When A Matter of Oaths was first published in 1987, featuring an older woman as a space captain and centring on two men of colour in an intense, romantic relationship, it was a hard sell: 'I have a rejection letter from a well-known editor saying that they wouldn’t buy the book because the gay relationship was so integral to the plot, even though they weren’t a homophobe, nor were many in the SF audience (!). Apparently, I wasn’t "breaking new ground" and risked "alienating some readers."'
The book follows Rafe, a young webber with a mysterious past, who joins the crew of Bhattya, a patrol ship under the command of Rallya, an aging, grumpy, and talented woman in denial about the end of her career. As an oath breaker, Rafe is shunned by many, but aboard Bhattya, not only is he given a second chance, he also finds support in his quest for his own identity.
When I read the first few chapters of A Matter of Oaths, I realised instantly that it was right up my street. Discovering that it was tragically out of print, I knew I had to track Helen down and see if there was anyway she’d want to work with us (reader, I signed her). To my complete delight, we are going to be republishing her book, bringing it to a new generation of readers, and I wanted to find out what Helen thinks about the changing landscape of science fiction from then to now, and also pick her brain about her writing.