I’ve really been enjoying the slow rollout of the novels in the Obsidian Rim shared universe and thought it would be interesting to learn more about the project and the individual authors and stories! I asked author Jessa Slade a few basic questions about the series concept.
Veronica for AMAZING STORIES MAGAZINE: Please tell us more about Obsidian Rim itself.
JS: The Obsidian Rim is the remains of a ruined galaxy—actually, it’s our galaxy after a terrible interstellar war hollowed out the Milky Way, leaving only a fragile bubble of habitable systems. And in this precarious realm of struggling worlds and the void between stars, eight authors are each writing a standalone Science Fiction Romance trilogy of their own. In each trilogy, we’re exploring unique angles of the Rim, from riches and royalty to smugglers and scrapnappers. It’s a vast, dangerous place, but maybe the deepest mysteries are in the hearts of the humans who dwell there. Come join us on the journey across the Obsidian Rim!
ASM.: What was the spark behind the idea to create a shared universe?
JS: Writing can be a lonely place—it’s like the outer space of your own mind! Very dark and deep and possibly catastrophically explosive! Having friends along for the adventure has made the creation of the Obsidian Rim more fun. But also, having more writers in this world means we get to explore more corners of it. Sort of like what they are doing now with the Star Wars universe. As they grow beyond the Skywalker saga, we get to see into the lives of rebels and bounty hunters and more. (Or, ya know, go back to Obi Wan or whatever, cuz Solo did so well… Don’t get me started!) Anyway, we’ll let you know when we all get our movie deals!
ASM.: How did you decide what the standard elements or world building of Obsidian Rim would be?
JS: My accomplice in worldbuilding, Maggie Lynch, and I got together for too much caffeine and sugar. Isn’t that always how brainstorming goes? 😉 We wanted to make a universe where action-adventure and romance lived side by side. That 50/50 SFR balance was important to us, and it’s a tricky wire to walk. Some SF readers find too much kissing, and some R readers find too much nerding. But we know our readers are out there…somewhere, trapped on the edges of a black hole maybe. We’ll save you!
We also wanted to write in a universe where humans are alone. No multi-colored alien peen (to be clear, we loooove multi-colored alien peen!) or shiftery magic (we also loooove shiftery magic!) will be coming along to fix these broken worlds and broken hearts. At least for now, this is the cold, hard truth of our “real world” too; we are going to have to fight and love our way out of our own problems, on our own.
Here’s hoping we have the strength of character to persevere…
ASM.: Any special challenges in creating one world for many authors to play in?
JS: Logistics are a bitch! Most writers have an independent streak, of course. That’s what lets us sit alone for hours/days/years with our stories. And a lot of us create on the fly. So coordinating everything from release dates to the micro details of who already has a Trash Planet adds to the complexity of an already complicated endeavor. But that’s also the fun, sharing those details and creating a synergistic whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Whenever the order master part of my brain gets twitchy about our stories not melding perfectly, I take a look around our real world. There is so much diversity and discrepancy! Almost anything you imagine is somewhere on Earth—and so it will be somewhere in the galaxy if we make it that far.
ASM.: What can readers expect in terms of more books to come?
JS: On October 15, we started “Season 3” of Obsidian Rim—so there’s still time to get caught up if you haven’t read them all!—and by the end of the year, we’ll have 20 books out in eight standalone series. Plus more stories to come in 2020!
I’m so proud of all the OR authors, working together to bring the Salty Way to life.
ASM.: Who does your very effective covers?
JS: Victoria Cooper https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaCooperArt/ designed the template and the individual covers. I found her when I needed to recover a short story, and she did such a lovely job capturing the scene that I knew I wanted her for something bigger.
She has done so much for us when we all have different visions of our slice of the Obsidian Rim.
ASM.: Where can readers learn more or catch up on the newer titles?
JS: You can learn more about all the Obsidian Rim books at http://ObsidianRim.com.
And please join our Facebook reader group at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=396745924456283
Introducing the authors of Obsidian Rim, talking about their ‘story spark’ for their first novel set in the Obsidian Rim and giving us a peek at their To Be Read (TBR) Lists or favorite movies.
Maggie Lynch, Gravity: Cryoborn Gifts (Obsidian Rim Book One):
Help no one. Show no mercy. These rules have kept smuggler, Lehana Saar, rich and alive. But faced with a stowaway and his two children, will she bend?
Story spark: The idea for my trilogy within the Obsidian Rim was to explore how navigating spacetime might relate to navigating one’s life and growth as a person. Traveling through wormholes is required to traverse the large distances in The Rim. However, it has both physical and mental impacts over time. My heroine’s approach is cold and logical, and fits her need for control. Let the computer set the course and then deal with the consequences as needed if something fails. My hero’s navigational gifts have taught him to surrender to spacetime and trust what is given. It makes the ride smoother and his mental state is easier. These differences in the approach to their world translates to their relationship, the scrapes they get in, and the way each one grows and changes throughout the three books: Gravity, Magnetism, and Singularity.
TBR: Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan, Finder by Suzanne Palmer, Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan
Elsa Jade (a.k.a. Jessa Slade), Rock Rift: Edge of Sunrise #1 (Obsidian Rim Book Two):
In a broken galaxy, how can he fight for a freedom he’s never known?
