It Starts with a Kiss — re-release coming soon

My sci-fi office romance novella, It Starts with a Kiss, will be re-releasing later this year.

Yep, it has taken me this long to get my act together—about seven months from when the book’s original publisher announced they’d be shutting shop. But who’s counting? 😅

No firm dates yet, but it’ll likely be around October/November time. In the meantime, add yourself to my mailing list to stay updated on this book.

The 3 hardest things about writing sci-fi romance

I’ve lost count of how many times I curse my choice of story genre. It tends to happen when I hit particular writing challenges, and end up walking away from my computer in a huff. After a little sulking on the couch, I reflect on the fact that I do love writing sci-fi romance (or romantic sci-fi). I love exploring how people and societies cope in a futuristic setting.

But there are things I definitely find difficult. I consider myself at between the “advanced beginner” and “competent” skill level when it comes to writing, with these three major bugbears that frustrate the hell out of me:

Economies and power structures

In my early days of writing fiction, I read something along the lines of how every exciting space battle is ultimately driven by economy. While love, culture, religion and politics may spark conflict, it takes economic incentive to fuel an all-out war. After all, you need something to make it worth the huge risks, the sacrifices and expense. Learning this secret blew my mind and I’ve never been able to un-see it.

It changed the way I approach my writing. For example, I couldn’t just have characters playing Cops & Bounty Hunters in Chasing Sisyphus. I need to consider the societal structures and economic forces that shaped the circumstances in which the characters find themselves.

Adria isn’t just a bounty hunter, she’s a tiny cog in a dynastic capitalist machine (ie. Basilica City) that’s beholden to an external authority (ie. the Alliance). There are wheels in motion within the city that empower and hinder the police, making it easy for bad cops to abuse their power and hard for good cops to keep the streets safe. That’s what drives Rhys’s frustration and, in many ways, gets him so caught between what he thinks he should do and what the situation calls for him to do.

Beyond my neon-washed room is a Pollock’s shitshow that may never make it into the story, but it’s all necessary for creating a richer world and a more interesting romance.

The technological landscape

Some writers and readers are offended by anachronism. Not me. I find it charming and remarkably relatable as a quirk of futuristic fiction. Looking around my home, my neighbourhood, colleagues and social circles, I see a diverse spread of technology in use. Not everyone can afford the latest hardware, and some devices are capable of surviving many generations of technological advancement.

There’s a lot of scifi out there that only shows a single era of tech as the norm. Or maybe the latest tech + whatever bleeding edge innovation (or ancient artifact) that eventually serves as the inciting incident/MacGuffin of the story. Nothing wrong with this, of course, but I wanted to base my future tech on the diversity of today’s tech.

The world I see today is full of cassette players in petrol-guzzling cars that refuse to die, Android fragmentation across millions of handsets, previous-gen iPhones struggling to keep up with iOS 14.6, tablet cases that mimic typewriters, printed publications that thrive because they’re charming, mechanical keyboards, mechanical watches, and other such affectations.

Technology influences and is influenced by policy and society. Sometimes we keep loving old toys because we are human. This what makes my world.

Culture & society

This is the part that causes me the most stress. It’s actually the least complicated aspect of world building, but one that stands to cause the most upset for contemporary readers. For me, a world that’s enjoyable to write about is colourful and multicultural. But what does culture look like hundreds of years from now when you’ve sent humans into space?

I see a lot of cultural blending where say, two cultures spawn a new intermingled culture in a space colony. My favourite example from big-name scifi is the blending you see on Mars and in the Belt in The Expanse universe, with accents and writing and language from different Earth roots all fused together.

Confession: I’m not that smart or skilled or detailed. My cultural blending for the Alliance Worlds is rudimentary at best. So I’m forever wondering whether my readers will pick up on it, or if they’ll view it like the racist cultural conflations you come to see in monoculture societies today. If a Chinese-named character demonstrates Japanese customs, how can you convey the backstory of a futuristic Sino-Japanese society? And you’d have to, somehow, wouldn’t you—so XYZ reader doesn’t mistake you for some QED rando chump who thinks that all Asians look the same.

