This is the fifteenth outing of a new blog series, as I dabble my toes into the mysterious waters of author interviews!
Having watched so many fantastic interviewers (Tricia Drammeh and her Authors to Watch, AFE Smith (see below), Katrina Jack and her New Authors section and Susan Finlay’s Meet the Author to name a few of the best – please check out their wonderful blogs), I’ve always been a little reluctant to throw my hat into the ring…but here goes!
One of my all-time favourite worldbuilding PC games, is Sid Meier’s ‘Alpha Centauri’. So, in homage to that (and a shameless rip off of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ and AFE Smith’s brilliant blog series Barren Island Books), here is my own author interview series – Distant Worlds.
The Distant Worlds strand started a few months ago, focusing on fellow fantasy and sci-fi authors from ultra-cool UK publishing house, Grimbold Books and their imprints, Kristell Ink and Tenebris Books – a bunch of uber-talented and whacky characters who I am also proud to call friends. Check out their cool titles while they’re still at bargain prices! hyperurl.co/GrimboldBooksBut now we’re branching out and will be zoning in on an extraordinary group of people, The Alliance of Worldbuilders (AWB), who I am also VERY proud to call close friends.
The AWB – a bunch of uber-talented fantasy and sci-fi writers and artists who met on the HarperCollins writing site, Authonomy, back in 2010. We formed The Alliance of Worldbuilders, a friendly, inclusive and wacky group and our collective friendships have seen us through some very hard times, including the sad loss of one of our own, Lindsey J Parsons. In honour of Lindsey, our dear friend who tragically died in January 2014, the AWB have created an awesome anthology of short stories, which was published in glorious paperback and e-book on 4th September 2015! It makes the perfect prezzie and ALL profits go to charity, the World Literacy Fund, fighting illiteracy around the world, so grab a great book and help a great cause too! Amazon UK & Amazon US
Right, now to our fifteenth author interview, and our third AWB interview, our very own fantasy castle of paranormal loveliness…
Andrea, YOU find yourself cast adrift in deep space, your colony pod’s life support is failing, your only chance of survival is a distant habitable world…
What 5 essentials would you choose to help you survive?
Oh there are so many unanswered questions about this distant world Sophie, and my first thought was my family, but as I wouldn’t travel without them they’d be right there with me! So, all that said…
- Water filtration system, with enough spares to keep us going for a while, until we could find suitable clean water to maintain life.
- Medical pack, being a practical person, making sure the flint is in there for starting a fire, as the difference between night and day can be hundreds of degrees.
- Books – the whole pod library if I could get it down there, I’d need something to take my mind away and allow me to dream.
- As much food as we could carry, to give us chance to check out the supplies on the planet first, rather than poisoning ourselves on day one.
- A communication system, so we can keep track of what is happening on Earth
What 5 personal items would you salvage from your crashed ship before it explodes?
That’s a difficult one, and some things would be with me anyway, so they don’t count in the five, do they? I’m thinking of the rings my husband gave me that I always wear. The others, let’s see…
- My photographs, a reminder of home.
- Plenty of notepaper and pens!
- My glasses. I normally wear contact lenses, but there would be no point taking those because I’d never get replacements. I need my glasses though, I’m very short-sighted without them!
- My daughter has made me lots of little “I love you” signs over the years, and I’ve kept them all, so I’d take these.
- Music – I’d make sure I’d got some sort of solar-electric power conversion to keep this going. I need music in my life.
Would you seek life-forms for help or go it alone?
I wouldn’t actively seek out others, I’m quite the introvert, so I’d stick with the close group I have to be honest. Having said that, I wouldn’t turn them away if they found us and were friendly.
What 5 fantasy/sci-fi books would you have to keep with you and why?
Only 5!!!!!! I’m not sure I could live with only five of them! Oh well, here goes…
- Robin Hobb, probably the Rain Wild Chronicles
- Nora Roberts, The Cousin’s O’Dwyer series
- Neil Gaiman, Stardust is the one currently closest to me so it would have to be that if we’d crashed…
- Phillip Pullman, His Dark Materials
- CS Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia
Sorry, I admit they’re almost all series, so I guess I’ve cheated a little. 🙂
What 5 songs or albums could you not live without?
Again, with the 5…. This is really hard 😦
- The Muse version of ‘Feeling Good’, I adore it!
- Adele, the Album 21
- Ed Sheeran, X
- Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
- REM – The Best of
You are all alone on a distant world with little chance of being rescued…do you choose water, vodka or coca-cola to drown your sorrows?
