Saturday, November 15, 2014

Darklight On.... With Jess Anastasi



A Sci-fi Evolution

Someone asked me a while back how I came to love science-fiction so much, and why I decided to write sci-fi romance. It might seem silly, but my answer in the moment was actually "I don't know" because I'd never really sat down and thought about it, probably due to the fact that the evolution of my tastes had developed over such a long period of time. It kind of bugged me that I really didn't know why I liked sci-fi, or how I'd come to a place where I felt I could write it.
I thought back, and realized that my love of speculative fiction had been developing from a very young age, and the reality of this had never occurred to me before.
The first sci-fi show I can ever remember watching was SeaQuest. I was only about twelve, and my parents were starting to let me watch a few more "grown-up" shows.
After only one or two episodes of SeaQuest, I was hooked, and waited every week for (I think it was) Friday night to roll around so I could see another episode. To this day, I have no idea why, but I was just blown away by this futuristic concept and loved every second of it.
And I'll admit, my first TV-crush was on Lucas, played by Jonathan Brandis--a young teen on the ship's crew. My memory fails me now, but I think he might have been super-intelligent or something. But I do remember he spent a lot of time hanging out with a dolphin. What twelve year old wouldn't want a dolphin for a pet?
It was around this time I was also becoming interested in keeping a journal and scraps of writing. Though I've never admitted it to anyone before, I actually wrote a few little stories, scripting myself into the show, doing all sorts of dramatic things like rescuing that dolphin and (gasp!) holding hands with Lucas. Fanfiction in its earliest form, though it didn't occur to me until recently that fanfiction was exactly what I was doing.
After SeaQuest finished, I got into the X-Files in a big way, and that lasted well into my late teens, when I also fell in love with Buffy and Angel. Buffy's character was the same age as me while I was in high school, so it was like we were growing up together. And while I couldn't relate to killing demons and vampires, hanging out in cemeteries, or having a broody, mysterious, older (much older) boyfriend like Angel, I still felt like I could relate to other teenager angsty issues.

After Buffy, there was a bit of a lull. But then my now sister-in-law introduced me to Stargate SG1, and I could no longer deny my geeky side. I loved it. Like absolutely thought it was the most brilliant TV I had ever seen. Everything about it sucked me in; the aliens, visiting other planets, the team dynamics, the forbidden romance between Sam and Jack, the bromance between Jack and Daniel, the awesome way Teal'c delivered those deadpan one liners, not to mention the sexy geek that was Daniel Jackson. Yep, SG1 made nerds look cool, at least I thought so.
My love of SG1 created a ripple effect. The more I loved it, the more I wanted. Yeah, they brought out Stargate Atlantis, and it was great in its own way, but I wanted something else. I branched out in all directions, reading what little sci-fi romance I could get my hands on, like Linnea Sinclair and Ann Aguirre. I discovered Farscape, and the epic romantic story of John and Aeryn, who I still say had the best TV love-interest arc out of any couple on any show ever, not just a sci-fi series. And then I went darker, getting into the mind-twisting shadows of Battlestar Galactica.
Finally, I sat down and watched Joss Whendon's Firefly and Serenity. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say my life was changed forever. Something about Whedon's Firefly universe was beyond my ability to articulate its brilliance. I am one of those people who forever complain that it was axed before it had a chance to shine, and we missed out on something that could have been generationally epic if it had been given three or four seasons to play out. But it wasn't to be, and maybe part of Firefly's cult status is because it became so popular after the fact. Don't quote me, but I think DVD sales far outsold the expectations based on the show's ratings.
So after I had watched and read everything that had caught my sci-fi interest, I found myself at a bit of a loss, and couldn't find anything else to consume that satisfied me in the way some of the books and TV shows previously had.
For a long while, I'd had this sci-fi idea floating around in the back of my mind, and although I read and watched plenty of sci-fi, I had this belief that sci-fi was something smart people wrote. I didn't mean that in the sense that I'm not smart, I think I have a decent level of intelligence and had applied myself to become a writer by this stage. But I thought a sci-fi author need to have like an IQ of one-hundred-and-twenty, or something ridiculous, to pull off writing all that technical stuff that I didn't understand.
I actually don't remember what made me decide I was finally going to sit down and write this book. I think it was possibly just that the idea wouldn't leave me alone, until I finally thought "what the heck, I'll just give it a try."
I do clearly remember sitting down and opening the file to begin, wondering how much of a spectacular failure this was going to be. But the words came, and then kept coming, flowing in a way they never had before in any other book I'd ever written. I had that book finished in a matter of seven or eight weeks, all ninety-five thousand words of rough first draft. I'd really done it, and I'd felt connected to this universe and characters with amazing depth. That book was Atrophy (coming out with Entangled Publishing at some point in the near future) and its path to publication was a long and arduous one, but that's an entire other blog post.
A while after I'd written Atrophy, I decided I wanted to try my hand at a military sci-fi romance, and Escape Velocity was born. It started out life as a simple novella, but through a series of recent events, blossomed into a full length novel.
Sometimes it still surprises me just how sci-fi my writing career has gone. If someone had of told me ten years ago that this is what I'd be writing today, I would never have believed them!
These days I watch shows like Intelligence and Almost Human (unfortunately both cancelled after only one season) The 100 (just returned for season 2) and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, because I think Joss Whedon is pretty much the master of the writing universe. And fortunately, there's now more sci-fi romance books on the market than ever before—more than I can keep up with considering I don't have as much reading time as I used to.
I've found myself in my element, and no longer deny my total sc-fi geekiness.


To get through the pain and torture inflicted on him as a POW, Commander Kai Yang relied on memories of Sacha, his shipmate and the girl he grew up with, to survive. He escapes and returns to his battleship, the Valiant Knox, to discover he'd been declared dead, and a widowed Sacha had been married to his best friend. Desperate to be the man she needs, Kai must overcome both his struggle with PTSD and guilt over loving his best friend's widow.

Sacha Dalton can't believe Kai is alive. She'd mourned him as deeply as the loss of her husband, but Kai's death revealed feelings she'd never known she'd had. However, Kai might think he's falling for her, but she's convinced he's using her as a crutch to avoid confronting his survivor's guilt. Until he's healed, she'll have to keep her distance.

And, as a doctor, Sacha knows all too well many soldiers never recover.

(I don't have a cover yet, but you guys will see it as soon as I do!) 

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Twitter @JessAnastasi 


Jess has been making up stories ever since she can remember. Though her messy handwriting made it hard for anyone else to read them, she wasn't deterred and now she gets to make up stories for a living. She loves loud music, a good book on a rainy day, and probably spends too much time watching too many TV shows. Jess lives in regional Victoria, Australia with her very supportive husband, three daughters, one ball-obsessed border collie, and one cat who thinks he's one of the kids.




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