Lisa: We’re so pleased to welcome author Blaine D. Arden to The Novel Approach today, on the tour for her latest release, Aliens, Smith and Jones, which I think is just such a fun title. Welcome, Blaine! Let’s start with a character question: If you could spend some real-life time with one of the characters from any of your books, who would you choose and why?
Blaine: Oh, what a mean question. That’s like asking me to choose between my children. I love all my characters, with all their flaws and quirks. But… if I have to choose one, it’s going to be the guide from my Forester trilogy. So, not a main character, but a supporting one. Actually, he is the embodiment of support. Maybe that is why I’d love to spend some real-life time with him.
From his first appearance in the Forester, I felt a special bond with the guide. He made some pretty big sacrifices to become the tribe’s spiritual guide. I won’t go into those right now, but I did an interview with him here years ago, for those interested.
With the Forester world, I created a not too strict (in my eyes) community, headed by a council of elders. But, next to that council and their rules, I put the guide. The guide is the elf the tribe go to when they wrestle with issues, both personal and professional. Anything they tell him is strictly confidential, and he will never judge. Whether they tell him about being fed up with their mother in law, or sleeping with someone they’re not even allowed to speak to, he will support, comfort, and give advice. And one of the things I love about this guide is his tendency to dress his advice in cryptical sayings.
Lisa: Having read the trilogy, I can most definitely understand why you’d want to spend some time in that world.
Let’s move on to another character related question: have you ever created a character so despicable that even you hated them and can’t believe you made them up? If so, who was it and what made them so awful?
Blaine: Oh, yes. Pendra from Full Circle, the third book in the Forester Trilogy. I still feel awful about coming up with a character who intended to kill the children of the tribe.
She’d done it once before, leaving the tribe devastated after losing a large number of children. Her magic was harnessed as a punishment, and she was banned from the village. But, even banned elves are allowed to die near their tribe, so their essences can roam the sky after their death. And Pendra returned at the end of her life… But she didn’t plan to go quietly. She was determined to take as many children with her as possible, including Ianys’ daughter Atèn. All because she couldn’t stand the noise they made…[look up in book to get this right]
Lisa: Let’s take off your author cap and put on your reader cap for a moment: what do you look for in a book, what sort of protagonists do you love, and do you have a favorite genre/sub-genre?
Blaine: I’m very much an instinctual and impulsive buyer. The first thing I look for is a blurb that grabs me. Beyond that, I love books that draw me in from the start, whether with a sentence, a setting, or the character(s). I like spending a couple of hours in a different world, with characters who endear me.
Like with men, I’m not sure I have a ‘type’, but I do like the silent, brooding, misunderstood, isolated tough guy with a big heart.
My favourite genre will always be fantasy. There is just something magical about that genre, even if it doesn’t contain any magic at all. But, I’ll read just about anything if the blurb grabs me.
Lisa: When you sit down to start a new book, how do you decide whether it will best be told in the first or the third person?
Blaine: Though it’s more or less unconscious or instinctual, I tend to write 1st person when I tell the story from only one POV, but 3rd when I write from two or more POVs. Though, I have to admit that I have a slight preference for sticking in one MC’s head, and writing 1st. I haven’t felt brave enough to write a complete novel in double 1st person.
Lisa: What’s your favorite part about writing a story that either alters our contemporary world or creates a world entirely from scratch?
Blaine: The freedom to create worlds where I’d like to live, and the characters who fit my crazy view of life. The freedom to write diversity as is. The freedom to treasure characters who are still not fully accepted in our world. The freedom to change the rules. And, last, but certainly not least, to show readers how beautiful an accepting society can be.
Lisa: Describe your ideal fantasy writing environment—the beach in Monaco, a sidewalk café in Paris, a thatched cottage in the English countryside—wherever you can dream of.
Blaine: A house in the mountains with a view to die for, overlooking a large body of water (with beach), with high-tech windows that’ll shield my overly sensitive eyes from the sun. And a garden. It’ll have to overlook our garden, so I can watch the hubs putter around, DIY, or rest there. In the sun, of course, since he has a much better understanding with the sun than I do.
Lisa: What’s the best piece of writing/author advice you’ve received that you’d pass on to someone else just getting started in the business?
Blaine: “Make a note and fix it later.” Michael A Stackpole.
Like many authors I had plenty of unfinished projects, most of them stuck because ideas had changed, and I couldn’t move forward, because I needed to change something in earlier scenes to fit with these new ideas. But this comment from Michael, said during one of his podcasts years ago, resonated with me, and helped me move forward.
From that moment on, I stopped worrying about those older scenes. I learned to let it go, to grab a notebook or sticky note, write down what I wanted to change about that scene, and move on to the next one, instead of going back to change an older scene (again and again).
My first draft didn’t need to be perfect, it needed to be finished.
Lisa: If you won the lottery, what’s the first completely self-indulgent thing you’d do?
