1. Tell us about how you began your journey as an author - Where did it all start?

If the homemade books on my shelves are anything to go by, the age of 7 when I penned the early masterpiece that was ‘Jesse James and the Goldstone Bank Robbery.’ When I grew up, and discovered it wasn’t so easy to be a train driver or astronaut, I became a full-time writer and author instead – maybe ‘veteran’ is actually the word, seeing as I published my first book in the, erm, 20th century…and not even in the very late-90s, let’s put it that way. Anyway, if you’re into travel writing and trains, or have ever bought a Rough Guide to places like Barcelona, Sicily, or the Lake District, you can probably figure out who I really am. But I keep my books and genres separate, so for the SciFi I’m Rex Burke – and I’m growing into him, or he’s growing into me, it’s difficult to say.

2. Why did you decide to self-publish?

After I left guidebook writing, I self-published quite a few travel books, so I knew what I was doing by the time I got to launch Orphan Planet – or, at least, I knew the theory. I also just wanted to get a story out there quickly, and retain all the control about how and when I published. The three books in the Odyssey Earth series (Orphan Planet, Twin Landing, and Star Bound) all came out within a year, which doesn’t happen with trad-pub books. Plus, I enjoy the marketing and promo side of things, and I have the time, so it suits me to stick with this model.

3. What has been your biggest win in the writing world so far?

I wrote cosy, feelgood SciFi books that – I hope ­– are funny, too. But I find a lot of SciFi books in this vein to be quite forced in their humour – like everything has to be amusing, and the characters are simply not believable. As I continued the series, I found myself realising more and more that my characters were acquiring real emotional heft. It was my proudest moment so far when of my beta readers said I’d made them cry. That’s perfect – that’s what I want, laughing and crying. And the fart and dad jokes, obviously.

4. If you could give some advice to a new writer in the indie community, what would it be?

The only real advice that has currency is – be true to yourself. It’s easy to get downhearted if you constantly compare yourself to others publishing in the same sphere. But you have to love your books and characters, and write from the heart – and be OK with the fact that it might never amount to a paid career. It can, of course, but there’s a huge amount of luck involved in which books take off. If it’s yours, fantastic! If it isn’t, but you still love the books and writing makes you happy, keep going!

Orphan Planet

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