Story spark:You know that saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”? I’ve always thought, What’s before that step? So when Maggie Lynch and I were brainstorming how humans have hopscotched around the galaxy—the actual factual mechanics of faster than light travel are so annoying!—I wondered who made it possible for us to shoot for the stars. No, not the engineers or scientists or even the dreamers. I wanted to tell the stories of the hardrock miners who risk their lives excavating the rare mineral qubition that allows wormhole traversing across the Obsidian Rim. Sometimes the journey out there starts deep in here.
Bingeworthy movie: ‘The Last Jedi’! I don’t rewatch or reread my favorite stories too often—I tend to save them for when I really need the comfort—but I deep dived on TLJ because I think it’s just so wonderful from a storytelling perspective. I love the creative choices. I love the audience response, and while I don’t love the backlash, I’m intrigued how the story reveals truths not just about the characters but about the audience itself. Of course I’m looking forward to ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, and I am doing everything in my non-Jedi power to stop myself from watching the trailer! #reylo! Don’t @ me.
Jane Killick, Traitor’s Code: Freelancer 1 (Obsidian Rim Book 3):
Pursued by Stephen, Prince of Fertilla, spaceship captain Cassy fights to discover the secrets of a stolen code. As she unravels its importance to humanity, she finds the prince transforming from her enemy into her lover.
Story spark: I once thought I could use my background in journalism to write a space opera about a journalist and a prince. I revisited the idea when I was given the opportunity to write for Obsidian Rim and scribbled thoughts on a pad until I had a new story which in no way resembled the original idea. Apart from it being set in space with a feisty woman falling in love with a prince during the course of her adventures.
Bingeworthy TV series: I’ve just finished a binge re-watch of ‘Farscape’. It’s a bit uneven at the beginning, but the emotional arc the characters go through is compelling.
Shree C. Aier, Coexistence: Pipettes and Plows #1 (Obsidian Rim Book 4):
Searching for a rare seed, all they find is danger
Story spark: I wanted to write about a strong woman who was a scientist, unapologetic, and focused on her work. She is a flawed character. Why? Because in my idea of the future, women can be as good and as bad as men, and not get punished for it. Once truly equal, the burden of perfection will be removed from women. Wouldn’t life be nice? She doesn’t need to be great at work while carrying two babies, and be nice and smile at everyone.
Bingeworthy TV series: ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ and ‘Monk’. I relate to them in all possible ways. ‘My Cousin Vinny’ – Ms. Monalisa Vito is THE woman and I love how they show the relationship.
Shona Husk, Mercenary Royal: Dead Suns #1 (Obsidian Rim Book 6):
Is it a rescue or a princess-napping?
Story spark: When I was invited to join the Obsidian Rim it was obvious the story possibilities were endless. But I’d been wanting write something with mercenaries for a while (Jessie had been in my head for years) and I decided that it was now or never, so I created the Dead Suns and then paired them up with someone who would make life even more complicated. In Jessie’s case, a runaway princess.
Bingeworthy TV series: I’ve recently binged ‘The Magicians’ and ‘Lucifer’. I like a world I can disappear into and forget about everything else for a while.
Sela Carsen, Ace’s Odds: Fate’s Favor #1 (Obsidian Rim Book 7):
A smuggler and a princess running for their lives on the rim of the ruined galaxy. The odds are stacked against them, but they’re betting with their hearts.
TBR: I’m in the middle of Ella Drake’s “Space Grit” series (SFR) from a couple of years ago. I’d read one of them and lost track of it. So glad I found this series again! Loads of fun, unique hybrid aliens, and great romance.
Jody Wallace, Catalyst: Cat Ship #1 (Obsidian Rim Book 8):
When Sulari Abfall pries open a hazmat container on a trash ship, she finds more than she ever bargained for. A naked man. And a sentient cat.
Story Spark: I think my first response to the larger Obsidian Rim group, when we were talking about premises and series, was “DIBS ON TALKING CATS!” in all caps, because I’m excitable like that. The fact is, I was commanded by my cats to write a series about talking cats that are going to take over the galaxy. Oops. Spoiler alert!
TBR: Aside from the other fine books in the Obsidian Rim series, I just downloaded Faith Hunter’s Flame in the Dark, Rachel Aaron’s Minimum Wage Magic, and Hafsah Faizal’s We Hunt the Flame. I appear to have a flaming desire to read some books, heh.
USA Today Best Selling Author Cathryn Cade w/a CJ Cade, Hunter Green: Ghost Planet #12 (Obsidian Rim Book 9):
He’ll do anything to get her and her deadly pursuers off his planet. She’ll do anything to stay.
Story Spark: Once I heard about the O Rim, I knew my characters had to be part of it. Dark and dangerous in space—that’s my jam!
But the notion that people on the Rim must subsist on vitamin tabs and such—ecch! Reminds me of that liquid protein diet I tried in college.
I—er, my hero accepts the challenge! Find a suitable Class-M Planet and set up farming to produce fresh plant-based foods for the Rim. Of course, this tough alpha has a few challenges in his path, some of them paranormal in nature… heh, heh, heh. Because that’s what makes writing SF Romance so much fun.
The heroine? We-ell, she has a few problems of her own. She sort of stole a mysterious something… and now it won’t let go of her. What’s a girl to do but jump ship on the first likely planet and strike out on her own?
(Author rubs hands together in fiendish excitement. Now, we’re ready to have some fun.)
ASM.: The next three Obsidian Rim titles:
Great article Victoria and Jessa! It’s been an amazing journey so far and I hope it continues in 2020. So many books. So little time.
One of my biggest fans (okay, it’s my mom…) was saying how she loves that every #ObsidianRim story is different even though we launched from one source. The galaxy IS a big, wonderful place!