Thanks for having me as your guest today!
The earliest influence on my writing was Andre Norton. Her books were favorites of my science-fiction loving Dad and he gave me Catseye at around age seven or thereabouts. He figured cats, outer space, archaeology – why wouldn’t I love it? And I did…
I read every book of hers that I could find, intrigued by the infinite possibilities of a future civilization in space. I particularly enjoyed the glimpses and hints she gave of other, alien civilizations that came before, beings that we would never know firsthand but would always puzzle over when we found traces of their existence. She called them the Forerunners. I relished the adventures her characters had in a well-established world. The camaraderie her main characters always found with a select group of like-minded people, be it the Space Rangers or the Free Traders, made me (an only child for eight years) happy!
There was clearly not enough romance in the books, however! That’s one of the reasons I started writing my own science fiction around the seventh grade and never looked back. I understand at the time Ms. Norton was writing and especially in her science fiction (as opposed to the Witch World fantasy series), romance wasn’t a “done” thing. Thank goodness we can write science fiction romance now and have fully formed female characters who want their part in the adventure and in solving the problems to arrive at a Happily Ever After.
In my science fiction romances, I always know who the hero and heroine are when I sit down to begin telling the story. I like the tough-but-caring military man. The “quiet professional” approach to life appeals to me in a guy. When the bad things happen, you know he’ll be right there in the thick of the action. He’s also got a soft spot in his heart, a caring side he doesn’t show too much or to just anyone. And the heroes in my books admire strong, capable women, because my heroines don’t give an inch. As a reviewer said about the character of Mara in WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, “She’s not there to be rescued, either help her (save others) or get out of her way.”
So my guys are alpha, take charge, special forces soldiers of their time, be it the far future or the distant past. Usually they have some personal challenge as well though (not going to give spoilers) because I try above all to write the characters as all too human, and no man or woman is all one characteristic.
Two of the heroines in my three published SFRs to date are intergalactic businesswomen – smart, ambitious, with unexpected skills that sometimes take the heroes by surprise. The third is a blind princess on an alien world, who has inner strength and abilities that make her an equal partner to the offworld soldier with whom she falls in love.
As I mentioned above, Andre Norton presented her readers with mysteries and back story that often never got fully explained to the audience or to the characters. She provided tantalizing glimpses of all the other stuff, just enough to leave me wanting more. Because I always enjoyed that element of her plots so much, I try to create similar worlds to the best of my ability. For the SFRs, which occur in a future galactic civilization called the Sectors, I have a detailed backstory for myself about things and events that happened before the humans ever got out there. I work hints into the plots as I can.
When it comes to the planet-based happenings, I like to have a mix of mystery and mythology, unique to that world but also sometimes tied back to those unknowable civilizations that “came before”. Then as I write the story, I ask myself “why this…” and how does that…” and “if I lived on this planet what would I…” The novels may be science fiction, based in a technological, galactic civilization, but I want there to be that element of something else, something mystical, that can’t quite be explained. By anyone!
I’m a voracious reader, so I’ve read scads of other authors and series since Dad introduced me to the genre, but I’ll never forget the thrill of discovery that was mine as I devoured Catseye on that long ago afternoon!
Veronica’s Latest Science Fiction Romance is Mission of Mahjundar:
An attempted asassassination left Princess Shalira blind as a child and, now that she’s of marriageable age, her prospects are not good because of her disability. She’s resigned herself to an arranged marriage rather than face life under the thumb of her cold stepmother.
But then she meets Mike Varone, a Sectors Special Forces officer sent to Mahjundar by the intergalactic government to retrieve a ship lost in her planet’s mountains. After Mike saves Shalira from another assassination attempt, she arranges for him to escort her across the planet to her future husband. She’s already falling hard for the deadly offworlder and knows she should deny herself the temptation he represents, but taking Mike along to protect her is the only way she’ll live long enough to escape her ruthless stepmother.
But what should have been an easy trek through Mahjundar’s peaceful lands swiftly turns into an ambush with danger around every turn. Shalira’s marriage begins to seem less like an arranged union and more like yet another planned assassination. The more they work together to survive, the harder it becomes to stop themselves from falling in love. Caught in a race against time, can they escape the hostile forces hunting them and make it off the planet?