Sunday, 14 December 2014

Chatting with British sci-fi writer Pippa Jay

I'm delighted to welcome Pippa Jay, a British writer of what I can only describe as sci-fi with a difference. I've read two of her stories, both of which I found fast-moving, engaging, intriguing and entertaining. I used to devour sci-fi in my teens, but I never found anyone writing like Pippa.

I've just finished reading When Dark Falls, which I can heartily recommend. Even if you don't think of yourself as a "sci-fi fan", but you like a good story which rattles along, I think you might enjoy reading it. It opened engagingly and immediately got me wondering what was going on. Things kept on happening, answering some of my questions and getting me asking more! Rotten trick... As was dropping me into a world where superheroes battled to the death and didn't always win. By the time I got to the ending, which came as a surprise, I was almost speed-reading to see where Pippa's imagination was taking me next. I've already bought more of her stories and look forward to reading them.

And it's not just me who enjoys reading her stories. She’s a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place). And she's just been named as a finalist for an EPIC award for her book Gethyon.

There's more about When Dark Falls further down this posting.

As is my habit, and being plain nosey, I quizzed Pippa...

IS Where did the original idea for the story and characters in When Dark Falls came from? 

PJ It started as a line I felt more appropriate to a paranormal/urban fantasy story, an album called Living Things by Linkin Park, and a classic ‘what if?’ question - specifically, what if a superhero’s identity was soooo secret, even the superhero didn’t know about it?

IS What do you have in mind for your next writing project? 

PJ For writing, I’m considering a sequel to this story, but I’m on a promise to write the last two stories in a trilogy of YA dystopia romance for my publisher - Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened - part one of which comes out next April. There’s a lot of edits to be done before any of those, though.

IS How do you develop your ideas for characters? Are parts of you incorporated into any of them?

PJ I think it’s impossible to write a character without something of yourself in them, even if it then turns out to be the opposite of what I am. Usually I start off with one or more scenes involving my character, and how they react to that determines some of their main or dominant characteristics. The rest grows from there.

IS Tell us about the genre you write in. Why does this particularly appeal and how did you get into it?  

PJ Generally I write scifi, because that’s the genre I love the most. It really does allow me to step out of this world and into another, to create an entire universe that isn’t tied to my own world in any way if I want. I’ve been a lifelong fan of science fiction - my parents were too, so I grew up on a diet of Doctor Who and Star Trek - but it really grabbed me after the first TV showing of a film called Star Wars: A New Hope. I tend to blend in some fantasy and paranormal elements to my SF, and often cross the lines into other speculative genres.

IS Do you write in other genres as well? 

PJ I have written others, though I’ve never stepped outside speculative fiction as a whole. My YA paranormal - Restless In Peaceville - is written quite differently to the rest of my work. Partly because it took me a long way out of my comfort zone and was my most challenging to write so far - zombies, for one thing (quite a departure considering I’m not a horror fan), and only the second thing I’ve written in the first person (which is not my default setting) and the only one published written in that POV. On the whole, I don’t think my style or voice changes that much between genres, only when switching from adult to YA.

IS Do your stories ever seen veer off in an unexpected direction? 

PJ I’m a pantster, so my stories nearly always go off at a tangent. Quite often my characters will tell me what’s next once I’ve got them started. I think the most random thing that happened was when writing my debut when a giant automated guard marched into the story and attacked my hero - I hadn’t thought about it or planned it until it suddenly appeared on the page as I typed!

IS How long does it take you to write a book? 

PJ LOL, that’s a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ kind of question. It takes as long as it takes, and it depends a lot on the story, the amount of research, if I’m trying to hit a submission window, real life stuff... I’ve written three novellas as part of three separate NaNoWriMos, but the highest word count I’ve ever hit during the event is 36K. So I can’t write a novel in a month, that’s for sure. I would say at least two months for a novel, but even a novella will normally take eighteen months from start to a final MS fit for submission. Having said that, I did get a 45K novella written and contracted in the space of five months once. Not rushing to do that again though.

IS What are your ambitions for your writing career? 

PJ I’d like to be earning a living wage from it, which I’m not right now. But even if that never happens, I’ve written and published eleven titles, had mostly good reviews, and even a small fan following. I’m very happy with that.

IS What does your family think of your writing? 

PJ They mostly think it’s cool now. My kids used to refer to it as my boring writing stuff, right up to the point where their teachers and friends got interested, and suddenly I was ‘cool’.

IS What does your writing process look like? 

PJ Chaotic! I don’t plot, and I don’t write linearly. If I died mid book, I don’t think anyone would be able to finish it off for me because they just wouldn’t be able to make head nor tail of it.

IS What’s your passion in life? Other than writing? 

PJ Music, my family, and all the other creative things I do in my life.

IS Since When Dark Falls features superheroes, I've just got to ask what superpower would you choose? 

PJ I would love mind control. Okay, I’m a control freak. But sometimes I think the world could be a much better place if people could be made to behave and stop judging each other based on something like colour, sex or religion. My credo - as long as what someone does or is causes no harm to another (and simply making another person uneasy doesn’t count), then they should be entitled to live how they please. Talking of superpowers, can I be cheeky and ask you to mention my competition?

IS Consider it done! You've mentioned having published other titles. What are they?

PJ The Bones of the Sea, which is a free SF short story; Terms & Conditions Apply , another short story which is a hot scifi romance; Gethyon, a YA scifi adventure; Tales from the SFR Brigade, an anthology of eight scifi romance stories; Reboot, a short cyberpunk story; Tethered, a scifi romance adventure; Restless In Peaceville, a YA paranormal romance; Hallow’s Eve, a paranormal romance short; and my latest is No Angel, a futuristic urban fantasy short, releasing on 19th December.

