27 January, 2017

Author Spotlight: JR Creaden

In continuing with my spotlight of fellow authors, this month I'm interviewing JR Creaden.

JR is an author of Young Adult Science Fiction, and is working to publish RE: MORSE, a novel set in the distant future, which follows the journey of Hugo, a gentle teen who must become fierce to protect four aliens who've won his heart. Re: Morse is a space opera with time travel, a troublesome AI, and a mad teen scientist, and explores issues of friendship, identity, freedom, and consent.

To start us off: would you consider Contact Files to be hard or soft Science Fiction? Are there elements that cross into Fantasy?

JR: Contact Files is soft science fiction, for certain. The plot hinges on the existence and use of a time travel device (a temporal quantum field engine), and there's no such thing. Yet. Alongside time travel, there are site-to-site teleportation devices, and these coincide with matter resequencers. While these are all well-established scifi tech norms, I realize they're pushing the boundaries of true science. For now. I'm a believer in possibility.

The aliens have some quasi-fantastic traits that sit on that narrow fence between hard and soft science fiction. Telepathy, temporal "control", and meta-consciousness are all featured in the first book.

At the same time, the reality created in the book (aside from those mentioned) are drawn directly from hard science. Issues of stellar entropy, genetic diversity, biological evolution, and cosmic life cycles are at the root of the problems the characters must solve.

What do you find is the hardest thing about writing?

JR: All parts of writing come with their own challenges from my experience. In the planning stage, there's the struggle for looking for that balance between a unique hook and a familiar or believable setting. During the writing, there's the challenge of getting lost in tangent, of finding the best scenes and the best way to frame them. Once I'm editing, the hardest part is listening to critique and making the hard choices to cut or expand, rewrite or erase.

I find I push boundaries with each writing stage, honestly, so perhaps these things would be easier if I stopped trying to fight every battle at once?

Have you written works in collaboration with other writers, and if so: why did you decide to collaborate, and did it affect your sales?

JR: I'm currently ghostwriting a story for an engineer, but that project is still in development, so I don't have any sales projections. I decided to work with him, because I found his ideas surprising and strange. It seemed a shame that, since he "doesn’t write", his story would never be told without help. I'm a helper.

When I started Contact Files, I knew right away that this was an enormous task for one writer. Can I do it? Of course I can, but it may take me a decade to pour everything out. I'd love to find other writers to work with on the later books or adapting the books to screenplay.

Knowing what you do now, what advice would you give to your younger self?

JR: Don't marry a narcissist; it's detrimental to your health and purpose. Be wary of toxic people of all kinds, because you will attract them like flies as you stomp unawares through life. Stay light-hearted and open-minded, that's who you are, but don't be afraid to say "no" or to stand up for yourself.

Back up every draft, so you don't end up rewriting the same chapter five times. Seriously, losing work is extremely frustrating.

Last one: if you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which would it be?

JR: Tom Robbins' Still Life With Woodpecker. If you only get one book, it might as well be a book prepared to sell you on the value of a "single" thing.


JR began her writing career as a child disgruntled with song lyrics. After some early success with poetry and essays, she spent decades distracted by songwriting and academia until her story dreams became too interesting to keep to herself. Her current YA space opera series Contact Files will soon be ready for public consumption or vivisection.

Her goal is to share stories that inspire readers to embrace cultural diversity, the promise of science, and the value of humor and imagination to build a future that's more Star Trek and less 1984. When she's not writing, JR enjoys exchanging "your mama" jokes with her children, floating in lakes, and slaying virtual dragons. You can follow her on her Website, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Ash Litton

Ash Litton is a writer and lover of sci-fi, fantasy, and all things fictional. She is the author of Thoroughbred, Evening Hallow, Comeuppance, and Cabover Cabaret, and works on other Appalachian Dream Tales between her ongoing novel projects. She's also written No Diet, No Surgery, No Sweat, an ebook chronicling her weight-loss journey.

When she's not writing, she's drawing, and when she's not doing either of those, she's dreaming up new projects to work on. Born and raised in rural West Virginia, Ash has always wondered what things lay hidden in the hills around her. She attended West Virginia University, where she studied the English language before returning home to her family in rural West Virginia.