Get ready to learn more about the book Nero in this discussion with sapphic author Valden Bush.
Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Valden Bush about Nero, writing, reading, and more.
This book is part of the Action & Adventure category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.
Why did you write Nero?
Nero was my first book and it was important to me to be able to write a space opera specifically for a sapphic audience. I love reading military, adventure and sci-fi stories, but so many are written by men and for men. I’m enjoying writing the kinds of books I want to read.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
Questa Quess is my favourite character. They have blue hair that resembles electric cables which turn green when she is using them as an empath or telepath. They are Stele the main characters best friend, and both loyal and caring. She looks nothing like me! But maybe the loyal and caring are something I would like to think fit me.
What inspired the idea for Nero?
I have a shiny black rock on my desk, given to me on 20 May 2006 when two friends got married. One of them had picked meaningful stones on the beach for all her friends. She scrubbed them clean and then varnished them. I’ve been looking at my black stone for a long while and when I wanted a setting for my idea, the black rock worked.
What part of Nero was the most fun to write?
I love writing the action scenes. There is a scene set on the bridge of a dummy spaceships part of the same cadets exams. I loved writing the scene and had great fun imagining the whole set up. My fingers just flowed.
If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?
I have just started writing NERO 2 with a working title of JET. This book features Questa Quess trying to rescue a black-eyed woman from another world. It will involve some of the characters from Nero including Stele and Kian.
What is your writing process like?
I’m a definite plotter, I’d be lost if I wrote by the seat of my pants. I like to know where I’m going when I set off. That doesn’t mean that I don’t go off piste occasionally. I spoke to my editor when writing Nero because two of my characters got together and I hadn’t planned it. LOL. She said ‘go with it’. So I did 🙂
If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?
I spend a lot of time writing over Zoom with author EV Bancroft (Warm Pearls and Paper Cranes and Virgin Flight). We go on a retreat a couple of weeks a year but we’ve been doing it for a few years and it works for me (and I assume her!)
Do you have any odd writing quirks?
I like to wear headphones, usually playing music. But, if there is no music it doesn’t matter. The headphones give me seclusion… even from an empty study and allow my brain to wind up and write.
If you could be mentored by a famous author (living or not), who would it be?
I am already living the dream. My editors are Robyn Nyx (Dead Pretty) and Brey Willows (Chosen) and they have been mentoring me since I started writing. The are patient and understanding, encouraging and excellent teachers. They also see me and get me, which is the most important thing.
What author in your genre do you most admire, and why?
I have always admired Fletcher DeLancey for her Chronicles of Alsea starting with The Caphenon. I came into sapphic science fiction through her books. It wasn’t that long ago either, 2016 or thereabouts that I found her writing and from that point I wanted to do what she has done. Her books are still on my favourite list.
What books did you grow up reading?
I grew up reading anything I could get my hands on. Read all my own books and any others I came across. I borrowed books from all sorts of people, friends, work colleagues and even bosses. I loved adventure stories and I could be trying to survive a hurricane or deep in the jungle and I’d be happy. It has meant I have a really wide knowledge of books and styles, genres and subjects. That hasn’t changed much all these years later.
What books have you read more than once in your life?
I am a serial lover. I will read a series and re-read them again and again. I love to read about the characters and the world again and again. There is something comforting to me in meeting up with old friends. Sometimes I find I can’t get into any books and I’ll go back to a favourite. Ann McMan is a good example. Her Jericho series has kept me entranced since I first read Jericho. I must have read them all eight or nine times.