3-2-1 Launch Interview: Don Miasek launches Pale Grey Dot

Don Miasek shares a bit of insight about his new Space Opera adventure, Pale Grey Dot.

Congratulations on your debut novel, Pale Grey Dot.

Some authors draft a book by starting at the opening scene and then working their way through the entire story. For others, a particular scene or sequence comes to mind and they build their novel around that. When you first sat down to write Pale Grey Dot, did you start your writing project at the beginning or with a specific scene?

Don Miasek: Every author has their own method, and I've tried 'em all by this point. For me, I knew from the start I wanted to write about an inhabited solar system that adheres to real-world physics. No jump drives, no teleporters, no artificial gravity, and no magic.

So, I brainstormed characters to fill that world. How about an ex-James Bond, but in space! Or a paranoid vagrant muttering about how the government is controlling our brainwaves! Or perhaps a noble starship captain unravelling a conspiracy that threatens to bring down the solar system!

Or how about all three?

From there, it was a matter of working out a plot that satisfied this diverse group of characters. The eureka moment was making them ALL ex-super spies, but ones whose lives took drastically different paths after being exiled from their organization. This bound the characters together and gave them a reason to care about one another.
After that, I was able to plot out the book in point form, slowly filling in the details until they became fully fledged scenes, and voilà! Pale Grey Dot emerged.

Do you have a favourite character in Pale Grey Dot? Who is it, and why?

Don Miasek: I love all my characters equally. That said…

JENNA was by far the most fun to write. She's a scrappy underdog who's hungry for revenge. She spends her nights sleeping in filthy alleyways and her days fighting the government. Her cybernetics are broken, she associates with lowlifes, and she gets by on cleverness and an unwillingness to die. Because she's always in visceral, evocative environments, such as grimy hotel rooms with mould growing on the walls, or rusted down spaceships with a fake veneer of sophistication, I can write about her all day long.

EZZA on the other hand was the most difficult to write. Unlike Jenna, she's a level-headed, efficient, and extremely capable spaceship Captain. Her ship, Starknight, is a well-oiled machine with a professional crew who greatly respects her. While I love the contrast between her and Jenna, it does mean Ezza is tougher to write for. As a result, I had to throw more and more challenges her way. Characters need obstacles to be interesting. "Make your characters suffer" is an adage I've heard, and because Ezza is so proficient, it takes quite a lot to knock her off her perch. Accordingly, I did my best to put her through hell. Fortunately, I think she rises to the challenge.

Lastly, CHERNY is somewhere in the middle. While Jenna lives in the slums and Ezza rose to the prestigious rank of spaceship captain, Cherny is eking out a living pumping gas on a spaceport tarmac. It's a dull job, so when he gets the chance to return to the life of a super spy, he leaps at the opportunity. Writing for someone who is desperate for a chance to redeem themselves, yet is so susceptible to temptation, was a lot of fun.

Cherny isn't as low as Jenna, nor as esteemed as Ezza, and I enjoyed writing from three different perspectives in the story.

So, to finally answer the question: I love all my characters equally… but I love Jenna more equally than them all.

Pale Grey Dot takes place in an explored solar system. Do you think it is inevitable for humanity to become a multi-planetary species? If so, when do you think it will happen, and how do you see it playing out? What might stop us from living beyond the earth?

Don Miasek: Humans need a reason to do anything, and as much as I'd love to say that the thrill of exploration is its own reward. . . it usually isn't. Sure, we have the ISS and various telescopes like James Webb, but progress is far slower than it once was. We went from Kitty Hawk in 1903 to the Moon in 1969—shocking advancement for a mere 66 years. But in the past 55… not much.

Back in the 60's we had the competition of the Cold War driving us forward, and since then it's the economic and military advantages of satellites.

In order to move to another planet, we'll need a good reason. Unless there is economic or militaristic value in mining an asteroid, or terraforming Mars, or setting up sky cities over Venus (hint hint for the Pale Grey Dot sequel), we'll stay in our own backyard.

On this front, Pale Grey Dot assumes the best. I designed the setting with the idea that, yes, there are economic reasons to explore these strange new worlds and set up new civilizations. As a result, humanity fills every corner of the solar system.

Thank you! Pale Grey Dot first launched at Bakka-Phoenix Books on Sunday May 5th and is available to all on May 15th 2024.

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The thrilling sci-fi debut novel from pillar of the Toronto science fiction community, Don Miasek.

Three members of an elite team of operatives—once so close they were like family—are living in disgraced exile after a mission gone horribly wrong. But, they are thrown back into action when the solar system’s Jupiter Station is attacked from within. It will take all the tricks and tech they have to sort out the truth behind the official reports, and no small amount of courage to fight back against the system’s totalitarian government, in this exciting sci-fi debut novel from pillar of the Toronto science fiction community, Don Miasek.

Order Pale Grey Dot

birdball500pxTurnstone Press Ltd.

206-100 Arthur Street

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

R3B 1H3


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