Today I am interviewing Alex White, author of the new science-fiction novel, A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, first book in the Salvagers trilogy.
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DJ: Hi Alex! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Alex White: I am definitely not three cats in a trenchcoat, that’s for sure!
For real, though, I’m an American from the deep south, living in Huntsville, Alabama, colloquially referred to as “Rocket City.” Huntsville is the birthplace of the space program, and that always had a major influence on me growing up. In high school, I drove by a full-size space shuttle and Saturn V every day, so it was hard not to dream about space. I’m a huge nerd, and I love making music, taking photos and board games.
DJ: What is A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe about?
Alex: It’s a high-octane space fantasy! Nilah Brio, a pampered race car driver, witnesses a murder on the track, and she’s framed for it. Trying to get to the bottom of things, she goes into hiding, where she runs into Boots Elsworth, a washed-up treasure hunter turned con artist. Together, they have to team up with the starship Capricious, Boots’s old crewmates, and uncover a galactic conspiracy. Also, there are a ton of magic spells, explosions, killer robots and romance!
DJ: What were some of your influences A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe and the series?
Alex: It often gets the Firefly comparison, but I was always more of a Cowboy Bebop guy. I can safely say that if you liked either of those, you’ll love it. I’m a major Formula One fan, so there’s a bunch of that in there. The magic system comes from basic electrical engineering equations, and there’s a ton of magic tech, similar to Final Fantasy III.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Alex: Nilah Brio, being a famous, highly-compensated athlete, is pretty snobby at the start of the story, and she’s thrown into the shabbiest, crustiest starship around. For the first time in many years, she’s not getting her way, and I think readers will enjoy watching the adjustment with a bit of schadenfreude. As she figures out starship life, she discovers her inner hero, making for some pretty epic scenes.
By contrast, Boots is the veteran of a war that wiped out her home planet. After the war, she found notoriety as a treasure hunter when she located the Chalice of Hana, a powerful artifact that binds people to contracts with a curse. Betrayed by her partner, she fell off the public stage and lost almost everything she owned. Desperate, she used what little remained of her fame to swindle other would-be treasure hunters.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Salvagers trilogy like?
Alex: Every single person has a spell they can cast, whether it be fire or teleportation, or healing. Imagine being born with one superpower, and everyone has it. Magic informs every aspect of their daily lives, from the jobs they can have to the way they pay for goods and services. But just because most people have legs, that doesn’t mean that we all run marathons. Most people don’t use their gifts. Boots Elsworth is a one-in-five-million person with arcana dystocia, meaning she has no magic at all.
Just like our world, they’re ignoring a lot of problems, but everything seems okay on the surface. There’s a pan-galactic treaty organization, but each government still retains sovereignty. At the center of much of the intrigue is Taitu, a wealthy planet that holds itself out as the example for the rest of the galaxy, though they suffer from intense corruption and scandals. One of the things that always annoys me is when space operas have monocultural worlds. How is it that a population numbering in the billions all looks the same? The worlds of The Salvagers are often quite varied, and the people from them can be anyone.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe?
Alex: I love the characters so much. I’ve spent so much time developing them, and they’re all so unique that they’re like my family. Nilah and Boots are a joy to write, and their dialogue is easy. With well-defined characters, I always know what they’re going to say next.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Alex: One of the characters, Orna Sokol, has a pet battle armor that follows her around named Ranger. It’s friendly and curious, and at times quite sweet. I think readers are really going to come to love that robot.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the Salvagers trilogy? A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Alex: I think that, while modern discourse is an important facet of our civilization, sometimes we can’t simply agree to disagree. In the long arc of the enemies of The Salvagers, they play in civilized spaces, insinuating themselves into reasonable conversations like they belong there. I spent a lot of time modeling those jerks on the alt-right, because frankly, we tolerate them too much. The heroes of my story recognize the end goal of their adversary, but civilization as a whole doesn’t understand.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe that you can share with us?
Alex: My favorite quote comes from Malik Jan, the ship’s doctor. He’s talking about a culture that settles everything, even murder charges, with a lawsuit. He says, “When the law is for sale, everyone is in debt.” As an American, I’d really like to get that point across to my fellow citizens.
DJ: Now that A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe is released, what is next for you?
Alex: I happily released ALIEN: THE COLD FORGE in late April, so I’m just glad to have two major books out in one year! But The Salvagers is (at least) a three-book series, and I’m cranking away on the third book as we speak. I could probably write in this universe forever; it’s colorful, fun and exciting. But, like The Expanse and Brooklyn 99, I’m going to need your support to do so!
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Alex-White/e/B01FK0VLLQ/
Author Newsletter: http://news.alexrwhite.com
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe and the Salvagers trilogy that we haven’t talked about yet?
Alex: The general series feeling is one of fun and excitement, but that doesn’t stop dark elements from wending their way into the narrative. This book has everything, from quippy one-liners to horrific villains.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe is published by Orbit and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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Boots Elsworth was a famous treasure hunter in another life, but now she’s washed up. She makes her meager living faking salvage legends and selling them to the highest bidder, but this time she might have stumbled on something real–the story of the Harrow, a famous warship, capable of untold destruction.
Nilah Brio is the top driver in the Pan Galactic Racing Federation and the darling of the racing world–until she witnesses the murder of a fellow racer. Framed for the murder and on the hunt to clear her name, Nilah only has one lead: the killer also hunts a woman named Boots.
On the wrong side of the law, the two women board a smuggler’s ship that will take them on a quest for fame, for riches, and for justice.
About the Author:
Alex White was born and raised in the American south. He takes photos, writes music, and spends hours on YouTube watching other people blacksmith. He values challenging and subversive writing, but he’ll settle for a good time.
Alex lives in the shadow of Huntsville, Alabama’s rockets with his wife, son, two dogs and a cat named Grim. Favored pastimes include Legos and racecars. He takes his whiskey neat and his espresso black.