Back in February, nine authors (full disclosure, including me) released a series of science-fiction romances called the Valos of Sonhadra. Recently, two of those authors, Amanda Milo and Poppy Rhys, decided to return to that world and revisit some of their characters. Their book, Galvanizing Sol, just released, and it tells the story of an off-camera character who got the readers’ tongues wagging. In some of the science fiction readers’ rooms, #daddysol has been the topic of daily posts! Read on for an interview (spoiler alert, these two are hilarious) and excerpt of their story!
Why did you decide to write this book? How did you collaborate?
Amanda: That was the cool thing! Poppy came up with the idea for Gerard, and she outlined him as the dad, Charlie as his daughter, Preta as his other daughter. That was going to be that. Somehow, in, what, ten lines? Upstanding military man, widower twice over, loving father with a cussing problem he doesn’t care to temper too much—
We fell in love with him.
We were chatting one night as we went over plot-weaving together (we worked really close with Alluvial & Tempest so co-authoring wasn’t too big of a jump!) and we both expressed that DaddySol wasn’t done with us yet ;D
Poppy: We decided we’d write him just for us, just a very short, short story that could be released in our newsletters. He kind of evolved from there into a full-blown novella.
Poppy: At one point, during Alluvial & Tempest, Amanda even said “Next time, let’s, I don’t know, write in the same story?” That was long before we actually got down to Sol.
Amanda: HA I forgot that! XD It really is more fun to write together. I hated group school projects. They were a nightmare—this was nothing like that at all.
Poppy: You hated those? Me too, haha.
Amanda: ;D They were the worst! You always have someone who runs over your words/thoughts, and you never get to carry on with the plot idea you like. This was so EASY and we’re hearing reader after reader say “We can’t tell your voices apart!” [as they are reading this collab story]—because it flows that smoothly. We experienced the same thing: sometimes we don’t know who wrote the line anymore, but we love it. We’ve obviously got limited experience, but we’ve heard enough horror stories to know this is rare, and a real gift.
Amanda: And the chat feature of Google Docs is a BLAST. We regularly carry on conversations involving everything from fuzzy clown spiders (that was ALL POPPY) to Disney movies. Fuck, we’ve had fun.
Poppy: (Seriously teared up there, ahem). When we first started writing this, I joked that we were being very Canadian about it: ‘No, you first.’ ‘Really, go ahead.’
Amanda: OH I JUST HAVE TO CUT IN!! I thought about this today!! LITERALLY this exact conversation! That is all. Carry on =D
Poppy: (cracking up) It took us a minute to stop being shy. Writing is a solitary thing! It took us a couple days to get the hang of it, and then it was like, we just dove in, bridging, adding lines, rearranging, everything.
Amanda: And helping out—I don’t know how many times we’d say something like <bridge> and the other would jump in and help connect the two thoughts or scenes together. Poppy can do it in one line—it’s an awesome superpower.
Poppy: Me? Pssh. Do you remember the blowjob bridge? Yeah. I remember. LOL You’re pretty amazing.
Amanda: I kind of love this whole answer XD I just got gum on my glasses!! This is what you get for laughing and chewing gum!!—>as an aside, it’s SO cool we get to do this! Interview together. This is really what we did for, oh wow—how many months?
Poppy: Was it really only two? Two and a half?
Amanda: Nah! It had to be longer! Or sleep deprivation made it all fuzzy… that could be. Hmm. XD
Poppy: Okay, so like, since DECEMBER. Holy shit.
Amanda: Wow!! We’ve lamented that it’s going to be different to walk back into our main series, and write solo again. Poppy said it: writing IS a solitary thing. But now that we’ve had a hit of what it’s like to work with a great partner, well, we’re not jealous of Tiffany Roberts (a husband-wife writing duo) but we are totally in awe. We know how supportive it is now.
Poppy: So true! Being able to bounce ideas off another person—any time of day—and have another person to build a story with, someone who’s there to tell you you’re not crazy (mostly).
Amanda: LOL!!! Or to tell you that you are, but they love it and keep going.
Poppy: Haha, yes, that! There are different levels of crazy. Really! It was just… amazing. I know that word has probably been used a lot, but it sums this up so perfectly.
What was different this time around writing the valos world?
Poppy: Originally, we had a list, and all of the Valos collab authors grabbed an element. All that was left on the list was metal. Fast-forward to AFTER we were done writing Sol, we found out our lovely Naomi Lucas knew where we could find even more elements, (we didn’t think to ask!) but it was too late and we already fell in love with our choice.
Amanda: *Grins* Boy we’ve had a LOT of jaw-drop moments, haven’t we? Shall we share our forest animal squeak session???
