Elizabeth Stephens -Sci-Fi, Mysteries, Epic battles, and Love
Tough heroines & possessive Alphas solve mysteries, fight epic battles, and fall in love in Elizabeth's diverse romance & SciFi novels. Elizabeth Stephens has been living in a fantasy world since she was 11, and in 2015 finally translated her imagination to print! An author of romantic suspense and science fiction, she is a big fan of inclusion and her books always include kick-ass ladies of color. When she isn't tip-tap-typing away, you might find her getting her hands dirty on a pottery wheel, traveling as much as she can, or learning a new language. With origins in Seattle, Atlanta, and Bamako, she currently lives in Berlin with her loving husband and doggo, King Louis. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her latest book, Taken to Voraxia
Please give us a short introduction to what Taken to Voraxia is about.
Taken to Voraxia is a full-length (95k words), standalone SciFi Alien romance and the first book in the Xiveri Mates series. The first four books in the series are out now with Taken to Heimo celebrating its release January 20th! To celebrate, I’ve made books one and two 99¢ from 21-27 January.
A brief intro to Taken to Voraxia can be taken from the back cover:
He’s come again and this time, he’s coming for me.
Blue skin. Seven feet. Strapped with corded muscle. The aliens have come to the human colony again and this time Raku, their king, is with them. His eyes are molten onyx and they watch Miari now with hunger.
She’s just an engineer, a mechanic, and a hybrid. She’s got no interest in being taken when he comes to claim her, but he seems to think she’s his Xiveri Mate, the being the universe fated for him.
So Miari runs. Raku chases. And when he catches up to her, slaughtering in her defense won’t be anywhere near as difficult as convincing her of the truth —
She’s his Xiveri mate, Voraxia’s queen and his to worship.
What inspired you to write about aliens that come to a human colony?
I haven’t written a high-SciFi novel before, and have tended to towards paranormal / SciFi set here on Earth. Going into the first book, I wanted to keep it somewhat grounded by having humans as the main characters in the story. I created a bit of a bleak backstory to get them onto this faraway moon — Earth collapses after natural disaster, forcing humans to seek refuge on satellites, one of which crashes, bringing the humans on Miari’s colony to this little Voraxian moon.
From there, I imagined how it might be for humans lost in the cosmos. What kinds of creatures would they encounter? Would they be noble and decent, like the Voraxians, or would they be more nefarious, like the Drakesh? Drawing on humanity as an example, I ensured that the aliens in this series were a little bit of both.
Tell us more about Miari. What makes her so special?
Miari is an engineer, a tinkerer, an inventor. She’s strong, tough, and compassionate — even self-sacrificing when she needs to be. I particularly resonated with Miari because she’s a hybrid alien-human. I am a mixed race woman and often find it fun to weave in allegories for experiences I’ve had, even if they are adapted wildly to my new imagined universe.
She walks one foot in the human world, one foot in the Voraxian world, and yet in neither. Because of her mixed-species roots, growing up she was ostracized from most of the other humans. The aliens she encounters are divided. Extremists and purists among them shun and reject her, but the vast majority love and accept her. None more so than her alien Xiveri Mate.
What inspired the concept of the Xiveri Mate?
True love. As cheesy as it sounds, I always loved “fated mate” tropes for their power to illustrate true love in such a gripping way. I wanted to do so on a societal level by integrating Xiveri Mates into Voraxian culture. Giving the idea of fated mates a slight twist, I thought it would make sense for the story for these pairs to be brought together for biological purposes. Voraxians struggle to conceive. Finding your Xiveri Mate is the universe’s way of ensuring that the right pairs can come together to make magic.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I like to consider myself an amateur potter, though even this is a stretch. ‘I make pots’ might be more accurate. I’ve made most of the mugs and bowls in our house and love throwing functional art on a pottery wheel. It’s relaxing and rewarding in the end when I’m sipping hot coffee from a weird, wonky shaped thing of my own creation.
What drew you to sci-fi romance as a genre?
