Pets in Space 6 Anthology Authors Discuss Story Inspirations

The Pets in Space® science fiction romance anthology returns!

As one of the original co-founders of the Pets in Space® science fiction romance anthology, I’m happy to announce the collection is back with all new stories for a new year of adventures!

I took the opportunity to interview the other authors about their pets and the inspiration for their stories, as well as what is next for them in their writing career and what books are on their To Be Read list. I always think it’s amazing fun to give a group of writers the same story prompt – pets in space – and then sit back and wait to see what a wide variety of tales get written.

Book blurb:

Join the incredible authors in this year’s Pets in Space 6® for another out-of-this-world adventure. This award-winning, USA TODAY Bestselling anthology is packed full of your favorite Pets in Space®. Featuring 11 original, never-before-released stories from some of today’s bestselling Science Fiction Romance and Fantasy authors, Pets in Space 6® continues their vital support of Hero-Dogs.org, the non-profit charity that improves quality of life for veterans of the U.S. military and first-responders with disabilities.

ESCAPE FROM NOVA NINE by Carol Van Natta, who also managed and edited this year’s anthology:

Escape from Nova Nine is part of my Central Galactic Concordance space opera series. There’s a big damn story arc going on, but this story is a side trip to a forgotten corner of the galaxy. Yes, galaxies have corners.

The story features a space pirate clanswoman, Julke, who has vital information for her people. And Zade, a jack-of-all-trades spacer with enemies hot on his afterburner. Trouble is, they’re both prisoners in a secret mine on a hidden asteroid. No one has ever escaped, but Julke and Zade aren’t going to let that stop them. And they have unexpected allies: space griffins.

Two sparks came together to create this story. First, I’ve wanted the chance to introduce the secretive Volksstam, otherwise known as the pirate clan. People in the settled worlds romanticize them. The military would like to eradicate them. Space hijackers think of them as the competition. The actual people are much more interesting.

And second, I saw an educational program about crows. They’re really clever, social, and learn from each other. In my universe, designers create genetically engineered pets for the wealthy. In the case of griffins, they modeled cute, four-legged birds to look like miniature griffins from Western mythology. No one knows how they got to the asteroid mine or why they’ve flourished in the harsh and lethal environment. But they might just be the key to what Julke and Zade need most: escape from Nova Nine.

Next for me is Spark Transform, the long-awaited next book in the big story arc mentioned above.

ESCAPING KORTH, Kyndra Hatch

What was the inspiration for my story? Honestly? The Pets In Space® idea itself was the inspiration. I wanted to be a part of Pets In Space so badly that the organizers decided to give me a chance in Pets In Space 3. With their guidance, I learned how to write a story worthy of the franchise. Now, here I am in my fourth Pets In Space anthology and I’m still inspired by the whole ‘alien pets bring couple together in a science fiction romance setting’ idea. I have had so much fun coming up with the moghas and molks, and now skyders. My story in Pets In Space 6, Escaping Korth, is the third book in the Pets In Space inspired ‘Before The Fall’ series. There is also a fourth book, After The Fall, which was the story in Pets In Space 3 that started it all. I plan to write 9 books in all in The Fall Universe that will span three series; Before The Fall, After The Fall, and Beyond The Fall. I am eternally grateful to be a part of Pets In Space. It is the catalyst for my author career and continues to be my inspiration and motivation as a writer.

TRADE SECRETS by Cassandra Chandler

I’m so excited to share Trade Secrets, book 15 of my popular Department of Homeworld Security series, with readers in Pets in Space® 6! When I was given the opportunity to participate in this amazing anthology again, I jumped at the chance. The perfect story was right in front of me—sharing the secret behind the “space kittens” that have appeared in several of my previous stories.

Of the three kittens, Bandit stood out as the purrfect candidate for my pet in the anthology. I can’t wait for readers to learn the truth behind these super-smart cuties, as well as getting to know them better as a result of their secret!

I also had a scene floating around in my head about what a technologically advanced Vegan might do if it met one of the many explorer robots Earthlings have sent to Mars—and what might happen if their interaction was recorded by a curious Earthling. Adding these together and throwing in a Coalition pilot who was waiting for his Happy Ever After, and Trade Secrets was born!With fifteen books in the series already, there’s a lot to explore in these quirky, optimistic novellas. I plan to keep moving the Homeworld stories forward and have expanded the universe with a spin-off series called Cygnian 7. Everything connects in this universe, so be sure to check out Trade Secrets so you don’t miss out!

I’m also excited that now I get to read Cara Bristol’s Kiss of Fyre series and S.E. Smith’s The Dark Prince’s Prize as soon as it comes out.

