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Interview With C.S. Wilde, Author of FROM THE STARS

New sci-fi romance alert: Author C.S. Wilde’s FROM THE STARS has launched! It’s a story in the vein of “alien falls to Earth” but with a gender twist: the alien is female!

And if you’re a fan of books by Sarah J. Maas, John Green and Patricia Briggs, the author indicated to me that FROM THE STARS is particularly up your alley!

To help celebrate the release, I invited C.S. Wilde to chat with me in an interview so we could learn more about her book. First, the blurb:

To twenty-four-year-old James Bauman, the idea of a perfect weekend revolves around watching Star Trek and playing video games. If he had to fight an actual Klingon, he’d run away screaming like a hysterical little girl.

All of that changes when he falls for Miriam Haworth, the most incredibly amazing woman he’s ever met. If only she was human, things would be a lot easier.

Miriam Haworth cannot love, but this won’t stop her from trying. She must be careful, though. Strong emotions are forbidden in the whisar Empire. If the council discovers that she’s trying to fall in love with an earthling, they’ll pull her heart out. Literally.

James will do everything in his power to show Miriam what love is, but if he succeeds, the wrath of an ancient alien race might crash upon him… and doom Miriam forever.


And now my interview with C.S. Wilde!

Galaxy Express 2.0: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

C.S. Wilde: When I was eight, I really loved drawing. At some point, I started creating stories behind the characters I drew, and that’s how it all started.

GE: What inspired FROM THE STARS?

C.S.: Initially, it was a submission to a short-story contest, but it became way too big for that, so voilá.

GE: James sounds like an adorkable geek! If he went to a comic book convention, what booths and/or panels would he visit? 

C.S.: James loves all things Marvel, Spider-man being his favorite, so he’d freak out with the upcoming Spidey movie for sure. But he’s also a closeted Batman fan, because, Batman.

GE: Without going into spoilers, tell us a few tidbits about the society Miriam comes from. 

C.S.: Whisars are a developed civilization which faced its great filter millions of years ago. That event happened because of emotions, so love, hate, etc, literally brought them to the brink of extinction. After that, they cleverly decided strong emotions should be forbidden, but no one said it’d be easy.

GE: Describe a few of your favorite sci-fi romance stories in books, films, and/or television.

C.S.: BOOKS: I’d say it has to be Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. It’s so brutal and complex, I absolutely love it. I do aim to write a story like that one day. Problem is, I’m a sucker for happy endings, so, let’s see how that plays out.

FILMS: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Wall-E are by far my favorites.

GE: What’s the coolest science fiction collectible you own?

C.S.: I had a pretty awesome Boga and a little Obi-Wan figurine, and I was crazy about them. Here’s a pic.

imageBut after I moved out, my mom gave it away to a child in need, so it’s in a better place now.

GE: What else can readers look forward to in this series?

C.S.: What they always find in my books: a lot of action and love stories larger than life.

GE: Where can readers find you?


About the author

cswilde_picC.S. Wilde wrote her first Fantasy novel when she was eight. That book was absolutely terrible, but her mother told her it was awesome, so she kept writing. Now a grown up (though many will beg to differ), C. S. Wilde writes about fantastic worlds, love stories larger than life and epic battles. A Rio de Janeiro native, she currently spends her days in Switzerland. She also, quite obviously, sucks at writing an author bio. She finds it awkward that she must write this in the third person and hopes you won’t notice.

Guest Post by FOOLS RUSH IN Author Donna S. Frelick

[Please enjoy this guest post by Donna S. Frelick, author of the Interstellar Rescue series!]

I’m proud to say the heroine of the latest installment of my Interstellar Rescue series stands out from the crowd in a lot of ways. Not least is that Rayna Carver, the kick-ass undercover Rescue agent of Fools Rush In, is a woman of color in a science fiction galaxy of mostly white, mostly male lead characters.

Not that she’s the only one, of course. A host of SFR writers have struggled in recent years to live up to the ideal Gene Roddenberry sketched out only roughly in STAR TREK days of yore. In fact, our little subgenre (and YA writers) have probably done better than many in this regard. Check out this Goodreads list to get an idea.