Blaine: Buy a ‘new’ Volkswagen Campervan, preferably a T3 or T2 model. The hubs and I love the freedom to just pack up and drive anywhere we want for the holidays. Alas, our current campervan might not last us much longer. It quit on us, for the second time in two years, just before our holiday.
Lisa: If you had to choose between becoming a superhero or supervillain, which would you choose and why?
Blaine: Superhero. I prefer helping and protecting others. And I get that a villain sees himself as the hero, but I lack the ‘no matter the cost’ mindset they often possess. I tend to care too much.
Lisa: What would your superpower be?
Blaine: It would have to be teleportation. Just zooming people out of danger by taking them to a different city, country, continent. Besides, who doesn’t like the idea of croissants in Paris, followed by high-tea in Scotland, and ending with a good plate of pasta in Italy?
Lisa: If James Corden invited you to Carpool Karaoke, what song(s) would you sing with him?
Blaine: The Sound of Silence (Disturbed’s rendition), Dumb Things (Paul Kelly and the Messengers), and Jessie’s Girl (Rick Springfield). And in that order, too.
Lisa: If you could travel back in time, with all your years of experience and wisdom intact, what advice would you give to your teenage self?
Blaine: Wisdom. *snort* I always feel like I’m just winging it at life. Still, if I had an opportunity to tell my teenage-self something, it would be that writing should never play second-string. That she stops considering it as ‘just a hobby’, but sees it as her future.
Lisa: Star Trek, Star Wars, both or neither? Explain.
Blaine: Both. I like the Star Trek series for the adventure, the space travelling, and the interaction between all personnel. Star Wars appeals to me for their good versus evil portrayal, and everything in between. And lightsabers, obviously. It’s all about the lightsabers. If only someone got me a purple one.
Lisa: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Blaine, it’s been great having you here. And readers, don’t forget to check out the Rafflecopter widget below for the giveaway details!
About the Book
Author: Blaine D. Arden
Publisher: Cayendi Press
Release Date: October 1, 2018
Is This Book Romance?: Yes
Word Count: 74k approx.
Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Genres: Sci Fi, Romance, Suspense, Contemporary
Tropes: Age gap, Fated Mates/Soul Mates,
Keywords/Categories: gay, pansexual, ex-alien, aliens
Warnings: torture, death (secondary character)
Blurb: “It’s not all about serving coffee and typing reports.”
Working for a secret organisation specialising in alien cover-ups, Connor Smith is no stranger to the abnormal or dangerous. His love life on the other hand… not so exciting. Until he reluctantly agrees to a blind date and meets the perfect bloke, Jason.
Things are finally falling into place for Connor, so of course that’s when he attracts an alien stalker.
Noah Jones, ex-alien, has been stranded on Earth and forced to live as a human since 1648. Alone and detached from the world around him, Noah has spent centuries observing and recording humankind. In all that time, he’s only experienced a connection with a human once… until he finds Connor.
Even knowing Connor is in a relationship, Noah can’t ignore their potential bond, or stay away.
While dealing with missing alien artefacts, a dangerous and shadowy group of collectors, and the ever-present Noah, Connor finds his orderly life crumbling around him. At least he still has the perfect boyfriend…
When Noah goes missing, Connor is forced to face the feelings growing between them and the mounting evidence that Jason isn’t who he says he is…
The Dross Woods, four-bloody-something in the morning, hunting for six-armed, two-legged white creatures.
Agent Connor Smith, personal assistant of Chief Security Lieutenant Natalie Tallis of Primrose UK, yawned. The lingering mist clung to his ankles as he tightened the straps of his field gear. He took his tranq out of its holster and flicked his torch on. The dense, tall trees hampered visibility, and the smattering of shrubs didn’t help, either. The path, at least, was wide enough for two.
“How many were there again?” Agent Simpson, team Alpha’s leader, asked. His dark, bald head gleamed in the early dawn as he moved to stand next to Connor.
“Ten, I think.” Or eleven. Connor hadn’t been awake enough to pick up everything during the interview with the Cleaton brothers, two aging sheep farmers, who had called it in. Why have a sheep farm so close to this vast and dense piece of forest? It was asking for trouble.
“They kept them in the stables, right? So, what happened?”
“Broke out,” Connor said as he trailed into the woods after Simpson. Though Connor outranked the stocky but agile team leader, Simpson had at least a decade of field experience on him. Simpson’s torch lit up the uneven, knobby-rooted ground, and Connor used his to search the shrubbery next to the path. He wished he’d brought an extra coffee, because he was not awake enough for this. Hopefully, the pale colour of the creatures made them easier to spot.
“So, broke out?”
“Have you seen the thing they called stables? It’s nothing more than a rickety old shed. Even one-armed creatures would have had no problem breaking out, let alone these… Noren, I think the brothers called them.”
