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/
The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl welcomes author Pippa Jay as a guest today to tell us about the five cities that inspired Union in her story, Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened.
Take it away Pippa…
Five Cities that inspired Union in Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened
Hi, I’m Pippa Jay, author of scifi and supernatural stories designed to engage the emotions. My latest release – Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened – is a near future YA dystopia…which is set in utopia. Confused yet? While the world has undergone a kind of apocalypse, the city in which it takes place is still a functioning, apparently perfect self-maintaining machine that continues to thrive despite the demise of most of its inhabitants. So I thought I’d take you on a short tour of the five scifi cities that helped inspire mine.
1. The Great City of the Exxilons (Doctor Who and Death to the Daleks). In this story, the city is a living, thinking, self-sustaining entity in its own rights, which has left the rest of the planet barren and its creators living as savage primitives. Draining all energy from its own world, and from any ship foolish enough to approach, it also defends itself with ‘roots’ capable of destroying even the Daleks. This is self-sufficiency gone a bit mad!
2. The Domed City (Logan’s Run). Here, the city is a utopia where a computer runs every aspect of its inhabitants’ lives, including reproduction. There’s just one catch in this paradise. In order to maintain equilibrium, everyone must die when they reach 30 years of age, and the computer follows this plan to extremes.
3. New York City, 2263 (The Fifth Element). My favourite element here is the little cleaning bots in Zorg’s office that emerge when he breaks a glass to demonstrate the circle of life.
4. The Ruins of Utopia in HG Wells’ The Time Machine (the 1960s film version). Unfortunately, the time travelling narrator speeds past the time of the cities into a post-apocalyptic paradise, where humans are at peace (almost catatonic because everything is provided for them and so the need or even desire to fight for more or achieve it through the use of intelligence and technology is replaced by apathy). The humans live in the remains of futuristic buildings and have no need to work for anything. The downside is the underground society of Morlocks who provide for their every and simple needs also harvest them for food!
5. Dark City. Though this isn’t a utopia as such (in fact it comes across as a rather dark dystopia), once again everything is provided and the inhabitants have no compulsion to venture outside the city, despite some very gruesome murders taking place. In fact, for the most part it doesn’t even seem to occur to them that there is an outside (in fact there isn’t – the entire city is an artificial construct out in space).
I hope you enjoyed your brief tour of these five very different and yet related scifi cities. Now, are you brave enough to step into mine?
Imagine waking up to find the world has ended, but unfortunately you’re not alone…
For Connor Innis, awakening from a year-long coma with no memories, no ability to move, and unable to speak was bad enough. Then he learns that a bioweapon set off a zombie apocalypse—for real—while he was sleeping, and the world he can’t even remember no longer exists.
Rehabilitation might be torture, but far worse awaits him outside. All too soon, the hospital Mentor declares him fit to leave with nothing to go home to except a city full of mindless, flesh-eating monsters. That is, until he forms a strange relationship with the one he nicknames ‘Zombie Girl’.
For more information on Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened and other stories by Pippa Jay, you can check out this interview with her, visit her Web page or sign up for her no-spam newsletter! You can also stalk Pippa on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or Wattpad
About Pippa Jay:
After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 22 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), the 2015 EPIC eBook awards, the 2015 RWA LERA Rebecca (2nd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place)
Fangirls: Encouragement or lack of encouragement from family
The other day I was down the aisle with all the Star Wars toys at a local big box store, when I noticed a young girl, about 6, come to the end of the aisle. She was looking at the rack of Star Wars The Force Awakens trading cards wth Rey on the packs displayed there. She was looking intently at the display until her mother walked up and steered her away from the aisle saying that the toys she wants is in the next aisle, the one with the dolls. A few minutes later, I saw that young girl again looking down the Star Wars aisle, while her Mom was occupied with something across the aisle. I saw longing in her eyes and wanted to say to her that she was not alone, but again she was steered away before I could say anything to her.
I am saddened that, like the example mentioned above, that budding fangirls can be discouraged by the immediate family members who are stuck on the perceived gender divides encouraged by the marketing. If I was that little girl’s mother, I would not discourage her in the least from loving whatever fandom she likes and would encourage her to embrace whatever fandom she would be interested in, no matter if it was for girls or for boys.
This brief encounter made me realize how lucky I was that, even though I was raised in the 1970’s and 1980’s, that I was not discouraged from looking and even having Star Wars or other ‘boy’ branded merchandise. That I was not told that Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, Robotech, He-Man and even James Bond were just for boys. We might not have been able to buy much of the merchandise available at that time because finances were tight, but I was never discouraged from looking.
This may because my Mom and Dad were really big on sharing. Whatever we watched or played with in the house was watched or played with by everyone. Especially whatever toys we had including the few Star Wars toys we had. Trust me in a house of 7 children, there was not much that was not shared by both genders in the household.
It also helped that both my parents were fans themselves. My Dad was a big Science Fiction fan and my Mom was a fan of fantasy and musicals. Both of my parents did not discourage me in any way, by pointing out that something was just for girls or just for boys.
Thank you Mom and Dad for giving me encouragement and helping me become the everyday Fangirl I am today.
‘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.