Welcome to Tea in the Treetops’ stop on the Aurora: Centralis blog tour! You can find links to all the other stops on the tour at the Momentum Books website.
Amanda Bridgeman’s Aurora: Centralis is the fourth book in this hard sci-fi series. Below, you can find a guest post from Amanda about echoing her own life experiences in her writing, and also please check back later this week for my review of the second book in this series, Aurora: Pegasus!
Echoes on the page
A couple of weeks ago I was over on Sophie Masson’s blog talking about ‘living with the afterlife’. In particular I spoke about the Captain Harris sub-plot regarding his female ancestry and how my own experiences inspired this stream in the books. Today, I wanted to expand upon the Harris story a little further by talking about other ways parts of my life have infused into his.
The sub-plot relating to Harris’ ancestry, and his relationship with his mother who, in Aurora: Meridian, passed away after suffering Alzheimer’s for many years, again contains echoes of my own life experience. The very fact that I wrote Harris’ mother suffering from Alzheimer’s was inspired by something someone close to me once said. They had expressed a worry that one day, in old age, they might lose their mind like their own parent had. And it was that one comment that sparked/inspired Harris’ fears that he too could be following his mother down that murky path to Alzheimer’s.
The strange thing is, or shall I say my own real life plot twist is, that it was my own father who was struck with this awful curse. He was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia – a degenerative brain disease that disrupts perception, thinking and behaviour. At first it was thought it was Parkinson’s disease, and when the doctors finally zeroed in on LBD, we were told the average life expectancy was 5 years. That was about 8 years ago now. Just recently, however, in an episode of life imitating art, my father was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Yes, that’s right, LBD and Alzheimer’s – a double, dangerous, whammy. He now requires full time care, and my mother, the strong woman that she is, fulfils this role.
So for years I have been watching my father on this downward path, living a life of fitful dreams, of hallucinations, of interacting with people only he can see. I have to say that his condition is one that affects in two parts. It is equally heartbreaking to see a man you admire disintegrate – physically and mentally – before your eyes, and at the same time, from a writer’s perspective, it is utterly fascinating. To be sitting at the dinner table and watch him suddenly look over to a spare seat at the table, pull an odd face, then look back at us, motion to the empty chair and say “That bloke’s not happy”, is bizarre to say the least. Or, to have him suddenly look up at the ceiling and say: “look at all those city lights, those big skyscrapers”, while we’re sitting indoors . . . Or to have him swear that he was just at the racecourse the other week, when in fact he hasn’t been there for at least 5 years . . . Or to have him looking at a random piece of paper and tell me that he’s “mixing up paint for a customer” (he used to run a paint business).
And then there’s the stories mum tells us of being woken in the middle of the night to see my father looking out the window and say “The cops are outside!” or “There’s a snake under the bed!” Or to see the pictures mum sometimes sends us when dad has been insistent on ‘searching for something’and has turned the spare bedroom upside-down, leaving it looking as though they have been ransacked. Or how it takes several minutes sometimes to ‘talk him down’ into realising that what he’s seeing isn’t real. Sometimes he believes us, sometimes he just shakes his head as though we’re the ones who are crazy. It literally is like watching someone whose mind is trapped in a parallel dimension, or at least some kind of virtual dimension.
I could go on all day about the pools of research I’ve had on hand to write that element of Harris’ story. The idea may have started with a comment from a close friend, but it was cemented with the reality of my father.
I think for a writer to resonate with readers, we can’t help but inject elements of our life, or the people we know, into our stories. Despite how fictional or fantastical our stories may be, the truth is, it’s the reality embedded within these stories that the reader identifies with. It’s the gamut of emotions the characters experience that draws the reader in, and makes them buckle up for the ride. And in order to convey these emotions correctly, you need to know what it feels like to express them coherently.
So Harris’ fears that he is following his mother down into the murky depths of her Alzheimer’s, and the other questions he asks of his ancestors and the afterlife, these aspects of his story come from mine. Captain Saul Harris may be a 6’2 African American soldier, but he shares part of my life, and it is our shared empathy that I hope connects with readers, who may just, in turn, share our lives too.
After the dramatic events of the past few missions, Captain Saul Harris and Corporal Carrie Welles have found themselves on a path they never expected to be on. Carrie, more vulnerable than she’s ever been, is placed under immense pressure as she becomes the most valuable asset to the UNF. Meanwhile, Harris works with the Aurora crew to keep the UNF at bay and shield her from their nemesis, Sharley, who wants her now more than anything. As events unfold, Carrie comes face to face with the truth of her father’s past, while Harris is forced to confront the truth of his ancestor’s. The revelations leave them reeling in shock, but not as much as when the explosive truth behind UNFASP is finally revealed.
Harris and Carrie struggle with the difficult decisions they have to make, while the Aurora team endures their toughest challenge yet. Once again they come face to face with their enemies in a showdown that will rock them to their very core and change them all forever.
For the Aurora team, Centralis is the beginning, and end, of everything.
Aurora: Centralis is available for purchase now in electronic format directly from the Momentum website, and from other ebook retailers. It will be available in print during April.
Born and raised in the seaside/country town of Geraldton, Western Australia, Amanda hails from fishing and farming stock. The youngest of four children, her three brothers raised her on a diet of Rocky, Rambo, Muhammad Ali and AC/DC. Naturally, she grew up somewhat of a tomboy, preferring to watch action/sci-fi films over the standard rom-com, and liking her music rock hard. But that said, she can swoon with the best of them and is really not a fan of bugs.
She lived in ‘Gero’ for 17 years, before moving to Perth (WA) to pursue her dreams and study film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University (BA Communication Studies). Perth has been her home ever since, aside from a nineteen month stint in London (England).
She is a writer and a film buff. She loves most genres, but is particularly fond of the Spec-Fic realm. She likes action, epic adventures, and strong characters that draw you in, making you want to follow them on their wild, rollercoaster rides. Her debut novel Aurora:Darwin was published with Momentum in May 2013; the sequel Aurora: Pegasus was published in December 2013; and Aurora: Meridian was released in September 2014.
When she’s not writing, Amanda loves to travel and partake in a little photography.
Facebook: Amanda Bridgeman