Tag Archives: science fiction

Author Interview: Jeannette Bedard

By day Author Jeannette Bedard is a scientist, by night she writes science fiction. Her stories are filled with action and adventure where something always blows up, usually in the first fifty pages. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jeannette BedardHi, I’m Jeannette and I write science fiction. As soon as I was old enough to leave home, I set off after adventure. So far, my non-linear career path has included serving in the army and working as a scientist in the Arctic. I have more degrees than I need and even through my current day job keeps me desk bound, I still daydream about going on adventures (and I will someday). I live on an island off the west coast of Canada with my husband and daughter. The nerd in me really likes math jokes, especially if there’s pi involved.

When and why did you begin writing?

For me, storytelling didn’t start with writing. As a child I suffered from insomnia combined with an overactive imagination. Whenever I couldn’t sleep, I just made up stories to entertain myself (I still do this). It wasn’t until I was in the middle of my undergraduate degree that it dawned on me others might enjoy my stories too and I started writing them down.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I only started considering myself a writer when I published my first novel Day 115 on an Alien World (which was the 5th complete novel I wrote).

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Years ago I read Ice Station Zebra — a cold war thriller set on a submarine operating under the Arctic ice. I read the novel long enough ago that only one thing sticks out in my mind about it — the submarine had a saboteur on board, a terrifying thing in a confined space.

This hypothetical fear percolated to the surface of my mind after I read The Martian, science fiction set in the not so distant future. I already harboured a fascination about biodomes, closed ecosystems cut-off from the outside. Why not put a saboteur on a dome on a far-off world? From this question, Day 115 on an Alien World arose.

The original idea morphed into a series of four books, the finale I published last summer.

What inspired you to write this book?

Once the idea was in my head, I had to write it down—but the timing was not ideal. I was in the middle of a PhD program and just had a baby. It wasn’t inspiration that put the novel on paper, more dogged persistence and sleep deprivation combined with a dash of craziness.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I consider the craft of my writing to be a work in progress—one which I’ll never finish. I’m always trying to improve. I try to make my characters and settings quirky while adding just a touch of humour.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The title Day 115 on an Alien World came about after I discovered that a blue morpho butterfly only lives 115 days—a fact my protagonist, a lepidopterist, would know. Also, having a number in the title really appeals to me.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

On the surface, the book is full of action and adventure, but deep down it’s about fitting in—a theme that often emerges in my writing.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I’ve never lived under a domed on an alien world—so no, it’s not about events in my life. I did, however, take elements from what I know to add flavour to life on an alien world. Like a conversation I had in the grocery story about rambutan fruit (that they looked like muppet testicles) to some of my experiences in the army.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Mary Roach’s Packing For Mars started me thinking about writing after a long dry spell. Its a non-fiction account of all the science that is going into putting people in space. I love how she presents science with such humour and delight.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clark was the first adult science fiction novel I ever read— more than twenty years ago and still think about how alien the ship they explored was.

Becky Chambers’ A Closed and Common Orbit is a recent favourite In fact, I’ve loved every one of her books because she’s created a rich future world that I could live in. But the second one in her series really resonated with me because it was about fitting in.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I’ve reread Becky Chambers books multiple times trying to figure out how I could write more like her—does that count?

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Tiffany Catron designed the cover of Day 115 on an Alien World, unfortunately she doesn’t make covers any more. It was important to me that the cover have a solo astronaut on the cover walking on a barren world.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write lots, and lots more. Also, expect your first drafts to suck. The hardest part for me is starting with a blank page—but once I suffer through writing that first draft, I shape it into something.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading!

Day 115 on an Alien WorldJeannette Bedard
Victoria, British Columbia

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Author Interview: MJ Bell

Author MJ Bell is behind the Award Winning series Chronicles of the Secret Prince and comes to talk about one of her more recent books.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author MJ BellHi, I’m so happy to be here, My name is M.J. Bell. I’m an Indie author from the beautiful state of CO where I live with my husband and new puppy, Tallie. I love to cook, crochet, and, of course, read, but since we’ve gotten Tallie, I do very little other than play with her. It’s just too hard to ignore that cute little face and her whines for attention! I grew up in Iowa and spent a 8 1/2 year stint in AZ, but CO is where my heart is and I’ll always consider it home.

