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Monday, March 12, 2012

Interview with Pauline Baird Jones, Author of the Project Enterprise Series

I am so pleased to welcome Pauline Baird Jones for an interview visit. You can't help but catch her humor in these answers.
1Q       You have written several mysteries before writing in the science fiction romance genre. How does writing a mystery compare with writing sci-fi romance? What are the main differences, and what do these forms of writing have in common?
P:  When I wrote mysteries, they trended suspense/action type mysteries. Then they trended more and more into action adventure. I finally noticed that and decided that I really liked action adventure because it has less graphic violence. I like the high adventure as opposed to the blood soaked. LOL! So I think I was heading toward space for a while before I noticed. In the past, it was probably easier to write contemporary action adventure because we had “big” enemies, such as the Soviet Union. Alastair Maclean made his a/a chops writing World War II, then cold war type fiction, but I didn’t want to write about terrorists. It hits too close to home. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. (wry grin)

My first wholly action adventure novel was Out of Time, a time travel to World War II. While there is lots of peril and yes, bad guys and such, it’s lacks the graphic gore that I see in so much romantic suspense being written now. I know it works very well for many authors, but for me, I just wanted to go a different direction. After the past, all that was left was outer space. And let’s face it, it has almost unlimited scope for action and adventure.

You did a wonderful job of creating new alien worlds and peoples so I am thrilled you went to outer space.
2Q       Is your writing from your own experiences or is it completely your imagination?

P:  I was going to say, I wish my books came from personal experience, then I thought about what happens to my characters (nasty killers and space battles) and yeah, no, like my life the way it is. So my answer would be: my books are totally and completely made up (including the “science.”)

I wondered about that time theory perception being spouted by Lurch... it sounded good even if it was made up. :-)
3Q       Where did the inspiration for the Project Universe series (THE KEY, GIRL GONE NOVA, STEAMROLLED, Steam Time, KICKING ASHE) come from?

P:  I have a highly technical process for obtaining inspiration and plotting. It’s called “pulling it out of my tush.”
I learned this technique from my daughter who is a graphic designer and often under the gun to create.

Okay, I will try to be serious for a moment, but it is hard to be serious about a process that often results in my head wanting to explode. I really wish I knew how and where I got ideas, because then I could go there without the painful thinking and pacing and eating chocolate part (okay, maybe I’d still eat the chocolate). I just start with a character or situation and think, I wonder how I can hose this person? And then, “How can I make everything worse for this character?” And then I make things so bad, I don’t know how to fix it, which brings me to the pulling-it-out-of-my -tush part. (grin)

 I think this is the first time I have heard of this particular technique. LOL
4Q       What type of research went into creating your science fiction romance novels?

Since my science is totally and completely made up, it’s tough to research. I did do a lot of researching of Victorian stuff when I was mixing steampunk into my science fiction. That was pretty fun and interesting. I learned a lot of cool (and rather disturbing) stuff about the Victorians. I blogged a bit about that here: ( and plan to blog more it because it is very interesting. And weird. Did I mention they were pretty weird?

 I will have to go check out that weird stuff in your blog post.
5Q       Please share one surprising thing about your experience writing the Project Universe series, or about something else related to your career as a writer.

P:  My biggest surprise came when I realized I’d written something with science in it. I really didn’t think it WAS science fiction and then someone called it science fiction and I was like, I don’t write science fiction. I almost flunked science in high school! I thought about it some more and realized that mixing fiction in my science might be why I almost flunked. Oops.

Ha - Oops - Yes... Science wasn't my top class either.
6Q       When you started The Key did you intend the series and did you have each book plotted out before you started the first one or did the subsequent books flow from the first book?

P:  I did not. Sara, the heroine of The Key, just strolled into my head one day and wouldn’t leave until I told her story. I had amazing fun writing that book and was sad when it ended. When it released readers asked for more and one of the characters was really ticked he didn’t get the girl and demanded a happy ending and so I wrote Girl Gone Nova and another reader pointed out that I had an unresolved story arc and suddenly I had a series. Now I am sad that is had come to an end (for now at least). Though I plan to return to space soon.

Well - considering how volatile time is... who knows?!
7Q       Is there an ancillary character you had the most fun with?

P:  Helfron Giddioni. When he first appeared in The Key, he was supposed to be a villain of sorts, or at least an antagonist, and he is, but he surprised me over and over. He was so bad, but fun, too. He had such an awful name because he was never supposed to be a hero. (Memo to self: don’t EVER give characters awful names just in case.)

Hel did turn out to be a wonderful character even if he was a little scary in the first book. Who knew there was a good guy under that mean attitude?
8Q       How do your work career/hobbies/interests influence your writing?

P:  My career is wife/mom/sister/daughter/friend, so not sure how that affects the writing, though it does give me more time to write now that the nest is empty. And I get wonderful support from my family and friends. My hobbies are reading, knitting dish cloths (yeah, I knit large) and jigsaw puzzles. I do think the puzzle thing influences my plotting. I like the disorder/creating order part and that’s what plotting action adventure is all about.

I can see the puzzle solving at work in this series and it would work for mysteries too. 
9Q       Do you have a favorite mentor or author that you have learned from?

P:  Oh wow, this question could be a whole blog post, but I will limit myself to just one. When I was a young girl, I had a major girl/fan crush on Haley Mills. I wanted to be her. She had adventures and did cool stuff and could sing, too. She did a movie called The Moonspinners and I saw that it was based on a novel. I looked that book up and discovered Mary Stewart. I still love to pull out her books and browse through them, like chatting with an old friend. From her I learned about plotting, satisfying endings and characterization. And she writes great dialog, too.

Oh Wow! That movie started me reading Mary Stewart too and moved me from childhood reads into the suspense/gothic romance genre.
10Q     What do you have planned for your next project?

P:  I’m actually mulling a steampunk novel, set around 1899-1900. I’m a little nervous, because I’ve dabbled a bit in writing history (Out of Time, Tangled in Time), but never wrote an all history novel. Though technically it still won’t be, because it will be made-up-steampunk-alternate-history.

11Q      If you could have readers finish a sentence what would it be?

P:  What I love most in a book is…._________________________???

THANK YOU for sharing!

Project Enterprise (connected) books:
(1) The Key; Bronze IPPY and Dream Realm Award winner; 2007
(2) Girl Gone Nova, EPIC Book Award Winner
(3) Tangled in Time
(4) Steamrolled
(5) Steam Time, short story, Dreamspell Steampunk, Volume 1, 2011
(6) Kicking Ashe, 2012

Some additional Titles:
Comedy/Suspense Fiction:
Do Wah Diddy DieEppie nominee; 2001 (reissued in 2010)
The Spy Who Kissed Me (also known as Pig in a Park), 1999. reissued in 2010
Dead and Breakfast Anthology; Do Wah Diddy Die Already, 2007 (free short story now available at All Romance eBooks)
Mysteries from the Green Mist Anthology;  Deleting Dennis, 2010
Ghostly Dreamspell Anthology; Do Wah Diddy Dead

And more ... see Bibliography at this link

1 comment:

  1. Very fun interview, especially about the research.

    the happy ever after


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