I’m very pleased to welcome Amanda Bridgeman to my blog. She’s the author of Aurora:Dawin (and its sequel Aurora:Pegasus) a very enjoyable read that I found hard to put down and looked forward to picking up again. There were some lovely creepy elements to this book and I found I was really interested in how Carrie Welles managed in such a male-focussed world. The touch of romance was enticing and I thought complex too,.
Look out for the fan girl questions at the end!
How would you describe Aurora Darwin?
Ultimately it’s a Space Opera. It has a science fiction backdrop but it is very character-driven with plenty of action, romance, a touch of horror and a dash of humour.
Amanda tell us a bit about yourself
I’m originally from Geraldton (WA), but moved to Perth to attend university and have lived there ever since (aside from a 19 month stint in the UK). I used to write a lot in my teens but then stopped as I fell in love with film. I went on to study film/tv/creative writing at uni, then did a bit of extra work on film and tv sets. Years later, I came full circle and found myself writing again. Other than a brief travel article in a local paper, the Aurora books are my first publications.
What was your path to publication?
Basically I wrote the first 5 books of the Aurora series in my ‘cave’. By the time I’d finished the five, I had mustered up enough courage to let a few people actually read them, and it turned out they liked them! I then had the confidence to emerge from my cave and seek publication. I initially tried to land an agent in the US but I wasn’t successful (looking back, my query letter sucked). I then changed tact and tried publishers in Australia, and landed a contract with Momentum.
How did that story evolve for you? Or was it a progression? Would you say the characters remained the same and that the story changed around them or vice versa?
Aurora: Darwin originally went by another name and was only supposed to be one book. BUT, by the time I got to the end of the ‘Darwin’ story it had evolved and I realised that these characters had only just started their journey. The more I wrote, the more I uncovered until finally their true paths were revealed. It has become somewhat of an epic now and will be a multi-book series!
What inspired you about the characters and the situation the story put them in?
With Carrie Welles, in a way, it was kind of like a ‘horror for chicks’ tale, in that I imagined the worst thing that could happen to a woman. In my mind it was being stuck in an isolated place, not knowing who you could trust, and having evil things trying to get to you, to do equally evil things. Captain Saul Harris was much the same, except he has the weight of the world (or should I say his team) upon his shoulders. It’s his job to try and get them home safely.
Did you did a lot of research or read a lot of SF as part of your preparation for writing the story?
Having spent a large part of my life immersed in film, most of my inspiration came from SF/Space Opera films, to be honest. I feel rather under-read compared to some writers! My research was a mix of film inspiration and a lot of googling!
What is your writing process?
With most of the Aurora series I was writing almost every day (social media wasn’t a ‘thing’ in my life back then). When it comes to my stories, I tend to have all the key scenes worked out in my head first. When I have the basic plot and key scenes all worked out, I then start writing and just figure out how to get from one key scene to the next as I write. So I guess it was a little of both – planning and panstering.
What do you prefer drafting the story or revising and reworking?
I prefer editing/revising. Having had 12 months off from writing ‘fresh’ stuff (for the last year I’ve been doing mainly editing) and getting back into writing ‘new’ stuff recently, I realise just how hard it is (and time consuming) to get that skeleton down. Especially after writing in the same world for five years and now creating a brand new world! Once the skeleton is down (the basic plot & character development) then the revising is easier and more rewarding.
What part of writing do you find hardest?
First drafts. It’s hard trying to move forward when you know it’s a bit shitty. But I have learnt that it’s okay for that first draft to be shitty. That’s why I like editing, because you get to make it better!
What do you plan to work on next?
I would like to release another two books in the Aurora Series this year (which are already written), plus I’d like to have the new book I’m writing ready for submission by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!
Here is the blurb and yes more questions at the end.
A distress signal on the edge of inhabited space. A mission that is far outside normal parameters. Two very different people with one common goal survival.
When a distress signal is received from a black-ops space station on the edge of inhabited space, Captain Saul Harris of the UNF Aurora is called in from leave to respond. But the mission is not what it seems. Female members of the United National Forces have not been allowed to travel into the outer zones before, but Harris is ordered to take three new female recruits.
