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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Guest post by Jenna Bennett + Giveaway

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming back to Ex Libris the wonderful Jenna Bennett who is celebrating the release of yet another novel, but this time of a yet uncharted genre: the sci-fi genre. Please give Jenna a warm welcome as she shares with us the inspiration behind  and how the story and series came to be. Don't go without leaving a comment, you could win a copy of ! :-)

Sci-fi and Me
by Jenna Bennett

I never planned to write science fiction. I’m a mystery writer. Sometimes I push off into romance, with a bit of mystery thrown in. But science fiction?

So not my thing.

So not something I was comfortable with.

People who write science fiction seem like they ought to be science-y, you know? Mathematical geniuses or something.

So not me.

But then something happened.

It was back in February of 2010, and this group blog I was part of—the Working Stiffs; a bunch of mystery writers—was experimenting with themed months. Scary stuff in October, things we were grateful for in November, Christmas-related things in December... and short stuff in February, in honor of the shortest month of the year.

Wilfred Bereswill issued a flash fiction smackdown: a challenge to write a complete story in 200 words, beginning with the sentence “If you have to die, February is the best month for it.”

I think it was partly my fault, actually. Will and I had always been good buddies, and I’d been insisting, loudly and adamantly, that I can’t write anything short. I think he wanted to prove me wrong. He told me later that he made the challenge 200 words, and not 100 the way it was supposed to be, because he knew I’d have a mental breakdown if I had to deal with just 100 words.

Even with the extra verbiage, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. I thought about telling Will there was no way, it just couldn’t be done. But I’m nothing if not competitive, and nobody else seemed to have a problem. I didn’t want to be the only one who couldn’t bring back a story and metaphorically throw it at Will’s feet.

And that’s when Quinn was born.

If you have to die, February is the best month for it.

And Quinn Conlan was ready. After a year, three months, and sixteen days in the prison camp on Marica-3, he was more than ready. He’d die today, this hour, this very minute, if it would get him out of another session with the camp medical team.

They were the best in the galaxy. Both when it came to bringing a prisoner to death’s door and to making sure he didn’t walk through it.

And they’d be back. Soon. But maybe this time they wouldn’t revive him afterwards.

A man could dream, right?

Or not. Dreams are dangerous things.

Back on Earth, it was Valentine’s Day. Flowers, candy, sappy cards. Even in 3045, people celebrated a guy who’d been dead almost three millennia.

Someone else was bringing Josie flowers this year. Buying her candy. They’d told him that. Quinn didn’t know whether it was true or just another form of torture, but he’d decided to believe it. Without Josie, he had one less reason to stay alive.

He was ready, dammit. You hearing this, God? It was February. If he had to die anyway, might as well be now.

(If you highlight it and check, you’ll see it’s 200 words exactly. It took me quite a few days of cutting and pruning and finagling to get it there, too. And no, it isn’t a complete story. It turned out to be just the beginning.)

I have no idea where any of it came from. I don’t know why it’s science fiction when it ought to be a mystery. All I know is that Quinn was there, fully formed, with a voice all his own.

And he refused to let go of me until I’d found a way to tell his story. Whether I thought I could write science fiction or not.

Fast forward six months, to August 2010, when I was taking an online writing class with the wonderful Heather Graham. It was called Writing Suspense, and when I signed up for it, I thought it would be a crash course in writing romantic suspense—the genre—which was something I was thinking about trying. A pretty short step from mysteries, you know?

Well, it turned out to be about writing suspenseful fiction instead, something I’m supposed to know how to do already, being a mystery writer. I thought about dropping out. But then the first assignment came down—“Write the first scene of a book starting with the sentence, ‘The blood dripped on the floor,’ and submit it to the class.”

And there was Quinn again, sitting in that same prison on that same moon on the outer edge of the same galaxy, bleeding to death.

I ended up writing the first scene of the book—which no longer starts with “The blood dripped on the floor”—in that class. I also wrote Quinn’s character profile and an outline for the whole book, as well as an outline for the second book in the series.

Yes, that 200 word flash fiction piece had turned into two books by then.

By the time the proposal for the series made it to Entangled Publishing a year later, I had added two more books to the mix, and written fifty pages in between other books I had due. It was enough to get a publishing contract for the whole series.

The first book is 95,000 words. Turns out I really can’t write anything short.

Quinn is quiet these days, though. I told his story, and he’s content to sit back and let me work with other people instead. Turns out his friends have stories they’d like me to tell, as well.

And it turns out science fiction isn’t that scary after all. People are people everywhere, pretty much, whether they live in the United States or Europe, on Old Earth or in a galaxy far, far away. They still care about the same things. They still want all the same stuff: power, money, influence, and love... They still think and feel and love and lose.

They’re a lot like the other characters I write about. They’re a lot like you and me.

Go figure.

So what about you? Do you read science fiction? Write it? Watch it on TV? Or does it seem like something other people ought to do?

You should give it a try. It might surprise you!

New York Times bestselling author Jennie Bentley/Jenna Bennett writes the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and the Cutthroat Business mysteries for her own gratification. For Entangled Publishing, she writes a variety of romance, from contemporary to futuristic and from paranormal to romantic suspense. Her most recent release is Fortune’s Hero, first in the Soldiers of Fortune series of science fiction romantic suspense novels.

For more information about the Fortune series or any of her other books, please visit

her website - blog -  -  - Goodreads

Book #1 in the Soldiers of Fortune series

Quinn Conlan had it all: a fast ship, a great crew, a gorgeous girlfriend, money, and adventure around every bend. That was before he agreed to ferry a shipload of weapons to the besieged planet Marica. Now he’s stuck in the prison colony on Marica-3, enduring weekly sessions with the camp’s “medical team,” and praying for a quick death before he breaks under the torture and spills everything he knows about the Marican resistance.

When opportunity strikes, Quinn takes Elsa, a Rhenian med tech, hostage and heads into the inhospitable interior of the small moon where he formulates a plan for getting his crew out of prison, his ship out of impound, and everyone out of orbit. But when Elsa professes her love, can Quinn take the beautiful doctor at her word, or will trusting her—and his heart—condemn him and his crew to an eternity on Marica-3?


Entangled Publishing has generously offered an ebook copy of  to a lucky commenter!

To be entered just leave a comment answering Jenna's question: Do you read science fiction? Write it? Watch it on TV? Or does it seem like something other people ought to do?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 14 December 2012!

Good luck!