The Adventures of The Everyday Fangirl welcomes author Greta van der Rol as a guest blogger to talk about her latest book in the Ptorix Empire series, The Stuff of Legend
Take it away Greta!
The worlds of The Stuff of Legend by Greta van der Rol
Thanks for having me on your blog, Patty.
As you know, I’m almost as much of a Star Wars Fangirl as you are. However, today’s post is going to be a bit of geeky stuff about my latest book.
I’ve just published my latest book in the Ptorix Empire series, The Stuff of Legend. If you’ve read any of my books you’ll know I like to do some planet-hopping – in the best traditions of space opera. Many of my planets are, of necessity, habitable by humans, but for this book I wanted to get a little bit more exotic.
The book’s plot centers around an open star cluster called the Maidens. It’s not a particular open cluster in our night sky – after all, who knows which galaxy this story takes place in? But I like my astronomy to be realistic. I didn’t use a globular cluster, despite the attraction of a mass of stars huddled close together. Globular clusters are tightly packed (for stars) and gravitationally bound to each other. The stars are the oldest we know of, and because of that wouldn’t be likely to have the elements created in super novas upon which life as we know it is built. The stars in open clusters are younger. They form in the usual stellar nurseries like the mighty Orion Nebula. From there, they remain in a more ‘open’ gravitational relationship until they leave home on their own. Our sun was probably part of an open cluster when it was a teenager. You can find out more about open clusters here.
Probably the best known open cluster is the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters. But I didn’t want my cluster to look quite like that. Although there are gas clouds in the Pleiades, I wanted something a bit more like the roiling clouds of Orion. And it so happens that an open cluster that had been thought to be part of the Orion Nebula, was in fact a different entity, situated in front of the nebula. Here’s the story of NGC 1980. It was perfect. So my story takes place in a star cluster that has some similarities to NGC 1980.
There’s a legend, of course. My cluster, the Maidens, can be pictured (if you cross your eyes and stand on one leg) as three women in robes of stardust guarding a hoard of stars.
Next, planets. Not every planet has seasons. Not every planet has a temperate climate. Not every planet has a bright yellow star. So I created a few ‘different’ planets for my story.
• One planet is undergoing an ice age. Apart from being cold, the atmosphere is not breathable by humans. And since there is no axial tilt, the planet doesn’t have seasons. It’s not a place where you’d want to visit the poles.
• Another planet is much, much more massive than standard (think Earth).
• Yet another planet is a close binary system, rather like the Earth and its moon, but more equal in size. Perhaps a little more like Pluto and Charon.
Each planet my intrepid explorers visit has its own challenges to overcome. There’s adventure, mystery, and action, all mixed up and sweetened with a dollop of romance.
I enjoyed writing this book. I hope you enjoy reading it.
When history professor Olivia Jhutta receives a distress call from her parents, she sets out into space with their business partner, her grandmother, and injured Confederacy Admiral Jak Prentiss to find them. But she’s not the only one interested in the Jhutta’s whereabouts. The Helicronians believe Olivia’s parents have found an ancient weapon which they can use to wage war on the Confederacy.
Jak goes on the trip to fill in time while he’s on enforced leave, helping Olivia follow cryptic clues in what he considers an interplanetary wild goose chase in search of a fairy story. But as the journey progresses and legend begins to merge with unsettling fact, Olivia and Jak must resolve their differences and work together if they are to survive. The two are poles apart… but it’s said opposites attract. If they can manage to stay alive.
Greta van der Rol loves writing action-packed adventures with a side salad of romance. Most of her work is space opera, but she has written paranormal and historical fiction.
She lives not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoys photography and cooking when she isn’t bent over a hot computer. She has a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping her in her writing endeavors. Find out more about Greta and her books at her website http://gretavanderrol.net/
‘Everyday Fangirl Asks’ is a new segment to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl that asks a question posed by the Everyday Fangirl to a group of fans or creators on various fan related topics.
Today, the Everyday Fangirl asks members of the SFR Brigade the following fan related question:
So what was the first Science Fiction (SciFi) Romance that either started you down this path or has the most influence on you?
First, The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl would like to thank all of the members of the SFR Brigade who took time out of their busy schedules to share their influences and memories for this article!
The responses given by these members reflect a diverse set of influences on their science fiction romance genre journey…
I had been reading sci-fi all my life, and while the science and adventure parts were excellent, they all lacked a major part of life for any species (sexual interest/romance). Thus, I wrote my own. It’s not funny so I’ve yet to publish it, but I expect to soon. I can’t remember the book that made me try and write a better sci-fi, but the protagonist went on and on about food, (I think he must have been on a diet, because his prior books had never been so food oriented), but the only woman in his book was nothing but a one-dimensional prop. It resulted in me no longer reading him and why I can’t remember his name or the book. He had failed me.
The Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffery. I just re-read the Crystal Singer trilogy recently, and was even sadder at the end to think there’ll never ever be another Killashandra story.
The funny part for me, I wrote The Key not realizing it was SFR, because I didn’t write science. I barely passed science. Of course, looking back, I realize my science was mostly fiction back then, too. haha When someone compared it to a Linnea Sinclair, then I read her books and fell in love with the genre.
One night when I was a kid, I had a dream that was so vivid that it stuck with me through the years. Planning to write it down some day, I would add to it in my head, until the day came when I did write it all down. That was five books ago. Now story has expanded into other worlds and species.
I would have to say everything by Anne McCaffrey. Her Dragonriders of Pern was the first SF/F I ever read. It was what made me long to be a writer. (It was the summer before my 6th grade year.) I quickly read her entire backlog of books, including her Crystal Singer books, The Ship Who Sang, et al. Sure, SFR these days contains a little more R, but those books that set me on this path. I tried writing everything but SF for a long time, under the assumption that science would be too hard. LOL. But here I am, some three decades later.
I think the first SFR book I ever read was McCaffrey’s “Restoree“. But that’s not what led me to write SFR. Rather, I read hard SF (still do) and found that emotional bit missing. So I wrote a book I wanted to read.
The Star King by Susan Grant . That book spoke to me at a time when I was doubting my own ability as a writer. It inspired me to finish my debut book, Prophecy, which is set for release in January 2016. I keep my copy of The Star King on my book shelf (and reread it from time to time). One day my path will cross with Susan and I’ll ask her to autograph it.
Some of the old scifi I swiped from my older brother’s room had a touch of romance in it, which greatly increased my enjoyment of a book. Murray Lienster, Heinlein. I didn’t read an actual genre romance until I was 16, but then spent years reading both those and scifi and fantasy writers. Did I mention I was quite a bookworm?
In the 80s and 90s I scoured shelves for futuristics and pararomance, which were hard to find. Anne Stuart’s Cinderman was a Harlequin, but I knew it was scifi! Loved that book–and it held up well, reread not too long ago. Dara Joy–I had to order her books from a bookstore because they didn’t carry them. When we got a computer it opened up the world of erom publishers, who were publishing scifirom and pararom.
I also loved Zenna Henderson, who wrote clever, gentle scifi often involving family and some young loves.
Wow, I can’t remember the first, but I think the one that made me think, “wow, this is FUN and I want to write it” was Ruby Lionsdrake’s Mercenary Instinct 🙂
I started on this journey with an idea of my own, after being challenged to write a 200-word flash fiction piece for a contest, and it happened to come out SF. Never thought I’d write SFR. Never wanted to. At the time, the only SF I’d read, other than a few of the classics, was Lois McMaster Bujold, so I guess I’d have to blame her.
I wouldn’t say it was sci-fi romance (I’m not even sure the term existed back in late 80’s, early 90’s) but I read Chris Claremont’s First Flight very early in my teens. (I’ve no idea where I got it from. From a second hand bookstore probably because we didn’t have much money and no car) It might even have been the first sci-fi book I’d read, because scifi books are not for girls, right? 😉
And I remember being completely engrossed in the story of Lt Shea. Wait, what was this – a scifi book with a kick-ass female lead? With action, intrigue, and gasp – romance? It’s a first contact story, and Lt. Shea was my effing hero. I haven’t read it since, and kinda don’t want to – because I’ll look at it differently now, and I don’t want to spoil the magic. My first ever scifi read that taught me women can kick ass in space just as much as the guys (and have emotions too!).
My parents gave me science fiction one summer as a way to keep me from bugging them for stuff to read. The joke was on them, however, as it caused me to start bugging them for more *science fiction* to read. The first SFR I read was probably Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, but I think Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series was more influential. A few years back, an interview I read with Linnea Sinclair told me that “science fiction romance” was a thing. When planning my current series, I knew SFR would be the best way to tell it, so as has been said so many times before, I stand on the shoulders of giants.
I mistakenly read a very adult SciFi when I was about 12 with an android having a… ummm… too close of a relationship with his chicken. That was very memorable. But the first SciFi erotic romance that I read was Laurann Dohner’s Ral’s Woman. I loved it!