But an article published in SF Signal last year by author Anthony Vicino about the difficulty of persuading old-school SF publishers to put people of color on the cover demonstrates clearly that we still have a long way to go.

Rayna is my own contribution to diversity in SFR. She was first introduced to readers as “Dozen,” the Rescue “conductor” who helped Asia escape the mines of Gallodon IV in Unchained Memory. (She appears in Trouble in Mind, also.) She was one of those characters that literally leapt off the page as I was writing, so full of life and energy my job was just to describe what I saw in my head and write down whatever she said. She was that real.

trouble-in-mindNote that I didn’t set out to deliberately add “color” to my story by including a woman of African-American descent. Rayna just came into my head that way, like many other characters in my books are “born” half-alien or with an Earth Asian background or a same-sex orientation. Diversity in my books is organic, part of the fabric of my characters’ lives and the universe they live in. Just like the world we ourselves live in, if we only allow ourselves to see it.

The best writers are keen observers of the world around them. Just because we write about worlds that don’t exist (yet) doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use that observational power to inform our future worldbuilding. Any observer of Earth in 2016 cannot fail to notice that people of color, particularly Asians, vastly outnumber Caucasians. How could they not be well represented in any future worlds we create?

The problem is too many writers of the “dominant” culture in literature (that is white, and usually male) tend to go suddenly color-blind when looking at the world around them. They see only members of their own dominant culture, that is, only people who look like themselves. So we end up with too many starships captained by white guys and full of white, male crew members.

The first step, then, is to take the blinders off before we start writing. But there is a far subtler trap waiting for the unwary Caucasian author in creating diverse characters, especially in stories set in the future. How does a character’s racial and cultural background inform the way the character talks, acts and appears on the page? And how much of that (largely Earth-bound) background would still be relevant in the alternate SFR universe we’ve created?

Rayna grew up not on Earth, but in Terrene, a melting-pot colony of rescued slaves (of all races and from different planets), alien traders, Rescue fighters and petty criminals. Her parents were African-American, abducted as teenagers from outside Chicago and kept as slaves by the alien Grays before their extraction by the Interstellar Council for Abolition and Rescue. But they retained so little of what they knew of home through the Grays’ mindwipe procedure that it was impossible for them to be returned to Earth. How much of their African-American culture would they have been able to pass on to Rayna?

And yet she shares significant aspects of her personality with her parents—her stubborn will to survive, her resistance to the mindwipe, her endurance, her courage. Should we attribute these positive traits to her ancestral heritage, to the way her parents raised her, or just to the way she is?

As the writer who created the mindwipe and Rayna’s backstory, I think Rayna’s speech and mannerisms would hold only a faint echo of urban Chicago and African-American culture. She is something altogether new and different, born of a different set of circumstances.

It’s a tough challenge for a writer to avoid stereotyping and still give a character like Rayna free rein to express her unique personality. But, then, experimenting with spicy mustard on rye is a lot more fun than sticking with mayo and white bread. I hope I got the recipe just right.

The very tasty Fools Rush In launches Tuesday, October 18 on Amazon.

Blurb for Fools Rush In

She thought she had the toughest job in Rescue—until the day she had to convert a pirate into a hero.

Interstellar Rescue “conductor” Rayna Carver is deep undercover on a slave ship bound for an isolated region of space when the ship is attacked by pirates. Her liberator is Captain Sam Murphy, a man known in the spacer bars to love only profit, adventure and women.

But Murphy hates a few things, too, chief among them slavers. Will it be enough to gain his help for Rayna’s mission—ferreting out two spies bent on sabotaging an arms factory to turn the tide in an alien civil war?

About the author

donnafrelick_picA number of years ago, as an aspiring science fiction writer, I took a workshop from noted SF writer Ann C. Crispin. She took one look at my SF short story and said, “You have a talent for writing romance.”

“Romance” in those days meant “historical”  or maybe “contemporary”. There was no “paranormal” and certainly no “science fiction” romance. So I wasn’t sure how to take that comment. Then I realized that much of the kind of science fiction I loved was full of romantic elements–Classic STAR TREK, X-FILES, AVATAR, even many New Age SF authors like Ursula K. Leguin, Zenna Henderson and Theodore Sturgeon.Thankfully, the world has turned, these and other wonderful pioneers have laid the groundwork  and now I can finally take Ann’s advice and follow my true calling.