Amanda: We should shoutout to CA Storm—I don’t even know how this started, but we were chatting about male romance authors, and I said Storm was in the Milo’s Minions Facebook group, and he was really nice (and we may have drooled that he’s also Irish, but that’s neither here nor there). ANYWAY, Poppy was curious about the rare species of man that writes hot, emotional Reverse Harems (that’s his genre) and together, we decided to ambush him on Facebook. He was a great sport! So we’re going along, chit-chatting, and he casually drops that he’s an Army brat (Gerard Sol is an Army man) and he’s ex-Navy.
Backup: we’d searched allll sorts of corners of the Internet for various facts on Military life. We hunted down (gosh that sounds so much worse than it is!) readers who were military, married to military, or had at one point or another professed to us that they were proud Army brats—we were looking to have our story fact-checked, for one thing.
And here, alllll along, is CA, being all quiet and keeping his head down writing his own books.
Remember that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire? When Sally Field growls, “THE WHOLE TIME?”
We spent a good couple of minutes in a private chat just generally making bat-echolocation noises and laughing at the irony.
Wow that was long!
Poppy: What she means is, the shrieking and squeaking Charlie and Preta do in the story—IT’S REAL.
Amanda: HA HA HA HA! IT IS!!!!
Poppy: Overall, the only thing different working in Sonhadra this time around was the fact that we couldn’t really “wield” metal. So, we turned her (our heroine) INTO the element.
Amanda: That’s the first time I’ve actually thought about it in so many words. Nori’s so cool! We had a framework to work within, and it’s sort of like playing with an elaborate puzzle: we knew we needed a heartstone, but what would an alien made of metal have? We decided we wanted it to be—
Oops, nearly gave that away =D
Poppy: And it was a challenge for us, because we don’t write human heroes: we write alien heroes. To flip the script this time around, that was a game-changer.
Amanda: Writing human guys seemed boring. Until Gerard. We joked we might slide into contemporary someday. Just kidding! Even human men need aliens—Nori was FUN!
Poppy: You really scared me there for a second.
Amanda: LOLOL!!! ;D Can you imagine if we went all-human cast? We wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves! Nori gave us our alien fix. Him too; it was incredibly rewarding to delve into why she was a perfect match for him.
Poppy: This is the part where I drag Amanda away and try to convince her we’ve had our turn with Gerard, and now it’s time to let him loose.
Amanda: Aww, saying goodbye to this guy! We had a great time. All the hashtags we’ve been able to make with DaddySol. Readers went crazy for him and jumped in with creative and hilarious suggestions like #DaddySolsHarem.
Poppy: Some of those hashtags… Make a woman blush! Hilarious, though.
Amanda: They are!! We’ve had so much fun with DaddySol fans these last few months!
We hope you enjoy Gerard and his adventure!
Amanda & Poppy
The lights and alarms were dead, and the constant hum of electronics was gone. All was quiet in the trashed office, aside from the heaving sound of Taylor puking his guts up. “Kid, it’s a good thing you didn’t enlist in the Air Force.”
He wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve, nodding weakly. “I did. Pulled an Operation Blue to Green.”
I felt my lips crook up as I exercised my sore shoulder. “You’re shitting me.” I can normally pick out the service from first glance. I’d have pegged Taylor as a grunt all the way. A flyboy?
He had recovered enough to walk, so we made for the door. I took one last longing look at the pool of blood that Horton’s head was lying in.
Did I get the satisfaction of killing the bastard? Negative. The man who tortured countless souls including my girls died the most unsatisfying death in history—he thumped his head when the ship shook us up.
Taylor sent a glance in Horton’s direction too. “Damn shame,” he declared. He was echoing my words from earlier, and in that moment, I got a sense that a line had been drawn—and the side he was standing on was the same side as mine.
I experienced a grim flash of comradeship that I felt I could trust.
I opened the door, and the source of the somewhat comforting sound of booted feet marching was revealed as guards. A line of them. All doing double time as they sped past us. When I spotted one with the bearing of a ground pounder, I barked, “Halt!”
He pulled up so fast the man behind him crashed against his back, causing a domino effect for the next seven guys behind him.
He looked slightly embarrassed by his ingrained reaction, until he focused on my stars. His hand came up in an automatic salute just as his boots slammed together.
“At ease. What the hell’s going on?”
“Ship crashed, Major General, sir.”
My heart stopped.
“Our orders are to split into groups. One is checking our food supply, my group is going to recon for the other pods’ crash sites—”
My ears filled with a rushing sound. “Other pods…”
“Detached, sir.” His eyes flicked to the men filing past him, the stomping of feet loud, the din equivalent to the clamoring inside the privacy of my mind.
Outwardly, I nodded to him. “Thank you.”
He didn’t lean around me, but I perceived his curiosity a moment before he hesitantly asked, “Where is Warden Horton, sir?”
Deadpan, Taylor replied, “Died on impact.”
Before the grunt could formulate a response, I cut him loose.
He gratefully fell back into formation, as I silently planned a mutiny.