I want to issue a warm welcome to the author of the day, Aubrie Dionne. Her newest release Paradise 21 is now available, and we will be discussing it in today’s interview. My name is Lori (Lototy), and I want to thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today Ms. Dionne.
To start off I would really like to hear about your life in New England, and your career in the arts. What is it like to live in such a picturesque place, with so much to see and do?
New England is a beautiful place to live. The winters are too long and cold, but the other seasons are gorgeous, especially when the leaves turn in the fall. I teach flute at a community music school and a university, and I freelance with orchestras and chamber groups around New England. Last year I played with the Granite State Symphony Orchestra (Stars and Strips on piccolo!), and I made the Nashua Symphony sub list. My husband and I play at weddings as well. He plays piano and harpsichord, and we have a portable keyboard we take with us to gigs.
I see that you not only write, but that you are also musically inclined. What types of music do you play, and do you also use music to set the mood when you are writing?
I'm classically trained, so I play pieces by Mozart, Bach, and all the great composers. I've tried a little jazz flute, but I'm not as good at it! I can also play celtic songs.
To set the mood when I write, I listen to Radio Gaia on Itunes. It's a free new age radio station. Very calm and relaxing!
As a child what books really fed your imagination, and do you think they have inspired your work today?
I loved The Secret of the Unicorn Queen series. It's about a girl from modern times that travels to a planet where a band of women warriors ride unicorns. I read it over and over again.
I'd love to write about unicorns sometime, but I'm not sure that's what people nowadays want to read about. So, I'm holding off!
My latest release, Paradise 21 is inspired by my love for Star Trek and Star Wars. I watched every episode of The Next Generation. My favorite character was Data. I can recite every line from the old Star Wars movies. My sister and I used to act the scenes out in the backyard. We'd always fight over who got to be Princess Leia!
Your book covers are as arresting as your characters. Did you have a hand in developing these covers, and if so, in what way?
I designed all of the covers published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. I love looking for images to represent my work! The cover for Paradise 21 was done professionally by Entangled Publishing, and I love it!
There seems to be a strong affinity for the ethereal as well as futuristic in much of your work. Do you consider yourself a dreamer or star gazer, and do you feel this is a trait common to all authors?
Oh, yes! I use writing as a escape from the hum drum in everyday life. I used to sit in orchestra (flute players have a lot of rests sometimes), and think up stories to go with the music. I can't speak for other authors, but I do consider myself a dreamer.
Among the stars is where your book Paradise 21 is set and the magnitude of this traveling city is amazing. The New Dawn is more than just a ship, and in my opinion almost has the feel of a sentient being. Was this a concerted effort on your part, or did it come about as the story progressed?
I wanted to make a ship so big it was a city that could hold the next generation of colonists. To have a city, you need schools, farms, offices, workout facilities, family quarters, dining halls, etc. I had to think of how all this would operate on a ship. Perhaps that's why the New Dawn feels like more than a traditional ship.
I have always been a great fan of far off worlds and alien cultures, and you have done a tremendous job on both. The desert world of Sahara 354 is a wonderful example. Was this purely a product of your imagination, or did you envision an actual place as you wrote this?
Sahara 354 is inspired by all of the sci fi desert movies I watched as a kid: Tatooine (Luke Skywalker's home planet in Star Wars), Mad Max and the Thunderdome, and Stargate. I wanted a desert planet for the first book in the series, an ice planet for the second, and a jungle planet for the third.
The cult like existence on New Dawn forces Aries to flee so that she may finally have free will. Her character may be extremely intelligent, but she is also very naïve. Was it difficult to keep these traits from creating confusion within her character, and what did you find to be the most difficult aspect of her development?
At first she was too naive, so I did have to make her more assertive. Most of all, I didn't want her to look selfish. I created this character arc where she realizes she's not the center of the universe, and wants to help other species thrive. Also, she has to choose between her freedom and the man she loves. This ultimately shows how much she's changed as a character.
I really enjoy the fact that Striker is a man with very strong ideals, but is also willing to admit his faults and failures. Do you find this type of personality coming through in many of your male characters, or do you change them up with each story you create?
Thank you! I have trouble writing male characters because I'm so girly! So, I turn to my all time favorite male characters (like Han Solo in Star Wars) for ideas. With Striker, I wanted to create a pirate that breaks the mold and acts the opposite of what you'd think a pirate would be like. I wanted him to be heroic, but not arrogant.
This is book 1 in the New Dawn series, and it is clear that the story is only just beginning. How many books do you feel will develop from this idea, and will we see Aries and Striker in any future installments?
I have two more books in the New Dawn series, and four more that tie in to the series in some way. The second book in the New Dawn series is about another colony ship, but it ties back to Striker's great great great grandfather and the fall of old Earth. The third book is about Refuge and what happens to Striker and Aries' descendants. I'm also writing a young adult tie in series about Barliss and Tiff's great granddaughter when the New Dawn reaches Paradise 21. I've almost finished a tie in novella about the collapse of old Earth after the colony ships leave.
It has been great learning about you and your work, and I especially want to thank you for sharing your talent with all of us avid readers. If you enjoy sci-fi, you will love the works by Aubrie Dionne, and her website is chock full of everything you could imagine in fantasy and the futuristic. Thank you again Ms. Dionne!
Thank you for having me here today! Great questions! I'm so glad you enjoyed Paradise 21!