Author Interview Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café

  • How long have you been writing?

I wrote a short story in 1979 and it became a novel in 2012! I guess that life got in the way there. I never thought that I’d write more than one novel. Then someone asked me why a character did something in that story and I realized that I could write a prequel to explain it. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve picked up the pace since then; I now have 7 novels, 2 books of short stories and a piece in a collection of Historical Fiction.

  • What is your favorite genre to write?

I love writing Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, often involving a chase, a love story or the triumph of one person against the odds. I try to include as many of the above as I can in every story.

  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

I’d love to try my hand at Fantasy. After Game of Thrones, which I found via the T.V. Series, I’d like to have a go at some sort of epic saga but with a more Sci-fi angle to it.  Maybe dabble in magic or special powers. Everything I’ve done up to now has a basis in science, it would be fun to explore the alternatives.

  • Please tell us about your book.

Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café is the first in what I hope will be a series. At about the same time, in 2016, I had an idea for a short story about a murder on a space station and I was challenged to write a female character. I wanted to do something a bit more light-hearted and thought that I could combine the two. A fish out of water lady, escaping from her past life with the only person she could trust, ends up on a space station and discovers a secret. It’s all a bit Miss Marple meets Agatha Raisin, with dry humour and excitement, I hope. I wrote a short story, which went down well; I was encouraged to develop it into a novel. It was my NaNoWriMo project for 2016 and was first published in June 2017.

  • Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

Andorra Pett is a great character to work with. She’s feisty, a bit clumsy and accident prone. She can snatch defeat from the very jaws of victory. Underneath it all, she is cleverer than she realizes. Having three daughters gave me some clues to develop her personality, I wouldn’t say it’s them but there are bits of them in her.

I hate writing villains in general, being basically a nice person, I struggle to get the motivation and reasoning that allows someone to justify doing bad things. In Andorra Pett, there were a couple of people who right from the start were difficult to write. I don’t want to give the plot away but they took a lot of effort to fit into things, especially as it wasn’t clear what their role would be, even though I knew they had to be there.

  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

As I don’t plot, I never know who the bad guy (pardon my gender type) will be until I get to the end. In this book, I had several suspects, right up to the moment when the real killer revealed themselves. And it was as much a shock to me as I hope it is to anyone reading it. In the end, I find it easier to let my characters choose among themselves.  They seem to know what’s going on better than I do most of the time.

  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I do most of my writing in the early mornings, an unfortunate legacy of my job is the inability to lie in. I was always on call, so to speak, when I wake up I get up. A cup of herbal tea and I’m good to go. I’ll try and do 2,000 or so words before breakfast. I might do more later if I have a good idea. I keep a notebook and watch/listen for inspiration. I also walk on the cliffs near my house; it’s where things often pop into my head, it’s like strolling in a store filled with inspiration.

  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

Andorra Pett took a month to enlarge the short story to 70,000 words. That was largely thanks to NaNoWriMo giving me a focus. Most titles take a little longer, as I have the tendency to hop from project to project as I get ideas. But I reckon to complete three books a year, all around the 80,000-word mark

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

I’m lucky to have a fantastic team. I have an editor, a formatter and a team of beta readers. My work gets an edit, a beta read, a second edit, a format, a third edit and a final check before it goes on sale. I also have a great cover designer.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

When I finished Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, I realised that there was a lot more that Andorra could get up to. I actually started the second story, Andorra Pett on Mars while I was writing the first. That one is being edited at the moment and will hopefully be out in April. I also have ideas for several other adventures. The third, Andorra Pett and her Sister, is about a quarter written and Andorra Pett takes a Break is more than an idea. And that’s before I start on the prequels and spin-offs which will inevitably come to mind.

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Get some words down on paper (or screen), it doesn’t matter what they are (to a certain extent), you can always edit them, but only once you’ve written them! And try to get into a routine, once you are, it will all flow and cease to be a chore.

  • Why should everyone read your book?

I write about familiar themes, principally conspiracy, love, loss and redemption. Not necessarily in that order.  The idea is not to blind people with the Science, it’s there to complement the Fiction. Putting people in unfamiliar settings and seeing what happens is a great way to engage, it’s a thing that we can all relate to. The greatest compliment I have been paid was “I’m not usually a fan of Science Fiction but Ribbonworld (one of my other novels) is a thriller that would work in any genre.”

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Isaac Asimov, Frederick Forsyth and Charles Dickens. They have all influenced me and my work; they were all masters of creating a setting, drawing you into the lives of real people, providing action and excitement.

  • What inspired you to write your book?

There was room in the world for someone like Andorra Pett, she had an interesting story to tell. You can never have enough amateur detectives. And who knows, one day the situations I’ve devised for her to exist in might be as normal to us as flying to Spain is now.

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I’m always working on something, I try to write new stuff but keep getting sidetracked with sequels, prequels and spin-offs from my existing catalogue. So at the moment, I’m working on a sequel to each of my Sci-fi and steampunk series, more Andorra Pett and some new projects, which are all exciting me. In 2018, I hope to have an online course available, giving you my method of creating a realistic Sci-fi or Steampunk world. Featuring examples, video and exercises, I hope it will show you just how easy it is to construct a setting for any type of speculative fiction.

Watch my website, for news, free short stories, extracts and a weekly post. . I’m also on Facebook as RichardDeeAuthor and I’ll be ramping up my twitter presence @richarddockett1

Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café

Meet Andorra Pett; with her trusty sidekick, she’s taken over a derelict café. On a mining station. It just happens to be orbiting Saturn!
She’s hoping for a fresh start, away from all the drama of her old life. It’s a chance to relax and start again in a place where nobody knows anything about her or her past.

But the café holds a secret, and secrets have a habit of coming out; whether you want them to or not. And being accident prone doesn’t help. The more you try to pretend that you know what’s going on, the worse it gets.
Andorra’s plans for peace and quiet get lost amid the revelations and skulduggery and she soon realises that the fate of the whole station lies in her hapless hands.
In space, you can still trip over your feet; the question is, will you land upright?

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Author Bio

A native of Brixham in Devon, Richard Dee’s family left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986. Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, including Marine Insurance Surveyor and Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich. In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as H.M.S. Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority. Richard was offered part time working in 2010, which allowed him to return to live in Brixham, where he took up writing and blogging. He retired in 2015, when he set up and ran a successful Organic bakery, supplying local shops and cafés. The urge to write eventually overtook the urge to bake but Richard still makes bread for friends and family. Richard is married with three adult children and two grandchildren.

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