Local author Aaron Gee, whom you might recognize as an Emmy award winning television journalist, will be at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX this weekend. We got to interview him about his buzz-worthy novel Dark Escape. You can purchase the hard copy on Amazon now.
Give us the gist of your book Dark Escape?
"Well, it is an epic science fantasy tale about the forbidden love between two people in a far away planet where the sun never sets. That's the broad brush review of it. Basically, there's two warring kingdoms, and one is a very xenophobic society where essentially every trespasser is killed—it sounds so terrible but it really is so central. They just want to be left alone. To keep invaders out they have this little sheltered valley that's surrounded by mountains and there's one pass that they can get through. One day the prince is learning to guard his kingdom and he saves the princess from the other kingdom—instead of killing her, he spares her life. They take her back and they fall in love and do what teenagers do when they're not supposed to be seeing other people and they sneak out. Because of the war-like nature of this planet the prince is captured by another kingdom and it's up to the princess—who feels guilty—to rescue him. It's a little bit of a twist on sort of that classic genre. Most people when they look at it look at it as a fantasy novel, but its a little bit of a misnomer since it's more science fiction than it is fantasy. It does take place in a world where the technology is roughly that of what you would think of as the middle ages, but there is more going on. There's other forces at work that introduce technology that normally wouldn't be there. Sort of Romeo and Juliet meets Game of Thrones— although that's a really bad analogy, but there you go."
What was your inspiration for writing this novel?
"Actually I'd done a lot of writing, short stories and things like that, in the past and that's how my wife found me. I had this little blog and I'd put them on there. She liked the stories and she said 'I really like these. I want you to write me a story.' I asked what kind of story and she said, 'Put it on a world where the sun never sets,' and that was it. The rest of it was just sitting down and thinking what kind of world would that be. In thinking about it, I came up with this idea and I wrote it down. The book I actually wound up with was nothing like what I'd outlined. Then when I was done I realized I had much more that I could say so that's how we got the story arch. It just gradually evolved.
"The basis was alway the princess goes and rescues the prince, which you normally don't see. I've always wanted to have a very strong female protagonist and not to be outdone, I wanted to have a strong male protagonist as well. I wanted to have people break through the stereotypes, especially the way the book is structured there are different cultures. Different cultures have different ways of treating people. For instance, the princess comes from a culture where women are dumped on. I wanted to show that women could grow beyond that and could find strength even in places where it wasn't expected of them. I think that males are often portrayed as the only people who have any strength and that's just not the case."
Why did you choose to self-publish, instead of going the traditional route?
"For the most part, competing with the slush pile. Because you get in the slush pile that people have, and for the most part most of the stuff that's sent in from potential authors are really sub-standard. If you look at it, even some of the great books that have been published on the last few years didn't really get through. Even J.K. Rowling was turned down by everybody.
"I'd gotten a few responses back and they were all form letters, so I knew I hadn't gotten past the front door. They'd just read the first few lines and said 'No, forget it.' But I decided that the book was actually worth something and I knew that publishing has been changing so much and with self-publishing there's a lot of traps involved and there's a lot of pit falls, but I thought 'Okay I'll research it and I'll try to do it right.' I think I found a pretty good way of doing it—it's just promoting the book that's been really hard."
What sort of response have you received so far?
"I had some people say, 'This is not my kind of book' and that's fine. You're always going to get people who feel that way. But for the most part, the feedback has been quite good. Most people have said that they can't put it down. Especially when they get to the climax about the middle of the book onward. This story appeals to people who like books that do very well in crossover of genres."