METAMORPHOSIS by Deborah A. Bailey

I’d had the idea for my novella, Metamorphosis, for a few years. But I wasn’t sure if the story would be a standalone so if it would be part of another series. Since I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be, I took some notes and set it aside. When I came up with the idea for the portal worlds, things fell into place. This story could be connected to other stories instead of focusing on one set of characters for each book. So, I decided that this story could go into some background of the Alchemists who monitor the portals. It gave me a way to tell the story I already had in mind, in addition to adding a pet for the hero. The heroine is part of the Alchemist world, and the hero is from one of the portal worlds. We get to see the contrast in cultures and some of the magic and science that unites them.

This novella Is part of the Worlds of Fire series which is about different worlds that are connected by portals. It will be the first book in the series with another book coming soon.

The next book in the series, Blood Red Moon, is in edits. I have ideas for other books in the series and perhaps a standalone book or two.

SURI’S SURE THING by S. J. Pajonas 

When I was asked to write for Pets in Space®, I immediately thought of the world I built in the Nogiku Series where animals and people pair up with the aid of an animal translation chip. I thought this would be a fun way to introduce new readers to the universe I had already built. I have always included animals in my stories, and I was looking forward to writing about them again. Then I watched ‘Bridgerton’, and I was inspired by the large family and how every one of the siblings had their own story. That gave me a great idea! I would create a large family with plenty of sisters to write about. Each story would be about one sister finding love and would also be about their family. I started with the oldest sister, Suri, and I plan to write about Myra, Tilli, Winta, Demi, and Rosa too. I’ve already begun writing on Myra’s story!

Suri’s Sure Thing is the first book in a new sci-fi romance series. In the Kimura Sisters Series, we’ll follow each of the Kimura sisters and their paired pets as they fix past mistakes, learn independence from their overbearing father, and find love along the way. I am now working on the next book of the Kimura Sisters Series, Myra’s Big Mistake, and I’m also working on Book 2 of the Amagi Series. I hope to have them both published in 2022.

STRANDED ON GRZBT by Melisse Aires

‘Star Wars, A New Hope’ hit the theaters when I was in college. I spent that summer in Kalispell, MT, a small resort town, at the family home. My younger brother was home, too, and we both loved scifi and fantasy books, so we saw the movie. We agreed it was the best movie ever, and dragged the whole family to it. Later in the summer the theater dropped the price to fifty cents, so we went many, many evenings. I never got tired of it.

Last winter hubby and I rewatched all the Star Wars movies and I thought it would be fun to write in a many-aliens universe, instead of an all-humanoid universe. I thought an alien abduction romance where the abductors were so gross no one could romance them, might be fun. I had stinky worms do the abducting in Stranded on Grzbt. I also wanted to write something that didn’t really veer into grim or violent, but still had adventure. And  a sweet little pet! Soon Mimi meets the handsome, humanoid Kyre with the flashing eyes.She knows a good alien when she sees one!

Stranded on Grzbt is the first book in a new romance series, Far Stars. Mimi, Hannah, Acacia and a young teen named Chloe were abducted at the same time. I want a scifi romance about each of the abducted women. You might note that straight-laced Hannah meets a wild and crazy (but hot) scientist in the final scenes of Stranded on Grzbt. Her crazy new life is about to get insane.

My writing plans are still in the works, just delayed due to a health situation. Melisse and wildfire smoke are incompatible! But this will pass and I’ll be back. I have a Diaspora Worlds romance and a Cyborg Nations book both in the works. One might be ready toward the end of this year, or next winter.

THE CYBORG WITH NO NAME by Honey Phillips

The Cyborg with No Name is part of the Cyborgs on Mars series, but it actually takes place before the other books. There has been a consistent thread throughout the books about the cybernetic horses, and the fact that they seem to be much more than they appear. I wanted to explore that more closely and the logical place to start was with the creator, Dr. Rose Abbott. So what does an ethical scientist do when she sees those hints of sentience? In Rose’s case, she chooses to leave the corporation which chooses to ignore it. But of course, as a scientist, she can’t stop exploring the possibilities and thus Otis is born – a small canine built with the limited resources available to her. An encounter with one of her horses and a wounded cyborg provide some of the answers she is seeking.

What’s next for me: Later this month, I am releasing another book in my Alien Abduction series and in November, another book in the Treasured by the Alien series. These are two of my favorite series and I revisit them every year. I’m also working on a holiday story for December and a surprise for the end of the year. It’s going to be a busy few months!

