Friday, 30 September 2011

Paradise 21 - An Interview with Aubrie Dionne

Today I am delighted to be joined by prolific author Aubrie Dionne who is here to talk about her new book, music – and why she’d invite Luke Skywalker onto her TV show…

Firstly, here’s a little information on Aubrie’s latest book Paradise 21:

"Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind’s last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where humanity can begin anew—a planet that won’t be reached in Aries’ lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe, she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries-long voyage.
But Aries has other plans.
When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers the rumors about pirates—humans who escaped Earth before its demise—are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possesses the freedom Aries envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from above and hunted by the planet’s native inhabitants, Aries quickly learns her freedom will come at a hefty price.
The life of the man she loves."

Catherine: Congratulations on your new book, Paradise 21. This is Book One in a series called ‘A New Dawn’ and is a Sci-Fi Romance. Could you tell us a bit more about it and how the idea developed for this story and the series?

Aubrie:  Sure, great question! I’m a big worry wart, and I find myself worrying about what will happen to the human race after the planet becomes uninhabitable or when our sun burns out. Now, I know this is millions of years from now (or not by the way things are going), but I worry all the same.

I wondered if people could live their whole lives on ships, passing our history and DNA to generation after generation until we reached another planet capable of sustaining life. This is where the idea for the New Dawn series came from. There’d be a lot of colony ships, probably all going to different planets, so then I thought I’d write a book for each ship.

Catherine: Your writing is highly visual. If a film were to be made of Paradise 21. who would you cast as Aries and Striker?

Aubrie:  Aries: Evangeline Lilly (from LOST). Striker: Clive Owen. But I could never actually *talk* to him in real life. I’d blush and giggle all over the place.

Catherine:  Readers may not know that you are also a professional flute player, teacher and own your own music business. How do you balance all these elements of your life and which, would you say, presents the greatest challenge?

Aubrie:  I love careers so much that I wanted two of them! I don’t have any kids, so I have a lot of free time. I make sure I get up every day and work on both careers to keep up. At the end of the day I ask myself what I did to progress in each career.  

The hard part is when they come up against each other: One Saturday I had to cancel my flute lessons to go to a book signing. That’s always tough, and it’s hard to decide which one to follow.

Catherine:  As a highly prolific and successful author, who has crossed genres, what advice would you give aspiring new writers?

Aubrie:  Keep writing. Write a lot. Try different genres, styles, POV’s until you find your own voice. It took me four books to get an agent, and many, many nights of typing story after story on my computer. It’s not like you’re going to write one book and be famous. (Well, it is for some people, but not most.) You have to work at it, just like all the hours I practiced my flute. 

Catherine: Sounds like good advice to me.  In your opinion and experience, in order to be successful, how much responsibility for marketing rests with the author and how much with the publisher?

Aubrie:  I think they have to meet halfway. The publisher should be promoting on their end, but the author has to put herself or himself out there as well. I signed up for four book tours and three signings for Paradise 21 alone. I’m on Twitter and Blogger, connecting to readers every day.

Catherine:  Now a fun question. If you were hosting a TV chat show and could invite 3 guests (living or dead) to intervew, who would they be and what would you want to talk to them about?

Aubrie: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart- although I’d probably need a German translator! I’d play one of his flute concertos for him and see what he thinks.

Luke Skywalker- I’d ask him to teach me something about the force. Maybe even learn to use a light saber!

Data from Star Trek The Next Generation- I’d like to know where he ended up in his process to become more human. I had a bit of a crush on him growing up, so maybe I’d give him a hug, too. 

Catherine:  Finally, what’s next for Aubrie and where can we find you?

Aubrie:  I just finished edits on the sequel to Paradise 21, Tundra 37. This story is about a ship that crashes on a barren ice planet. I love it. It has woolly mammoths, cyber women, and lots and lots of laser fights.

I’m currently working on the third book in the series: Haven 6. This takes place mainly on a jungle planet.

Where can you find me?

Catherine: Thank you for taking the time to join me today. I’m looking forward to the new books!

Aubrie:  Thanks so much for having me, Cat!

To whet your appetite for this riveting story, here’s an excerpt from Paradise 21:

Aries sped through space in her escape pod as if she fled the event horizon of a dying star. The controls blinked warnings around her, but she ignored them, pressing the touchscreen to fire the engines to full capacity.

Let’s see how fast this antique can go.

Her sweaty palms slipped on the cold metal as she clutched the restraining bar across her seat. Freedom intoxicated her, coursing through her veins like she drank liquid fire.
She squeezed her eyes shut and screamed, releasing raging emotions held back from years of conforming and keeping her true thoughts silent. Many times Aries had thought her head would implode from the pressure, but instead she’d schemed, plotting the day of her departure down to the last water bottle. As the sound of her voice dissipated, she opened her eyes and peered at the stars as they blurred into streaks of shimmering light.