Growing up in Southeast Asia and Australia, I’ve gotten to see cultural blending in action, and it occurs to me that this isn’t a typical experience for everyone. If you had never lived in a multicultural society, what would it take for you to recognise one when you see it? And how would you work that seamlessly into a story?

No answers, just work

If you were hoping for answers at this point, I am sorry. I have none.

These challenges plague me throughout the entire creative process, and the only way I can think of to address them is to keep learning and keep writing.

Improving one’s writing skill means increasing how fluently one can express ideas and intentions without jarring the reader out of the story. I imagine this is a worthwhile approach for any writer at every level.

Star Crossed — out now!

It’s out! It’s out! Star Crossed, an anthology of romantic science fiction, is now available from major e-book retailers.

It features my short story, O, swear not by the moon, alongside moving works of fiction by some amazing indie authors.

Here’s a little excerpt:

“And I contribute code to this place,” he adds, tossing a ball decorated with the topology of her homeworld. It materialises from nothing and spins on his finger. “Do I captivate you sufficiently?”

“The axis is off by three degrees.” Tanith swats the ball away. It disappears in a puff of gold feathers. There’s a sparkle in his eyes—they chroma-shift and she adores it.

Edited by Renée Gendron. Published by Fedowar Press.

Get your copy today 💖

Silhouette of a couple looking out over a planet surrounded by clouds on the cover of Star Crossed, an anthology of romantic science fiction from Fedowar Press.

Moon — the last edits are in!

Earlier this week, I turned in the final edit of O, swear not by the moon (let’s call it “Moon” for short bc I’m soooooo tired of typing out the full title).

It feels BLOODY GREAT to be on the other side of that WIP. Don’t get me wrong, I had a whale of a time writing it 🐳 but I’ve never created a a piece of fiction that lengthy to a deadline so tight before… Which, in all fairness, wasn’t that tight (and at 12.5k words, my piece is hardly lengthy), but with Christmas and start-of-the-year particulars hitting me at the same time, I consider completing this project a personal achievement.

“Moon” is also the first story that pushed me hard on both the science fiction and romance fronts. In all my published work to date, I’ve taken the sci-fi elements fairly casually. Yes, even though It Starts With A Kiss has that “engineers in space” thing, the science is still incidental to the characters’ respective journeys.

With “Moon”, I wanted to explore how technology empowers human connection, similar to how it enables our relationships today. We often blame the Internet and social media for weakening our in-person relationships, but I’d like to know… how robust were these relationships to begin with if they could be threatened by a tool that offers us more opportunity to connect?

We now have the ability to bypass chance. We’re no longer “stuck with” the pool of people who happened to be around us when we were born. We have the means to intentionally seek out and nurture relationships with others who might understand and know how to appreciate us. That, I feel, deserves acknowledgement.

There are other things “Moon” gave me an outlet to explore, but because they’re a bit spoilery, I won’t discuss them right now. I’d prefer for you to explore them with me through the story.

It comes out 26th April in Fedowar Press’s Star Crossed anthology of romantic science fiction.

Star Crossed — coming soon

Psst! I have a new story coming out in a couple months.

O, swear not by the moon is a romantic science-fiction short story, appearing in the Star Crossed anthology published by Fedowar Press. You may have seen excerpts already if you follow me on Instagram, but here’s a little taste nonetheless:

This is the tale of Tanith, Faruk and a neurally entangled love that crosses the boundary between worlds.

Star Crossed comes out 26th April 2021.

Star Crossed — an anthology of romantic science fiction coming soon. Follow @fedowar for the cover reveal this week!

She knew the start of a dick-swinging when she saw one — excerpt from Chasing Sisyphus

It’s been a while since the last excerpt share. This one’s from my first novella, Chasing Sisyphus, published by Siren-BookStrand and released in 2017.

She found Declan crouched over a puddle on the floor. She grabbed a handful of paper towels and stooped down beside him, mopping up the spill.

“I got it.” He hissed, and snatched them from her.

“Sorry, I thought you’d want some help.”

“You brought a cop into my home. How does that help? Are you trying to get me shipped out?”

“Of course not. I wouldn’t have brought him here if I had a choice.”

“What do you mean ‘choice’? What kind of shit are you caught up in, Ade?”

