Interview with Joanne Elder, author of 'Spectra'

Joanne Elder is a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Engineering Science at the University of Western Ontario. During her professional career, she spent several years in the aeronautical and nuclear industries, published numerous technical papers in the field of Metallurgical Engineering and presented at international conferences. She now resides in King City, Ontario with her two teen-aged children and husband. Spectra, Elder’s debut novel, and the sequel, Entity, were published by MuseItUp Publishing.
You can visit Joanne Elder’s website at

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Often science fiction plots involve extraterrestrials carrying out ruthless experiments on humans. I loved the idea of switching it up and stirring in some deadly consequences for those immoral enough to exploit a newly discovered, peaceful and intelligent life form.
In my writing, I like to explore the unknown and science fiction is the perfect avenue to do that with. Past experience has shown that today’s speculative fiction may become tomorrow’s scientific fact. A subplot in Spectra narrows in on the human soul and what it is. Scientifically speaking, if it exists, it has to be something. So does God for that matter. Perhaps I was inspired to explore this particular unknown after losing my father and questioning the scientific rational behind an ever-after.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

When writing Spectra, I carried out research into the human energy field. In particular, a study done at UCLA where it was actually measured, thus proving that we have an energy aura surrounding our body. I also researched plasma theory to model the energy-based life forms in Spectra as plasma life, which, interestingly, could well exist. The challenge was to take this research and convey it in a completely non-technical manner so it would be merely thought provoking for the reader. To take science down to an understandable level that is entertaining requires a clear and total understanding of it. I would encourage any author wanting to include some real science in their science fiction to do their research very thoroughly.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

No doubt all debut authors follow the same path I did. Once Spectra was complete, I queried literary agents and large presses to find a home for it. Although it’s not impossible for a debut author to land a contract in this manner, it’s very difficult and the waiting time for responses can be painstakingly long. After all, agents get bombarded with queries on mass. Ultimately, patience got the better of me and I started to submit the manuscript to smaller presses. For submissions, many smaller presses allow you to send in your entire manuscript rather than just a few chapters, which I feel serves to the author’s advantage. I very quickly signed a contract with MuseItUp Publishing and I’ve found them to be excellent.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I was surprised at how many authors are out there trying to get their manuscript published and how hard it is to get published, even with a small press. Additionally, I have developed a great appreciation for the professional editing process that each book goes through prior to its release. Editors are dedicated people and are instrumental to the quality of the end product.

Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?

It took almost a year to write Spectra, five months to land a publishing contract and another year of waiting for the release during which the final editing was done. After all that work, finally holding the book in my hands gave me an unbelievable feeling of satisfaction. I was elated.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

The sequel to Spectra, Entity, was just released by MuseItUp Publishing. Right now, I’m writing another science fiction thriller. I have yet to give the book a title, but it centers on nanobots, which are tiny machines injected into the body to treat disease.

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?
Set in a backdrop of murder, mystery and betrayal, Spectra is a science fiction thriller that dares to attempt to bridge the gap between science and spirituality. My technical mind, trained in engineering, had me questioning whether there is actual science to support religious beliefs. After carrying out the research for Spectra I came to the conclusion that, yes, there is. When reading Spectra, it’s important to not lose sight of the fact that real science does support the existence of energy-based life as portrayed in the book, despite the fact that it’s never been discovered. Perhaps one day we will be able to scientifically prove the existence of a soul, and God, uniting all religions. For now, it gives me piece of mind to think that there is a little more than faith telling me that there is an ever-after.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

In Spectra, one man’s life crumbles as he struggles to stop the genocide of newly discovered energy-based life forms so unique they cause humans to acquire extraordinary intelligence for a brief period following exposure to them. Flirting with genius is too intoxicating for the chief antagonist in the story, and he decides to exploit the power of the entities with little regard for the fact that he’s killing them in the process. Spectra explores the fact that human greed doesn’t necessarily come with a dollar sign, but can be manifested as something entirely different. In this case, power and control come with extreme intellect.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

My father passed away in 2008 after suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. Spectra is dedicated to my father and in his memory half the ebook royalties are being donated to Alzheimer’s research. 

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