It’s a pleasure to have Nicole Ross here today to talk about her book, FORNAX RISING. For a chance to learn more about this indie author, her writing process, inspiration and win a copy of her book, read on!
About the author.
I was born in Germany and moved to Australia with my parents when I was ten years old. I’ve always loved playing with language: I’m a professional translator, an avid reader, and have been on the creative and academic sides of the writing fence. My first novel, *Fornax Rising*, which is a Steampunk coming-of-age story was released as an e-book on Amazon and Smashwords on 6 June 2011, with the paperback to come by the end of the month.
Life in the early twentieth century isn’t easy for women, especially if that woman is an outspoken, intelligent, headstrong, augmented amputee with prosthetic technology that is the envy of armies. Enter Cassandra Leigh Fornax.
Daughter of the shipping magnate John Fornax, Cassandra has had a harder life than most young people of her social standing. After a tragic childhood accident leaves her an amputee, Cassandra’s uncle and engineer, Philip Fornax, builds her a revolutionary prosthesis which replaces the hand she lost. As Cassandra begins to make her own decisions about her future, she finds that her domineering father intends her to live a radically different life. She emancipates herself loudly and publicly at her eighteenth birthday party, scandalising her parents and putting paid to her father’s scheme. When Philip receives an offer to work in an airship factory in Germany, Cassandra follows him so she can put some distance between herself and her father. As the threat of war looms over Europe, the German army has the talented engineer’s most advanced creation firmly in its sights. Cassandra had hoped to leave her troubles behind when she left Britain, but finds they have just begun.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started to consider myself a writer sometime in 2010, after I’d noticed
that I was working on *Fornax Rising* pretty consistently. I didn’t want
to start thinking of myself as a writer unless I had something to show for
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I could have any writer, living or dead, I’d choose Erich Maria
Remarque. He had such an honest, heart-breakingly beautiful writing style.
Why did you choose this genre and the title of your book?
I chose Steampunk because it fit my protagonist, Cassandra. She’s an amputee with a prosthesis whose technology is ahead of the time period in which
the story is set. So that’s the steam side; Cassandra is a rebellious, tenacious person so that fills the punk quota nicely. I see punks as people who go against the grain, and she definitely does.
What inspired you to write your book?
Initially, imagining Cassandra was an exercise. As I kept thinking about
her, what makes her tick and who her family is, more of the story started
to take shape, so I started to write it down. I wasn’t expecting to produce
an entire novel – initially, I was aiming for a short story or novella at
What books have influenced your life most?
Richard Dawkins gets a lot of the credit here – no, I’m not going to say
that *The God Delusion* influenced my life. I was already an atheist when
that book was published. I love Dawkins’ popular science books for opening
the door to science appreciation for me – *The Blind Watchmaker* and
*Climbing Mount Improbable* which are both about complex systems evolution are
stand-out titles. Richard Dawkins fostered the interest which is taking me
back to school next month to start the preparation course for my science
The fiction book which influenced me most is *Momo* by Michael Ende. I
watched the start of the movie as a child, but found the grey men too
scary and left the room. In that novel, a little girl called Momo has to stop
the villains (the grey men) who are stealing time from humans. The story is
about taking the time to appreciate your life and loved ones instead of
running around like a headless chicken.
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
*Fornax Rising* was largely written off-the-cuff. I didn’t put in a whole
lot of forward planning, aside from deciding on major events in the story.
For the rest, I just sat at my computer and typed, and let the moment
What was your favourite chapter to write and why?
I hadn’t really thought about this before, but my favourite chapter would
have to be the one where Cassandra’s parents drop the bombshell and
publicly reveal that they’ve chosen a husband for her. What they didn’t expect was
for Cassandra to let them know, just as publicly, what she thought about
that. When her parents try to force her into the marriage, she makes a bid
for freedom, which ultimately succeeds. I’ve always respected tenacity,
and wasn’t about to have my protagonist jump because someone told her to.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I had a lot of fun writing *Fornax Rising* and published it because I
wanted to share it with others. I think it has positive messages: “don’t allow
others to dictate how you should live your life”; and “if your biological
family is less than ideal, the friends you make along the way become your
Is there a second book in the works?
Yes, there is! I’m currently working on a sequel whose working title is
*The Fall of Melnax*. Originally, I wanted to add the events which will take
place in this story to *Fornax Rising*, but I didn’t want to have the
story drag on, so I made a reasonably clean cut, and saved a few “what happened
to…?” surprises for the sequel.
Question of Nicole’s Choice: I’ll go with the question from *Office Space*: what would you do if you had $1 million?
I’ll probably sound a bit like Samir (from the movie) when I say this, but
I’d pay off my mortgage, invest a chunk, and go on a world trip with my
husband. We already have plans to visit Japan and Russia, but travelling
is addictive, so more funds are always welcome!
Nicole will be giving away two copies of Fornax Rising (ebooks). To enter, answer this poll in the comment section below.
a) An adventure
b) An escape from reality
c) My ultimate addiction
Two winners will be chosen on Sunday June 26 at 12pm EST. Winners will be posted on the site and contacted by email. Winners will be given the coupon code for the book and will have one week from the date of contact to claim their prize. Good luck!
Author of *Fornax Rising*
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