Talking with Author Jess Anastasi
Thanks for stopping by to talk a little about your writing! Let's jump right in. When did you begin writing and why?
I began writing fourteen years ago, the year after I left high school. The idea of writing a book had been in the back of my mind since I'd been around fifteen. It wasn't until I'd been out of high school in the world for a while, had realized my choice of studies wasn't what I wanted to do and was between jobs that I decided to try writing a book. But there were a few other factors to the why—mostly that I think writing was in my blood and through my teenage years, I'd experimented with a few kinds of writing. Penning an entire book was a challenge, and I'm the kind of person who enjoys a challenge. Once I'd written that first book (even though it was not great) I knew it was what I wanted to be doing with my life.
Do you have a favorite genre? Is it the same genre you prefer to write?
I tend to bounce between different sub-genres of romance. I started out reading historical fantasy, before moving onto historical romance, then moved to paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and urban fantasy, before finally getting into sci-fi romance. I still read all of these genres, and occasionally read totally outside these genres when the mood takes me. Really, if it’s a well written book, I'll pretty much read anything.
Do certain themes and ideas tend to capture your writer’s imagination and fascinate you?
It kind of depends on what I'm working on. For instance, a while ago I was very much interested in the older hero/younger heroine trope, and ended up writing Damage Control. So my interests or what I'd like to work with tend to change with the book or series.
However, one thing I'm always interested in is what I call "gray" characters—the ones where you don't really know if they're good or bad. Are they a good person on a dark path? Or a bad person looking for redemption? Someone who made a few too many bad choices and don't know how they ended up where they are in life? I always thought it would be a huge challenge to write this kind of character and do it really well. Rian in Atrophy is kind of my masterpiece in this respect. He's got a really dark past that hugely affects the person he is now, and struggles with his demons every day to the extreme. When I first started writing him, it was actually almost uncomfortable delving into that much darkness, but now I've kind of gotten used to him. Still, he pushes the boundaries a lot of the time, but I figure that unless I'm pushing myself, I'm going to get bored pretty quickly!
Do you have a favorite author who introduced you to the genre?
Linnea Sinclair was the first sci-fi romance author I ever read. Her book, Finders Keepers was kind of a revelation. I was addicted right away, and went looking for other titles by her, even as I branched out to other sci-fi romance authors. It took a little while, but eventually I worked up the courage to write a sci-fi romance myself.
What advantages or challenges does a writer in your genre face in today’s fiction market?
I'm sure you've heard it said before, but I think one of the biggest challenges any writer faces today is exposure, and this is especially true for sci-fi romance authors. For some reason, a lot of people just don't know sci-fi romance even exists, though I think this is starting to change. Genre aside, with the saturation of books on the market at the moment, it’s a huge challenge trying to get books in front of readers, to get them to pick your book over the hundreds of others they're exposed to week after week. What works one week for one author may not work the following week for the next. I don’t think anyone has the magic answer for this, certainly not me. Truthfully, I don’t spend a lot of time doing promo, I’m more focused on simply writing books at this stage.
Tell me a little about the characters in Atrophy
Well I've already mentioned Rian, he's the captain of the Imojenna—an ex-war hero flying an ex-war supply runner vessel along with a small crew, which includes his sister. After taking some damage, they make an emergency landing on the prison planet, Erebus, where they end up with a stowaway and new kind of trouble. The story has been compared to Joss Whedon’s Firefly, I think because of the similar dynamics of a close-knit crew living and working on a ship together.
Where’s the story set? How much influence did the setting have on the atmosphere/characters/development of the story?
The story is set in the distant, unspecified future. The galaxy has been settled, but there are others lurking just out of sight—shape shifting aliens who are steadily but surely infiltrating all levels of government and military before they launch the final invasion. Rian was captured and tortured by these beings, and his scars, plus the knowledge he carries that the wider universe at large is unaware of, I think really sets the tone and mood of the book. Everything pretty much always comes back to Rian… I want to say he's kind of like the sun that everything else orbits around, but it might be a little egotistical on his behalf!
If you had to write your memoir in five words, what would you write?
