Repelling the Invasion
Genre: Science fiction romance
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Date of Publication: April 19, 2016
Number of pages: 262
Word Count: 63,000
Cover Artist: Eerilyfair Design
The African Queen in outer space
Catt Sayer just wants to survive. The working-class fugitive delivers military supplies on her decrepit airship, but her hard-won livelihood vanishes when invaders overrun her harsh moon. Now an idealistic, upper-class officer wants her to risk her life on a hopeless voyage to attack enemy headquarters – manned by 10,000 soldiers.
Edward Hoornaert’s romantic space opera, Escapee, continues the saga of the Dukelsky family (begun in The Guardian Angel of Farflung Station). If you like The African Queen and the thrill of underdogs finding love while battling a hostile environment, you’ll love Escapee.
The books of the Repelling the Invasion series can be read in any order or as standalones. The first book of the series is The Guardian Angel of Farflung Station.
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What kind of guy writes romance? A guy who married his high school sweetheart a week after graduation and still lives the HEA decades later. A guy who’s a certifiable Harlequin hero—he inspired Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Rita Award finalist Mr. Valentine, which is dedicated to him.
Ed started out writing contemporary romances for Silhouette Books, but these days he concentrates on science fiction romance. He’s been a teacher, principal, technical writer, salesman, janitor, and symphonic oboist. He and wife Judi live in Tucson, Arizona. They have three sons, a daughter, a mutt, and the galaxy’s most adorable grandson.
My ideas come from all different angles, vectors, and universes.
For example, my first published science fiction novel, The Trial of Tompa Lee, was inspired by a dream. Not the action itself, none of which is dreamlike, but the idea of witnesses to a crime having the responsibility to defend or prosecute an accused in a trial by combat. Thus when a human, Tompa Lee, is framed for a terrorist bombing on an alien planet, one old coot happened to be watching her at the time and knows she’s innocent. It was his sacred duty to help defend her against 300 accusers who want to kill her. And him. Talk about long odds!
Escapee is book two in my Repelling the Invasion space opera series, and both books have been inspired by movies. I got the idea for the first book, The Guardian Angel of Farflung Station, after watching the French comedy, Amelie. I loved the character of Amelie, a shy young woman who goes around performing anonymous good deeds. In Guardian Angel, my heroine also performs anonymous good deeds for the inhabitants of a huge orbiting station. But there the similarity ends. The French comedy did not feature an invasion by space pirates!
Last week I finished drafting a third Repelling the Invasion book, and it owed nothing to a movie. Instead, I was inspired by an article about the importance of tugboat operators in Vancouver harbor, who guide freighters the last hundred miles or so to ensure there are no catastrophic collisions. That got me thinking about space stations, which in my universe are similar to harbors. They’d have an even greater need to guide incoming freighters so they didn’t smash into the station, killing the thousands who live there. Putting this idea together with Farflung Station from the previous book, I had the general idea for Constellation XXII. Its original title was Tugship Pilot.
2. Do you have a dream cast for your book?
Not really. I know a lot of writers who envision actors for their books, but my mind doesn’t work that way. For one book I pinned pictures of Angelina Jolie to my board, but by the time I was a quarter of the way through that book (Alien Contact for Kid Sisters), my gorgeous character had morphed into someone utterly different, with hideous scars on one cheek giving her a two-face look: beauty on one profile, beast on the other.
3. How do you handle writer’s block?
I have a wonderfully efficient, foolproof system. I sulk.
Okay, okay, I’ll admit it. Sulking never works. I find it’s helpful to recognize the source of the block. Sometimes life gets so busy that I lose the thread of story – and not only that, but the impetus that drives me to write the story. If I reread everything I’ve written I may get the impetus back … but maybe not. If the impetus is gone, the story is dead. The best thing is to shovel dirt onto its casket and move on to something livelier.
More often, though, writer’s block is the first hint that my story has plunged into a trackless thicket alongside the road. I’ve learned to pay keen attention to this sort of block, because it’s telling me something crucial – that I need to stop and rethink the next scene or maybe even the story’s direction. Rethinking can be very hard for me, because I become enamored of my ‘sparkly, inspired ideas’ even after they turn into dead ends. But I have to do it regardless.
4. What inspired you to write this book?
A movie. For the first time in a long writing career, I decided to retell one of my favorite movies – The African Queen. Since I write science fiction, I transferred the action from the African jungle to a harsh moon used only for mining. If I didn’t tell you that Escapee was inspired by the movie, you probably wouldn’t realize it, but there are structural similarities.
For example, Escapee’s two leads resemble the movie’s characters, but I reversed their genders. The stiff and proper Katherine Hepburn character becomes Hector Dukelsky, an upper-class career army officer who returns from two weeks’ leave to find his detachment massacred by enemies who invaded the moon. The rough and ready airship captain, Humphrey Bogart, becomes Catt Sayer, a working-class fugitive from justice who delivers supplies on a decrepit airship.
The twists in the relationship between Catt and Hec also mirror those in the movie. After Bogart rescues Hepburn from the burnt out mission, he humors her crazy notion to go down the river to attack the Germans, thinking she’ll give up once she sees the dangers. Ditto in Escapee. Catt humors Hector’s crazy notion of flying all the way around the moon to attack enemy headquarters, thinking he’ll give up.
But I also changed things. African Queen has only two characters, but I added Catt’s android copilot (for comic relief), and a captured enemy pilot (to give a snarling face to the antagonists). Also, I felt the movie’s ending relies too heavily on coincidence. A storm upriver just happens to float them off a sandbar, and when the boat capsizes it just happens to hit and destroy the enemy gunboat. I tried to make my denouement stem from the characters’ actions rather than happenstance, though the effect is the same.
As I say, reading Escapee you probably wouldn’t recognize the movie’s model, but I tried my best to create the same emotional highs and lows that I loved in The African Queen.
5. What’s the hardest part of being an author?
For me, it’s coming up with a conflict strong enough and logical enough to sustain an entire book. I have no trouble developing characters. I create well rounded characters the same way a tree creates apples. Naturally, without struggles. Give me enough fertilizer (i.e., made-up BS … er, fiction) and I’ll gleefully probe my characters’ psyches for internal and external conflicts. I love it.
But a strong plot? That I have to work at. In my first dozen attempts, finding that strong conflict was hit or miss, so most of my early novels were a waste of a tree’s life. But Escapee is my fourteenth published book (some written under aliases), and I think I’ve finally figured out a tiny bit of what I need to do.
When you read Escapee, be sure to tell me if I’ve succeeded or if I still have a lot to learn..