Vodka, although I’m not a heavy drinker of spirits, I don’t think I’d want to think too much about my predicament!
Random comet question: Marmite – love it or loathe it?
Loathe it, completely and utterly!
You have 30 seconds (max 100 words) to tell the alien approaching you about your latest book. Remember this is more pressurised than an elevator pitch – screw up and he’ll eat your brains! Go!
My latest book is too raw to work this one through properly, so I’m going to focus on the current release, if that’s ok?
‘Leah’s nightmares are trying to tell her something, and will stop at nothing. When the dreams don’t get through, the message becomes physical in her waking life. What will it take for her to realise the truth?’
How would you choose to spend your time on this distant world?
Once my immediate needs are dealt with (food, water, shelter, heat, I would spend my time reading, listening to music, and writing. This is suddenly starting to sound like bliss!
What 5 things would you miss most about Earth?
- Companionship from those closest to me, and our dog!
- My family, as I know only some of them would have travelled with me, and I’d miss the others dreadfully (I sound like Lady Mary from Downton Abbey there!). It sounds sentimental, but I’m close to my family, and being apart from them, unable to speak to them every day would be unbearable.
- The beautiful scenery of Scotland, I dream my most vivid stories there.
- Independence – the ability to walk, or jump in my car, and visit wherever I wanted without being restricted.
- The smells of home – Vanilla, my daughter’s hair when she’s just washed and dried it, my favourite meal cooking. All the normal things about life I suppose.
What 5 things would you NOT miss about Earth?
- Politics! It drives me mad, you have each side accusing the other of manipulating the press, but of course everything that their own side puts out has to be the truth. As Billy Connolly once said, the desire to be a politician should automatically disbar you from ever being able to become one!
- Along the same lines, war and terrorism. I have my own belief system, and I know others disagree with that. I understand that is their right and have no intention of trying to “convert” them, or hate them for it. I can’t understand the desire to kill someone just because they’re ideas are not the same as your own. Having said that, I do believe that a country has a right to defend itself, and we have a duty to help those that are being victimised.
- Pollution – we’re slowly killing our planet, whether through fumes or the destruction of war.
- Traffic! I spend the best part of two and a half hours a day travelling, and most days am on the road for 06:45 in order to reach my clients at a reasonable time. I hate that this means I miss my daughter getting up in the morning, but it means I’m home for more hours with her in the evening.
- Insects – I’m an entomophobic, and am very scared of anything that crawls or flies. Having said that it stands to reason this new planet will be worse, because at least on Earth I recognise some of them…
Time-traveller questions (for Dr. Who fans): What is the one thing you wish you could turn back time and change?
That’s a really hard one, because of the ripple effect. We’ve just had Rememberance Sunday here, and I’d love to be able to stop so much death and destruction, but as history has proven, there is always going to be someone rising up trying to dominate the rest of the world. Perhaps I’d go back to the creation of man as we are today (however you believe we got her) and remove the gene that makes people hate one another and want to destroy anyone that disagrees with them! But then, perhaps we wouldn’t survive as a race then… Maybe I could wipe out the creation of guns and explosives…
If you had the chance again to go on this deep space adventure, would you take it?
Yes, providing you guaranteed me being able to return home!
What 5 indie authors and books you would recommend to any carbon based lifeform – and why?
- Will Macmillan Jones, The Banned Underground series, great books, and give you a good laugh too.
- Tricia Drammeh, Spellbringers series. It’s no secret that I love paranormal, and Tricia is brilliant with this series – I’d recommend it to everyone, and wish there was more to it!
- Lisa L Wiedmeier, The Timeless Series. This is a difficult one to explain. Lisa’s books appear to be set in the “real” world like my own, but there are significant differences. I love the concept of the Timeless Clans, and the stories that unfold. I’m a severe sufferer of CATTS (chronic addiction to the timeless series), I admit and can’t wait for each book to be released.
- AFE Smith, Darkhaven. I remember reading some of this when I first joined authonomy, and it hooked me even back then, you know how some snippets of books just stay with you. AFE has polished it and it is now published by Harper Voyager.
- It would have to be our very own anthology, A World Of Their Own. What a great way to discover the fantastic group of authors that have contributed to this, and for such fantastic causes too!
What advice can you give to fellow space travellers (writers and readers) out there?
- Never let someone tell you that you read too much – reading is the best way to understand the people and world around you. Personally I think it makes you more tolerant as well.
