Guest Post: Author J.S. Collyer "For The Love"

Zero, the debut novel from J.S. Collyer, is due out in August 2014 from Dagda Publishing. I'm fairly certain I stumbled upon J.S. Collyer thanks to some smart postings over at Chuck Wendig's blog, smart enough to get me awfully curious about what was happening in her corner of the blogosphere. Good stuff, it turned out. She blogs, hosts her short fiction, some of which has been published in various collections, and generates some great Flash Fiction Fridays work. I liked what she had to say, and when I learned she had her first novel coming out soon, I knew ZERO would not only be making its way onto my to-read list, but that it would be jumping over a lot of other titles to become a next-read. Naturally, when she asked for some advanced readers at her site, I leaped at the chance. You may be asking yourself why, and my answer is simple: SPACE PIRATES.

I mean, seriously, what the hell else do you need to know? Well, OK, if you want a little bit more info, you can check out my review.

Over the last few weeks of coordinating for this post and figuring out my reading schedule so I could get to ZERO ASAP, her publishers, Dagda Publishing, ran an IndieGoGo campaign to off-set the marketing costs, and to help pay for the marketing of other future, fresh authors like J.S. That campaign took off like a bat out of hell and broke their $1500 funding goal in roughly 24 hours. When her publisher says, "Her vision for "Zero" is one of the best we have seen in the world of new SF authors in a long time," and given what I know of her, her voice, and her work, I have to say, it is not just a bunch of PR fluff. She is a great new voice in realm of science fiction, and ZERO is most definitely a title to watch out for.

Below is the synopsis for ZERO, and then I'm turning the rest of this post over to J.S. Collyer with her article, "For The Love."

About ZERO

Kaleb Hugo is every­thing an offi­cer of the Ser­vice should be: loyal, expertly trained, unques­tion­ing. He has done every­thing ever ordered of him and has done so with a pride that comes from know­ing you are fight­ing for the good of humankind… until the day that he made a deci­sion, as he has had to many times before, in order to ensure the best out­come for the Ser­vice, even though it was in direct vio­la­tion of regulations.

A bat­tle was won, but Hugo was con­demned and dis­hon­ourably dis­charged by Ser­vice com­man­ders for going against orders and risk­ing him­self and his unit to save an inhab­ited satel­lite that had been deter­mined as an accept­able loss.

Offi­cially, anyway.

Unof­fi­cially, Hugo was re-assigned to cap­tain the crew of the Zero, an eight-man craft that is clas­si­fied in all Ser­vice records as, at best, a pri­va­teer ship and at worse a smug­gling and bor­der­line crim­i­nal enter­prise ves­sel. What very few peo­ple in the Ser­vice know is that the Zero, and its crew, are con­tracted by the Ser­vice. Their role is to inves­ti­gate and infil­trate the less savoury and unac­knowl­edged lev­els of human soci­ety. They sell on, buy in, bar­gain, threaten and report back on every­thing the polit­i­cal lev­els the Ser­vice don’t offi­cially want to know.

The Zero’s rag-tag crew look to their com­man­der, Ezekiel Webb, as their leader and mid­dle­man between the reg­i­mented expec­ta­tions of the Ser­vice and the harsh and unpre­dictable demands of the under­world of colo­nial space. He knows he is not cap­tain mate­r­ial but has not man­aged to serve well under any that have been placed over him. Both Cap­tain and Com­man­der clash, but they will have to adapt and find a com­pro­mise if the Zero is to carry out her mis­sions suc­cess­fully and for the har­mony of the crew.

As the Zero is assigned mis­sions by Colonel Lus­combe, her crew is pulled deeper into an orbit-wide game of pol­i­tics, deceit and cor­rup­tion which will threaten to tear them apart and throw Human­ity back into a cycle of war and destruc­tion. To stop this and pre­serve the frag­ile peace, Hugo, Webb and the crew will have to over­come per­sonal tragedy, insur­mount­able odds and every cruel depraved twist of fate that the Orbit can throw at them.

As events esca­late out of con­trol, Hugo will have to go against every­thing he has ever believed in to save his crew and bil­lions of inno­cent peo­ple. The out­come is always uncer­tain, but for the crew of the Zero, it was always this way. What will tran­spire will decide not just their fate, but the des­tiny of the entire Human Race.

For The Love

If writing ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil has taught me anything is that you need to be in this game for the love of it. Writing is hard work. It takes commitment, time, sometimes money (courses, computers that crash, computers that don’t crash, retreats, workshops, books), blood, sweat and tears. It can really take a lot out of you, especially at those low moments when you look back at all you’ve done and wonder if you’ve done anything.

Fortunately, such moments are few and far between and always pass if you’re in it for the love. It’s the love of your craft that makes it all worth it.

So be true to it. Be good to it as you want it to be good to you. Give it time and attention and care. Be prepared that you’ll hit some rough patches but that it will always pan out. Don’t compare it to others’. Studying others’ techniques, processes and ideas is a great way to inform your own, but don’t use them as a yard stick by which to measure your own work short. Every relationship is different and only defined by those in it.

Be patient with your work. It may take you an afternoon to write a short story, or a week, or a year. You may write one haiku every Christmas or an epic novel every six months. Whatever it is you and your writing create together, it was what was meant to be.

Embrace it.

Though it may sound like common sense, one of the hardest things I had to get my head round was writing what you enjoy, rather than what you think you should enjoy.

I struggled for many years trying to be the sort of writer I wasn’t. I did an under and post-graduate degree in Creative Writing. I worked with some really amazing writers whose work ranged from semi-autobiographical histories of their communities to literary drama and beyond. I was awed and humbled by them and felt I should try to be like them.

I failed. Of course I did. I haven’t got a literary bone in my body. I like swords, spaceships, ghosts and lasers. Other worlds and other possibilities are what spark my imagination and always have. They are what I seek out in the fiction I read and are always, always, the backdrop to the narratives in my head.

It may seem like a no-brainer to ditch the reflective prose and blast off in a rocket, but when you are wanting to make the best out of your opportunities, it is very easy to take the wrong path, perceiving it to be the best, the most promising, the most lucrative or the one recommended to you by others. I begrudge no one who does this and wins out. If I had been more determined I might have managed it. But the fact is, I wasn’t enjoying the fiction I was writing. And you can bet the last penny in the bank that if you’re not enjoying writing something, your audience are not going to enjoy reading it.

Shrug off your preconceptions and write what you enjoy. If you want to write space opera, epic poetry, noir crime with a paranormal twist, historical romance, do it. You will be far better at writing that than you would be at something you were not meant to. And, besides, even if there are a million other writers in that genre or none at all, no one, no one, will write it like you will.

Let other writers handle their own corners of the fictional world and you concentrate on your own. You and your writing….all you have is each other. And your audience.

And don’t say ‘what audience?’. There will be an audience for your fiction out there somewhere. If there’s an audience for Bigfoot erotica (it’s for real, Google it…though you might want to turn off the image search) there’s an audience for your story.

True, it’s the getting it from your head to audience that’s the tricky part.

Tricky, time consuming…but fun. Even when you want to cry or scream or throw you hard drive against the wall…part of you should still be having fun. Part of you should still be in love with what you’re doing.

Love is what makes the world go round and the relationship between you and your writing is precious and private and answerable only to the two of you. Do right by each other and just see what you can achieve.

JS CollyerJ. S. Collyer is a science fiction writer from Lancaster, England. Her first novel, ‘Zero’is due for release by Dagda Pubishing August 2014.

She shares fiction and musings on writing on her Wordpress

‘Like’ her on Facebook:

Follow her on Twitter: @JexShinigami

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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