Attempting to Live Outside Myself
How often does your muse distract you from day to day minutiae?
Truthfully, it used to be more of a problem than it is now. My muse and I had to come to an understanding about when and where we interact once I started having my kids. In my early 20s, my head was always in the clouds, which might have been why I had trouble keeping a steady job while I was studying. I was always half thinking about the book or assignment I was working on, or coming up with new ideas, or running dialogue through my head. These days, occasionally something will sneak up on me, but I usually write it down or file it away for later when I'm not at my other job or running after the kids.
What do readers have to look forward to in the future from you?
In 2016 I'll be releasing the next two books in the Atrophy series, titled Quantum and Diffraction. I'm also hoping to release a new romantic suspense series I've been working on featuring a team of Australian black-ops agents in late 2016 to early 2017, but as of now its still in the works.
As for Quantum, that story features one of Rian's oldest friends, Captain Admiral Zander Graydon, and unfortunately for the crew of the Imojenna and their fight against the shape shifting aliens, things are only going to get more complicated.
Genre: science fiction romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, Otherworlds imprint
Twelve years on the prison planet Erebus makes a man long for death. The worst part for Tannin Everette is that he was framed for murder. He's innocent. When the ship Imojenna lands for emergency repairs, Tannin risks everything to escape...only to find himself face to face with the captain's undeniably gorgeous sister.
In the diffused glow of her cabin, her eyes looked almost black and her tousled hair a rich deep gold. She smelled like summer-storm-rain on a hot day back home on Barasa, bringing another sting of innocent days past. He could feel her lush curves yielding against him, though tension ran through every line of her body.
She knew he was onboard now. The only way he’d be getting off this hellhole of a planet was with her cooperation. If she would agree to hide him. His heart tripped over itself. It’d been a long time since he’d trusted anyone besides himself, and she almost literally held his life in her hands.
“I need your help.” His voice came out uneven and he swallowed against the tightness in the back of his throat.
She shook her head, pressing herself harder against the wall, her nails digging into the skin on his forearm.
“Please, just listen. I need to get off Erebus. I know you have no reason to trust me, especially now. It’s asking a lot, I know that, too.” Helpless emotion he’d long thought dead and buried tightened his chest. For once, he needed something in the universe to go his way, for this stranger to give him the chance the IPC justice system hadn’t. “I just need a little faith here. So I’m going to take my hand off your mouth, because I don’t want to hurt you, and I don’t want you to be afraid of me.”
With a short breath, knowing with almost total certainty that his one chance of freedom was about to be blown, he dropped his hands away from her and stepped back.
She didn’t shift, didn’t run, and didn’t scream for help, just stood there with fingers locked on her necklace, her chest rising and falling rapidly.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Tannin Everette.”
Fatigue started catching up with him as his body finally hit the adrenaline wall and splattered into a jelly-like mess. His limbs heavy, he walked to her unmade bed and dropped onto the edge. He scrubbed both hands over his face, swallowing again around the tautness in his throat and stared unseeing at the floor. Would he really allow himself to be killed rather than return to a life on Erebus? Panic blended with grief in a sickening whirlpool of misery. He wasn’t brave enough to die, rather than stay on Erebus. Survival instincts reared within him, despite the depravity he’d be facing out in the general population upon his return.
“You’re the guy who came in after that officer attacked me.”
Her bare feet appeared in his line of vision, toenails painted gold and a petite, graphite-colored ring on the little toe of her left foot. She crouched down and touched his chin, bringing his head up.
“What happened to you?”
No one had ever asked him what happened. As far as everyone had been concerned, the case had been cut and dry, no need to ask any questions when the apparent evidence was so overwhelming.Buy link:
Entangled Publishing: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/atrophy/
Jess has been making up stories ever since she can remember. Though her messy handwriting made it hard for anyone else to read them, she wasn’t deterred and now she gets to make up stories for a living. She loves loud music, a good book on a rainy day, and probably spends too much time watching too many TV shows. Jess lives in regional
, with her
very supportive husband, three daughters, two hyper-active border collie dogs,
and one cat who thinks he’s one of the kids. Victoria, Australia