It’s interesting when an author starts out writing one thing, and ends up with something else, something better, in the end. Sometimes the best stuff happens in the process, when the wheels are turning and those ever-elusive ah-ha moments become, well, less elusive.
That’s what happened to Veronica Scott, author of Wreck of the Nebula Dream. The book started as a science-fiction riff on the Titanic, but ended up taking on a life of its own. Here she is to tell us more, and to answer the guest-blog question: “What makes your book so gosh-darn special, anyway?”
My host asks, so what makes Wreck of the Nebula Dream different than the typical science fiction romance or typical stranded ship book?
Good challenge! Growing up with a family legend of a distant relation who was in Second Class on the Titanic and survived (although she may or may not have actually been related to my grandfather), I was always fascinated by disasters, and this one in particular. Match that with my love for science fiction and it was inevitable I’d put my own spin on the story but set in the far future, on a spaceliner. The book has a ship “sailing” where it’s not supposed to be, lifeboat issues, dereliction of duty by some of the crew, passengers in dire straits, alien pirates and a rapidly ticking timeline to destruction. Sounds like a lot to have in one plot, yes? But while the tension is high, events flow logically from decisions made by the characters and the overall situation.
My hero, Nick Jameson, is a captain in the Sectors Special Forces, unexpectedly traveling on the luxury liner. He steps in to help as many people as he can when the disaster strikes. He’s just coming off a mission gone wrong and has to shake off his own demons to help others make it through this.
He’s aided by Mara Lyrae, a high powered intergalactic executive, traveling on Nebula Dream to oversee safe shipment of some important cargo for her firm and negotiate some new contracts. She came up the corporate ranks the hard way and hasn’t forgotten any of the practical lessons she learned. Mara’s not there to be rescued by Nick so much as she is to work with him to save all of them, starting with the pair of children trapped in a cabin near hers. A number of readers and reviewers have commented favorably on how strong Mara is, skillful and determined to survive the tragedy. There’s another female passenger who I’ve had numerous readers tell me they wanted to slap, usually right before they ask me if there’s going to be a sequel about what happens to her next!
In my world of the Sectors, there’s the D’nvannae Brotherhood, tough warriors who can be hired as assassins or bodyguards, based on the whims of the Red Lady, the mysterious goddess they serve. Khevan, a senior member of their hierarchy, is also aboard the ship and steps in to back Nick up.
And I have the two children – Paolo and Gianna, who quite frankly are my tribute to all the Third Class children who didn’t survive Titanic. Nick and Mara and the others are determined to keep these two alive and get them to safety. The book’s youngest fan of record is nine – his Mom read it to him, revising as she went to make the story suitable for his age (no “kissy parts” he instructed her) – and he felt I got Paolo exactly right, which is quite a compliment, coming from someone who would be my character’s age.
So yes, the story is about the drifting spaceliner and there’s a hint of romance (because I love romance) but not much because who has time for that when you’re trying to escape a dying ship before the enemy captures you? But it’s primarily about this little group of people, virtual strangers to each other before the wreck, who bond together to survive.
Originally I thought I was going to write a pretty straight up “Titanic in space” plot but as soon as I had my characters in mind, the story began taking its own twists and turns. I did try to put in as many small tributes to Titanic as I could – the officer who was keeping a list of things to fix after the maiden voyage was over, for example, or the passenger with a premonition of disaster who demanded to be “put ashore” before the voyage starts – but much of what my characters have to work through to survive stems from the nature of the universe they live in and who they are.
It’s been said many times there are only 5 to 8 unique stories in the world and certainly a tale of disaster like WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM falls into one of those slots. To answer my host’s initial question, what makes MY story different than anyone else’s take on shipwrecks, space disasters or science fiction romance is the characters who strive and suffer and sacrifice and yes, triumph…because hopefully they will be people you come to care about and root for, whether you applaud them or want to slap them.