1) Tell us about your current or last science fiction novel. What is
it about and how did you come up with the concept?
The Phoenix Enigma series is set in a near-future world where some current issues have become more extreme. I think one of the delights of SF is the way it creates an opportunity to explore where things might go––and also have a bit of a satirical laugh at some of the more outlandish antics of the people in charge!
I wrote the first draft five years ago as a TV serial, then left it and wrote a few other books. When I came back to it to re-write as a novel, I found that several of my ‘near-future’ scenarios had actually happened!
(Be Careful What You Imagine…) Anyhow, I did some updating and started working it into a 5-book series––just starting to edit book 4.
I like reading books with a good mix of character, plot and action, and I think its a shame that the emphasis on genre tends to push authors to focus on whichever one is more typical for the genre. So when I’m writing, I make that balance a priority. Time will tell if that makes it harder to get the series well known!
2) How did you get started writing science fiction?
I previously wrote NF travel and adventure, (with a different pen-name) published by Random House. After a rather spectacular climbing accident, I don’t travel too well so I decided to switch to SFF where you only have to travel in your mind––although it’s fun bringing in episodes of extreme sports that I can write in first-hand detail.
3) What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why?
I’m surprised that so much of the ‘science’ in SF is about tech, space travel. AI. I’ve always been interested in bio-science and the science of psychology. My post-grad is ecology and I also trained with Himalayan shamans––and discovered that there are fascinating overlaps between the two, once you look at the detailed physiology. The challenge is to weave in simplified versions of all that so it doesn’t get in the way of the action, dastardly plots, fights, romance, and all the rest of it!
I write mainly in post-apocalyptic and dystopian sub-genres because that is what is available. I wish speculative fiction was a bit more mainstream!
So I guess my epics are post-apocalyptic (but not blasted wasteland where everyone is killing each other for the last tin of beans), rather there is a new order hastily re-established after the chaos. Which is, of course dystopian or there wouldn’t be much of a story! But again, most of the time is spent with the Resistance rather than pages of suffering, tortured victims.
4) Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense?
I’ve used all, depending on what works. Present tense, first person is very immediate for a single protagonist, but can get confusing for the reader if in some chapters “I” is actually someone else.
So for the Phoenix Enigma series, I’ve used 3rd person past tense as the central theme is about how a close-knit team use trust and close cooperation to outwit and defeat an adversary with more weapons, money, and influence. So the story builds up several almost-main protagonists who can weave their own sub-plots into the main narrative and contribute to the overall goal.
5) What is your favorite part about being a writer?
Living in my own movie! And chatting with fans who get involved with the saga.
6) What is the hardest part about being a writer?
Ads! I decided to go indie when I switched to fiction as I felt that was the direction things were going, especially for SFF (yes I do write a bit of fantasy as well). And I quite enjoy the marketing as it puts me in touch with people who want to chat about the stories, but… actually creating the ads involves a lot of navigation and analysis that I’ve never been very good at. It just takes chunks of my time when I’d rather be writing or chatting about ideas for future stories!
7) Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have
missed you didn’t create?
I love the unusual kinds of science found in books like the Dune series, or Hunger Games and Divergent, where the tech is secondary to human ingenuity. I’d love to see more of this, especially as we may be coming to a point where the assumed relentless progress of tech may become constrained by the way security, food, extraction and so forth may limit that progress. Then we may have to focus on developing ourselves!!
8) What’s the best way to find you online?
and my Amazon pages https://www.amazon.com/Jay-Aspen/e/B07NPVJGYF/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0