J. D. Edwin - Story of Aliens and Alienation
J. D. Edwin is a writer of character-driven speculative fiction both long and short. She is a fan of books of all genres, but specifically horror, urban fantasy, and science fiction. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Headspace.
Please give us a short introduction to what Headspace is about.
Headspace is a story of aliens and alienation.
A mysterious black orb appears on Earth and issues a challenge to its people – participate in its bizarre game or be destroyed. Astra Ching, one of many participants drafted against her will to compete, is not only finding herself risking her life, but quickly becomes an unwilling superstar as the entire world becomes obsessed with sensationalism and gossip around the contestants.
In her struggle to survive, Astra finds that the line between friend and foe is unclear both within the arena outside it, and rather than rooting for her, the populace is much more interested in whether she was engaging in a scandalous love affair with a fellow contestant… or the mysterious alien known only as Eleven.
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything that made you want to tackle this?
Headspace had a lot of influences, ranging from competitive-based films like Mortal Combat and Battle Royale, to more obscure Japanese manga and anime like Gantz. At the end of the day, I wanted to write a story that involved a competition that is fair to all and the main character is not a “chosen one” but a regular person who makes their way through with resilience and a little luck.
Tell us more about Astra. What makes her tick?
Astra is an average person, and that to me, is what makes her special as a protagonist.
She is not particularly skilled, nor is she destined for greatness. She is just a normal person thrust into an abnormal situation and doing her very best with what she’s given. The story follows her journey from being someone who just wants her normal life back to realizing that she had to step outside of her comfort zone and take a risk for the sake of the greater good, even if it meant never being able to return to her old life. I very much wanted Astra to be someone the readers can relate to and ask “what would I do in her position?”
Your book also explores humanity and how shallow people can be. Why did you find this an important theme to write about?
I feel that in today’s media culture, there is an excess of misinformation and obsession with whatever is being sensationalized at the moment. In considering the situation within the story realistically, I felt that showing this aspect of human nature is very important because it is what would happen in real life. The media, even in a dire situation, would find a way to sensationalize the disaster, and some would be made into idols while others made into scapegoats. I think that without addressing this theme, the story would lose a lot of realism.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I definitely have too many hobbies. I enjoy drawing, both traditionally and digitally, painting, and crocheting amigurumis (plushies). I also used to pole dance, but with the pandemic, I have unfortunately not been able to get to a proper pole gym.
Interesting cover. Please tell us more about how it came about.
I always knew I wanted the orb and the city on the cover. I actually tried mocking up a cover for myself several times. But in the end, the amazing cover designer Francois Vaillancourt looked through my book and decided that the Cheshire, the host of the Headspace games, would make a much more striking focus for the cover and I have to agree.
Readers say your characters are deeply flawed, making even the aliens relatable. Why did you create them this way?
I’ve always thought flaws made a character more well-rounded. A perfect character is boring. Flaws are the results of what a character has been through and has learned throughout their life. It reflects who they are at the core. Whether they are aliens or humans or otherwise, they’ve been through a lot in their lives and all of that shapes their strengths and shortcomings.
What is your personal favorite quote from the book?
“You go to great lengths to convince yourself that you’re unremarkable.”
The book contains some twists and turns. Did you plan it all before you started writing, or did some of it just "happen" along the way?
I am definitely a planner. The big twists and turns were planned out initially, as every round of the game needed to move the story forward in a notable and significant way. However, many others definitely made themselves known as I wrote. Characters changed in ways I didn’t anticipate, and events that I didn’t think about at first ended up being very important.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I am a creature of habit, both by nature and by necessity. I have a full time job and 2 young children, so my “writing day” usually starts at 9pm after they go to bed, and go until 11pm. I also try to find some time during my work day to plan things out so I can make the best use of my writing time at night.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently finishing up the third and last book in the Headspace series, Orb Hunters. After that, I will be moving onto a new book, which will be in a very different genre, titled Love, Death, and Everything Else I’m Bad At, which I’m very much looking forward to.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My website is www.jdedwin.com. I am most active on Twitter (@JDEdwinAuthor), my email is [email protected], and my launch team group is open to all on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1454471811579172). I’m always open to connecting with fellow readers and writers!