Saturday, March 12, 2011

Heather Massey Interview and Book Launch

Heather, we’re so proud and pleased to have you here on the SFR Brigade blog to discuss your recently released debut novel, ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE.

So, first of all, we have to ask the burning question. From where did the core idea for your novel materialize? Research? A dream? Lightbulb moment? Did your familiarity with other SFRs influence your characters, plot or other elements in any way?

I’ve always been enamored by the romanticized stories about Christopher Columbus, albeit the greatly sanitized versions from my elementary school history books. For many years, I carried around the idea of futuristic versions of the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria soaring around the cosmos. Initially, I pictured my futuristic descendent of Columbus as a drunken loser, but later decided he’d be more interesting as a good-guy hero paired with a ruthless space pirate heroine.

Style-wise, my story pays homage to some of the great vintage SF I’ve enjoyed over the years in books, films, and anime. Readers will also discover a strong space western flavor in the story. I’ve been glomming western films for some time now, and was inspired by the works of directors like Sergio Leone (ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (!)) and John Ford (THE SEARCHERS).

Please give us the blurb for OUaTiS, and could you tell us a little about the process you used to come up with it?

This blurb is from my Web site,

In the sea of stars, an epic love story is about to begin...

Earth is dying. Nick Venture, the last living descendant of Christopher Columbus, embarks on a dangerous mission to find a new planet and save humanity. This places him on a collision course with Raquel Donovan, the deadliest space pirate in the galaxy.

Raquel lives for one purpose: revenge against a horrible demon from her past. When an attempt to hijack Nick’s starship backfires, Raquel becomes his protector in order to avoid capture by the tyrannical Space Defense Corps. Nick and Raquel are irresistibly drawn to one another despite the forbidden nature of their attraction. But the conflicted pirate’s deepest secret could tear the couple apart even as humanity’s time runs out….

An extended version can be found on my author page at

As for process, I simply focused on presenting the key elements that kick-start the story.

What's the opening line from the novel and what sense did you want to convey to the readers right from "we have ignition"?

“Every day—no, every hour—Raquel Donovan rubbed shoulders with death.”

My opening line basically translates to: Here there be entertaining space opera romance: proceed at your peril!

Love that hook! How about whetting our appetites with a brief scene from ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE?

Sure thing! Here are the opening paragraphs:

Every day—no, every hour—Raquel Donovan rubbed shoulders with death.

She frowned as she lorded over the deck, one black-gloved hand knuckling her eye patch to alleviate a phantom itch. It was a bothersome reminder of who she was, and what she had to do. Without fail, the damned thing always struck at the most grueling moments—times when she had to take on the mantle of Atlas bearing his backbreaking planetary load.

The dull thrum of the ship’s well-oiled systems underscored her heavy thoughts. A landscape of sleek gray lines, gleaming consoles, and spacious, well-lit bridge stations surrounded her—the best in technology and design that the military dollar could buy. The revolting display stood for everything she didn’t: power and greed and suppression. She hated the smell and the look of it. The sensory assault made each passing minute increasingly suffocating.

Her good eye narrowed to a slit; a stream of warm sweat trickled down her neck. That damned itch was driving her mad. But she knew better than to pause for additional relief. She had her reputation to guard. This operation had to succeed, for her crew’s sake…and especially hers.

Whatever the outcome, it was time for her star performance to begin.

Tell us about your heroine. Who is she and what does she do? Any quirks, habits or deep, dark fears? Is anything holding her back from getting what she wants, and of course, that includes the hero.

Raquel Donovan is a space pirate who lives for one purpose: revenge against a horrible demon from her past. She has secrets within secrets, including one related to the black eye patch she wears. Her weapon of choice is a vintage Enfield and she wields it against anyone who stands in her way—even the hero.

Okay, let's talk about that hero. Can you give us a brief personality profile? Alpha? Beta? Omega? What drives him? What drives him wild?

Nick Venture is a simple mechanic with an extraordinary heritage: he’s the last living descendent of Christopher Columbus. Desperate to avoid the fate of an unjust death sentence, he accepts an offer from a rogue scientist to claim a newly-discovered planet in exchange for his freedom.

Nick is a good-guy hero, but even he can’t escape the seductive call of Raquel’s dark, gritty world. While Raquel may be the savvier of the two, Nick definitely has a higher emotional IQ. He uses this skill to effectively peel back Raquel’s guarded layers—and her clothes, heh heh.

Let us inside the universe where your two main characters exist. Could you share some insights or a snippet from the novel that shows us their world?

Even as I was excited to explore the fantastical concept of a futuristic Christopher Columbus in space, I was just as determined to build a dark, gritty future that featured the scenario of Earth and her people suffering as a result of environmental disasters.

In the following scene, Nick is fighting for a promotion at work, one his boss has reneged on:

Nick frowned. “You’re not making any sense. Four months ago, I asked and you said because of my excellent record I was guaranteed to make shift supervisor. What the hell changed?”

