As we meet Ash, she is faced with ‘failing’ at the academy. It’s not something readers will be used to and is a big fear for those who tend to read YA fiction. Why was it important to have the protagonist experience failure so early on?
Failing was the whole motivation for the start of the story. Ash had strived for this for so long, she’d thought that once she’d achieved her goal, she it would solve her problems and help how she felt. As a young woman she was determined to wreak revenge on those who’d stolen her family from her. But once she didn’t achieve her goal? Well, it put her in exactly the position I needed her to be in for this story. The reason she failed was important too. She acted on her instincts. And Ash’s instincts were good. That’s why she was chosen for the next role in the book!
Being a massive sci-fi geek myself, I loved how much this book read like a love-letter to those shows many of us will have grown up with. Which shows inspired you the most?
Where do you want me to start? I’m a huge Star Wars fan (except the first three – they don’t count). I also love Star Trek. Next Generation is my favourite. I also loved Battlestar Galactica, the original series and the 2004 series alongside Stargate, the film and SG1 and Stargate Atlantis, and The Mandalorian. As a kid I even loved Buck Rogers, and the Flash Gordon film, V (which was terrifying). Finally, there’s ET. I have a son called Elliott, enough said really!
The theme of isolation perhaps hit harder than it may have any other year. Was that struggle something you felt was important to thread through the story and were there any benefits of it not being about current events?
Ash’s aloneness was a key part of her character development, along with concept of ‘found family’. It carries on into the second book too. As a nurse, I’ve been at the heart of the coronavirus epidemic since the start, so for me, an escape is very welcome. Space was definitely my escape, though there will always be elements of real life that bleed into anything that I write.
If you had to create your own team of five Guardians from any Sci-fi franchise (you can mix and match), who would you choose and why?
You are literally asking me to choose between my children and that is exceptionally mean. First and foremost, Captain Picard will always in my team. I love how he always pretended to obey the Prime Directive but never actually did. First Contact will always be my favourite film with the emotional damage the borg did to him revived. With him in my team, I also need the character of Hugh from the borg collective. I adored that character and loved they brought his fully formed version back in the Picard series. Next, is my Star Wars favourites. Since Yoda has sneaked into both Extinction Trials and The Infinity Files it really should be him. But instead, I’m picking Obi-wan Kenobi. (The Alec Guinness version and not the Ewan McGregor version), alongside kickass Princess Leia. Carrie Fisher brought such fire to the character and I loved the spark that was there. I suspect Picard and Obi-Wan might get a bit snotty with each other, but Princess Leia will kick them both to the kerb and keep them inline. Whilst my childhood heart still hankers after Dirk Benedict as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, or fabulous Q from the Next Generation, I have to pick ET as my final team member. Sure, he may not be very mobile, but I can carry him. And he has a magic finger. What more do I need?