Catherine Asaro, Ray Bradbury and John Wyndham
Finders keepers by Linnea Sinclair. I was researching her agent and figured I should read some of the agents clients. This was back in 1997 or 1998. I’d read Star Wars and some other sci fi before then, but I became hooked on sci fi romance after that book.
Lois McMaster Bujold for the win! She’s also great about sprinkling in LGBTQ characters.
The first Dragonriders of Pern book–it was a sci-fi that had a (gasp!) *heroine* in it, and a romantic subplot, too.
The White Dragon by Anne Mccaffrey was the first Pern novel I read, and at the time, I didn’t really understand that I was reading romance or that the dragon was asexual…or that there was even such a thing. Anyhow, I’d read sci fi before but that one really grabbed me.
Lee Koven SFR Brigade blogger
I’d read some SFR before, but the most influential SFR in my writing is probably Marcella Burnard’s Enemy Within. What drove me to write were straight SF books that I felt needed a romance in them. The second SFR that inspired me was Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair.
Andre Norton was my first major influence – the *hints* of romance were there and I wanted more. It finally occurred to me if I wanted more, I’d best get writing it.
And you know, it was Linnea Sinclair GAMES OF COMMAND that convinced me to take a chance on writing Enemy Within. :D. Oh heck, if we’re breaking out the cheesy animated SFR, then Starblazers. 😀
I read many of the SF classics as a teen, but McCaffrey’s Dragonriders is what originally hooked me on SFR.
Anne McCaffrey’s would have to be the first – but it was Catherine Asaro and Lois McMaster Bujold who really got me hooked.
Andre Norton, as others have said. She could only have hints of romance and that made me determined to write science fiction WITH romance. I LOVED RESTOREE. I still reread it occasionally. I wish she’d written more in that world.
Wrinkle in Time was my first SF, but really didn’t spur any urge to write. It wasn’t until I read Jayne Castle’s SWEET STARFIRE that I got hooked on SFR. That was the first book I’d ever read that took place on another planet, and that had romance. A light went off in my pointy little head.
I just wanted to add one more vote for Anne McCaffrey’s Restoree for the win. 🙂 I read Dragon Singer first and considered it fantasy. This was in 6th grade. Restoree is still my fave SFR. I like them a little hotter tho so I’m glad the publishing world has expanded!
My SFR journey began in 2002 when I discovered the secret rack at the back of our public library. I chose three or four novels to read (I was reading 4 or 5 a day) and I fell in love with Patti O’Shea’s Ravyn’s Flight. It was action, adventure, romance and aliens with tech and science and it rekindled my love of science and learning about the cosmos.
I don’t remember the first. I enjoy Andre Norton and she has some with couples, some of Piers Antony’s books, Joe Haldeman.
The first one I knew was SFR that I read was Finder’s Keepers by Linnea Sinclair. Later I realized I’d read some as a child thanks to Marion Zimmer Bradley, the Pern stories, and Zenna’s books.
I didn’t have a book per se but I’ve been reading this stuff all my life starting with Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey. But, I did have a kinda funny goal when I started. You know the Also bought list? :} There were certain authors I wanted on mine. And they are there. They are also in the group. LOL
So I don’t want to come off as all fangirl (note on this blog you can!) But they were writing what I wanted to write, and I thought if people who get mine love theirs, then I will be creating what I want. The list isn’t exhaustive, but it included Veronica Scott and Anna Hackett. I wanted to make those kinds of characters. I’m not entirely there yet.
SF romance? Probably The Puppet Masters, by Robert Heinlein. I didn’t know when I read it, but it’s classic SF romantic suspense.
Maybe I should also say that my mom recommended Restoree by Ann McCaffery to me. I liked it a lot, but by that time I was already a confirmed SF reader. My mom used to reread Restoree every year. Another book that influenced me a lot was Darker than You Think, by Jack Williamson. In a weird way, it’s SF romance, but not in the usual sense. But it really got me into werewolves. It’s about a guy who doesn’t know he’s a werewolf, and his coven–particularly one woman/wolf–is pushing him into his true destiny. It’s humanity vs werewolves, and Williamson made me want to be on the winning side–werewolves.
Jayne Castle/Jayne Ann Krentz back when she first started it… early 1990s along with JD Robb/Nora Roberts. So happy that JC/JAK is writing them again now… so many years later 😉 and glad that JDR/NR never stopped writing the Eve Dallas series
I have read science fiction all my life. Like many people, I started out in fan fic, and the first science romantic entanglement that pulled me in was Star Trek Voyager’s Tom Paris and B’Lanna Torres relationship – I was hooked. I quickly ran to the library, but they didn’t have anything listed as SFR. So I turned to my science fiction – and found Robert Heinlein’s Friday, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Outlander pulled me from strict science fiction into the world of SFR and I’ve loved it ever since.
