Welcome, earthlings! We have a big — galactic, even — day ahead here on the ol’ blog. Why? Because Aubrie Dionne is here with PARADISE 21, the first title in her “A New Dawn” series, and she’s brought her backlist. Why? Because one of you lovely readers will win a backlist title of your choice! But that’s not all! In fact, we have all KINDS of goodies today, y’all. In addition to the giveaway, we have Aubrie’s interview, a cliffhanger of an excerpt, AND a book trailer. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this trip through worlds unknown. (PSST: When we land, don’t forget to comment for a chance to win a book off Aubrie’s backlist!)
Thanks for joining me, Aubrie! Before we dig in to PARADISE 21, can we sneak a peek at your day job? You have an astounding list of credits as a flutist. Do you feel these two creative talents—music and writing—fuel one another, or do you feel you use one to balance the other, almost as an intellectual break?
Yes, they fuel each other tremendously! When I sit in orchestra, I think up stories to go with the music. I also use visual imagery to teach my flute students and make the music come alive. If you have a story to go with the music, you can play it more emotionally. Music tells a story as well, although it’s a universal language that everyone can instantly understand.
Wow. I am now thinking I need to dust off my old flute! LOL. That’s quite the vouch!
The world you build in PARADISE 21 has some fascinating parameters. Your heroine, Aries, must marry her genetic match in order for her kind to survive, only there’s a “genetically imperfect” rogue under her skin. For all of us bad-boy lovin’ readers, can you share which of Striker’s qualities Aries finds most irresistible?
Probably the fact that he’s not from her ship, and he doesn’t adhere to their strict rule system. He’s the first person that asks her what would make her happy and what she wanted out of life.
Thoughtful AND forbidden. No wonder she fell for him! And so, it seems, did readers. PARADISE 21 received many outstanding reader reviews on sites such as GoodReads and Amazon. Have you noticed a favorite part or certain quality of the story mentioned often? Which comments have had the greatest impact on you as an author? Why?
I loved the comment about how Paradise 21 is like Star Wars verses Pirates of the Caribbean. Those are two of my all time favorite movies. It’s such a compliment to have someone compare it to them!
Another reviewer said she liked how realistic it was, which surprised me. The last thing I thought when I wrote it was how realistic it would be. That was an unexpected compliment.
The third comment that I hear often is how all of the characters are well developed. I worked really hard at character arcs with this story because people have told me in the past that my characters weren’t relatable. This was a great achievement for me.
I want to thank all of the people that took the time to review Paradise 21. I read all of the reviews and consider what people are saying.
Absolutely wonderful comments, all of them. I’d have a hard time choosing my favorite, I think, but you make a wonderful point in there. Readers who take the time to review books will probably never know just how much those reviews mean to authors.*Epic reader love!*
PARADISE 21 is Book #1 in the “A New Dawn” series. What do you have planned for upcoming titles?
I just finished the final edits on the second book, Tundra 37, which takes place on a frozen ice planet with woolly mammoths! I’m currently working on the third book, Haven 6, which will follow the lives of the descendants of Aries and Striker on Refuge. I also finished a tie in novella about Striker’s great great great grandfather and the fall of old Earth.
Not only do the books sound fascinating, but the tie-in as a series is brilliant. There are so many corners of the world you’ve created for readers to explore. I imagine you’ll have a great many along for the ride!
Which genre are you drawn to as a reader? Do you prefer to read in the same genre as your WIP or do you mix it up?
I’m drawn to science fiction and fantasy. Although, I read all genres to make my writing better. I try to stay away from other science fiction books when I’m writing my own so I have more original ideas. Right now I’m reading a mystery, and YA fantasy, and a romance novel.
Have you ever made big changes in your story because someone – your crit partner, a friend, or beta reader – really didn’t like it? Are you glad you did (or didn’t)?
Oh yes! I have great critique partners and beta readers, and I take their advice most of the time. It’s always better with changes. There are some things that I can’t see because I’m so close to the work. It also gives me insight into how others will view it. The more input, the better.
I absolutely agree. It’s so hard to see your story on the page when you know it so well in your head! How do you keep track of the clues and plot twists?
Sticky notes, lists, and several notebooks all sprawled around my computer in what looks like an office war zone!
That does it. I am seriously impressed. The war zone, I get. Sticky notes? I’d be sobbing looking for them all. (<<Seriously).
Thank you for this fantastic interview, Sarah!!! I think it’s really neat that you used to play the flute. I bet you were better than you say you were. *wink wink*
My pleasure! And LMAO! I dare say my old (and by old I mean former, although now that *I’m* old, surely he is as well, LOL) would fiercely disagree! I did used to play the flute, and not very well. You guys would totally walk the other way and pretend you didn’t know me (well, other than whoever-you-are who’d put me on Youtube. Thanks for that.)
Before I steal the spotlight and horrify you all any further, let’s scoop PARADISE 21. (Don’t forget to comment for a chance to win a title from Aubrie’s backlist.) Thanks again for joining us today, Aubrie. It’s been a pleasure!
PARADISE 21 (A New Dawn, Book One)
Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind’s last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where humanity can begin anew—a planet that won’t be reached in Aries’ lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe, she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries-long voyage.
But Aries has other plans.
When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers the rumors about pirates—humans who escaped Earth before its demise—are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possesses the freedom Aries envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from above and hunted by the planet’s native inhabitants, Aries quickly learns her freedom will come at a hefty price.
The life of the man she loves.
Aries sped through space in her escape pod as if she fled the event horizon of a dying star. The controls blinked warnings around her, but she ignored them, pressing the touchscreen to fire the engines to full capacity.
Let’s see how fast this antique can go.
Her sweaty palms slipped on the cold metal as she clutched the restraining bar across her seat. Freedom intoxicated her, coursing through her veins like she drank liquid fire.