When and why did you begin writing?

I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until my boys got into middle school and suddenly found there wasn’t anything for them to read. (this was before Harry Potter and Percy Jackson was around) So, I started to write stories for them. I never did finish one– having 4 kids there wasn’t a whole lot of spare time– but I discovered that I truly loved writing. Then when Harry Potter came along, it brought so many kids back to reading, but I kept thinking…what are they going to read once this series is finished? So, I sat down and wrote my first novel, Before the Full Moon Rises, a Teen/YA fantasy, which won the Gold Mom’s Choice Award in fantasy.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Next Time I See You is a time travel suspense thriller. It about a girl, Kat, who falls into a deep depression and can’t move on with her life after her boyfriend is killed in a mass shooting. But after a chance encounter with an intriguing stranger who leads her to the discovery of a time machine, she takes it as a sign she is supposed to go back in time and stop the shooter. She hatches a daring plan to sneak into the lab where the machine is housed not thinking or caring about the dangers involved. However, the second Kat steps out of the time machine, it becomes clear that fate has a plan of its own, and she is not at all prepared for it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always loved time travel stories and always wanted to write one. But I wanted to use science, not magic, and that was a problem. The great physicists say time travel is possible, but to do so one would either have to go faster than the speed of light, fly close to a black hole, or latch onto one of the cosmic strings that are supposedly floating around in space. None of those are options for an everyday college student like Kat, my character. So, for years I couldn’t write the story. Then one day I found an article about a professor who has developed a time travel theory that uses laser lights to bend space time into a circle. He’s even started building the time machine and hopes to have it up and running soon. But whether he does get it working or not makes no difference – he gave me a good scientific solution for my book, and wah la, Next Time I See You was born!

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Titles are always hard for me. They’re such an important part of the book and you have to make sure they appeal to the right readers of the genre. I knew I wanted the words “Next Time” in the title for the time travel reference, so I researched those words to see what was out there, and I happened upon a song, Maybe the Next Time, by Sue Medley. It’s such a beautiful song and I fell in love with it immediately, but there were too many other books out there with that title. So, I played around with different combinations of the words until I came up with Next Time I See You, and I knew right away that was it.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Nothing in the book is based on anything that has happened to myself or anyone I know, but the mass shooting is based on the Aurora Movie Theatre shooting. The shooting itself does not take place in the book, just the aftermath, but I did a lot of research on that shooter and my shooter that Kat has to stop is based on him. And I can tell you, the research I did on that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It really affected me and got to me emotionally. I was very glad when that part was done!

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

As I previously mentioned, J.K. Rowling has been a huge influence for me. I don’t think I would have finished my first book if it hadn’t been for her. In my opinion, she has done more for the teen/YA genre than anyone else, and I love how she has opened the door for so many of us to follow. Whenever I get stuck in my writing, I pull out one of her books and start reading it again. I don’t know what it is about it, but it always gets my creative juices flowing again. I’ll forever be grateful to her—Always.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Several of my author friends recommended the incredibly talented book cover designer, Mr. Steven Novak, and I’m so glad they did! I knew what I wanted for the cover and he put it together for me better than I even imagined. All the covers he’s done are marvelous, but I have to say, he really outdid himself with mine.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Never ever compare your success to someone else’s! Different genres sell differently, and some people write fast, some slow. So, don’t think of yourself as a failure if you can’t put out a book every six months, or if your children’s fantasy isn’t selling as well as your friend’s romance. Be proud of your accomplishments no matter how small, because writing a book is not easy, but it’s so worth it!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for having me. I love to connect with readers, so if you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at mjbell.author@gmail.com.
I hope you check out my books and happy reading!


Next Time I See You Book CoverMJ Bell

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THE PLANETS a scifaiku poetry collection by Wendy Van Camp

The Planets: a scifaiku poetry collection by Wendy Van Camp

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection
written and illustrated by Wendy Van Camp

The planets have fascinated humanity since the dawn of time. We’ve looked up into the heavens and wondered what these wandering stars are and why they are different from their more stationary cousins. In modern times, humans have sent probes to all the planets in our solar system, sending back tantalizing views from faraway worlds. The planets are woven into our culture and history. They are signposts of our journey ahead.