Along the way to my science fiction suspense career I’ve been married to a wonderful guy since just out of college, been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa, raised a family (two girls, two grandkids), tried organic farming, worked as a freelance journalist and editor, been a community activist, earned black belts in two different styles of martial arts and written four STAR TREK fanfic novels (and a number of short stories) for “underground” publication. (Ask me sometime about STAR TREK cons!)

In 2012, my first two SFR novels finaled in the Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® contest. Shortly thereafter, I found a literary home with the fabulous Michelle Johnson, founder of Inklings Literary Agency and INK’d Press. Unchained Memorywas released in February, 2015 from INK’d Press. Trouble in Mind will follow in February, 2016.

I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of RWA, the Golden Network (of past and current Golden Heart finalists) and the Firebirds (2012 Golden Heart finalists).

I live on 44 beautiful mountain acres in Marshall, NC, with my husband and two talkative cats.

Follow Donna S. Frelick on Twitter: @DonnaSFrelick

New Sci-Fi Romance Alert: Lisa Pell’s DYSTORTIONS: 100 HUES OF PURPLE

Author Lisa Pell has a new release today that may appeal to readers who enjoy quirky, humorous, and outside-of-the-box sci-fi romances. The book is DYSTORTIONS: 100 HUES OF PURPLE. The book’s press release was chock full of information about the book, so I’m posting excerpts from it with permission so you can learn more about it. First, the blurb:

In Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple, the protagonist, Addy O’Malibul, is a former journalist who is convicted of murder and imprisoned on a planet called Malaprop, strikingly similar to Earth, but with a few twists and many Dystortions in translations of transmissions from a planet known as Hearth. Glitched up radio communications are bombarding Malaprop – a world where fearful national security analysts, politicians, and P.R. flacks re-write history and distort facts to recreate their reality in Hearth’s image. The Dystortions in those radio communications sometimes appear to twist words backwards and create opposite meanings, but maybe also reveal underlying truths. There’s just enough good science and wacked-out myth-busting to make the story hauntingly credible– and enough saucy romance to keep things hot.


Q&A With Lisa Pell

What’s the story behind Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple?

Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple is a tale of mystery, murder, and love in a parallel universe, with a bit of humor. The protagonist, Addy O’Malibul, is a former journalist who is convicted of murder and imprisoned on a planet called Malaprop, strikingly similar to Earth, but with a few twists and many Dystortions in translations of data transmissions from a planet known as Hearth. Glitched up radio communications are bombarding Malaprop – a world where fearful national security analysts, politicians, and P.R. flacks re-write history and distort facts to recreate their reality in Hearth’s image. The Dystortions in those radio communications sometimes appear to twist words backwards and create opposite meanings, but maybe also reveal underlying truths. There’s just enough good science and wacked-out myth-busting to make the story hauntingly credible – and enough saucy romance to keep things hot. It’s much warmer and more colorful than any shades of grey.

What inspired you to write Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple?

Just before Christmas on December 23, 2002, it was the anniversary of my late mother’s death, my husband had open heart surgery that turned out to be more harrowing than expected, I was recovering from a miscarriage, my business was a shambles due to the recession, and I was deeply in debt, making mortgage payments for my townhouse with credit cards. I was distracting myself from my troubles by watching late-night comedy and listening to the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour during the commercials. After Paul McCartney’s “Your Mother Should Know,” which always makes me think of my mother, comes John Lennon’s “I am the Walrus,” with its trippy otherworldly swirl of crazy lyrics and juxtapositions. Then, back to late-night comedy, came a joke about a politician speaking in amusing malapropisms. I thought, wonder what it would be like to be someone else, in a different world where malapropisms rained, er, reigned, on a planet named Malaprop? So, with a few mal-appropriate thoughts in mind, I decided to escape down that rabbit hole, feverishly writing all the way. I hint at, but wildly exaggerate the situation and those feelings in Chapter 24, entitled “December 23, 2502,” but delve deeper into the rock ‘n’ roll music angle in my next novel in the series, Dystortions: Purple Haze. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll mystery in a parallel universe.

