Veronica Scott for AMAZING STORIES: Welcome to my periodic series of author profiles. Today I’ve chosen Becky Black, author of LGBTQ science fiction stories. I first started reading this author with Woke Up Hungry (zombies on a spaceship) and Patient Z (not currently available), then binged the rest of the backlist so I couldn’t resist the chance to ask a few questions.
VS for ASM.: What was the first scifi romance book you ever read and what did you like about it?
BB: Looking back on Goodreads, it seems that was My Fair Captain by J.L Langley, which I read back in 2009. It’s a m/m romance, from a time when the genre was just getting going, or at least just starting to be published. It’s a quite bonkers mashup of space opera and Regency Romance. I enjoy both of those, so I was all in for that. What I liked about it was how it just took that goofy premise and turned things up to eleven on it. I do love a book that’s not scared to do that.
ASM.: What was the first scifi romance book you wrote, when, give us the 2-3 sentence logline.
BB: My first one was Liar’s Waltz, which I wrote in late 2009, submitted in mid 2010 and was published early in 2011 with Loose Id. The speed the ebook first small publishers work at compared to more old school publication was shocking! But it was a great experience to work with them. The first inkling of an idea for the book was the phrase “the only gay bar on the moon.” It didn’t stay on the moon in this case!
The logline is: Bar owner Karl thinks his new lover is an ally in the fight to save Eternity — the last gay bar on space station Saira. But Greg is actually a reluctant spy desperately trying to salvage his military career.
ASM.: Which of your SFR books is the bestselling?
BB: That was the second book I ever published, Stowaway, the 2nd book in a loose series called Travellers that Liar’s Waltz kicked off. It was first published in 2011. I suspect the rather sexy cover it had at the time helped the sales!
Log Line: Bedding stowaway Kit is a bad idea for cargo freighter security chief Raine. Kit agrees – he’s been screwed over enough by authority . But they can’t resist the attraction even though they face being parted for good at the end of the voyage.
ASM.: How do you go about world building? Do you do elaborate planning, keep a big file, use post its, wing it – what method works for you?
BB: I do a lot of my planning on paper, in a notebook, and make sure to make an index of what notes are on what page. I may later type up notes for easy reference, once I’m certain that’s the way things will be for sure. (Well probably.) My general method is to try to really tease out the social consequences of a world I’ve thought up. Like what might the world be like if humans didn’t sleep any more? That turned into my book called Dream for Me. Then I work on the research to make the world building make sense. Like if I decide a story is on a space station (and lots of mine tend to be. All that DS9 and Babylon 5 I watched in the 90s left me with a long time love of space stations.) I’ve got to figure out exactly what’s needed for X number of people to survive there, things like that.
ASM.: What was your most recent book and what was the story spark or inspiration for that story?
BB: My most recent SF Romance is a two volume space opera called To Feed on Dreams. It’s got two couples, one m/m and one Ace couple, though it’s not a case of one book for one couple and the other for the second couple. The story just got pretty long and had a good break point in the middle that made it just perfect to be a duology. I can’t quite recall the very first spark for it any more, but at least part of the initial inspiration included wondering about what would happen if a character who was entirely without gender and unable to have a child found themself heir to a throne and the last of their dynasty.
ASM.: An interesting setup for sure! Your own favorite tropes? Least favorite tropes?
BB: I do enjoy an enemies to lovers story. I like to see them spark and banter. I had a lot of fun with that kind of couple in my book Bring Me the Dead. Least favourite has to be the harpy ex-girlfriend. Half the time I’ll end up rooting for her instead.
ASM.: Do you also write other genres? Which ones? How does writing a book in that genre compare to writing an SFR?
BB: I do! Sometimes I’ll do some contemporary, or fantasy, or paranormal. Really whatever idea happens to pop into my head. My most recent book published was called The Haunted Diamond, which is historical paranormal, set in the 1920s. It’s kind of a fun romp, but with some hard choices for the characters. And since any time a diamond or diamonds appears in a story, then in my opinion, its job is to be stolen. So in this book it’s stolen five times! (And has been stolen various times before.)
Logline: Carrying a stolen diamond across the Atlantic to New York is already a stressful job for jewel thief Bobbie. She didn’t reckon on also dealing with Iandara, the temporarily-corporeal ghost bound to the cursed stone and determined to destroy it. Or with her double-crossing ex-partner, Frances, out to steal it. What’s a girl to do? Not fall in love. That would be a terribly silly thing to do.
How does it compare to writing the SFR? Well, sometimes there’s a bit less leeway if it’s contemporary or historical and needs to reflect how things really are or were. But really, if I’m enthusiastic about the story and characters it’s all the same to me.
ASM.: What’s next for you?
BB: I’ve only quite recently started publishing again, after a bit of a break for a few years for various reasons, but now I’m back and not slowing down. I’m working on a couple of new ones right now. One a m/m space opera, in the editing stage, the other a near future solarpunk story, which I’m drafting. And I’ve got one waiting for revision and a couple more ideas in the planning stage.
ASM.: What’s on your To Be Read List?
BB: Ooh, too many as always. But I’m especially looking forward to listening to the audio of The Ghosts of Trappist, the third in K.B. Wagers Neo G books. There will be a new PsyCop book out soon from Jordan Castillo Price, and the next of the Murderbot books by Martha Wells is due out in November and on my pre-orders list already.
ASM.: I think we’re all waiting for Murderbot’s next adventure! Give us your short author bio and where you can be found on social media.
BB: I live in the UK and I’ve been writing since 2003. I cut my teeth on fanfiction, then started doing original fiction in 2006, doing NaNoWriMo [ED: National Novel Writing Month] for the first time, before deciding to take a crack at the newly emerging M/M romance genre in about 2009. All was going swimmingly until around 2018, when my main novel publisher closed down and I also lost my urge to write. I honestly thought I was done. It had been a fun ride, but it was time to move on. But no! Turns out I just needed a couple of years off to recover from that intense decade or so of publishing at least two books a year, and I started writing again. In Autumn 2020 I published Woke Up Hungry, a lesbian romance novella about dealing with some pesky not-quite-zombies on a spaceship. Now I’m fully back in the groove, with three books out so far this year, and many of my older m/m romance books about to be republished with JMS books.
After fleeing Twitter in November 2022 I can now be found on Mastodon.