IS Pippa, thanks for popping in an being a sport with my questions. Good luck with all your titles and fingers crossed for the EPIC award.

When Dark Falls

An alternative 1920s superhero romance, released by Breathless Press in November this year.

In a city where Dark Technologies Inc. now runs the show, Kadie Williams has more immediate concerns than the fall of Blaze, their guardian superhero. Almost every morning for the last few months she’s woken up with cuts and bruises on her body, and no idea how she got them. There are no nightmares. No evidence that she sleepwalks, or any sign of a break in. And nothing to tell her who’s been cleaning up after her. As just one of thousands of civilians conscripted to slave away in the labs of Professor Dark, she knew there'd be trouble ahead. But she never expected it to be so bad, or so personal.

Desperate for answers, Kadie looks to the new defender of the night, the only person who can hinder the total domination of Professor Dark—Nocturnelle. The mysterious vigilante superhero came from nowhere with her cybernetic sidekick Shadow, set on putting an end to the brutality of Dark's regime. But as his laboratories work on a new secret super-weapon, Nocturnelle and Shadow may not be enough to save Nephopolis...or to save Kadie either.


The roar of the cloudburner flaming into life woke her. The vibration as it powered up rippled through the building created a disturbance impossible to sleep through. No more being roused from sleep by the dawn chorus of traffic or a rowdy neighbor. Those days were long past. Everyone in Nephopolis woke to the sound of fire burning into the clouds, to cast a false darkness over the city. The shadow of Dark.

Kadie stretched...and froze. She stared at her left arm. A pattern of blue and purple covered her forearm, a harsh contrast to her otherwise pale skin.

She shuddered, turning her arm this way and that. Had she fallen out of bed? And if so, why hadn't she woken? She didn't remember catching it on anything yesterday that would have gone unnoticed and yet left such intense bruising. One day blurred into another now, but even so, surely she'd remember hurting herself that badly?

If I'd been conscious. She sat up and examined the bruise. It was the fourth injury in as many nights, and yet there'd been no dreams. No sign she'd left her bed in the night. Would she know if she'd been sleepwalking? After all, she lived and slept alone. Unless she was leaving her apartment to wander around in the corridors...

The idea made her stomach churn too much to consider it. Instead, she swung her legs out from under the duvet. Pale pink flannel pajamas clothed her, crumpled from a night's sleep but nothing more. Her bare feet revealed no signs of midnight wandering. What the hell had happened to her arm when everything else seemed so normal?


Nocturnelle perched on the carved griffin statue decorating the tower's cornerstone, with hundreds of feet of empty space between her and the ground below. Her second skin felt tight. It was a familiar sensation and yet always the first thing she noticed on waking, as if her body needed to remind her of the fact. She stretched and her outer skin crackled like leather. She flexed her fingers, the delicate oh-so-white digits a stark contrast to her black arms. Silver lines marked her left forearm, and she frowned at them. She was meant to be impervious to blades and bullets, and yet somehow, not too long ago, she must have injured herself.

As she rose, her skin creaked. She stretched again, and then tugged her hands through her hair, pulling the thick swathe of black silk from her face and knotting it at the back. Darkest Night forbid it should get in her way. The second skin pressed tight against her forehead, running around her eyes and mouth, cradling her chin. She ran her fingers around the edges, tracing the outline. Perfect. Her body tingled as though electricity danced in her veins, and she smiled. Breathed in the evening air. This was her time.

Viscous and reeking, the night sky hung over the city of Art Deco towers and buildings like an oil-slick. Behind her, the metallic chinking of the cloudburner cooling after a day spent scorching the sky ticked away the seconds like a clock.


The deep male voice sent a shiver down her back, and she turned. "Ah, my faithful Shadow. Ready for another night-time jaunt?"

A figure stepped out of the shadows to join her. He matched her for height; his whipcord frame clad in a charcoal-colored armor vest, black combats, and a hip-length military jacket. When the rooftop lights hit his face, the chiseled jawline showed; his skin a dark tan. He wore a mask over his eyes, but his teeth gleamed white when he smiled. And when he smiled, something inside Nelle set her heart racing.

"Ready and set, Nelle."

Buy Links:

Breathless Press -
Bookstrand -
All Romance eBooks -
Amazon US -
Amazon UK -
Smashwords -
Web page to other links -!when-dark-falls/cl15

About Pippa Jay...

After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres.

Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade.

Amazon page UK -

Omnilit/All Romance eBooks -

Bookstrand -

Barnes and Noble -

Smashwords -

Website –

Blogs –
  Adventures in Scifi -
  Spacefreighters Lounge -
  Romancing the Genres -
  SFR Brigade -
  Twitter -
  Goodreads -
  Facebook -!/pages/Pippa-Jay-Adventures-in-Scifi/114058821953752
  Pinterest -
  Google+ -
  Wattpad -
  Amazon page -

Pippa's contest!

Open internationally until the 19th December 2014.

Pippa has donned her superhero guise, but still needs a name and supertalent(s)! If she likes it, she may include it in the sequel to When Dark Falls and credit you in the acknowledgements.

To enter, please put the name, talent, and your contact details in comments to this blog or contact her through her website. 

Please note - by entering this contest you are giving Pippa full permission to use the superhero name without any recompense to you, financially or otherwise, other than the acknowledgement, and you are waiving any rights to the name.

But you will get When Dark Falls in the digital format of your choice.

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