Sometimes, the bright spot of your day arrives unexpectedly.
When I first heard about author Pauline Baird Jones while tossing back a Midori Sour over at the Intergalactic Bar & Grille, I wanted to know more.
Ms. Jones wrote THE KEY, an epic science fiction romance with a strong heroine, sexy hero, AND an intergalactic Happily Ever After!
Here’s the description from Pauline’s Web site:
"When Sara Donovan joins Project Enterprise she finds out that what doesn’t kill her makes her stronger....
An Air Force pilot—the best of the best to be assigned to this mission—Sara isn’t afraid to travel far beyond the Milky Way on an assignment that takes her into a galaxy torn apart by a long and bitter warfare between the Dusan and the Gadi.
After she’s shot down and manages to land safely on an inhospitable planet, Sara encounters Kiernan Fyn—a seriously hot alien with a few secrets of his own—he’s a member of a resistance group called the Ojemba, lead by the mysterious and ruthless Kalian. Together they must avoid capture, but can they avoid their growing attraction to each other?
A mysterious, hidden city on the planet brings Sara closer to the answers she seeks—about her baffling abilities and her mother’s past. She has no idea she’s being pulled into the same danger her mother fled—the key to a secret left behind by a lost civilization, the Garradians.
The Dusan and the Gadi want the key. So do the Ojemba. They think Sara has it. They are willing to do anything to get it.
Sara will have to do anything to stop them...."
Ms. Jones agreed to answer some questions I had about her work, and of course I’m going to share them with all of you (and to heighten the fun, Chef is passing out Midori Sours as we speak!):
The Galaxy Express: SFR is a steady market, but still a niche one. Despite that challenge, something must have inspired you to write THE KEY. Please tell us about that.
I commit random acts of writing, going where the muse--and not the market--takes me. It's a tough road, but then this is a tough business. I have to enjoy the writing, or I'd have no reason to write.
That said, Sara started as a piece of fan fiction that I was just trying to get out of my head, before starting a new book. I'd been watching a lot of Stargate Atlantis and got this really good idea (I still think it would rock as an episode or two) that wouldn't go away. I decided to write it down and then move on. Well, 100 pages later, I realized I had a really great character who needed her own story (and one that I could legally write). It took some false starts before I realized what she'd been trying to tell me all along. She was the only thing I got out of my 100 pages of fan fiction, so maybe some day I'll get to write that episode...)
Sara is an Air Force pilot, involved in a secret project to explore other galaxies—and on the journey she finds out about herself and a past lost to her when her parents died.
It was so dang fun to write this book. I loved the freedom that science fiction gave me to move and try and experiment and just play. I read a lot of genres, so science fiction wasn't unknown to me, I just hadn't tried writing it for myself. I thought I needed to be a scientist, or at least have gotten better grades in science. I found out I just needed to follow my muse, my character, and my imagination.
TGE: What were the highs and lows of becoming a published author?
Oh wow. The lows are the obvious ones: rejections, bad reviews, trying to find ways to let readers know I exist while still managing to write more books, people who ask you when you're going to write a "real" book....
But the highs are what keep me going. The first publication, the first fan letter, the first great review and then all the ones that come after, the occasional award...
I love spending time with these characters that come to me from who knows where and then I love sharing them with readers.
I've always loved reading, so it was natural to start writing my own. I'm not wild about the business of writing, but I love being a writer.
I love being a small/indie press author because I can write romantic suspense/comedy, then veer into an action/adventure/time travel set in WWII and I can zoom into space and no one tells me, you can't do that. You can't write that. (Not even when the book ran over 140,000 wds. My editor just dubbed it the BAB—big ass book—and helped me make it work. You have to love that!)
TGE: In addition to THE KEY, you've authored seven fiction books, two non-fiction, and contributed to four anthologies. Any advice for aspiring writers, especially those interested in SFR?
Learn the business. Learn the craft of writing, but also learn how it all works, learn how to manage a small business and promote yourself. Learn how to be your own advocate...and don't forget to have fun or it won't be worth it.
TGE: Can you give us a peek at your next SFR tale? Even just a little one? Pretty please?
It's embarrassing, because my next book doesn't even have a name yet! I started it last summer then real life came and slammed my family upside the head, so I'm just getting back into it. It is set in the same universe as The Key, but will be a stand alone story with some new characters (and some from The Key). Since it's not yet ready for public viewing, how about I share an excerpt from my short story, Men in Jeans, which has a guest appearance by Kiernan Fyn, from The Key:
"When Richard Daniels started working at Area 51, he figured he’d see some weird stuff, but he never thought he’d get sent out on a gig with ET as his side kick. They were Area 51’s version of Men in Black, though they were dressed in tee shirts and jeans. Blended in better.
Well, Rick blended in better. He flicked a glance at Kiernan Fyn, his extra terrestrial companion. He looked more biker than space guy. According to the guys who’d know, Fyn could kick ass in at least two galaxies. Maybe that’s why no one had made him trim his dread locks to conform to military regs.
“Quiet,” Fyn said, staring at the house.
He should know. Rick shut off the engine, adding to the silence in the clearing. When he’d picked Fyn up, his wife said he was excited to get out of Area 51. He didn’t look excited then. Didn’t look it now. If his expression had changed in the last twenty-four hours, Rick had missed it.
“Yeah.” To fill the silence he added, “Maybe she’s not home.”
No way to tell with the garage door closed. Place looked and felt isolated, though technically it wasn’t. There were houses all around, but the lots were large, some close to half an acre. And the freeway was about five hundred yards through the trees. Not to mention freaking huge Houston, Texas in every direction. According to one of the local guys, the neighbors were “Texas close.” Guess that meant they were in the same time zone.
That doubled Fyn’s output from yesterday. Rick almost made a joke about him talking too much, but yesterday’s joke hadn’t gone well. No one could say Rick didn’t learn from his mistakes.
If they’d been tracking terrorists, Fyn was the guy Rick would most want at his back. He was like seven feet tall, all of it solid muscle. A bit of overkill as back up for a visit to a writer, though.
Unless she was ET, too.
Or a traitor.
Ric contemplated Fyn. No, even if she was all those things and more, he was still overkill."
The anthology DEATH IN TEXAS, where one can find MEN IN JEANS, will be released in October, 2008.
TGE: Publishing-wise, where do you see yourself in five years?
I'd like to write and publish books that I loved writing, loved sharing. Will I be famous? I'd love to be, because it would mean more readers were reading my books, but I have no clue. I do know that, as along as I'm not dead, I'll be writing. :-)
Pauline, I really appreciate the opportunity to interview you!
Now for some perilously good links:
Here are reviews of THE KEY here, here, and here.
THE KEY is an award-winning book, having scored the Independent Book Bronze Medal (IPPY) for 2008. Learn more about it at Pauline’s Web site, and then visit her blog to say hello!
When you’re done, you can order THE KEY for your reading pleasure (so you can tell Pauline you knew her "way back when").