“All I understood was that we’re here to catch us some aliens.” Simpson veered left, following the whimsical bend in the path, and looked back. “It was a late night.”
“Right, you were chasing another missing artefact. Lieutenant Tallis filled me in. File’s probably making its way to my desk as we speak.” Connor squinted, aiming his torch at the shrubbery to his left. A mix of red, yellow, and purple flowers brought some colour to the otherwise dreary looking forest. “It’s the eighth time this has happened. It’s becoming a problem.”
“Don’t I know it. So, did they say how big these fellas are?”
“Chest height or about. Why? Spot something?” Connor pointed his torch along Simpson’s.
The shrubs shuddered and shook until Simpson stepped forward. A twig snapped, followed by meowing. A cat. Just a cat.
Connor shrugged at Simpson and they moved forward again.
Somewhere a shout rang out: a high-pitched screech that caused goose bumps.
“One down!” someone called through the commlink—team Bravo’s Forente or Briers, Connor guessed. “There are at least two others here.”
“That way,” Simpson said, pointing to their right, onto a narrow path overgrown with creepers.
Connor nodded, but Simpson had already turned away.
Step by step, they followed the narrow path, the darkness only broken by the light of their torches. They were hampered by the creepers as they moved along—listening, stopping, and listening again—as well as having to push low branches out of their way every other step.
One by one, more teams called in their catches.
“They seem to like sheep,” Forente commented after his first catch. “I heard one bleat, and the next thing we know, one of those Noren is coming right at us.”
“Good to know,” Simpson said. “Keep up the good work.”
“How many is that now?” Connor eyed the shrubbery in front of him, squinting as he pointed the torch at it. Eerie how dark a forest could be at daybreak. He preferred the smell of fresh moss to the damp, woodsy smell that now hung around him.
“Seven. I think.”
So, three to go, and he and Simpson had yet to run into any.
Something rustled behind them, and Connor turned, aiming his tranq. He hoped it wasn’t another cat. More rustling, but no movement in the shrubs. The foliage was denser here—they must have reached the middle of the woods by now.
Satisfied a Noren wasn’t stalking them, Connor went to catch up with Simpson. when a sudden crunching of leaves to his right stopped him again. Something whitish moved behind a tree, too large to be a rabbit. He wished he’d paid more attention when Tallis had told them what to look for. Not that she’d been any more awake than he was. Simpson wasn’t the only one who’d been working late. The—
Another crunch, nowhere near, though. If there were two Noren around, he’d need Simpson. He tapped the commlink. “Simpson?”
“That was me. The path circles back onto itself.”
That was a relief. “There’s one behind a tree in front of me.”
“Right. Want me to move around it?”
“Good idea.” Then he remembered the comment about the sheep. “Wait. You don’t have to. Draw it out, bleat if you have to. All I need is a clear shot. I can’t take a shot as long as it’s hiding behind that tree,” Connor said, keeping an eye on the tree the Noren hid behind. He hoped it was just the one, even though they didn’t seem violent towards humans.
Simpson’s imitation of a sheep sounded nothing like the real thing, yet the Noren thought it genuine enough, since it came out from behind the tree, straight into the dense shrubbery next to it.
“Bugger.” Connor tracked the movement, but the shrubbery blocked his view. “I don’t have a shot. It fled right into the bushes.”
Simpson didn’t reply. Instead, he made his way around Connor, judging from the flashes of torchlight jumping around, and repeated his sheep imitation.
The leaves shuddered, and Connor narrowed his eyes, hoping to get a clear shot.
Simpson bleated again, and this time the Noren came running out of the shrubbery. Connor aimed and pulled the trigger. The Noren went down hard. Hit in one. He knelt next to the creature, taking the cuffs out.
“Nice shot, Smith,” Simpson said when he reached them.
“Thanks.” Connor cuffed all three sets of arms. It seemed like overkill, but he knew better than to take any risks. He was about to activate his earpiece to ask how many were still on the loose when a shrill whistle sounded, calling them back.
“Well,” Simpson said as he helped Connor pick the Noren up, “I guess that’s that.”
“All in a day’s work, Simpson, all in a day’s work.” At least, for a personal assistant at Primrose.
Blaine D. Arden is a purple-haired, forty-something author of queer romance mixed with fantasy, magic, and suspense who sings her way through life in platform boots. She is an EPIC Award winning author, and her scifi romance “Aliens, Smith and Jones” received an Honourable Mention in the Best Gay Sci-Fi/Fantasy category of the Rainbow Awards 2012.
Born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, Blaine spent many hours of her sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with her Barbies. After seeing the film “An Early Frost” as a teen in the mid-eighties, an idealistic Blaine wanted to do away with the negativity surrounding homosexuality and strove to show the world how beautiful love between men could be. Our difference is our strength, is Blaine’s motto, and her stories are often set in worlds where gender fluidity and sexual diversity are accepted as is.