How long did it take you to write the book?

It took me about a year to write the first version, originally titled Planet Malaprop, mostly in late 2002 and 2003. It was way too long, 800 pages, and I became distracted by my Who’s Your Daddy, Baby? book project. Then in 2013 I lost my job during the government shutdown so I picked up the series again. I split it into three novels, added some new inspirations, and changed the name, which more precisely describes the key themes of the series. Each of the novels can stand on its own, but the world building for planet Malaprop in Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple applies to all three, and the latter two novels build on the story line to enrich the context and provide for some wild conclusions and future adventures.

What are the key themes of Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple?

  1. The inescapable nature of distortions in society and how glitched up communications and screwed-up translations of various writings can pervert the original intent of authors and manipulate perceptions. Once something is out there shining on across the universe, the great and lesser thinkers of thoughts lose control of how those thoughts might be interpreted and changed. The mish-mash of misinterpretations can lead to all sorts of trouble, but people always seem to muddle through.
  1. History repeating itself and the need to learn from history to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past is also a major theme. In a distortion of famous quotes and song titles on planet Malaprop, Carlos Santayana writes, “You can’t change your evil ways,” but people can change, change all the time – that’s part of life. People can learn from their mistakes and those of others, and society as a whole needs to preserve and learn from history.
  1. Bondage. As you might see from the cover, many types of bondage are explored – physical, mental, and cultural. As Addy O’Malibul struggles through incarceration for murder, the reader will see not just physical bondage, including sexual peccadillos, but the sometimes restrictive bondages of truth, history, and reality.

Are the characters in Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple based on real people?

No. Any resemblances of any characters in this work of fiction to any real people here on Earth are purely coincidental. Of course, most authors write about what they know and I am no exception. As a former news reporter, and later as a member of a county corrections board, I’ve spent time meeting with inmates in jails and prisons and have covered all manner of trials, political campaigns, and funny and poignant feature stories. In this series of novels I have taken a lifetime of observations of people, borrowed bits and pieces from some of the highs and lows of their stories for various characters, and, as the title suggests, distorted them.

What is in your future as an author?

Manuscripts for the next two installments of Dystortions are complete. Look for Dystortions: Purple Haze (a rock ‘n’ roll mystery in a parallel universe), and Dystortions: Purple Reigns (the mystery of celebrity in a parallel universe) in the next year or so. I’m working on a fourth, Dystortions: The Spy Who Wooed Me, and have outlined two more: Dystortions: The Tweet Bounced ‘Round the Universe, and Dystortions: Game of Bones. Then I may move on to something else – or just keep going with possible morphs of Dystortions. With recent and ongoing news of space missions to observe Mars, Jupiter, Pluto, asteroids, and other celestial bodies, the discoveries of water and other elements that could support life, and the increasing attention to commercial space travel and complications posed by space junk, the Dystortions series continues to feed my curiosities. I get such a kick out of writing these stories and feel passionately about the subject matter – the vagaries of language, the value of history, and how personal freedoms are constrained or set free.

About the author

lisapellAn award-winning former newspaper, radio, and television journalist, Pell has spent most of her career in the communications business. Her critically acclaimed first novel, Who’s Your Daddy, Baby? (Aberdeen Bay, 2012), was selected for a Virginia Federation of Press Women award. Born in North Carolina, Pell was raised in Virginia, is a graduate of George Mason University, and attended Harvard Business School. She has strong roots in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, and has lived in Tennessee and West Virginia, where she covered news stories in Kentucky and southern Ohio. Connoisseurs of well-told stories, rock ‘n’ roll music, impressionist art, golf, tennis, oysters, and fun people, Pell and her husband, the self-styled Agent Provocateur, JonRe Pell, live in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.


For more information about the author, visit her Web site and follow her on Twitter: @lisapell

News: Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly On Hiatus

Dear Readers,

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly has been a rewarding endeavor, but the editors’ work and family responsibilities has increased to the point that the magazine must go on hiatus for the time being.

As of October 1, 2016, we will not be accepting ad or content submissions.