On my TBR list: Way too many to name – I call it my TBR mountain! I am looking forward to reading all of the other Pets in Space stories, of course! And I’m eagerly waiting for the third book in Tiffany Roberts’s Spider’s Mate trilogy before diving into that. And following along with Bex McLynn’s web serial. And the list goes on…

SEE HOW THEY RUN by JC Hay

The mice in my story started, as a lot of things do for me, from research. In this case, knowing I had a story that would be set in a majority of microgravity environments, I had started researching how various animals responded to being in near-weightlessness and what research had been done on the impact. In the process, I found an article that described mice as “creating a new game” by expanding their runs to include three dimensions (up one wall, over the ceiling, down the other wall, and back) while being kept on board the ISS. After they confirmed it wasn’t a stress response—something April also wonders about in the story—they realized the mice had incorporated the behavior into their interactions.

It sounded so adorable I had to include it in the book, and that meant mice needed to be me pet. I went with three because lab mice tend to form triads instead of pairs (domestic mice tend to pair up), and built a lot on my own experiences with pet rodents—mice and rats of course, but also hamsters and gerbils. They have a surprising amount of character for such small creatures, and I tried hard to translate their differences to the page.

I have two projects going right now. In my Smugglers universe, I’m finally getting around to hashing out the complex relationship between Captain Barnes, Pilot Minami Hicks, and First Mate Zion Sanderson. The three of them spend a lot of time together, and are each as different as night and day, but for some reason keep getting pulled into each other’s orbits.

I’m also working on a bit of a vanity project – I’ve wanted to write a wolf shifter book for a while, and had developed what I hope is an interesting mythology for the world. It’s been a fun change of pace to right what is effectively contemporary after all the science fiction, and we’ll see where it goes.

My TBR is so big, it might as well have its own ZIP code at this point! Pulling a few of the ones from the very top (or which will be on top when they release) – I’m absolutely looking forward to Jesse Mihalik’s Hunt The Stars when it comes out in February (which feels like forever away). I finally have time to get around to Denali Day’s Hollen the Soulless, which I’ve heard nothing but good about and can’t wait to dig into. And lastly there’s Starbreaker from Amanda Bouchet, which is the sequel to Nightchaser and one I’m looking forward to making some time for.

THE THUNDER EGG by Greta van der Rol

My Pets in Space story started as an opening scene probably a year ago. I was doing the writer’s equivalent of doodling, playing around with ideas. I started off with a female freighter captain walking back to her ship after making a delivery. She was regretting taking the short cut to the spaceport through the oldest, seediest section of Old Port as one of the frequent fogs descends. It’s a haven for thugs and muggers and she was grateful for the pistol in her pocket.

That looked promising, so I asked the Muse what happened next. “Ah,” said the Muse, “As she walked, something hit her chest.”

“But what hit her?” I asked the Muse.

“Let’s see. What about some sort of animal? It can fly but it isn’t a bird or a bat. Something cute and alien.”

“But what is it?” I wailed. “Where does it come from?”

The Muse wasn’t happy. “Come on. You’re a writer. Work it out for yourself. She’s – I don’t know – a cross between a Pern dragon and a pterodactyl.” Then she flounced off for a Bex and a lie-down, but flung over her shoulder, “But it’s small.”

I took it from there and ended up with little Neyru’s unexpected adventure. By the end of the story you’ll know what Neyru is and where she comes from. The story is set in my Dryden Universe but it is absolutely stand-alone, with all new characters.

For my next book I’m working on a new Dryden Universe story called The Search for the Crimson Lady. It’s about a mysterious spaceship (the Crimson Lady) that disappeared a century ago. An artefact is found, leading to a search. Yes, there’s a romance – between the finder of the artefact and the captain of the ship she hires to do the searching.

And next on my reading list is Michelle Diener’s Wave Rider. I love oceans and whales so deep sea leviathans on a watery moon pushed my buttons. I’m looking forward to it.

‘Eyn’ – Veronica’s alien turtle

STAR CRUISE TIME LOOP by Veronica Scott

I’ve always loved the ‘Groundhog Day’ type movies and novels, where a character is caught in a time loop and has to figure out why the day is repeating itself and what they can do to resolve the problems which arise. Very serious problems in this novella! So this year I decided to write my own story in the genre but as a science fiction romance. My pet for this star cruise adventure is an alien form of turtle, inspired by my brother and his lifelong love of terrestrial turtles as pets.

The novella is the latest in my Star Cruise Series, set aboard a luxury interstellar cruise liner.

I’m currently working on the first book of a new SFR series, entitled Kyden and hope to release that by the end of Ocotber. Next up will be another book in my Badari Warriors SFR series.

My To Be Read list is huge but I think the next one I’ll be reading is Anna Carven’s latest Darkstar Mercenaries novel, Hyperspeed Dreams.

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The anthology also includes BEHR’S REBEL Marastin Dow Book 2 by S.E. Smith

With the help of her two innovative pets, a human woman rescues an alien General and becomes part of the revolution he is leading.

For more about Pets in Space® 6 visit https://petsinspacebooks.com/

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