I love science fiction because it allows me, as an author, to go completely nuts and build a brand new world while still weaving in traces of the world we currently know. At the same time, romance has always been my first love as a reader and everything I’ve ever written has been a romance. The heart-wrenching nature of it. The build-up. The coming together. There’s nothing more powerful than the way we love. It defies all logic. And I love that.
Do you think soulmates exist in real life?
Most definitely. I think that soul mates exist far more frequently than they do in my books. We might have multiple soul mates out there. With how many people there are on this planet, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m just grateful every day that I’ve found one of mine.
Does writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes create any particular problems?
Most definitely. One of the biggest struggles with SciFi set in other worlds is the decision authors face with how much to explain. When creating new societies, languages, worlds, customs, cultures, habits, norms, expressions and more it can be overwhelming for readers to get info dumped on them all at once. At the same time, if authors don’t give enough information, readers can end up quite lost trying to sift through the chaos.
Figuring out the right balance of showing and telling when creating a new universe is key and was a real challenge for me. Several early reviews of Taken to Voraxia expressed confusion as to what was going on and encouraged me to add in a pronunciation guide and glossary and to simplify some aspects of the story in later versions and subsequent books.
How did you go about creating the different cultures and civilizations in this story?
Surprisingly, I don’t have a process for this. Usually, my ideas come to me spontaneously. A lot of it is me working through logical conundrums. For example, I decided I wanted the canopy of leaves and trees covering the planet Voraxia to be too dense to see through. Well, this provided a problem in that I needed some way for the people on the ground to get natural light. I created the xamxin river to solve this, a river that looks like fire and shines like starlight. There are a number of examples like this throughout my books.
Which character was the most challenging to create?
Neheyuu (Taken to Sasor). He’s also my favorite. I’m quite typical in the way I design my male characters. They usually fall very neatly into a dark, brooding Alpha archetype. Neheyuu was most definitely a brooding Alpha, but dark he was not.
He was an idiot.
Proud, angry, stubborn, dense and hilarious — to me at least. I wanted to write a lighter book, especially after how heavy Taken to Nobu was, so for book three I set about it and used Neheyuu and the charming Mian as catalysts. I really had so much fun with him, it’s got me trying to break out of my typical style more often and create new not-so-typical males. This is my favorite book in the Xiveri Mates series so far.
Do any of your characters ever go off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
This is how I write, so yes. I don’t plot ever. For me, the joy of writing is in discovering the story as I go along. That also means that I end up doing a lot of rewrites and I delete quite a lot from my books. While that can be frustrating, it’s totally worth it getting to discover new places and beings as I go.
My most stubborn character was Svera (Taken to Heimo). I couldn’t quite get her to where I needed her and, after my first draft, realized she was entirely wrong! I had to redraft quite a lot of Taken to Heimo because of her stubbornness, but I’m really pleased where she ended up. Though she’s not a fighter, she’s still sassy and strong.
Do you have any interesting writing habits, what is an average writing day like for you?
No such thing as an average writing day for me. I have no idea how other authors operate but, for me, every day is a new day, shifting between multiple book-related tasks. My most typicalish day involves waking up late (around ten), walking my dog and making breakfast until twelve. Hard work — whether it’s marketing work, answering interview questions like these, taking a class, posting or interacting on social media, editing, proofreading, or actual writing — happens until five. Then, I walk my dog, eat dinner and keep writing until twelve or two in the morning, often in front of the TV if it isn’t too distracting. I’m a fairly standard definition of a night owl!
What are you working on right now?
Taken to Heimo released on January 20, 2021 so I’m deep in the middle of release week! It’s so much fun and exciting and it’s so great to see early reviews coming in.
Of course, the work never really ends so while I’m working on spreading the word about Taken to Heimo, I’m also still tip-tap-typing away on book five in the Xiveri Mates series, Taken to Kor, whose main characters you get up close and personal with in book four.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I’m in all the usual places, but I’m most active on my newly-launched Instagram account and I always reply to emails. If you sign up to my mailing list, you’ll also get a free ebook!
Website / newsletter sign up: www.booksbyelizabeth.com/contact
And I’m also on…