a girl who seems like she is vulnerable among these predatory politicians who think she is easy to exploit, but under the surface, she is a very lethal killer and she’s more dangerous than any of them.”


How does The Diabolic differ to your previous work and what inspired you to tell this story?

“It’s older and darker than the Insignia trilogy, but I really wanted to write a YA take on I, Claudius where someone must survive a murderous imperial family via a long-term deception.

“It’s much farther in the future, and the protagonist of The Diabolic is a very cold, fearsome person compared to my very human protagonist in Insignia.”


How did you come up with the concept of a Diabolic?

“I loved the BBC mini-series, I, Claudius. Since I’m a sci-fi girl, I of course needed to set my take on it in a galactic empire.”


How would you describe the relationship between Nemesis and Sidonia?

“One model I like to use is Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Wilkes from Gone with the Wind.

“Scarlett on the surface is the strong one – brash, brave and steely – whilst Melanie seems the meek, gentle, timid one. But underneath Scarlett has a great deal of weakness and Melanie is pure steel. That’s how I think of Nemesis and the girl she loves and protects, Sidonia.”


If a movie version of The Diabolic was made, who would be your dream casting for Nemesis and Sidonia?

“Hmm. Off the top of my head, I could see Zoë Kravitz as Sidonia, and it’s tricky to say with Nemesis because her appearance undergoes some drastic changes in the book.

“I’d say, though, that whoever plays her would have to be a tall, imposing girl, someone with the stature of Gina Torres or Lucy Lawless. No one who could be called fragile.”


Nemesis explores the humanity inside her – do you think humanity and technology are increasingly interwoven for modern teenagers?

“Of course. The millennials are basically the first ‘internet natives’, which effectively means everyone whose childhood was influenced by the internet had this new, foreign force in their lives, shaping their social norms which none of the earlier generations have had.

“My Insignia series was entirely founded on the idea of a future technology where neural processors – computers – are implanted in human brains. I think technology will only become more integral to teenage life over time.

“I had a surreal moment recently when a three-year-old told me her parents had promised her an iPad when she finished potty training. I heard that and just thought: we live in the future.”


Are you more of technology fan or a technophobe yourself?

“Technology fan for sure! I want Star Trek to happen.”


Are there plans for more books in this series?

The Diabolic is actually a stand-alone.”


What else have you got coming up next?

“I’m working on a humorous middle-grade. Sci-fi, of course. From there, we’ll see!”


Which YA novels have you enjoyed reading most lately?

“I really enjoyed a YA sci-fi called Exo by Fonda Lee, and I’m immersed in Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson. I like anything that transports me to another world with a character that’s easy to love.”


It sounds like you’re quite a traveller, where abouts are you based right now?

“Right now, I’m based out of California. It’s always my default because I have family here, but I’m looking to move to the Pacific Northwest soon.”


Where do you feel most productive writing? 

“I write at coffee shops. I have a strange mental block when it comes to working anywhere I’m sleeping.”


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

“Read a lot, write a lot – and never give up. Grow a thick skin and motivate yourself in the face of rejection.”


Buy the book on Amazon here.

Buy the Kindle edition on Amazon here.


Are you looking forward to reading The Diabolic? Let us know below…