Lastly, Patty Hammond the Everyday Fangirl from Michigan would like to answer this question and share what influenced her to seek out SFR.
I actually started not through books, but through Robotech, an animated TV series in the mid 1980’s which included a several romance stories with the backdrop of a multigenerational space war. The first romance book set in space that I read was Amaryllis by Jayne Castle, aka Jayne Ann Krentz. It was through both of these that I found a whole new genre to explore and learn more about.
The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl is happy to welcome guest blogger and author Greta van der Rol. She has graciously offered to share with us her new venture into Joel Stottlemire’s Dryden Experiment.
Thank you for visiting with us today Greta and now take it away!
Greta’s new Dryden Universe release
Thanks for having me, Patty.
Today I’d like to talk about my new venture into Joel Stottlemire’s Dryden Experiment.
One of the biggest problems independent authors face is marketing. How do we reach out to readers when there are so many more new titles being added to the ebook retailers every day? We’ve all heard about branding, but even so, one small author’s brand doesn’t really add a lot to visibility.
But what if you’re part of something much bigger?
What if you write for a franchise such as Star Trek or Star Wars? You immediately have a dedicated, enthusiastic audience which will at least look at your work. You also have back story, a pantheon of aliens, books full of space ships, and even established characters you can use in your own work. Sure, there are limits to what you can do, but many, many new characters, worlds and crises have been introduced through (say) the Star Wars Expanded Universe [Now Legends]. Such as the great Grand Admiral Thrawn.
It’s pretty hard to get into the Star Wars franchise, though. And while having an established environment gives opportunities, it also imposes restrictions.
Enter the Dryden Experiment. It’s a shared SF universe which uses Creative Commons 4.0 BY-SA copyright. In short, it means that while your story is yours, the characters, tech and so on can be used by others with proper attribution. It’s explained a little more at Dryden’s website. The BIG difference is that this franchise is starting from the bottom up. There’s no established fan base – but that gives lots of room for new societies, new tech, new aliens to be fitted into the billions of worlds and thousands of years of our Milky Way galaxy.
For my small part of the billions of worlds out there I have laid claim to the star cluster in Sagittarius which we call M24. My stories are set twenty thousand years in the future, at a time when humans have encountered aliens, and have established an Empire. Of course, there are splinter groups, and pirates – a rich tapestry for a thousand stories.
We’re hoping Dryden’s logo will become as well-known as Star Wars or Star Trek. If you’re interested in jumping on the band wagon early, please visit the Dryden website for more information.
Meanwhile, here’s my first contribution to the cause – The Demon’s Eye.
Krystina Merkos is reluctant to leave her home planet, but agrees it’s best that her father doesn’t have to concern himself with her safety while he fights a civil war. The journey on an Imperial warship becomes much more palatable when she discovers that Ben Paulsen, an old flame from her high school days, is a senior officer on the ship.
But it’s not all plain sailing. The captain wants to seduce her, Ben’s trying to keep his distance – and pirates want to sell her to the murderous sect waging war on her father.
When the frigate is attacked by a pirate fleet intent on capturing Krys, she faces impossible choices. If she hands herself over to the pirates, she will die a painful death. If she doesn’t, everyone will die.
Unless she and Ben can contrive a way out for them all.
Thanks again Greta for introducing us to the Dryden Universe and what your first contribution to this is.
You can learn more about Greta and her releases by visiting her website, http://gretavanderrol.net/.
This book stars Captain Brett Butcher, who appeared in the first two books in the series (The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and The Iron Admiral: Deception) as Grand Admiral Saahren’s adjutant.
Here’s a short excerpt, when Tarlyn has realized it’s Brett who has rescued her from a deadly situation.
A skimcycle rocketed past their hiding place. Butcher waited a few more minutes, his finger poised over his pistol’s trigger.
Tarlyn tapped his hand resting on her arm. “Long enough. They hunt in packs.” She walked back to the road, her long skirt swirling around her legs, then stood for a moment, listening. “It sounds like it’s all over.”
No more sirens, shots or explosions, although smoke curled up into the sky from the direction of the temple square.
Tarlyn gazed up at him, searching his face. “You’re the last person on this planet I would have expected to see here, now. Are you still in the Confederacy Fleet?”
He swallowed. The years fell away and for a moment he was seventeen again, smitten and tongue-tied. Idiot. “Yes. Still in the Fleet. I’m on leave before I take over a new command. It’s been fifteen years since I was on Validor. I thought it was time I came home.”
