Since I write science fiction romance (usually lumped in with paranormal romance), I don’t do ghosts, dragons, or vampires. My creatures are aliens. Not creepy ones, mind you. I’m not into scary. (I still haven’t watched Alien). Still, I love the costumes kids wear on Halloween. I wonder how many Reys, Kylo Rens, or Stormtroopers we’ll see this year.
The main characters in my SFR stories are human. Some of the secondary or tertiary characters aren’t. Characters can have purple skin and curly, indigo hair or resembling a Tasmanian Devil, like the ones in Switched. What about reptilians? Think T-Rex with longer, stronger arms. That’s how I see some of the henchmen in The Pilot (An Outer Rim Novel: Book 1).
One of my favorite TV shows last year was Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge where creature designers created puppets and animatronic characters competing to win a place with J.H.’s Creature Shop. That’s the place where designers created the aliens for Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and—my favorite—Farscape.
Farscape had such amazing aliens I can’t imagine trying to describe them for a story. It would take pages to accurately describe Ka D’Argo or Pilot. The adage of a picture being worth a thousand words is certainly true here.
In my stories, I can’t use a whole page to describe a creature. Readers will skim or close the book. Instead, the reader gets a brief comment or two, enough to imagine the character. A couple of weeks ago, at the Alpena (MI) Book Festival, I met the most amazing graphic artists. Not only do they write great science fiction, they illustrate the stories, too. I stand in awe of those who can draw. Painting a picture with words seems pale in comparison.
While building the worlds in my Switched and Outer Rim series, I made a conscious decision that the inhabitants of the various planets would look different. Even the human ones. Keeping all of them straight necessitated detailed notes. Not only did they look different, they had different religions, expressions, and mannerisms. Did this enhance the stories? I hope so. Our own world is diverse. Surely those who lived on different planets would also be. Do all the aliens celebrate diversity? That would be amazing…and probably impossible. Racism, ignorance, fear, suspicion. We know them well. Why would the future be any different? We can hope our main characters, at least, would not only be tolerant but embrace the diversity of others.
Switched: Kidnapped by aliens? By mistake?
When wise-cracking Jessie Wyndom is beamed from her farmhouse in Ann Arbor, MI aboard an Alliance starship, she meets a regular Mr. Spock. Captain Marcus Viator's well-organized life is turned upside down by a free-spirited Terran. Fate brings them together. Treachery tears them apart.
The Pilot: There’s no place like home . . . and he just confiscated hers.
Life on the frontier of space is hard enough so when pirates stole Celara d'Enfaden's cargo, she vowed not to be tricked again. Determined to make an example out of indie pilots who disobey orders, Coalition Administrator Trevarr Jovano impounds Celara’s starship and cargo. If he backs down, he’ll lose respect. If she can’t deliver her cargo, she’ll default on her loan and lose her only home—her ship. More important than her ship, though, is her brother. To rescue him from a galactic gangster, she’ll even work with Jovano who is bent on avenging his wife’s murder.