This collection of 108 science fiction haiku poems (scifaiku) will take you on a journey of exploration showcasing tiny moments of wonder with each of the planets of our solar system.

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection is nominated for the 2020 Elgin Award for best speculative poetry book of the year.

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Author Interview: Lynne Stringer

I know Author Lynne Stringer as a fellow Knight of the  SciFi Roundtable, an active writer’s group on Facebook.  She writes YA sci-fi and contemporary drama.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Hi, my name is Lynne Stringer, and I love writing! I especially love writing science fiction with a young adult focus. I enjoy creating new worlds and exploring new characters.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote my first book when I was about eight. It was called Goldie the Pony and was written in felt tip. It wasn’t very good, but I kept at it. I loved it when they asked us to write a story in English at school. It was my favourite thing to do. That hasn’t changed.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Not until I wrote my first full-length manuscript when I was in my twenties. It helped that I started to work as a journalist for a small magazine around this time. It made me feel legitimate.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Verindon Alliance takes place in the same world as the trilogy I released in 2013/14. Verindon is a planet where, during the time the trilogy takes place, they have more advanced technology than we have. There are two distinct humanoid species on this planet—the Vendel and the Verindal.

During the time of the trilogy, they live in peace, although there are some tensions and problems beneath the surface. However, The Verindon Alliance is set about a thousand years earlier, at a time when Verindon didn’t have much greater technology than we have today. It was also a time when the Vendel and the Verindal were still at war, so that’s part of the conflict in this novel.

What inspired you to write this book?

The events featured in The Verindon Alliance are referred to in my trilogy. I had loosely sketched out what happened but wanted to see if I could write it out completely.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t like writing outlines, although I have an outline in my head. I usually sit at the keyboard and see where my characters take me.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

With help from my publisher. I suck at titles. We work together to try and come up with the best ones we can.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Racism is something that features in every novel I’ve set on Verindon, as it’s a huge issue there. One thing I featured this time more than I did in the trilogy was implicit bias—how the bias that a person’s been raised with, that has become a major part of their development, is so hard to overcome. It’s a major theme in the novel. The Vendel and the Verindal have to work together. If they don’t …

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, it’s all from my imagination.

What authors have most influenced your life?  What about them do you find inspiring?

I’ve loved a lot of the classics. The Brontës are authors I’ve long adored. They wrote a lot of vivid, emotive books. There were no aliens in their stories, but they still spoke to me. In the science fiction world, I like Timothy Zahn and Vonda McIntyre.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? 

Probably Charlotte Brontë. I would love to talk to her for hours about Jane Eyre.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My publisher has some talented people they use to design their covers. Shame on me—I don’t know their names!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t be in a hurry to get published. You need to take your time and get it as right as you can the first time. Read a lot, write a lot, listen to advice. Find a good professional editor (this is not an optional extra; it’s essential). Always take stock every step of the way before you make a decision.

The Verindon Alliance Book CoverLynne Stringer
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Author Interview: Theresa Halvorsen

Author Theresa Halvorsen describes herself as an overly-caffeinated author of nonfiction and speculative fiction works. She lives in San Diego and is a podcaster for Semi-Sages of the Pages. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Theresa HalversenHi everyone! My name is Theresa Halvorsen and I’m the author of Warehouse Dreams and the Dad’s Playbook to Labor and Birth. In addition to my day job in healthcare, I’m also a podcaster for Semi-Sages of the Pages. Semi-Sages of the Pages is a podcast for writers, from four female speculative fiction writers who are just starting out in our writing journeys. I’m usually over caffeinated, and enjoy big glasses of wine in the evenings. A mother, a wife and a pet-parent, I live in Southern California, in Temecula wine country. I enjoy all things geeky and have attended comic-con for many years, 2020 would’ve been my tenth year. I can quote Princess Bride, Star Wars and Firefly like there’s no tomorrow (and heck, it’s 2020, there might not be a tomorrow). Finally, I enjoy reading spec fiction, helping other writers, and playing complex board games with my friends and family.

