Thanks so much for having me here today, Jessica!
Writing an adventure is fairly easy for me. All my science fiction stories are adventures. I like action-adventure movies. (I like romantic comedy, too). Star Wars IV: A New Hope hooked me with the music. John Williams soaring score conveyed the excitement of an adventure. A quest.
Early in my writing career, I learned about Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, based on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. That’s sort of what I was doing subconsciously. Once I read the usual steps the hero takes on her quest, the story flowed.
My favorite step is the mentor. Think Obi-wan Kenobi. The older character who guides the hero. In my middle grade science fiction adventure Rescuing Mara’s Father, fifteen-year-old Mara has been working at spaceport with an old mechanic, Basco. When her father disappears (arrested by an evil queen’s guards), Basco helps her. He knows more than he lets on.
Basco reveals he and her father set up an escape route for her, in the event the queen ever found them. But, Basco rarely explains. He partially answers questions then changes the subject. He’s so skillful, Mara doesn’t realize that he’s holding back until later. Still, he gets her off-planet and on the way to the queen’s planet.
Just like Obi-wan, Basco doesn’t go the whole way. No, the hero must do that. When Basco leaves, Mara’s devastated. She can’t go on alone. She’s scared, she’s too young. Basco reminds her she has the skills. She can do it. Before he leaves, though, he offers her an out. He can get her far away from the queen, establish a new identity, hide. But that would mean leaving her father to the queen’s tortures and, probably, death. She can’t do that.
The mentor’s job is done. He’s helped the hero to a point where she is capable of going on alone.
I wrote Rescuing Mara’s Father for my grandchildren. They know I write novels. They also know they have to wait until they’re adults before they can read them. The idea of writing an adventure story for them popped into my head and wouldn’t leave. Since my family’s favorite adventure movies are the Star Wars’ franchise, it seemed logical to write science fiction. I can’t wait to hear their reaction to my story.
3 friends, a hidden starship, a quest
Her father is gone! Taken by the Queen of Compara’s agents. Mara has to rescue him before the Queen tortures and kills him.
Instead of the kind, loving father she’s always known, he’s become demanding, critical, with impossible expectations—not just as Father but also as the only teacher in their frontier outpost. Mara would rather scoop zircan poop than listen to another boring lecture about governments on Central Planets. Give her a starship engine to take apart or, better yet, fly, and she’s happy. Now, he’s gone.
Never mind, they’ve had a rocky road lately.
Never mind, Father promised she could go off planet to Tech Institute next month when she turns fifteen, where she’ll learn to fly starships.
Never mind, she ran away because she’s furious with him because he reneged on that promise. Father is her only parent. She has to save him.
Along with her best friend, eleven-year-old Jako, and his brother 15-year-old Lukus, Mara sets off to find her father. Her mentor, old spaceport mechanic, seems to know why the Queen captured Father. In fact, he seems to know her father well. But, does he tell her everything? Of course not. He dribbles out info like a mush-eating baby. Worse, he indicates he’ll be leaving them soon. And Lukus can’t wait to get off their planet. Mara’s afraid they will all leave, and she’ll be on her own. Despite her fears, Mara has to rescue her father.
“Sit, Mara.” Basco’s quiet order stops me. His tone has such force I do as he says. “Jako gave you good advice that you should heed. You need a plan.”
“But we’re wasting time sitting here. What if the ship takes off? Call Dockmaster and—and tell him to delay the ship.”
“The ship is gone.”
“No.” Despair crashes down on me. I slump against the wall. “We’ll never find him. We don’t know where they’re taking him. They’re Coalition. They could take him anywhere.”
“We are not going after your father,” Basco says.
“What?” I cry.
“He gave me explicit instructions to get you to safety if this situation ever arose.”
“Why would he do that? How could he even know the Coalition would come after him?”
Basco sighs. “His actions from long ago have caught up with him. Now, the forces of a powerful person have found him.”
I’m still anxious to get going, to do something, to find Father. “What did he do? Who’s after him?”
“That’s not important now.”
“Yes, it is,” I persist. “How can I know what we’re up against if I don’t have all the facts?” That’s what Father always told me. Get all the facts. “Who is after him?”
“Queen Bormella of Compara.”
“What?” Jako and I whisper-shout in unison.
“The Queen wants Father? Why?”
Basco eyes me as if trying to make up his mind what to say. I can almost see him come to a conclusion. “Taking Grendarus is a means to an end. The person she really wants is you.”
I gasp. “Me? Why me?”
“She has her reasons. That is why I have to take you to a safe place.”
“Forget going to some safe place. I’m going after Father.”
Basco gives me a long look. “Do you realize that if you try to rescue Grendarus, the Queen could take you?”
“Mara.” Lukus finally speaks. “Didn’t you pay attention to anything Teacher said about Compara? About what Bormella does to prisoners?”
I hate that he reminds me. Of course, I remember the lectures on corrupt governments among the Central Planets, especially Compara. But that was just lectures. Words about places as far away and as removed from us as storybook tales.
Now it’s real. Father is Queen Bormella’s enemy. Hang on, how would she even know him? We live out on the Frontier. How could he be her enemy? Stars and asteroids, she tortures and executes her enemies. If she wants me, I must be her enemy, too. Fear for Father, fear for myself overwhelm me. I slide down the wall and struggle to breathe.
“Don’t you get it, Mara?” Jako says. “She’ll torture you . . . or worse.”
Rescuing Mara’s Father, A Science Fiction Adventure is available at:
About the Author:
The first time D.M. Burton saw Star Wars IV: A New Hope, she was hooked on science fiction and space travel. The Star Trek movies made her want to travel to other planets. Alas, she is still Earth-bound. D.M. and her husband live in Michigan, close to their two children and five grandchildren.
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She writes adult fiction as Diane Burton, where she combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries.
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