When I originally received Polaris Rising in the box of books I receive from Avon I
put off reading it. Science Fiction Romance isn't my cup of tea and there were so
many other books I had to read. Eventually though I knew that I had to come
back to it. So, I reluctantly pulled it out of the box and sat down to read it.
And I instantly regretted not reading it sooner. Polaris Rising is everything you
want out of a romance novel. It's packed full of heart-pumping excitement, laugh
out loud moments, and lots of sexy times. The heroine is strong, capable, and
kick-ass. The hero is sarcastic, wicked, and hot as sin.
Fans of Sherrilyn Kenyon will love the world created by Jessie Mihalik. It's
complicated, in a good way, and the secondary characters will have you begging
for the next book. I was so enthralled with this novel that I knew my February
Author Spotlight had to be Jessie Mihalik. So, without further delay, here she is:
Romantically Inclined: Polaris Rising, your first full-length novel, is a science fiction romance. Have you always been a reader of science fiction and/or romance? What drew you to want to write a novel in this genre? Do you have any favorite authors of the genre who inspired you along the way?
Jessie Mihalik: I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy. When I was still basically a kid, I read classics like Dune by Frank Herbert, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. In the summer, we’d go to the public library every week and I’d check out a huge stack of books. All of those books stuck with me. Then, as I got older, I found romance books. There’s something so satisfying about a happily ever after that most of my modern reading has some form of romance—historical, urban fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, I read it all.
I was actually struggling to write a sequel to the (unpublished) urban fantasy novel I wrote when a friend suggested I try something new. I'd had the opening scene of what turned out to be Polaris Rising knocking around in my head for weeks, so I decided to give it a shot. And now, here we are! And that original opening scene remains the opening scene of the book.
Romantically Inclined: While writing Polaris Rising, or your previous short stories/novellas, did you experience any moments of doubt or insecurity? If so, how did you overcome those feelings and push through with your stories?
Jessie Mihalik: I would love to say that no, of course there were no doubts, but that would be a terrible lie. Writers tend to be a neurotic lot. Worry and second guessing are part of our nature. Every time I sit down to write, I’m convinced I’ll produce nothing but crap that no one will want to read. Selling a book didn’t make those feelings magically go away. If anything, now there’s additional pressure.
I don’t have a magical formula for overcoming self-doubt. I wish I did! All I can say, is keep writing. Keep creating. If you’re really stuck, talk it out with a friend. Show someone you trust and get their opinion. Doubt tends to creep in when we’re unsure where the plot is going or if something subtle is going wrong under the surface that we’re too close to see. A second set of eyes can help you out, as can just talking through it. So many times the answer became obvious when I tried to explain what I was doing to someone else.
Romantically Inclined: I've always admired those who choose to write science fiction because, not only do they have to create a plot and characters, but you also have to imagine a new world for your characters to live in. How did you go about world-building for Polaris Rising and the Consortium Rebellion series? Did you use note cards, poster boards, etc? Did you ever find yourself struggling to keep things straight throughout you writing process?
Jessie Mihalik: I started with the characters and built the world around them. I flesh the world out as I continue to write, so my world grows as the characters interact with it. It would probably be more efficient to world-build first, but that’s not the way my brain works. Sometimes I have to do a bunch of research for what ends up being less than a paragraph in the book.
As for keeping it all straight, I write in Scrivener, which has an area where you can keep notes that aren’t in the manuscript. I have an entire section dedicated to research. When I write, I try to copy all the pertinent world-building details to the appropriate file—I keep one for all the major characters, the Houses, the settings, the ships, etc. I also had a hard copy calendar I printed to keep the days straight, but I kept leaving it behind when I would write away from home, so I moved it to a digital file.
When I started writing book two, I copied the whole research folder to my new Scrivener project and then added the details I wrote for book two.
Romantically Inclined: You gave us such a strong, competent heroine in Ada von Hasenberg. She wasn’t a damsel waiting to be rescued, but rather she did the rescuing (multiple times over). What or who influenced her character?
Jessie Mihalik: Starting out, I knew Ada needed to be competent because she’d been on her own for two years and had managed to stay ahead of her Father’s trackers. Her background as the daughter of a High House gave me a lot of leeway to play up her various skills.
I was very much inspired by Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews, Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs, and Dresdemona “Dred” Devos by Ann Aguirre. None of these ladies waited around for someone to rescue them, but they were all willing to accept help when they needed it. I wanted that for Ada. Strong doesn’t have to mean doing everything yourself, and there is strength in asking for (and accepting) help.
Romantically Inclined: The next book in the Consortium Rebellion series, Aurora Blazing, comes out (tentatively) in October 2019. Can you give us a little hint of what’s to come for the intelligent Bianca and the irritating Ian? Is the second book more difficult to write or is it easier now that most of the world is formed?
Jessie Mihalik: All I can say, is Ian definitely gets his in Aurora Blazing, and Bianca doesn’t make it easy for him. The second book was far harder to write than book one. The world was there, but that meant staying within its confines. Why did I decide on ships with drives that cooled down at various rates? Why!? Also, there is a lot of expectation because I’d already sold book one by the time I wrote book two. I had that extra level of stress, wondering if my editor would be as pleased with this book as the first one.
Romantically Inclined: How do you plan on celebrating Polaris Rising’s release date (February 5th, 2019)?
Jessie Mihalik: I’m going to be a combination of excited and anxious, so I’m planning to take a couple hours out of the middle of the day to turn off the internet and go get a long massage. Then I’ll probably drag my husband out to dinner to celebrate surviving. Oh, and I’ll definitely be hitting up my local bookstore to see my book in the wild!
Romantically Inclined: What was the first romance novel you ever read? What is your favorite romance novels of all time? And, finally, what was the latest romance novel you read? (You can't blame me for wanting your recommendations!)
Jessie Mihalik: I don’t actually remember my first romance novel. Facts like that tend to fall out of my head faster than I can keep them in. I’m sure it was something I snuck from either my mom or grandma, which meant it was either a contemporary-romance Harlequin or an old-school historical romance. Definitely not age appropriate, but it instigated a life-long love of romance.
There’s no way I can pick just one favorite, so here are a few of my favorite romance authors in various genres. Sarah MacLean and Tessa Dare both write amazing historical romance. Ilona Andrews writes incredible urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals are awesome contemporary romances and her historicals are on my TBR. Honestly, I have so many favorite authors I could do this all day, but I’ll stop.
The latest romance I read was the fantastic The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham. I was a little bit late to the party because it came out last July, but I’m so glad I picked it up. It’s a historical with a smart, self-aware heroine who doesn’t take any shit, and a hero who desperately needs her. It was completely lovely.
Connect with Jessie Mihalik
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Buy her book 2/5/2019. Click here for Amazon, or visit your local indie bookstore!