Hello everyone! Today I am pleased to welcome author Talya Andor the blog. Talya is here to talk to us more about her new release, Body Option. She has also brought a copy of the book to give away to one lucky reader. So please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Heavy Metal Lover
Hello everyone! Many thanks to Jay for hosting my guest blog entry today, and to all of you for reading. I’m here today to talk about mecha, the Loose Screw Collection, and my story “Body Option.” Stick around and you can also drop your name into the hat to win a copy.
There’s something about mecha—those gigantic mechanical constructions of walking weaponized armor—that snared my imagination from a young age and never let go. I can even truthfully say that mecha has played a pivotal role in my creative growth at two points in my life. The term “mecha” comes from the word “mechanical,” co-opted in the Japanese language to mean anything mechanical, from toasters to radios all the way up to robots. In time, “mecha” came to have a pretty specific connotation, referring to the animation that centered around giant robots.
One of the very first cartoons I watched as a child was Voltron, based on the Japanese anime Beast King GoLion. When I was a kid attending summer school, I’d imagine the Red Lion pilot Keith coming along to take me off on adventures and rescue me from boring summer school activities. I really got caught up in the spacefaring adventures of Voltron’s pilots, a group of veterans pulled into a war and a cause that wasn’t their own, who ended up piloting lion-shaped fighter craft that came together to form one big ass-kicking robot. When the five pilots formed Voltron, you knew that they were going to hand out some real damage! Basically, I was a fan of both anime and mecha before I even knew what either of those were. My first storytelling ventures involved spinoff tales on the world of Arus, the planet where Voltron takes place.
Anime snared my attention again in college, though I had a few encounters with it before then, dipping my toe into dubbed Sailor Moon. One of my college friends showed us a few Ranma ½ movies, and another invited me to the weekly anime club viewings where they presented three solid hours of fansubbed anime. One of the shows on their roster was Escaflowne, which seized my imagination so hard it rattled my teeth. Escaflowne, like Voltron, was mecha anime but the art style was more refined and flowing and the concepts were more fantasy than science fiction, with a hint of what would become steampunk. Between that and a few other amazing titles, I was fully drawn into fandom, but it wasn’t until Gundam Wing that my love of mecha and my love of writing collided.
Writing fanfiction was a foregone conclusion I should have seen coming. I’d been writing from an early age, and some of my early exploration could even be considered fanfiction though I’d never posted or shared it with anyone. (And if it still existed anywhere, I’d burn it. It was that embarrassing.) It was the cast of characters that seized my attention, as well as the incredible fact that a group of prettyboy teenagers were the ones piloting the giant suits and saving the solar system. A lot of my most prolific fannish writing had its roots in the Gundam Wing fandom.
One of the issues with my writing back then was I needed more practice. There’s really only one way to get the practice you need: write more. Write a lot. Write every day if you can, and read a lot, and work on constantly improving and moving forward. Writing fanfiction helped me to get the practice I needed on everything from short stories to novel-length endeavors.
A lot of people might knock fanfiction, but it can be an excellent tool for writers to find their voice and get vital practice improving their writing and bringing it up to publishing standard. Fresh out of college, nothing I turned out back then was good enough to be accepted for anything. On some level I recognized this so I kept writing on a casual basis while my day job paid the bills. Fast forward by several years’ worth of Nanowrimo manuscripts, and I was turning out novels that stood a decent chance. I submitted to Less Than Three Press, got accepted, and the rest is history … or is it?
One day, many of the Less Than Three authors were gabbing about what really got us writing, and discovered to our surprise and amusement that most of us were mecha fans and writers back in the day, particularly Gundam Wing. We all had a fondness for mecha, and so the Loose Screw private submission call was born. We were challenged by LT3 staff to write a mecha story of up to 20,000 words, and the only criteria was mecha—beyond that, let the imagination fly!
My entry in the collection is “Body Option” and it definitely pays homage to many of the mecha and sci-fi concepts that I cut my teeth on. The outline came together for me pretty quickly, centered around a death-defying mission for the pilot and gunner of Trefoil Argent.
One of the things I love about mecha is outlandish naming conventions, so I went with that. Trefoil Argent is the name of the Raptor-class Gemini Suit, my mecha concept. The main character is Grant Badu, a veteran who went from piloting jets to becoming Argent’s partner. The Gemini Suits function with a team of two, pilot and gunner. Grant and Argent have a solid partnership, but Argent’s been keeping secrets from Grant, and Grant still loves to go flying by himself on the weekends.
At first I was going to name the story Critical Break Threshold, and was tentatively planning in that direction, until I realized I was building the entire story around a particular concept. Argent isn’t only the pilot for the Trefoil Argent Raptor—he’s part of it, built into a buffered central column of the suit. He exists and experiences sensory input through peripherals, personal robotic devices that he can uplink with his consciousness. Argent is a veteran too, and with eight years’ worth of hazard pay he could afford any peripheral that money can buy, including the expensive human/cybernetic hybrid that would allow him to enjoy the full range of human experience.
Grant wonders why Argent has never gotten a body option of his own, but that’s a sensitive subject for any Gemini Suit pilot, let alone someone as touchy and mercurial as Argent. When they’re landed with an urgent mission, both of them are forced to confront some issues they’ve been avoiding with their partnership and the one thing Grant is certain Argent never wanted.
If that’s a bit of a teaser, there’s not too much I can reveal without giving away the whole story. So without further ado, I present “Body Option:”
For five years, Grant Badu has been part of a solid fighting team with the Gemini Suit called Trefoil Argent. Together, they fly and fight so effectively, their combat record so impressive, that they’ve become informally known as the Infallible Duo.
When a case containing classified military innovations is stolen and shot down in the foothills of disputed border territory, Grant and Argent are tapped for its swift recovery. But the mission requires pilot Argent to take on the one cybernetic option he’s been avoiding, for reasons even Grant doesn’t know.
You can pre-order “Body Option” here, and sign up for a Goodreads giveaway here if you’re interested. Also, the Goodreads giveaway is timed so that if you don’t win, there’s still time to buy at the 15% off pre-order discount!
You can find me at my website, talya-andor.com, and Twitter https://twitter.com/TalyaAndor, Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6527821.Talya_Andor, and also Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/talya.andor.9 if you’re so inclined! Thanks again for reading.
Talya is offering up a copy of “Body Option” here to one lucky winner to celebrate the love of mecha. All you need to do is comment on this entry and provide an email address or means to contact you. She would love to hear what you think of mecha, too, and what interests you about getting a chance to read “Body Option.” The contest closes on Sunday at 11:59 pm EST.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
- If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
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- Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
- Void where prohibited by law.