Bruce sighed, his shoulders sagging like a sack of the cheap ration granules Omnigroup International provided for meals so employees wouldn’t wander off during breaks. The image only compounded Nick’s annoyance, especially since the promotion translated to a one room apartment that made his sleeping berth seem like a rivet in comparison. He had no intention of leaving without it.

Bruce pointedly divided his attention between Nick and the bank of operation monitors before him. “Timing’s gone to shit, that’s what changed. The goddamn Feds have been cracking down like vipers ever since the Alaskan collapse. They’re stuffing so many new safety regulations down the throat of excavation companies that it’s coming out our asses, and believe me, the shit stinks.” He grunted. “What does all this mean? It means we gotta tighten our belts. Selfishness isn’t going to win you any points, Nick. Just be grateful you gotta job.”

Nick’s right hand twitched, and he stopped it just short of clenching a fist. Unfortunately, Bruce was right. When the crust covering Alaska had disintegrated about two months ago, millions of people had died. Vast numbers of mangled corpses now lay buried under rubble. Those not entombed by jagged rock were exposed to the harsh surface climate, rotting and baking in the triple digit temperatures.

Then there were the earthquakes, the deadly leaks of hot gasses, the volcanic eruptions…the dangers went on and on. Life on planet Earth had become a nightmare bordering on insanity.

Tell us a little about the making of the cover art. What was your first impression when you saw it?

I was thrilled! The cover was created by the talented Kanaxa. I was very lucky in that I had the opportunity to provide input about the cover elements. Kanaxa not only delivered on those elements, but also brought them to life in unexpected ways. I love that readers can discern the image and title even at thumbnail size. That’s an important factor where ebook covers are concerned.

And of course I have to mention Kanaxa is also the same talented artist who designed our decidedly cool SFR Brigade badge, too.

So tell us where can readers fly--at warp 10, not impulse power--to purchase your novel?

ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE is available for download from, Books on Board, Powell’s, Amazon, and All Romance Ebooks.

As far as your writing style and voice, who would you most like to be compared to by those who read ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE?

Readers who enjoy action-adventure space westerns, ensemble casts, and steamy love scenes will find much to entertain them between my book’s virtual pages. If you’re a fan of SF films and westerns, you might enjoy the story’s cinematic style. To learn more about the book’s specific elements, I invite readers to peruse 5 Reasons To Avoid Heather Massey’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE.

Aha! Now, there’s a bit of reverse psychology that’s very entertaining.

Has OUaTiS been reviewed yet, and if so where?

Initial reviews have been great and readers can peruse some at Smart Girls Love Sci-Fi & Paranormal Romance, Pearls Cast Before A McPig, and Goodreads.

Any special promotions or events lined up for ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE? Other cyber-launch parties?

Thanks for asking.

In March, I’ll be guest blogging at Dirty Sexy Books as well as at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (with giveaway). Additionally, I’ll be interviewed by author Gini Koch (ALIEN TANGO) on March 23, at which time I’ll be doing a book giveaway. Also an interview at Spacefreighters Lounge, where readers can enter for a chance to win a copy of the book is posted now.

Earlier this month, I guest blogged at the site of author Lisa Paitz Spindler (THE SPIRAL PATH) and likewise hung out at the blog of author Kaye Manro (FORBIDDEN DESTINY). Raquel Donovan was also profiled by Ms. Spindler as part of her Danger Gal series.

And yes, I just shamelessly plugged a few other science fiction romance authors. What can I say? It’s in my blood.

Readers can get future updates about my whereabouts by visiting my blog, The Galaxy Express.

Holy SpaceCows, you’ve been very busy! *suspects Heather employs a transporter room*

Any plans underway for a ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE book 2 or a related series, or will this story be a complete standalone?

ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE is a complete standalone. However, readers can visit my Web site to download Heroes Are Forever, a free near-future science fiction romance.

I will definitely blast on over to your site to check out that Near Future SFR.

Thanks so much for all your thoughts and information, and congrats again on the launch of your debut novel, Heather. 

Thanks for having me, Laurie!

Here's a direct link to the ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE giveaway on Spacefreighters Lounge.  (And while you're there, be sure to check out the 25,000 Hit Celebration with multiple prize drawing for blog followers.)


  1. Congrats again to Heather!! I really enjoyed Once Upon A Time In Space. It hit all my space element buttons and a few other buttons unique to this story as well!

    Thanks for the shout out too.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Sorry about that-- That's my deleted comment because I hit pub twice.

  4. Really enjoyed this book, Heather. Satisfying read and the best SFR I've read in a while!

  5. yay for heather!
    omg, you had me at eye patch! a female pirate with an eye patch! she must be hardcore! i'm sooo looking forward to reading this new book.
    side note: always love kanaxa's cover art

  6. currently reading OUaTiS and loving it! Congrats! Fun interview!

  7. Kimber An, thank you!

    @Kaye I appreciate all of your support and had so much fun guest blogging with you.

    Melisse, thanks for investing time in my book and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    @vvb32 Yeah, Raquel is pretty hardcore!

    @Pauline Thanks for reading both the interview and the book--you really get around, LOL!

    And a special thanks to Laurie for putting all of it together. SFR is lucky to have her as one of its champions.


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