- Writers, never give up. It doesn’t have to be perfection, write your story, that is what is important.
Before we leave you and blast into another parallel universe, please tell us about yourself and your inspirations!
I’ve made up stories for as long as I can remember – if you think about it we all do as children, in the imaginary worlds we create with our toys. As I got older I would “live” in the world from the latest discovery from the library, making up many “what happened next” stories, and even though I stopped playing, I still lived in those worlds until my late teens.
Once I graduated however I forced myself to stop this, thinking I needed to “grow up”, and that is one of my biggest regrets, as I’ve lost so many great ideas as a result.
I read so many books it’s hard to name inspirations – at one stage when I was younger I’d read 12-14 books a week, so to name them all would be impossible. I’m married, with an eleven year old daughter and a cocker spaniel named Ellie. In real life I’m a management consultant, specialising in transforming public services, which sounds quite boring doesn’t it?
Andrea Baker was born and raised in the beautiful English county of Warwickshire, where she lived with her parents and older sister. She left home to study at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, from where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science, with honours, in 1992. She now works as an independent management consultant, and lives less than five miles from the town and castle of Kenilworth, in Warwickshire, with her husband and their daughter.
Worlds Apart is a series of romantic fantasy books, the first of which, entitled Leah, was originally released on October 11th 2012. Since January 2014 it has been published by Rose Wall Publishing.
I have made up, and written, stories for as long as I can remember, even before I could effectively write them down. Rose was a nickname that I had within the family as a child, and as a result, anything that I have written, has the pen name Rose Wall. Other than a few poems in student anthologies, none of my writing has been published.
The idea for Worlds Apart has been in my mind for quite a while now, and I often wrote ideas, and dream sequences down into a notebook. In 2010, I started converting these into a story, and completed almost thirty thousand words whilst still working full time, in a high profile programme run on behalf of the Department for Education.
The Programme was closed at the end of November 2010, and after managing the handover of outstanding matters to the Department for Education, I found myself unemployed in January 2011. During the next four months, while trying to find another job, I used my spare time to continue my writing, and this novel, Worlds Apart: Leah, and the outline for its sequel, is the result.
Worlds Apart: Leah
Nightmares are just dreams, aren’t they? They cannot hurt you.
It is simply your mind playing tricks…
Or are they?
Leah’s nightmares are trying to tell her something, something her mind is refusing to let her see.
At nineteen, Leah is still mourning the untimely death of her mother in an accident five years earlier. Her Father decides to move them both to a small Warwickshire town, for a fresh start. But Leah is plagued with terrifying nightmares, that seem to spill into her waking hours, and which somehow bring her comfort as well as fear. Conscious of the warnings in her dreams, and nervous of his growing temper, she deliberately withholds the details of these dreams from her Father.
One morning, Leah sets off up to the Castle, even though her Father would be furious that she had gone there alone. Settling down in her favourite spot, she dozes off in the sunshine, and for the first time experiences a nightmare outside the safety of her home. Disorientated from being awoken mid-dream, she instinctively distrusts the handsome young stranger, Ben, who had awoken her from her dream, yet is strangely attracted to him.
Over the next few weeks the two young people get to know each other better, and Leah finds herself more and more attracted to Ben. Her father finally discovers the relationship when she comes home late one evening. He attacks her, bruising her arm badly.
She fails to hide the injury from Ben the next day, avoiding the subject by questioning him about his music. As a thunder storm erupts they leave the shop at a run, racing together to his car. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a motorcycle skids in the rain, crashing into Leah and sending her flying into a wall.
Her recovery is hampered by her father’s temper and a break-in at the hospital, but this is tempered with the deepening relationship with Ben. Forced to move in with his family, Leah overhears mysterious conversations, her dreams begin to worsen and violent storms rage as she attempts to piece together the jigsaw of facts as they start to emerge.
A climactic event following a regional talent show final sees both Ben and Leah being severely injured, but they are saved by mysterious creatures. Passing out as a result of her injuries, and her discovery, Leah is transported back to the house, but when she awakes, Ben is missing. Forced into a journey of discovery, she finds hidden, surreal worlds within traditional English settings along with a truth about herself and her past that she can barely allow herself to believe, let alone understand.
Thank you, Andrea. Congratulations, you are survivor! A passing exploratory science vessel has honed in on your distress beacon, you’re going home!!!
Happy Horizons! 😀 xx
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Andrea Baker is on Distant Worlds!
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