Note: This post first appeared on the AMAZING STORIES MAGAZINE blog…
It’s always fun to give a group of science fiction romance authors a writing prompt and see how their creative minds each spin the story in a different direction. The time has arrived for the Fall release schedule of the Intergalactic Dating Agency (IDA) tales, written by a group of well-known SFR authors and once again I’m asking the group what their inspirations were, once they entered the IDA universe.
I should note that the IDA releases began on September 1, with Fathom from Elsa Jade, and new books will be appearing through November 12. Most of the books are available for pre-order now, however. For this interview I asked them to discuss their first book in the 2020 release schedule.
Author Tasha Black took on the task of discussing the overall IDA concept.
Veronica Scott for Amazing Stories Magazine: What was the original ‘spark’ or idea that inspired the IDA books?
TB: Rock star author V. Vaughn conceived of the Intergalactic Dating Agency project and invited a small group of authors to join her. We loved the idea of each writing our own trilogy with similar themes (including sexy aliens falling wildly in love with human women on Earth). We wanted to be sure all our new releases were available on all ebook vendors so that readers everywhere could enjoy them. It has been such a joy to continue this project for a fourth season with wonderful authors joining in. It’s an inspiration to work with such a passionate crew of writers who all love sci fi romance!
ASM.: Who did the terrific covers?
TB: Our covers are all done by Croco Designs. Frauke does such lovely work, helping each of us fulfill a bit of our vision but keeping the covers consistent enough that readers can recognize an Intergalactic Dating Agency book without reading the fine print!
Tasha Black, USA Today Best Selling Author, Hannibal: stargazer Alien Mystery Brides #1 (Intergalactic Dating Agency)
Together they can solve any case. But when it comes to unlocking her heart, he doesn’t have a clue…
Story spark: I’m a huge fan of sexy aliens but also of murder mysteries. I was daydreaming about what fun adventures aliens might have on Earth, and the idea of a hunky alien using his special gifts to help a human female version of Sherlock Holmes solve a mystery made me jump out of my chair. It’s been so much fun writing a book with both delicious steam and diabolical clues!
First SFR novel ever read: I know it’s not considered romance, but Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein is one of the most romantic and interesting alien stories ever, and like the IDA books, it is entirely set on Earth. I love alien books where we see our own world through the eyes of someone from another planet!
Her TBR List: I’m excited to check out Jessie Donovan’s new release The Dragon’s Bidder, Line of Fyre by Cara Bristol, and of course all my fellow IDA authors’ upcoming books!
Cara Bristol, USA Today Best Selling Author, Chameleon: Alien Castaways 1 (Intergalactic Dating Agency)
When she wishes upon a star for good handyman, she gets a shapeshifting alien instead.
Story spark: Chameleon grew out of a need for a catchy title. Intergalactic Dating Agency romances usually are titled after the hero’s name. While that fits the requirement for brevity, a made-up alien name like Darak, Aton, or Caid (my first three IDA books) has no natural hook. So I decided to name the heroes of Alien Castaways after descriptive character traits aliens might have. Chameleon can change color and form. Wingman has wings. Psy is a mind reader.
In my six previous IDA books, I used the IDA literally, i.e. as an actual dating agency that brought aliens to Earth. I didn’t do that this time. The “Alien Castaways” were genetically engineered by an alien master race. They come to Earth as refugees after their planet is destroyed by the aliens who created them. The series is also a brotherhood story—six men, strangers at first, are united in their fight against a common foe and by their hopes to find their “genmates.” Readers will get to meet all six castaways in book one, Chameleon.
First SFR novel ever read: That’s hard to say. I think it might have been Celestial Seduction by Jessica Subject. I read it for “research” because it was in Decadent Publishing’s 1NightStand series, and I’d wanted to submit a book to that series/publisher, and I’d seen Jessica’s books around. I’ve since read many of her SFRs.
On her TBR List: I’m reading my fellow IDA authors’ books: Hannibal by Tasha Black, Above the Storm by Lea Kirk, Hawk by Susan Grant, Cross by Elsa Jade, and Axxal by Sue Mercury. Also on my TBR list is Pets in Space® 5!
Susan Grant, NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author, Hawk: Sky Mates (intergalactic Dating Agency
Commander of the fierce air warriors of Sky’s End, Hawk never expected to find a mate of his own…until he crosses paths with the Terran pilot assigned to work with him on Project: Sky Mates. With only a few weeks to go before he has to return home, can he convince Kelly to take a chance on love before he’s forced to leave her forever?
Story spark: In my Borderlands series, there were “battle pairs” in the Drakken Empire–couples who shared command of a battleship, as well as a bed. I wanted to explore the idea some more. In my Sky Mates series, only special, bonded pairs of soul-mate pilots can “sync” and fly their world’s eons old Dragon ships. But due to genetic drift, matches have become rare. In desperation, Skies End reaches out to Earth in hopes of finding more.
First SFR novel ever read: The Radiant Seas by Catherine Asaro. It was hard sci-fi with a great romance. Enemies to lovers/forbidden love. Great build up with the love story. The characters had amazing chemistry and true conflict threatening to tear them apart—real, deep, life-threatening issues. I also loved that the heroine was a strong, smart military woman.