“I could ask you the same thing!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“The car? Last night?”

“Are you drunk? What car?”

She heard Rhys clear his throat behind them and shut her mouth. They turned to see the detective’s broad body towering over them from the doorway.

“The car you ran into the Legion River last night,” he answered. “At least, I think that’s what she means. But don’t stop talking on my account.”

Declan postured up, gripping a shard of mug in one hand. Rhys reached for the holster in his jacket.

Adria leapt between them. She knew the start of a dick-swinging when she saw one. She held both them at arm’s length, hand to chest, looking back and forth between them, keeping shard and gun in the corners of her vision.

“What say we skip the coffee and talk? Just talk, OK? That’s all we came for, Dec. Honest.”

Book cover for Chasing Sisyphus by JL Peridot

Chasing Sisyphus is the first book in The Basilica Conspiracy series. If you fancy checking it out while I’m still working on the other books, you can find ebook purchase links on my website.

Why sci-fi romance is the genre for our time

Photo by Nathan Duck on Unsplash

Today, I’m one of Lyndi Alexander’s “Adventurous Friends”, sharing my feels on science fiction romance as the genre for our time.

When I tell people I write sci-fi romance, I tend to get interested and interesting looks. “What’s the point?” a reader once responded. “Like Passengers?” another asked. Mate, I’d love to be able to write a story like that. Some of my sci-fi friends hated it, some of my romance friends loved it—I think it could have been marketed better.

But amidst all this is the feeling that no matter how fantastical or speculative my sci-fi setting could be, I’m contributing a valid brick to the collective wall of imaginings that create a very real future before us. And I think mainstream audiences—even staunch contemporary and realism fans—are more than ready to come along for the ride.

Thank you kindly, Lyndi, for having me! I very much enjoyed writing on this topic.


Feature photo by Nathan Duck on Unsplash

Giveaway — It Starts With A Kiss

To celebrate the release of my upcoming sci-fi office romance, It Starts With A Kiss, I’m running a very special giveaway draw 💝

Two lucky winners will receive a signed paperback copy of the novel, along with a bundle of lovely treats featuring the work of local crafters Renée Botman, More Sundays Please and Handmade Gems; a digital download of Skye McDonald’s latest novel; and this year’s sweet ebook releases by fellow Kyanite authors Sophia LeRoux, A. R. Vagnetti and Crystal Kirkham.

What’s in the prize pack?

The rules are simple:

  1. You may enter by email, instagram, or both — yes, this means you can enter twice!
  2. To be eligible for entry by email, you must be subscribed to my mailing list. You may only enter once by email.
  3. To be eligible for entry by instagram, you must be following me on instagram. You may only enter once by instagram.
  4. If you win, you must be okay with telling me your postal address so I know where to send your prize!

How to enter by email

If you’re already a Dot Dot Dot subscriber, you’ll have received instructions already. Just reply to that email with answers to both questions.

If you’re not yet a Dot Dot Dot subscriber, it’s easy—just sign up, confirm your subscription, and the instructions will be sent straight to your inbox 💌

Make sure you get it done and dusted by 29 September 2019.

How to enter by instagram

Check out the giveaway post on my profile for instagram entry details!

A couple kissing. Text in image: Giveaway, "It Starts With A Kiss".

Good luck, my lovelies. I look forward to reading your entries! 👀

Fresh Find: Mated to the Jardan Warrior by Aria Bell

This isn’t meant to be a book review blog, but I wanted to share one novel that really got me fired up about writing for this genre: Mated to the Jardan Warrior by Aria Bell

The writing style isn’t what I usually go for, but I was impressed at how smooth the storytelling was. Seamless from beginning to end. Every line had a purpose, which you probably know is the way good writing should go. I’m terrified of rambling too much in my stories, and boring my readers with meaningless drivel. But writing mostly non-fiction in my day job, I’m also terrified of not rambling enough, and boring my readers with dry walls of text.

So it was great to pick up this novel and find myself excited to get to the juicy bits, content to read the non-juicy bits because they were still told in a nice way, and reach a satisfying HEA ending. I just wish I could find the author on Twitter so I could give her a high five!

My rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)