Women in SFF Author Spotlight – Amanda Bridgeman (THE SUBJUGATE)
Amanda is a Tin Duck Award winner, an Aurealis and Ditmar Awards finalist and author of several science fiction novels. Her works include the best-selling military SF/space opera AURORA series, alien contact drama THE TIME OF THE STRIPES, and sci-fi crime thriller THE SUBJUGATE, which has been optioned for TV by an Oscar and Golden Globe nominated production company. THE SENSATION, the sequel to her hit The Subjugate, will be released worldwide in October 2020 through Angry Robot Books (UK).
Welcome to the Hive, Amanda Bridgeman. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
There’s two books I’ve enjoyed recently. Firstly, I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of Dan Hanks’ Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire. It’s a rollicking globe-trotting adventure that fans of Indiana Jones, The Mummy and Captain America would love. Secondly, I read Gideon The Ninth and I quite enjoyed it. There is a slow build up that leads to quite a page-turning ending that left me wanting more. I think that’s a good gauge of a successful book for me – whether or not I have the desire to read on and this book left me wanting to read on. It’s also great to see an Antipodean writer doing so well!
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Okay, so I’m not totally up to speed on D&D, but after a cursory glance online, I’d probably go for a wizard who practises abjuration – so I can stand well away from the monsters while I block and banish them. LOL.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit?)
Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
Up until recently I preferred stone cold silence to work, however lately I’ve been experimenting with relaxing yoga music in the background when I need to concentrate and there’s noise outside. My go-to when I was writing my Pandemic novel was sounds of the Amazon (as the book is largely set in the area), particularly called Rainforest Reverie by Relax24 on YouTube. My other go to that I’ve used a lot since is Cat Trumpet’s Jellyfish Aquarium on YouTube – and the reason for this is the whole calming effect of watching the Jellyfish relates to a scene in my book, The Subjugate. This video was brought to my attention by a reader who said it reminded her of a scene in my book and I’ve been hooked to it ever since.
Otherwise, all my writing is done on a laptop. I have no patience for handwriting. I tend to write in my home office and occasionally stare out the window into my little courtyard with plants. In terms of my writing process, I’m little bit of a planner but mostly a panster. I have key scenes fully formed before I sit down to write, then figure out how I get from one key scene to another as I write – this is where the subplots form.
What (or who) are your most significant female fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
There are many female spec fic writers that I admire and would be open to working with. Same can be said for filmmakers and game designers. I wouldn’t want to name specifics – my doors are open to all conversations. 😊
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
I’m currently watching season 3 of The Sinner because I’ve really enjoyed this series and also like Bill Pullman. I’m keeping my fingers crossed there’ll be a season 3 of Mindhunter because I loved that. Aside from that, I’m years late to the party, but I’ve slowly been making my way through Parks and Recreation. I also watch every baking/cake/desert/painting/fashion design show I can get my hands on because I find these shows relaxing – when I watch them I’m not thinking about ‘story’ for once. I’m simply watching amazing, creative people do their thing, which I enjoy very much.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
Honestly, if I get a day in which I don’t need to use my brain (for once), I’d probably either lay on the couch and watch tv/movies, or go out for a meal, or just potter happily around the house.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
My current work in progress is book 8 of the Aurora series, which is a space opera that is essentially the lovechild of Battlestar Galactica, Universal Soldier and Aliens. I was hoping to have it out earlier this year, however I was offered a couple of tie-in projects so it was pushed back. My Aurora readers have been very patiently waiting for the next book as we’re nearing the end of the series, so I now need to buckle down and get it to them.
Aside from that, my next release will be The Sensation this October. It’s the follow up to The Subjugate, which has been optioned for TV by an Oscar and Golden Globe nominated production company.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The most helpful: Listen to all the writing rules and advice but use only what works for you. Not everything will, so don’t try to force square peg into a circle. Remember that what works for one writer won’t necessarily work for the next. You do you.
The least helpful: Write every day. Sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes you need to give your brain a day or two off. A rest does wonders for the creative well. So ignore that advice.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
Some days you simply have to force yourself to sit down and start writing, and you soon realise if you find that ‘hole in the page’ and fall through, that you then can’t stop yourself from writing. Most writers learn that when you find yourself in the zone, you don’t interrupt it, because you may not find this place again for a while. But some days you sit down and try to force yourself to write and it just doesn’t happen. Whenever it’s like this, I just give up and do something else. Sometimes, it just won’t happen for you. There could be a number of reasons why – world events, personal events. Sometimes your body is just tired. I’ve learnt that sleep does wonders. With a refreshed brain you can find that ‘hole in the page’ again and fall right on through.
I’ve found a great way to stir up the creative juices and therefore motivation is to scroll through Pinterest and look at all the SFF artwork, the photography, the architecture images, etc. These images will always inspire stories and get those juices flowing.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Wow. Tough question… There are a lot of moments in history that would be cool to witness, but if I could only choose one, I think I’d like to go back and visit a dinosaur hotspot and just watch them (from a safe place, of course). I can’t think of anything more awesome than that, other than witnessing a few legendary rock concerts.
Who are your favourite female characters in literature or pop culture? And do you have a favourite type of female character you enjoy writing?
Look, there can be only one Queen and her name is Ellen Ripley (Aliens), but she is closely supported by Imperator Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road), Sarah Connor (Terminator 2), Sun Bak (Sense8), Starbuck – Kara Thrace (Battlestar Galactica), Trinity (The Matrix), and less warrior-like but still tough and smart – Clarice Starling (The Silence of The Lambs).
My heroines mainly tend to be mixes of Ellen, Sarah, Trinity and Clarice, but they have moments of Furiosa, Starbuck and Sun – especially when facing their enemies.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
I’ve enjoyed reading Lindsay Buroker’s Fallen Empire series (I’m 4 books in), which I’ve found on a similar plane to my Aurora series – though her series is a little lighter than mine. She self-publishes but seems to have a solid fan base, so I’d suggest checking that out.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
Well, my Salvation series (The Subjugate and The Sensation) is near-future crime thriller and has been described as Witness meets Blade Runner, so if that’s your cup of tea, check it out.
My Aurora series is the lovechild of Battlestar Galactica, Universal Soldier and Aliens, so if that’s your cup of tea, check it out.
My novel The Time of the Stripes is best described as The Leftovers meets The Lord of The Flies, so if that sounds like your cup of tea, please check it out.
That’s brilliant! Thanks so much for joining us today Amanda, and good luck with the release of