For Corporal Carrie Welles, one of the Aurora‘s new recruits, her first mission in space seems like a dream come true. Determined to achieve the success of her father before her, and suddenly thrust into a terrifying mission, she must work with her new captain and the strained Aurora crew to make it home alive.
When the Aurora arrives at the station Harris and Welles soon find themselves caught up in a desperate fight for survival. Station Darwin is not what they expected. The lights are off. But somebody is home.
Fan girl questions
The book to me opens like a movie, in that we are following two people on an adventure and then slowly get introduced to the others. Is this what you had in your mind’s eye when writing the book? Yeah, I did. Harris and Carrie and the ones we meet first because I wanted the reader to follow just those two alone for a bit, so they could get comfortable with them. Doc is then introduced next because in terms of plot and sub-plots, he is the next most important character in this book, and warrants a ‘special’ introduction as well. The female recruits are singled out a little to enhance them as outsiders, and the rest of the Aurora crew are introduced together – as a team - to have the opposite effect. I think it would’ve been chaos to introduce all of them together at once, and the slow introductions enable the reader to get to know the MCs well before the shit hits the fan!
Speaking of movies: do you have actors in mind for some of the roles? I was think Scarlett Johansson for Carrie
Oh yes! Being a film buff, I’m always ‘scouting’ who would be great in the roles, should my dream film ever be made . Here’s my picks:
Captain Saul Harris – I’ve always pictured him as Will Smith, but I’m also very keen on Idris Elba too.
Corporal Carrie Welles – I’m not sure about Carrie, but she needs to do an Australian accent – and no-one seems to be able to do one unless they’re an Aussie! Maybe Abbie Cornish? Scarlett Johansson is a hottie, so I’d sign her if she could do an Aussie accent (and dye her hair brown).
Doc – I’ve always pictured Colin Farrell as Doc, although he might be a bit old now (The character is @ 34yrs old)
McKinley – Chris Hemsworth is the front runner here (although not quite as beefy as he is in Thor). My friends like Charlie Hunnam for the role, though….
Brown – I’ve always pictured him like Ice Cube – but of course in a younger and bigger body.
Colt – Someone like Rutina Wesley from True Blood.
I’d better stop there or we’ll be here all day!
Did you need to do much research for the military stuff or do you have a military background?
No I don’t have a military background. My research was a combination of film, tv, and google, but I purposely invented my own military outfit – The UNF – (as a bit of an amalgamation of several outfits) because I wanted to do my own thing and not have every Tom, Dick and Harry telling me I got it wrong. But I’ve learnt that they still will anyway! Oh well. J
I’m going to ask this because I know some SF heads will want to know your thinking here. Gravity issues do not seem to be addressed? How did you tackle that? (Personally I don’t think it’s important to the story). Yeah, I’ve had one or two people comment on this and find it interesting. First up, to be brutally honest, I think it’s irrelevant to the story. To me it’s like any character jumping on a jumbo jet and flying to another city. Those characters don’t sit there and describe what the pilots are doing every step of the way – Why? – because they’re passengers and don’t know why or how that jumbo flies. Most of the ‘tech’ scenes in Aurora: Darwin are from Carrie’s perspective and she’s a SHARP SHOOTER on her FIRST space trip. Being a ‘protostar’ (green-gill), she isn’t going to know how the ship works exactly and therefore can’t explain to the reader what’s going on as the ship takes off – because she herself doesn’t really know. I made this decision on purpose – not to make my main characters either engineers or pilots for this very reason. You would expect Harris to have a better understanding of the ship, but again, most of the ‘tech’ scenes are from Carrie’s PoV so the mechanics aren’t explained in much depth. Ultimately, I took the view that it wasn’t critical to the plot in any way, so I didn’t think it made sense to bog the story down with irrelevant info. But I know the hardcore sci-fi fans love that stuff. Oh well!
BTW both Matthew and I think the 4 guys in the biocell was the creepiest thing ever. Well done.
Excellent! I think they’re creepy too!
Thank you Amanda for a great interview. I’m looking forward to reading Aurora:Pegasus. PS the ‘doc’ was a lovely character. I think I feel for him too.