All of SFRQ’s archived content will still be available for your reading pleasure at Plus, we’ll continue to blog about sci-fi romance and other news right here at Galaxy Express 2.0.

It’s been a wonderful three years! Thanks to all of our readers, guest writers, reviewers, contributors and authors for your interest and support!


KS Augustin, Editor-in-Chief

Diane Dooley, Story Editor

Heather Massey, Releases Editor

Fresh, Hot, & Fabulous: Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly #12

Help yourself to a free download of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly #12, now live!

Issue 12 offers a 100 pages of SFR joy and includes the following features:

* Interview: Author P.J. Dean, author of THE FELIG CHRONICLES

* Opinion: Susan Grant, author of THE CHAMPION OF BARESH

* Fiction: “Flying Sparks” by M.H. Questus (edited by Diane Dooley)

* Cosmic Lounge by Heather Massey: Five Fun SFR Discoveries

* Reviews

* SF Mistressworks spotlights THE PRICE OF THE STARS by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald

* Editorial by KS Augustin: Dialogue and Life #SFRQ

* 3 Sneak Peeks

* New Releases

You can also follow Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly on Twitter: @SciFiRomance

Happy reading!

PASSENGERS Trailer Screams “Sci-Fi Romance,” But Will It Deliver?

For folks like me who love niche genres and venues in the world of entertainment, it’s surreal to watch a trailer for a big budget mainstream film when one is actually a member of the target audience for said film. That was the case with me when I watched the first official trailer for Sony Picture’s PASSENGERS, a romantic space opera adventure starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.

Here’s the trailer in case you missed it:

I’ve been covering the development of PASSENGERS for a few years now because as we all know, it’s extremely super rare for Hollywood studios to release a blockbuster sci-fi romance (especially one that has been described as such in the media). This one will have a December 21, 2016 release, just in time for the holidays.

However, there’s still a caveat since we don’t know if the romance’s ending will be upbeat and fall within romance genre conventions. That probably won’t be an issue for non-romance moviegoers, but for romance fans it will mean everything. I wrote a post about this issue for Heroes and Heartbreakers called Passengers and the Questionable Promise of Sci-Fi Romance Films. Here’s the gist of it:

Sci-fi romance books are great, but many of us enjoy an SF flavored romance on TV or in theaters as well. Unfortunately, these types of shows and movies are rare, at least in terms of the stories’ adherence to genre conventions. Not only that, many are helmed and/or produced by men—hardly the same folks who know genre romance inside and out. So when news of a blockbuster movie like Passengers emerges, it creates a conundrum for romance fans.

Even if it’s necessary to still keep our expectations in check, the PASSENGERS trailer certainly reveals a strong integration of SF and romance elements. This story looks like it would fall apart if you removed either one. So that aspect shows promise regarding what to expect story-wise even if there’s still no definite indication about an HEA/HFN.

The trailer features pretty sets, sparkly technology, and attractive stars—aggressively attractive, in fact, but this is Hollywood so what else is new? The trailer also sets up a mystery as to why the hibernation pods malfunctioned and we can clearly expect some action sequences as well.

PassengersI’m disappointed the filmmakers didn’t use this story as an opportunity to feature a diverse couple, or at least an interracial one. Nothing about the couple in the trailer indicates that they had to be white. Furthermore, what we know about the story so far only contributes to the harmful narrative that in the science fiction genre at least, diversity doesn’t seem to exist in the future.

As a female viewer, I’m also a little wary about how the romance will be handled as well as whether or not director Morten Tyldum will rely on the male gaze when it comes to the depiction of Jennifer Lawrence’s character. When I settle down to read SFR books, I feel pretty safe because most of the genre’s female authors frequently tell their stories through the lens of the female/gender inclusive gaze. I haven’t had the same such luck with male directors/screenwriters, so currently the strongest emotion I can commit to regarding PASSENGERS is cautious optimism.

I’m delighted that a movie like PASSENGERS has been made, but I also feel sad I can’t muster more excitement for it, especially since it’s a tentpole movie, will open during a time that studios reserve for films with Oscar potential, and will likely be released in tons of theaters. That’s not to say I won’t keep an open mind. For SFR, I always do.

Thanks for reading! We’ll meet here again during my next round of coverage…!