A distress signal on the edge of inhabited space. A mission that is far outside normal parameters. Two very different people with one common goal – survival.
When a distress signal is received from a black-ops space station on the edge of inhabited space, Captain Saul Harris of the UNF Aurora is called in from leave to respond. But the mission is not what it seems. Female members of the United National Forces have not been allowed to travel into the outer zones before, but Harris is ordered to take three new female recruits.
For Corporal Carrie Welles, one of the Aurora’s new recruits, her first mission in space seems like a dream come true. Determined to achieve the success of her father before her, and suddenly thrust into a terrifying mission, she must work with her new captain and the strained Aurora crew to make it home alive.
When the Aurora arrives at the station, Harris and Welles soon find themselves caught up in a desperate fight for survival. Station Darwin is not what they expected.
The lights are off. But somebody is home.
Brr... spooky!! Welcome, Amanda!
Seeing as you're a new author on the scene, tell us about your path to publication. Did you consider self-publishing, or was a traditional publisher your ultimate aim?
I’d been working on my books (for the Aurora Series) for about five years before I had the confidence to seek publication. I always intended to approach a traditional publisher, mainly because I really didn’t know enough about the industry to go it alone. I also like the fact that being represented by a publishing house means they have confidence in me and my work, so it’s great to have that visible ‘backing’ in the industry. I think the expertise and contacts that a traditional publisher can provide is incredibly valuable and should never be dismissed. So far my experience with Momentum has been great, so I have no regrets.
Would I think about self-publishing in the future? Possibly. I certainly would’ve considered it as an option if the traditional publishing houses had rejected me. So, I guess never say never, but for now I’m all good.
Tell us how you came up with the idea for AURORA: DARWIN. Did the characters come first, or the scenario?
I tend to come up with key scenes in my head and develop my stories from there. With Aurora: Darwin, the character of Carrie was first to develop, as I pictured the desperate scenes she’s involved in during the climax of the story, and then developed the rest from there. I knew that Carrie couldn’t face the ordeal on her own, she was going to need back-up, and that was how Captain Saul Harris came to be.
So, I start with the key scenes and the characters, then backfill their stories and dream up the backdrop/settings, all the while drawing inspiration from the sci-fi and action films I grew up watching. It’s like baking a cake – you mix together your favourite ingredients, and a splash of yourself in there, mix it all around, and that’s how your own little story is born.
How would you describe the sub-genre: space opera? Military? Interstellar suspense? Do you think sub-genre matters to readers when they're choosing a book, or do they just want a good story?
I would describe Aurora: Darwin as a soft sci-fi thriller / military space opera. Ha ha! Too many sub-genres?
I aimed to write a book targeted at a unisex audience, that would hopefully appeal to sci-fi fans and non-sci-fi fans alike. In other words, it’s a mainstream sci-fi, not a niche. I think sub-genres help readers decide if this is the type of book for them. The book’s genre will class it for them, and the sub-genre will tell them what slant the book’s going to take. At the end of the day people want a good story, but I also think they want a ‘heads up’ as to what to expect from the novel.
|The UNF. Securing the future. Uh huh. I bet they do... or not??|
Sci-fi isn't all about space battles and death stars. The world-building in AURORA: DARWIN sounds intriguing – kind of like Aliens meets Riddick with a bit of spooky Event Horizon thrown in. Tell us about your world: what makes it stand out from others?
I think you’ve described it very well, actually! A:D is set in the future, but not eons away - it’s the near future, so there is a lot of familiarity to life nowadays. I’ve actually tried to make it as realistic a sci-fi as I could, so people don’t really need to stretch their imaginations too far to try and grasp what I’m trying to say.
The world-building elements of the military and space colonisation are important to provide that backdrop to the story, but the key focus of A:D are the characters and the plot. So hopefully it will stand out as the character-driven story, luring in potential readers that wouldn’t normally go for a sci-fi, yet at the same time, keeping the sci-fi fans happy.
The cover copy for AURORA:DARWIN sounds like you have more than one 'main' character. Were their stories difficult to handle? Did you use multiple points of view?
Yep, I always wanted two characters – one male pov, one female pov, as I always intended to write a unisex book. I didn’t find it too hard writing the Saul Harris character, as I have three older ‘blokey’ brothers and grew up watching ‘boys’ films, so I like to think I’ve been well-trained in the male action hero. I did use the occasional female phrase/word in his speech in earlier versions, but my brother (one of my beta readers) promptly picked me up on that. I basically just applied my tomboy side to Harris and my feminine/girly side to Carrie. Hopefully it worked!
Heroines in sf. Kick-ass is great, but as a reader I like to see other sides to the heroine, too. Tell us about your heroine, Corporal Carrie Welles: what are her strengths and weaknesses?
Carrie Welles is a bit of a loner. She’s a perfectionist, who’s driven, stubborn, fiery and determined to succeed. She’s somewhat estranged from her father, and is ultimately trying to follow in his footsteps to prove herself to him. So, being a sharp-shooter in the military, she has that tough element about her, but her emotional side is actually quite fragile (not as tough as she makes it out to be). She tries hard not to wear her heart on her sleeve, but at the end of the day she is only human, and she needs to learn that it’s ok to be weak sometimes.
Is there a romance plot in your book? How do you strike a balance between romance and action?
There may be….*she smiles coyly*. For someone as career driven as Carrie, there’d be nothing quite like falling for a guy to side-swipe you! For me, mixing romance and action can be a tricky fine line. Too much romance and you turn the male readers off, not enough romance and the female readers are left unsatisfied.
Again, I’ve gone for trying to keep things as real as possible. When you’re in a world of a shit-storm, the last thing you’re thinking about is shagging someone. But hey, if you make it through alive, that’s a different story… *winks*.
Are you planning to write more books featuring these characters or their world?
Definitely! This is the first book in a series, and hopefully book 2, tentatively titled Aurora: Pegasus will be out by year end!
You have a cool Pinterest page, with images related to AURORA: DARWIN. (Go on, everyone, go look. It's really cool!) Tell us how that came about: did you use these images as inspiration while writing, or collect them afterwards?
I actually collected these images afterwards! I’ve always been a photography fan, so when I stumbled across Pinterest I just started collecting nice images. But then I began gathering the world-building/inspirational images for sci-fi, fantasy and horror, etc. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words, so by collecting these images I’m drawing inspiration for future works.
I remember doing writing exercises at Uni whereby you’d be given a picture/s and then have to construct a story based on that images/s. They were my favourite exercises to do! From one picture you can develop a character, a setting, a plot, you name it. It all comes down to your imagination. But even your imagination needs to be jump-started from somewhere – so why not a cool picture?
What's next for you? Any more stories in the works?
I’ve got another four manuscripts ready for the editing process, and I’m dying to start work on some more! As far as I’m concerned, this is only the beginning. Fingers crossed you’ll be reading a lot more of me in the future!
We hope so too! Amanda's links:
You're a spaceship crew member. Would you rather be on the Enterprise D (ST:TNG), the Serenity (Firefly) or the Battlestar Galactica (BSG)? And why?**
**Special consideration if your answer has nothing to do with Captain Mal's tight pants. This is a family blog, people!
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