From USA Today Bestselling Author Aileen Erin
Maite Martinez has always yearned for more than waitressing in a greasy diner on the polluted ruins of planet Earth. Hiding her special abilities is a full-time job on its own, even with the government distracted by the mysterious alien race – the Aunare.
When a SpaceTech officer gets handsy with her, she reacts without thinking. Breaking his nose might not have been her smartest move. Now she’s faced with a choice: serious jail time working in a chain gang on a volcano planet or join the corporate army to fight against the impending war with the Aunare. It’s really no choice at all.
As with everything in her life, Maite quickly realizes that the war with the Aurnare isn’t what it seems. And Lorne, the Aunare prince, keeps popping up everywhere she goes. Being seen with him could get her in even deeper trouble with her commanders, but he’s the first person who sees through the wall she’s built around herself and she can’t bring herself to send him away.
When the situation between SpaceTech and the Aunare escalates, Maite has a way to end the war before it even begins. There’s only one question: Can she stop the total annihilation of humanity without getting herself killed in the process?
What is your ideal writing setting (outside, at a desk, etc.)?
I love to write in a comfy, quiet spot. Usually, that’s in my office. I have a writing chair and a couch that I use. Although if I’m really having trouble getting focused, I’ve been known to write in bed. The more comfortable I am, the easier it is to sink into the story and into my characters’ heads. I also need music. I can’t write without my Bose noise-cancelling headphones. They’re the best. When I’m listening to music and in a comfortable spot, the real world melts away, and I can get totally immersed in my imagination.
Off Planet is a sci-fi novel, what inspired you to write sci-fi and not another genre? What gave you your inspiration?
I wrote Becoming Alpha, the first book in the Alpha Girls series, when I was working on my MFA, but I finished it early and still had another writing term to complete. So, I needed another idea. I was living in Albuquerque, NM at the time while my husband was producing the first Avengers movie, and learned about Spaceport America, “the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport.” I blew my mind that something like that already existed in New Mexico. I started to imagine a world where Albuquerque became the center for space travel and where corporations took over the government. I dreamed about an alien race and what might happen if tensions arose between them and the human Earthers. I had so much fun working on the world-building. I didn’t necessarily set out to write a sci-fi, but that’s where the muse lead me.
Do you have any writing exercises or habits?
I love to do morning pages as described in The Artist’s Way—you free write for 15-20min in a journal. Not working on a book, just stream of consciousness. In The Artist’s Way, Julie Cameron says to do them when you first wake up, but I don’t necessarily need them to be done in the morning. But before I write, they’re extremely helpful. I find that doing them clears my head of any little things—my to do list or worries and stresses—so that I can focus on writing.
I also don’t end my day’s writing at the end of a chapter or scene. Even if I’m at the end, I’ll write just a few sentences more into the next chapter or scene. That way, I’m stopping in the middle of whatever I’m working on, and when I start writing the next day, I can just continue the thought. I’m never really left staring at a blank page.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
For me, not stopping my day’s work at the end of a chapter or scene really helps prevent writer’s block. Also, the morning pages help. But sometimes, even with those two things, it happens. I’ve learned that when I have writer’s block, it means that I’ve gone a direction with the story that isn’t working. So, I usually take a day or two off, and then go back and re-read what I have and then plot to make sure that I’m still heading in the right direction.
What does literary success mean to you?
Literary success is more than a financial thing to me. It means that my stories are resonating with readers on some level, and that is the whole reason why I write.
What are some of your favorite writing tropes that people usually hate?
I really love the romance trope where the heroine meets the hero pretty quickly in the book. I really love knowing who should get together, and I love seeing the journey of how the two characters get there. I don’t know if people hate that, but I know that some might fight against the way that romance can be a little formulaic. I personally love it. I love knowing what I’m getting into right away, and love seeing the Happily Ever After.
What can we hope to see from you in the future?
The Aunare Chronicles will either be 3 or 4 books before it’s completed. So, I’ll be working on that. I’m also working on the Alpha Girls series, and then a spin-off series based on Samantha, a girl that the Alpha Girls gang ran into during Being Alpha. It’s a little darker than the Alpha Girls series, and a little more horror than paranormal. I’ve been wanting to write that one for a long time, and I was so excited that I got to introduce Samantha in Being Alpha.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Write every day. The only way to learn to write is to write all the time until you finish your book. Don’t worry about if it’s perfect. Give yourself the space to write a shitty first draft.
Then, find someone you trust to read your book and give you feedback. So much of writing is rewriting and revising and rewriting until it shines. You have to be able to take feedback and learn to edit your writing. So many aspiring authors either don’t finish their book or don’t listen to and apply feedback. Both are crucial in becoming an author.
Aileen Erin is half-Irish, half-Mexican, and 100% nerd–from Star Wars (prequels don’t count) to Star Trek (TNG FTW), she reads Quenya and some Sindarin, and has a severe fascination with the supernatural. Aileen has a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, and spends her days doing her favorite things: reading books, creating worlds, and kicking ass.