Crisis at Validor synopsis
Newly-promoted Captain Brett Butcher is about to achieve his life-long ambition to command a battle cruiser. But before he takes up his new posting, he goes home on leave, hoping to perhaps catch a glimpse of his first love, the unattainable Lady Tarlyn.
When the queen is assassinated in a terrorist attack, Tarlyn’s life is thrown into turmoil when she, too, becomes a target. The last person she expects to rescue her is her childhood sweetheart, Brett Butcher.
As Validor’s Ptorix and human populations face off over a group of islands neither owns, the calls for war grow louder. Torn between love, duty and ambition, Butcher and Tarlyn struggle to prevent an inter-species conflict, while the ember of love that has smouldered for so long bursts into flame. But with planetary peace at stake, both will be forced to choose; love or duty.
Crisis at Validor is now available at the following retailers:
Today, I have the privilege of interviewing Greta van der Rol, who is the author of A Matter of Trust. Greta loves writing action-packed adventures with a side salad of romance. Most of her work is space opera, but she has written paranormal and historical fiction.
Greta lives not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoys photography and cooking when she isn’t bent over the computer. She has a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping her in her writing endeavours.
Please welcome Greta to the EverydayFangirl blog!
1) What does the title, A Matter of Trust signify?
In A Matter of Trust, trust is the theme of the story. Princess Amira finds that those she expects to trust, fail her. Help comes from unlikely sources.
2) Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you? If so, give a few examples…
Not really. I needed an alien name for the Admiral. Ul-Mellor sounds a little bit different, but it’s still pronounceable. (Unlike something like Admiral Tr’ch-szkry – I’m not sure why authors use unpronounceable names for aliens.)
3) What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?
I’ve read and enjoyed SF for most of my life, usually the ‘hard’ variety by writers like Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. When Star Trek and (even more so) Star Wars arrived, I thought I could write fast-paced, fun stories like those – only with a bit better science. And a bit more romance.
4) What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?
I think you have to write for yourself and develop a thick skin. Not everyone will like your work. Let’s face it, there are plenty of writers whose work leaves me cold, some quite famous and successful. Like Dan Brown and Terry Brookes. Why should I be immune?
I think Admiral Ul-Mellor has had to develop a thick skin and do things his way. He’s an alien in a human society. Because of his appearance – jet black skin and red eyes – he’s called the Demon Admiral. He has attracted plenty of prejudice, but he has risen above his detractors and achieved his position because he’s very good at what he does.
5) What kind of research did you have to do for this novel that was different from other types of writing that you have done before?
Any space opera combines science with a certain amount of fantasy. In this particular novel the spaceships are atmosphere capable, as in Star Wars. I don’t do that in any of my other SF books. In those, big ships stay in space in orbit or at space stations, and small shuttles or space elevators are used for the journey to the ground. Since this particular story started off life as a fan fic, it also has a few intelligent alien species. I don’t normally do that, either. I’m sure there’s heaps of life out there, but intelligent, space-faring life will be rare. I have intelligent aliens in my Ptorix Empire stories – but those aliens are not at all humanoid. In A Matter of Trust, Ul-Mellor is a Jort – but I make it clear that Jorts are descended from humans, with only a few differences in DNA. So I guess what I’m saying is that I didn’t have to do any special research for this novella. It was great fun to write.
6) What makes you laugh?
Clever British humour, in particular the late, great Ronnie Barker. The antics of animals. Fine weather. The beach.
7) What makes you cry?
Cruelty to animals. Deforestation. Pollution in the sea.
Greta THANK YOU for taking the time to coming over and answering my questions! It was fantastic having you stop on by!
Thanks for having me. It’s been fun!
A Matter of Trust
Will the Demon Admiral protect her from her family?
Princess Amira is ready to start a new life after the death of her husband, but that doesn’t include marrying the man her father picks out for her. Pursued by his agents, she races across the galaxy in a desperate search for a safe haven. Amid simmering tensions at the edge of the Empire, Amira renews her acquaintance with Imperial Admiral Ul-Mellor. Although his detractors call him the Demon Admiral, Amira finds him intelligent, articulate, and very attractive.
But Ul-Mellor is not human and Amira is a princess – far above Ul-Mellor’s status on his home world. He and Amira will have to overcome a gulf of cultural and class differences if they’re to turn their mutual attraction into a relationship. And what will Ul-Mellor do when faced with a choice – Amira or his hard-won commission?
Read an excerpt http://www.wattpad.com/story/14461185-a-matter-of-trust
You can find out more about Greta van der Rol and A Matter of Trust by visiting any of the following sites: