SFRQ: When did you decide to become a writer, and why?
Nico Rosso: I come from a family of writers, so I was always around the process, whether it was novels, screenplays, magazine articles or poetry. Through the years I’d been writing in one form or another, but it took me a while (with a detour in Hollywood) to find my way to novel writing, and then romance novels. That inspiration came with my wife, Zoë Archer. Reading her work, being part of that process, was very appealing, especially after working on screenplays for so long. With a novel, the work is protected, while a screenplay is up to interpretation from hundreds of people right up until the film is released (and sometimes after). Once I started writing novels, I was hooked.
What’s your favourite aspect about writing science-fiction romance?
I love how many possibilities are out there for sci-fi romance. Even when a series is set within the same universe, there are always diverse venues for different kinds of stories, so my creativity can always be stretched. In the LIMIT WAR, I was able to have plots involving an imperiled Earth, interplanetary espionage, and soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, all within the same framework. And all this feeds perfectly into the romance. With the different stories, the growing relationship between the hero and heroine can be highlighted by the external conflicts.
One thing I found very interesting about steampunk romance THE ETHER CHRONICLES is that you and your wife, Zoë Archer, write the books in the series, but not together! How does that work? Do you ever fight each other over plot lines?
The only fighting we did was when it was time to choreograph an action scene. It’s not uncommon to find us standing in our office, rubber knives in hand, working out the moves between hero and villain. When it came to plotting, our collaboration was very smooth. Because my stories were the steampunk Westerns and hers were set on other parts of the globe, there was little conflict or overlap. I’m the main plotter for us in general, but all was fair as we worked on the steampunk. If one of us had a great idea for one of the books, we’d fit it where it worked best.
Why steampunk? Why romance?
The steampunk actually came about as an accident. While Zoë was working on her BLADES OF THE ROSE series, we had to come up with some cool tech her heroes could use, as created by their resident inventor Catullus Graves. Since that series was set in the Victorian era, the devices and weapons I wound up designing were inherently steampunk. We both liked the mixture of sci-fi and historical settings, so we came up with a new series, THE ETHER CHRONICLES, to highlight those aspects.
I learned the romance genre from reading Zoe’s work. As I discovered more of it through her and then other writers, I found a lot to like. The inherent optimism is important. It may be a rough road for the hero and heroine, but we know they’ll ultimately be together. And even if it’s a dark or understated story, there’s still a celebration of emotion and the ability of people to overcome obstacles (internal or external) to be together. I also found that the romance community of readers and writers is an incredibly generous and supportive place to be. Also, you can’t beat a genre where I get to write laser-gun battles and hot sex.
Tell us a bit of the background in your LIMIT WAR series. Is there a larger arc you’re writing to, or do the plots occur to you as inspiration sparks?
When I created the universe for LIMIT WAR I didn’t have an overall arc in mind. I’d wanted to set up a war between very distinct elements, then see what might play out. The planet-hopping nature of the conflict was a natural fit for diverse types of stories and characters I was imagining. From there I let the inspiration take me to different corners of the war. I did know that I wanted the first story, Taken to the Limit, to take place on Earth, so the reader could be swept up into the conflict at the same time as the heroine.
You started a post-apocalyptic series, BURNING EARTH, a couple of years ago but we haven’t heard any more from Erica and Jake. Have they ridden off into the sunset or are they just resting for a spell?
As I see it, Erica and Jake are still headed for the coast, spreading the word about how humans can survive after the upheaval. I have a second book planned, following Ray into the badlands, but other projects have slowed his progress. I would like to return to that world some day, though.
What was the last movie you saw? What did you think of it?
The last film I saw in the theater was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was good, with solid intrigue and well produced action scenes. I honestly don’t see a lot of modern films (spent a little too much time in Hollywood to just be able to sit back and appreciate them), including the movies leading up to this one, so I’m sure there there was a lot of context that went over my head. But I did read a lot of comic books as a kid, so I could still find a way to connect to the story. And as a comic reader, it was nice to see a smart film adaptation with live-action heroes.
What can readers look forward to from you in the future?
The third paranormal DEMON ROCK book, MENAGE WITH THE MUSE, will be coming out in August. One of the heroes is Wolfgang the drummer, who we met in the first book,HEAVY METAL HEART. After that, I’m taking readers into the workshop for some hand-crafted erotic romance with a little extra spice. There is more sci-fi romance on the horizon. I don’t quite know how far away yet, but I can say there will be some unlikely heroes stepping up to defend Earth against a cosmic threat.