It is always a delight to hear that one of your friends has published a book, especially when you know you have in your own little way helped it along. The book in question is Aphrodite’s Dawn by R B Harkess. So I invited him to my blog and here is what he has to say…
Rosie and I have been at each other’s throats for two years, and we have torn each other’s work to shreds over that time. Fortunately, it’s cordial – mostly ‒ and when we met last year there was nobody scurrying about to remove any sharp objects first.
We both belong to the same writer’s circle, an Orbit group run by the British Science Fiction Association. I knew Rosie was going to be trouble after her first comment on the SF story I had written. She said she would have to consider elements of it as fantasy because she didn’t consider it ‘real potential science’. Rosie, you see, writes ‘Hard’ science fiction. I do not.
I’ll admit, at the time, I didn’t know what to make of the comment. I was relatively new to writing. Oh, I wrote quite a few unpublished novels about fifteen years ago. One was even half-way decent. This time around, though, I had only been testing the water of this new digital age for a couple of months before I got involved with Orbit. Pretty soon I realised that it was fundamentally irrelevant what label Rosie stuck on it. Her comments were still valid, and she was taking my work as seriously as I was taking hers (perhaps I could have phrased that better).
Now I count Rosie as one of my most trusted advisors. I don’t always agree with everything she says, but that’s part of the critiquing process, as is filtering out what you don’t agree with as opposed to what you simply don’t want to hear. Just as important is separating constructive criticism from the person offering it. Understanding how to accept and learn from the observations of others is one of the most important skills a writer can develop, and sometimes one of the most difficult, and it’s a valuable skill for ‘real life’ too.
You’ve also got to respect people who are prepared to offer comment on something outside their comfort zone. The next project I shoved in front of my Orbit group was a general-SF Young Adult piece. Rosie gave me a lot of good advice, as did the other members of my Orbit group, and I was happier with the end result than any story I had written so far.
That story, Aphrodite’s Dawn, has now been published as an e-book by Proxima Books, and is why I am creeping around on other people’s blogs. The e-book is a refreshing diversion in the YA market, involving no sparkling, nor other objects of paranormal romance. It tells the story of three young people who find the tiny world they thought they lived in is actually a huge asteroid, kitted out as a rescue ship. The ship has 300,000 sleepers on board, but is out of control, and Garret, Pitr and Alyssa have to puzzle, and sometimes fight, their way through to the other end of the ship to give the engines the commands to save them all.
Hm… good one, Harkess. One advantage I have is a right of reply on my blog… more anon.