The time flashed on the screen in fluorescent green: 1638. Aries committed the numbers to memory. She’d have at least three hours before the ceremony and reception ended and her fellow Lifers began searching for her. Her shipmates would check her cell first, then activate the locator embedded in her arm. When they realized she’d jumped ship, they’d stop the engines and count the escape pods. By then, Aries would be a parsec away from the New Dawn.

Maybe they wouldn’t come. Giddiness bubbled in her throat with the thought of the ship coursing away without her, but she knew better. They’d turned the New Dawn around before, and knowing Lieutenant Barliss, he’d have it no other way. Not only was he a high-ranking officer, but she was his chosen mate, scheduled to be bound to him in ceremony next month. Her escape would prevent Barliss from passing on their combined genetic code. There was no doubt that a man who followed the Guide to the letter would come after the woman whose DNA he needed.

The orange bulk of Sahara 354 claimed the horizon on the main sight panel. Aries soaked in the sight of the small, forgotten planet, like the first time she’d seen pictures of old Earth. Although the conditions of life on Sahara 354 were reportedly bleak, to Aries it looked like a haven. Blue and red lights flashed on the panel in front of her, warning her of the change in trajectory as the pod entered the planet’s gravitational pull. Aries shut off the thrusters and allowed the vessel to sail into orbit. She glided in space, using the pod’s sensors to complete a full scan of the surface, searching for signs of resources or life. Although she had enough food and water for days, they’d only delay an inevitable death if she couldn’t find further sustenance.

Time ticked away, seconds she knew she couldn’t waste. The New Dawn traveled much faster than an escape pod, and she needed time to fake her own death and disappear. The vast wasteland stretching before her only had small pockets of water and plant life. If she didn’t choose her landing spot wisely, she’d be plummeting to a real demise.

The sight panel for the exterior cameras beeped, letting her know the pod now glided close enough to visualize the surface. Aries drew up the suggested location with the tip of her finger. The screen displayed a smear of sand cut with jagged protrusions of rock, but the life-form locator told her more. A conglomeration of several beings inhabited the area, and not mere insects or microscopic fungi: human-sized creatures. She dismissed the thought of Outlanders; the New Dawn had traveled too far, too fast, for any straggling humans to have made it to this planet ahead of her. Whatever form the creatures took, if they could survive down there, then so could she.

Aries triple-checked her readings before entering the coordinates. She wasn’t going to make the same mistake as the last escapee. She blocked a vision of Tria’s grotesquely dehydrated skin from her thoughts. Her friend had made a run for a different planet without testing it for compatibility. In Tria’s mad rush to get away, she’d landed on a barren rock with a vacuum atmosphere that had sucked her lungs dry in seconds. The New Dawn had gone all the way back to find a corpse.

With a nervous touch on the control panel, Aries retested the quality of the atmosphere, the pull of gravity, and the radiation levels. Scouts had explored the territory centuries before astrophysicists had fused together the first chrome plates of the New Dawn. Their historical readings had proven accurate for other planets, but Aries still verified the findings for herself. The 354th known desert planet ranked close enough to Earth. Not adequate to sustain a large population or major colonization effort, but adequate to keep a 120-pound woman alive.

Taking a deep breath, she punched in the coordinates. The panels went wild, compiling the information. The computer estimated a new trajectory, and she turned on the thrusters once again. The engines rumbled, pounding deep within her stomach.

The inside of the pod rattled. Lifers never used or maintained the flight pods, so she felt lucky the one she’d chosen worked at all. Would the metal skin on this pod hold together as she entered an alien atmosphere?  She could either take the risk, or circle this planet until the New Dawn came back to get her–the New Dawn with Lieutenant Barliss aboard. Holding her breath, Aries activated the final landing sequence. Even if the descent killed her, she’d rather perish on an alien planet than complete her ceremonial obligations.

The restraining bar of her chair shook violently, and she lost feeling in her arms. The air boiled in the small compartment, and her face burned. If she didn’t disintegrate, then her head would burst from the pressure. Tears flicked backward from her eyes while she held on, gritting her teeth. An alarm sounded, reminding her to release the parachute. She tried to move, but the force of gravity glued her hand to the armrest, stretching her skin taut. After counting to three, she took a breath and grunted as she yanked her arm up and pressed the touchscreen, hoping the chute would work.

A bright flash of light blinded her, and splotches exploded under her eyelids. The pod hit the ground, and her world went black.