Coming Home (Vale Series Book 4) (Author Interview)

Coming Home, Book 4, looks like a fun science fiction book. What can you tell us about it?

Coming Home is the 4th book in the Vale Series and it’s where we address the divisions in humanity and focus on the wider threat posed by the Blackened.

Unlike previous books, where the action takes place on the Frontier or in the Cygnus Vale, we spend most of our time in the home system. This gives me the chance to resolve many Mira’s past issues. Series readers will be familiar with her history with Mars. In Coming Home, she comes to terms with her role in the Martian War.

As with all good space opera there is no shortage of laser guns and space battles, but I really enjoyed exploring issues such as family, the importance of home and what we’ll sacrifice to protect them. Several regular cast members face real challenges and not all of them are going to make it out alive.


What inspired you when writing the Vale Series?

I’ve always enjoyed Sci-fi and grew up on a diet of Star Trek and Star Wars. The game changer for me was those lived in the universes of Alien, Blade Runner, The Expanse and the re-imagined Battlestar. From the book world. I’d always enjoyed Peter F Hamilton, Frank Herbert and James SA Corey—with a smattering of Stephen King and George RR Martin on the side.

On the gaming front, the storytelling in the Mass Effect series and The Last of Us really impressed me with its sheer depth and the quality of the characters.

I’ll also take inspiration from music. Sometimes it might be a song, a single lyric or a title. A good example is how Halestorm’s “Killing Ourselves to Live” inspired Mira and Amy’s backstory.

Can you tell us a little about Mira?

Mira Thorn joined the Federal Navy to fly starships. Her skill as a pilot is unmatched, but she has a reputation for rule breaking. She is seen as gifted by some, reckless by others. During the Martian War of Independence, she flew 202 missions before being shot down. She suffered life changing injuries in the crash and returned to Earth to start a new life. After her girlfriend was killed in a terrorist attack, Mira returned to service aboard an aging cruiser, the FSS Berlin.

We catch up with her after serving for two years as the Berlin’s Flight Deck Officer.

Mira is a loner and prone to psychotic episodes. She has been known to self harm and has suicidal thoughts. A lot has happened to her in a short time and she’s not coping well. At the start of the Vale series, she’s just getting her life back on track.

Mira is short, raven haired and has unnaturally green eyes. She has a reputation for profanity and is socially awkward. All she ever cared about was flying star fighters. When the Navy revoked her flight status, she felt as if her identity had been taken from her.

Born in London, Mira grew up in Namibia. She calls both countries home.

From a writing point of view, I didn’t want my lead character to be one of those stereotypical space opera heroes. Square jawed, alien blasting dudes are fine, but I wanted the lead of the Vale Series to be the most unlikely hero I could think of. I originally conceived Mira in a supporting role, but I couldn’t ignore her potential.


What will readers get out of your book series?

I wanted to write a series that would allow readers to step away from everyday life and spend time in a broken universe with dysfunctional characters.

So while I was aiming for escapism, I wanted my readers to feel they were part of a bigger universe. This is their series and I’m writing for them. I can’t promise a smooth journey, but we’re on it together.

Most of all I wanted to write characters people can relate to. With such a varied cast, I’m sure everyone has their favourites.


How did you come up with the story in Coming Home?

The main plot for Coming Home was based on the need to unite humanity’s factions. Mira laid the groundwork in the previous book, but I was left with many questions. For example, Mira needs powerful warships and there are two new dreadnoughts completing construction in Mars Orbit. From there, it was a case of working out how she steals them… and if she succeeds.

From that starting point, I had to consider how her adversaries would react and the difficulties that would cause.

Finally, there’s the need to progress the overall story arc. The Blackened present a distant, ominous threat. They’re waiting in the wings for humanity to fight ourselves to a breaking point, before they step in. If Mira unites our forces, the Blackened need a new plan.


Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Coming Home?

With a big cast and such an expansive story arc, it’s hard to balance and track all the elements. Every event has consequences for this book and those that come next, so it’s important to keep track of every plot twist.  I also need to continue story arcs carried over from previous books.

Practically, there were some huge technical challenges. Early on we introduce a concept of rules governing spacetime and how those rules could be altered. It dives into concepts such as cause and effect, branchial space and indeterminacy. All of which blow my mind.

Then there are other challenges. For example: how do you break into a maximum security prison on Ganymede and free a Martian Revolutionary?


What do you like to do when not writing?

As you can guess, I’m a space nerd. I have a telescope and dabble in Astrophotography. The image of the Rosette Nebula on the back cover of Coming Home is a picture I took myself.

When it’s cloudy, I play drums and guitar.


Where can readers find out more about your work?

I have website I love to chat with readers on Twitter: @paul_grover_SF and Facebook