When and why did you begin writing?

I can’t remember not writing, or at least not making up stories in my head. My first story, when I was about six, was about a princess whose plane crashed. Luckily, she could talk to animals and after a few scary moments, she made it out of a forest alive. As you can tell, I watched a lot of Disney. About two years ago, I made a commitment to myself that if I wanted to be a writer, wanted to make a living at it, then I had to truly try. I couldn’t wait for “some day”. And so I now plan out my writing time and projects. I’ve had to give up a lot of my free-time but I’m much happier than I’ve been in a very long time.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I believe if you write, you can call yourself a writer. But if people ask me what I do, I rarely say writer. This is an interesting conundrum I probably should reflect on.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Warehouse Dreams, which came out in July 2020, is a unique story about the faculty at a school for telepaths and psychokinetics. It follows Kendle, an admin assistant, holding the underfunded school together with her blood, sweat and tears. A flawed character, she will do anything, including risk getting fired from the job she adores, to protect her students from a world that doesn’t want them. The addition of a new telepathy teacher doesn’t make this year any easier for Kendle either. A soft sci-fi romance, the reviews have been phenomenal.

What inspired you to write this book?

Warehouse Dreams definitely has echoes of real societal problems within. When I was writing it, I looked around at many of the things we’re dealing with, put a sci-fi spin on it, and tucked it into the story.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a very direct and dialogue heavy writer. I always start with the dialogue and my beta readers always comment on how strong and unique my dialogue is. I have to go back and build in the little details that so many other writers start with. I write in the first person because I enjoy digging deeply into a character’s thoughts and emotions. I also love the challenge behind first person; I, as the author, know what my other characters are thinking and feeling, but my main character doesn’t, so I have to figure out how to share that. If you get a chance to read Warehouse Dreams, the fundraising scene is a perfect example of this. There’s a lot of subtexts going on in that scene, that Kendle really doesn’t pick up on because she’s too caught up in her own drama. To me, first person point of view is very real, because our lives are all in first person.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Oh goodness, I’m terrible with titles. Warehouse Dreams is set at a school built into a series of abandoned Warehouses, hence the Warehouse part. And without giving away a spoiler, I’ll say that dreams play an important part of the story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Oh wow, Warehouse Dreams has a lot of messages. Primarily it’s asking the question of what happens when society determines it doesn’t want to deal with and are ultimately afraid of certain members of that society. In addition, there’s themes around the ethics of genetic manipulation of our children, but only for the rich. The sequel explores the second theme more.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

That’s a good question–Kendle does have some challenges with anxiety and I drew on some of my own experiences with anxiety when writing. And while I hate to admit it, I’m not actually a telepath or psychokinetic, though sometimes it would be nice to be one.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I have a great deal of affection for Stephen King; I loved his book On Writing and often quote it to other writers. For me personally, I agree with Stephen King’s thoughts on the necessity of writing every day and reading a lot. I also find my style of writing is similar to Jodi Taylor’s and try to inject the humor, sarcasm and character building that she does so well into my stories.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I’m lucky to be published with a small press publisher, S&H Publishing, who used their own graphic designer. However, this cover went through a few drafts. I wanted the background to be dark, because Warehouse Dreams is a dark story. I wanted the Warehouse to be a part of the cover, but I also wanted the hummingbird on the cover. Throughout Warehouse Dreams, the hummingbird is a theme and a moment of hope when the future is often very bleak and heavy for my characters.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you write, you are a writer. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Read a lot. Read things you wouldn’t normally read and then pull the stories apart to find out what you like and don’t like about them.
It’s ok if your first, tenth or fiftieth drafts suck. Just keep switching out words until you’re happy. And it will take a lot of switching until you are, most of the time. That’s normal.

Learn what to take and what to leave behind when receiving constructive feedback. And yes, you do need constructive feedback on your writing for it to get better.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Ummmm…buy Warehouse Dreams? Listen to my podcast, Semi-Sages of the Pages? Connect with me on social media–I love talking books and writing to anyone who will listen to me and I LOVE meeting other people.

Warehouse Dreams Book CoverTheresa Halvorsen
Temecula, CA

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