It’s great to welcome a terrific new indie author to Pilyara. AC Flory has recently published an intriguing new science fiction novel – Vokhtah. And the wonderful thing is, it will be free on Kindle from March 1st through to March 5th! As a teenager, my brother and I were actually very strong on science fiction. Classic authors like Asimov, Wyndham, Bradbury and Heinlein are still favourites of mine today. AC Flory is a master at world building, and also at telling stories from a non-human point of view. I like that very much! So now it’s over to my guest …
Thanks for inviting me to your blog Jennifer. We write in very different genres, you and I, but one of the things we have in common is a deep passion for the Australian countryside. It seems to go with us wherever we go, and whatever we do.
When I first began writing Vokhtah, back in 2004, I was focused on the main characters, who are all aliens. I needed to create people who were obviously not human, and differed from us in almost every way, from biology and language, to ethics and culture. Yet at the same time I had to find points of overlap.
While I was struggling with my honourable, but sociopathic aliens, I began seeing the world in which they lived as a massive influence on their racial and social development. I began to see Vokhtah as a harsh and unforgiving planet, a crucible for natural selection where only the strong thrived, and the weak became food.
Australia is not quite as unforgiving as Vokhtah, but there are parts of it that come close. There is aching beauty here, but Australia is far from tamed. It is not safe, and it is not forgiving of the complacent.
When my parents and I arrived here, we were refugees from the Hungarian Revolution. To Europeans, used to a tamed, green land, Australia was a… shock. I was only four at the time but I still remember peering out of the tiny window of that propeller plane and seeing nothing but brown and gold. It was summer, of course.
We did find an oasis of green in Wagga Wagga though, and all this time later, that first year in Australia is still fresh and clear in my mind. I was a city kid let loose in a wonderland of grass and trees, and a sky so big you could get lost in it.
Much has changed since those halcyon days in Wagga. I’ve learned to fear Australia as well as love it. Not surprisingly, many of those feelings sneaked into the creation of Vokhtah. Even some of our animals sneaked in while I wasn’t looking. The akaht are flightless, bird-like creatures with fur instead of feathers, but they do bear a striking resemblance to emus, and the aquatic pakti are like six-legged crocodiles with very long tongues!
Something few people know is that the cover of Vokhtah is based on a photograph taken here in Australia. With a slightly purple filter, and some clever Photoshop magic, my wonderful designer transformed a slice of Australia into Vokhtah. I was gobsmacked because the cover matched the image in my head so perfectly.
I did not consciously set out to write ‘about’ Australia, but I believe that even in fiction, we draw on our passions. I think that’s important for all writers because drawing on what we know, gives authenticity to what we write, even when the genre is as alien as science fiction.
Thanks for allowing me to ramble on Jennifer, and best of luck with Currawong Creek. I’m looking forward to reading it.
Many thanks for proposing that interesting connection. I hadn’t made it before. If you’re in the mood for something out of this world, do yourself a favour and take advantage of this great free offer. See blurb below:
‘Vokhtah is not a gentle planet. Ravaged by twin suns, it tests all living things in the battle for survival, but none more so than the iVokh.
Intelligent, and clever with their hands, the iVokh [literally meaning ‘small Vokh’] live in eyries under the protection of their huge, winged cousins, the Vokh. However when the Vokh battle each other, the first casualties are always the small creatures who serve them.
The only place on the whole planet where iVokh can truly be safe is in the Settlement, an eyrie ruled by the Guild of Healers rather than a Vokh. Yet even there, change is coming, and not for the better. Thanks to the healers’ obsession with abominations, even the Settlement may soon become a battle ground.
As one of the few healers not terrified of abominations, the Blue is determined to save the Guild from itself. It leaves the safety of the Settlement with a caravan of Traders, intent on manipulating the Vokh into dealing with the abomination themselves. However life, and iVokh politics, are never simple.
Aided by just one reluctant ally, the Blue struggles to survive in a savage landscape where even the elements are vicious. If it dies without completing its mission, the Settlement could well die with it. Yet what can two, frail iVokh do in a world where the predators are all starving, and iVokh are very much on the menu?
Time is running out, for both the Blue and the Settlement.’