She squeezed her eyes shut and screamed, releasing raging emotions held back from years of conforming and keeping her true thoughts silent. Many times Aries had thought her head would implode from the pressure, but instead she’d schemed, plotting the day of her departure down to the last water bottle. As the sound of her voice dissipated, she opened her eyes and peered at the stars as they blurred into streaks of shimmering light.
The time flashed on the screen in fluorescent green: 1638. Aries committed the numbers to memory. She’d have at least three hours before the ceremony and reception ended and her fellow Lifers began searching for her. Her shipmates would check her cell first, then activate the locator embedded in her arm. When they realized she’d jumped ship, they’d stop the engines and count the escape pods. By then, Aries would be a parsec away from the New Dawn.
Maybe they wouldn’t come. Giddiness bubbled in her throat with the thought of the ship coursing away without her, but she knew better. They’d turned the New Dawn around before, and knowing Lieutenant Barliss, he’d have it no other way. Not only was he a high-ranking officer, but she was his chosen mate, scheduled to be bound to him in ceremony next month. Her escape would prevent Barliss from passing on their combined genetic code. There was no doubt that a man who followed the Guide to the letter would come after the woman whose DNA he needed.
The orange bulk of Sahara 354 claimed the horizon on the main sight panel. Aries soaked in the sight of the small, forgotten planet, like the first time she’d seen pictures of old Earth. Although the conditions of life on Sahara 354 were reportedly bleak, to Aries it looked like a haven. Blue and red lights flashed on the panel in front of her, warning her of the change in trajectory as the pod entered the planet’s gravitational pull. Aries shut off the thrusters and allowed the vessel to sail into orbit. She glided in space, using the pod’s sensors to complete a full scan of the surface, searching for signs of resources or life. Although she had enough food and water for days, they’d only delay an inevitable death if she couldn’t find further sustenance.
Time ticked away, seconds she knew she couldn’t waste. The New Dawn traveled much faster than an escape pod, and she needed time to fake her own death and disappear. The vast wasteland stretching before her only had small pockets of water and plant life. If she didn’t choose her landing spot wisely, she’d be plummeting to a real demise.
The sight panel for the exterior cameras beeped, letting her know the pod now glided close enough to visualize the surface. Aries drew up the suggested location with the tip of her finger. The screen displayed a smear of sand cut with jagged protrusions of rock, but the life-form locator told her more. A conglomeration of several beings inhabited the area, and not mere insects or microscopic fungi: human-sized creatures. She dismissed the thought of Outlanders; the New Dawn had traveled too far, too fast, for any straggling humans to have made it to this planet ahead of her. Whatever form the creatures took, if they could survive down there, then so could she.
Aries triple-checked her readings before entering the coordinates. She wasn’t going to make the same mistake as the last escapee. She blocked a vision of Tria’s grotesquely dehydrated skin from her thoughts. Her friend had made a run for a different planet without testing it for compatibility. In Tria’s mad rush to get away, she’d landed on a barren rock with a vacuum atmosphere that had sucked her lungs dry in seconds. The New Dawn had gone all the way back to find a corpse.
With a nervous touch on the control panel, Aries retested the quality of the atmosphere, the pull of gravity, and the radiation levels. Scouts had explored the territory centuries before astrophysicists had fused together the first chrome plates of the New Dawn. Their historical readings had proven accurate for other planets, but Aries still verified the findings for herself. The 354th known desert planet ranked close enough to Earth. Not adequate to sustain a large population or major colonization effort, but adequate to keep a 120-pound woman alive.
Taking a deep breath, she punched in the coordinates. The panels went wild, compiling the information. The computer estimated a new trajectory, and she turned on the thrusters once again. The engines rumbled, pounding deep within her stomach.
The inside of the pod rattled. Lifers never used or maintained the flight pods, so she felt lucky the one she’d chosen worked at all. Would the metal skin on this pod hold together as she entered an alien atmosphere? She could either take the risk, or circle this planet until the New Dawn came back to get her–the New Dawn with Lieutenant Barliss aboard. Holding her breath, Aries activated the final landing sequence. Even if the descent killed her, she’d rather perish on an alien planet than complete her ceremonial obligations.
The restraining bar of her chair shook violently, and she lost feeling in her arms. The air boiled in the small compartment, and her face burned. If she didn’t disintegrate, then her head would burst from the pressure. Tears flicked backward from her eyes while she held on, gritting her teeth. An alarm sounded, reminding her to release the parachute. She tried to move, but the force of gravity glued her hand to the armrest, stretching her skin taut. After counting to three, she took a breath and grunted as she yanked her arm up and pressed the touchscreen, hoping the chute would work.
A bright flash of light blinded her, and splotches exploded under her eyelids. The pod hit the ground, and her world went black.
Are you hooked? Of COURSE you’re hooked! Leave a comment for a chance to win a title from Aubrie’s backlist, and while you’re waiting to find out if you’re the lucky winner, check out this awesome linkage. Thanks so much to Aubrie for spending the day here, and for all of you wonderful readers for welcoming her to our corner of the web. Say hello, won’t you? :C)
Aubrie is an author and flutist in New England. Her stories have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, A Fly in Amber, and several print anthologies including Skulls and Crossbones by Minddancer Press, Rise of the Necromancers, by Pill Hill Press, Nightbird Singing in the Dead of Night by Nightbird Publishing, Dragontales and Mertales by Wyvern Publications, A Yuletide Wish by Nightwolf Publications, and Aurora Rising by Aurora Wolf Publications. Her epic fantasy is published with Wyvern Publications, and several of her ebooks are published with Lyrical Press and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. When she’s not writing, she plays in orchestras and teaches flute at Plymouth State University and a community music school.