It’s time to meet the 5th featured author of the SSS! Introducing…Ava Jae!
I noticed that there are aliens in your book (no duh from the synopsis). 😛 Could you describe the type of aliens and the process as far as how you came up with the new species?
Aliens! Yes. So I actually came up with the Sepharon looooong before I came up with the book, so I sort of already had them on reserve with the start of a planet and culture and what-not, so that was great. As far as my process goes, they developed pretty organically. I started by trying to imagine what they might look like, where they came from, what their culture and government might be like—all stuff I worked out before I even planned to write a book. When I actually began planning Red, I got more into the nitty-gritty—the specifics of their world, their government, their cultures and language and history, etc. I worked out what I needed to before I wrote and the rest developed while writing and during revisions.
As for the type of aliens, they’re humanoid, but much better adapted to their planet (obviously) than humans. They’re taller, faster, stronger, with more attuned senses, and their physical characteristics are different enough that it’s easy to tell a human from a Sepharon.
What type of world do Kora and Eros live in? Do they live on a future version of Earth, or does Beyond the Red take place in an entirely new universe?
Beyond the Red takes place in the future on Safara, which is a planet in a solar system separate from Earth, but in the same universe. Earth still exists in this universe and, in fact, the human characters in Beyond the Red are descendants of settlers from Earth who attempted to colonize on Safara many generations before the book begins, and failed pretty miserably.
I love how unique the names of your characters are, especially Kora and Eros! If you don’t mind spilling your secrets, what was your inspiration for their names?
Ha ha thank you! I sort of developed a version of Eros before I came up with the book that is wayyy different from book-Eros, and I really liked spacey, constellation names like Orion, and eventually I stumbled across Eros, who is the Greek god of love. Which made sense with his original character and just kinda stuck because I really love the name and it fit phonetically with the language (but uh, book Eros is no longer related to that legacy. So).
As for Kora, I played around with some ideas then fell in love with this one. Then I realized after I’d decided on her name that probably I was influenced by the The Legend of Korra, but hey. It’s a great name and also fit phonetically with the language of her people. I also just did a quick search and it turns out Kora is super close to Kore which was another name for Persephone so…interesting coincidence.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what type of music?
I do! It depends on the book. I listened to Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” album on an endless loop while I was first drafting Beyond the Red.
What’s your favorite food? Curious minds want to know… 😉
Plantains! I’m not exaggerating when I say I eat them almost every day. They’re delicious and super versatile (they can be sweet or salty depending on when you cook them!), particularly if you can’t eat grains, like me. 🙂
I’m also a sucker for rice and black beans. Technically I’m not supposed to eat legumes, but I could live off rice and black beans.
What is hardest for you to write? A certain genre(ex: fantasy vs contemporary) or a certain scene (ex: action vs romantic)?
Endings. No matter what genre, or category, or book, the endings are always the most challenging for me.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Hmmmm. I sort of imagined Zoe Saldana for Kora and Jesse Williams for Eros but they’re both too old to play teens soooo probably someone new.
Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you give us any juicy details? 🙂
I am! I’m juggling a couple projects, and I can’t really go into detail, but I can say one is a YA Fantasy that I’ve been working on for years and I’m very excited about.
Have you found that any of your previous internships or jobs within the publishing field have helped you to become a better writer?
Somewhat, yeah! I definitely learned a lot more about structure and what works and doesn’t work in a story. I’ve learned why manuscripts are frequently rejected, what the editorial process looks like behind-the-scenes, and the sorts of things editors consider when deciding whether or not to take on a project. It’s helped look at my own work more critically, and has also given me a greater understanding of what goes on when a book is on submission.
From the sounds of your Goodreads synopsis, it looks like Kora is a hardcore feminist. Was this a characteristic that you knew she was going to have from the beginning, or did she develop it as you started to write her story?
Well, I knew from the beginning that she’d be a strong character because she had to be—she’s a queen in a highly misogynistic territory with a population who don’t want her on the throne, and she’s grown up with her biggest competition—her twin brother. In order for her to have stayed in her position for as long as she has, despite assassination attempts and being surrounded by people who don’t believe she deserves to rule, she had to have a pretty kickass personality.
The nuances of her personality developed as I went along, of course. But her strength was a core pillar of her personality I knew from the beginning.
Is there anything else that you’d like to tell the readers about Beyond the Red?
Beyond the Red’s origin story is similar to Avatar (the James Cameron movie, not The Last Airbender)—humans arrive on an alien planet and find there’s already a native population…except the humans didn’t take over; instead the aliens kicked the humans’ butts and enslaved them. Now, many generations later, the humans have been born on Safara as have their parents, and their parents, etc., and see it as their home. But the native population doesn’t see it quite the same way…
Ava Jae is a writer, an Assistant Editor at Entangled Publishing, and is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. Her YA Sci-Fi debut, BEYOND THE RED, is releasing March 2016 from Sky Pony Press. When she’s not writing about kissing, superpowers, explosions, and aliens, you can find her with her nose buried in a book, nerding out over the latest X-Men news, or hanging out on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, tumblr, Goodreads, Instagram, or YouTube channel.
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