On her TBR List: The 2020 season of the Intergalactic Dating Agency! Starting with September’s releases. I’ve already had some sneak peeks and they’re so good.
Lea Kirk, USA Today Best Selling Author, Above the Storm: Silverstar Mates (Intergalactic Dating Agency)
He will defy his peoples’ tradition to claim her as his mate.
Story spark: At first, I thought I’d stick to writing within my Prophecy series, but I’ve being working in that universe for years. What I really wanted was to create something new. New aliens, new planet, and a new universe into which Earth had recently been admitted.
Taking it one step further, I decided that these new aliens would have wings, because…why not? It’s always been in the back of my mind to create a world of winged aliens, and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to—ahem—stretch my author wings. There are other things different about these aliens of mine, which you discover when you read this series.
But that wasn’t different enough for me. I made my hero and heroine silver foxes…which led to the series name, Silverstar Mates.
First SFR novel ever read: Oh, my gosh, I can’t remember the first SFR book I read, it’s been so long. How about the first one I read that had the biggest effect on my career? The Star King by Susan Grant grabbed me from opening chapter. I didn’t know Susan when I read it, but this book literally saved my first book (Prophecy) from the trash can.
My baby-author self had been told that it was important to read in the genre I was writing. (Great advice, by the way.) The problem was that the SFR books I was reading were all threesomes or menage. (We are so not exploring the underlying reasons I kept ordering those books to begin with.)
One day I realized that my little m/f SFR had no market, and I quit. That same day, The Star King showed up in my mailbox. An excellent m/f SFR that captivated me! As I closed the book on the last page, I realized there was a market for my type of romance!
And, as they say, the rest is history. I’m thrilled to be in the Fall 2020 IDA class with Susan, by the way!
On her TBR List: Besides all the books my Intergalactic Dating Agency cohorts are releasing with me this year, I am looking longingly at The Warlord Season by Libby Doyle, Hazakura by VC Buckley, and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. Can’t wait to read them, and many, many others!
Elsa Jade, author of Fathom: Intergalactic Dating Agency (Mermaids of Montana Book 3):
It’s time to reopen the Big Sky Intergalactic Dating Agency outpost! When an unsuspecting database engineer accidentally discovers she’s designing an alien matchmating app, the new IDA guardian must protect ET secrets despite his attraction to the clever Earther. Except there is a hidden enemy that could ruin this new chance at cosmic connections and lightspeed loving.
Story spark: Way back in 2016 when we started the Intergalactic Dating Agency, all the authors chose a place for our stories, and I wanted Big Sky Country. The remote corner of Montana offered plenty of room for extraterrestrial mischief. But over the next four (!) seasons, my poor Big Sky IDA was sabotaged, gutted, and maligned. Who would do such a thing?! (Spoiler alert: It was meeee!)
To write this new season, I knew I had to rebuild the Big Sky IDA—better, sexier, faster. Just like they said about the Six Million Dollar Man! Six million used to buy you a lot of man… Anyway! So now a mysterious benefactor has hired a Beast Battalion to protect Big Sky Country while relaunching the IDA outpost. I’m sure the reopening will go great, no problems at all…
We just need someone to design the matchmating app (Book 1), catering for the biggest party in the galaxy (Book 2), and make sure no hoax-busting Earthers show up to ruin everything again (Book 3).
Luckily, we have a Beast Battalion to guard the outpost. Too bad this particular crew of three is disgraced, on the run, and about to lose control of the savage spirits that rule their hearts. Unless they can find the mates to save them.
First SFR novel ever read: Frank Herbert’s Dune was the first SFR I read. Except it needed waaaaaay more kissing and loving and a real HEA—ya know, the actual romance part. I have high hopes that the movie will recognize the potential. In reality, of course, it will NOT be a true SFR, and that’s why I keep writing ‘em!
On her TBR List: Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha. This is the book I’m saving as a treat for when I finish my work. Under the Cape anthology found on Veronica Scott’s SFR roundup! I don’t understand why superhero romances aren’t more of a thing so I’m looking forward to this one. I’m always adding to my TBR mountain even if I haven’t read the books already there!
Sue Mercury, Axall: Vaxxlian Alien Mail Order Brides #4 (Intergalactic Dating Agency)
Rachel awakes from cryosleep to find Earth isn’t the way she remembers it. As she struggles to find her place in this strange new world, a hunky alien warrior appears in her bedroom one night, claiming to be her mate.
Story spark: I thought it would be fun to write a story featuring a heroine who’s out of her own time and finds the idea of aliens to be quite fantastic. At first, I played around with time travel, but then it hit me… cryosleep. My heroine, Rachel, wakes up after seventy-five years spent in a cryosleep experiment and is shocked by all the changes on Earth, including the fact that humans made first contact with a variety of alien races years ago. I also thought it would be fun if Rachel’s new boss/friend signs her up for Vaxxlian Alien Mail Order Brides, so she’s even more shocked when a hot alien shows up in her bedroom claiming to be her mate.
First SFR novel ever read: The Starlight Rite by Cherise Sinclair. It’s a super sexy read with lots of tension between the hero and heroine, and all the cool worldbuilding details made me realize how much fun sci-fi romance could be.
On her TBR List: Hannibal by Tasha Black, Chameleon by Cara Bristol, Devolution by Max Brooks