About the Author
Rexx Deane is a science fiction author originally from the Forest of Dean. He presently lives near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, UK with his partner, Kris, a disability fitness instructor and wheelchair user.
Hello Rexx and welcome to Spells & Spaceships Blog.
Your debut novel, Synthesis: Weave features both magic and spaceships. This seems like the ideal blog for an interview, then! Would you describe your work as science fantasy?
Rexx: Absolutely! Originally, when I started writing, I thought it would fall heavily in hard sci-fi territory, but as things progressed it got a little more outlandish, to the point where I had to start describing it as space fantasy with a hard sci-fi feel.
What do you think potential readers would enjoy most about your Synthesis series?
Rexx: If you’re into mythology and magic, but also love sci-fi, I think people enjoy the blend. There’s plenty in the trilogy that draws on various mythologies, religions and spiritual ideas, and I felt it was important to not throw away our real historic folklore when taking a story a couple of hundred years into the future. You won’t find any elves, but you’ll certainly recognise some ‘nature spirits’ and mention of Norse gods.
A standout feature of your work is that one of the main characters, Aryx, is a wheelchair user. Is it surprising to you that despite 1 in 7 Americans having a physical impairment, disability representation in SFF is still not commonplace? How important is it for us to encourage more representation?
Rexx: It really is shocking, and this is reflected by representation, or lack thereof, in film and TV. Aryx was inspired by my partner, who is a wheelchair user, and it was important that I have a character other wheelchair users/amputees could relate to without later discarding his identity by giving him a ‘quick fix’ in the way that a lot of sci-fi does. Balance needs to be struck in the representation of disabled people: no two people with the same disability are affected the same, so we mustn’t portray disabled characters always as ‘sob stories’ nor always as superhuman paralympians. Aryx may come across as strong, but has his personal weaknesses, as does the equipment he has access to for mobility; what works on a smooth floor many not work on rough terrain and vice versa.
When I think of characters in SFF that do have physical impairments, it feels like a plot device has to be created to ‘make up for’ the disability – it’s ok that Professor X is a wheelchair user because he can control minds. It’s no problem that Luke Skywalker loses a hand, because it is surgically replaced with a cybernetic. Bran Stark becomes paraplegic but then find the ability to warg into animals that can fly and to become a seer. Daredevil is blind but all his other senses are superpowered beyond reality. It doesn’t feel like any of these are true representations to which people with disabilities can see their own struggles. Is this an opinion you share?
Rexx: Indeed. I think I pre-empted this just now, but the main reason behind avoiding overpowering Aryx was so that I didn’t give disabled readers someone to empathise with and then later rip the rug from under them. There’s always the awful attitude that somehow it’s necessary for a disabled character to be better than their non-disabled counterparts to compensate, rather than relying on their strengths as a person. To me, it often feels like a quick get-out clause for an author who either can’t empathise with someone’s predicament, or who wants to add the wow factor, just in case people avoid reading about disability. All my characters have their strengths and weaknesses that come into play, especially when working as a team, and I believe this should apply to all relationships in a balanced ‘team up’ adventure series.
What was your knowledge of science like before writing Synthesis:Weave? Did you have to do a lot of research to make the science elements sound realistic or have you taken a softer sci-fi approach than originally planned?
Rexx: I was always a bit of a science nerd, so I think I knew quite a bit. I did agonise over space distances and travel times etc. but ended up cutting some of that back when I edited the second edition of the first book, as I didn’t think it was overly important after all and some of the spaceflight scenes simply confused people. Some parts have a bit of soft sci-fi to them, especially where quantum hand-wavery, forcefields and artificial gravity come into play, but to a greater extent I’ve tried to keep aerodynamics and other important factors as straight as I could.
What are the main obstacles as a self published author in getting your books read and talked about?
Rexx: Marketing is one – with no real budget and a very tight margin for profit on print books, it’s difficult to justify spending lots of money. Second, most book bloggers seem to be bombarded with traditionally published books, which quite rightly, is likely to get them more hits due to being popular content, so convincing someone that your self-pub book isn’t a load of rubbish and is worth their time is difficult. I still haven’t found the magic bullet for that one. I’ve been quite lucky to meet several celebrities over the years due to my partner’s connections – he was heavily involved in disability fitness and later got into acting, so has been invited to quite a few big events – but as of yet, no popular celeb has read it and tweeted on the subject!
Do you have any inspirations when it comes to writing?
Rexx: Games are a huge inspiration – Mass Effect offered a feel for my setting, as is my partner. I was also inspired by the 90’s TV series Babylon 5, of which I’d re-watched the boxed set shortly before deciding to write a novel. The epic battle between ancient forces of light and dark was a huge trigger.
You currently have 3 books out and a novella. Is that the Synthesis series completed, or do you have plans to write more?
Rexx: It feels complete, for now. I keep having ideas for situations I could put the team into in future, and also some for the repercussions of the events at the end of Telamon (3rd book). I’ve written a movie adaptation for the first book, which is slightly different due to the requirements of the medium, and may attempt the later novels at some future point. I’m also working on what feels like a standalone novel that actually works perfect as an earlier prequel than the short story Pioneer. It’s set on Earth and focuses on a gardener, but does involve ‘big tech’ and eco technology advances. It’s suitably different that I may pursue traditional publishing once it’s finished. I’m also going to do a movie script for that book, largely because I’ve based the two main characters on Melissa McCarthy and Kathy Bates!
What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?
Rexx: An old Larry Niven novel that a friend lent me – The Mote In God’s Eye. Strangely slow-burner that held a peculiar intrigue for me.
Thankyou very much and I hope you enjoyed taking part in the interview, Rexx!
Rexx: It was a pleasure, and thanks for inviting me to take part!
Synopsis of Book 1, Synthesis: Weave
The laws of physics are about to change …
A tsunami on a space station.
An explosion with no trace of the bomber.
Cyber-security expert Sebastian knows evidence doesn’t magically disappear, yet when he and his colleague Aryx, a disabled ex-marine, travel the galaxy to find the cause, there seems to be no other explanation.
Can they unravel the mystery before his family, home, and an entire race succumbs to an ancient foe?