I’m pleased to welcome Janet Edwards to the blog today. Janet is the author of the sensational EARTH GIRL trilogy – science fiction for both adults and young adults to enjoy. Book one is available now from Harper Voyager and Pyr. The second novel in the popular series, EARTH STAR, was released in the UK last week, and will be available in the US in April 2014. EARTH GIRL was chosen by both Amazon.co.uk and Kobobooks.com as one of their best Young Adult books of 2012. Many congratulations on the release of your second novel! Over to Janet…
A Glimpse Through Other Eyes by Janet Edwards:
I never had any doubts about writing the EARTH GIRL trilogy in Jarra’s first person viewpoint. I wanted the reader firmly in Jarra’s head, sharing all her passionate anger and frustration that others could portal freely between hundreds of colony worlds while she was trapped on Earth by a faulty immune system that couldn’t cope anywhere else.
So the EARTH GIRL trilogy limits the reader to Jarra’s view of the world, but as the author I’ve seen inside the other character’s heads. Let me share with you a roughly drafted glimpse through the eyes of a couple of the other characters in EARTH GIRL.
Jarra’s best friend, Issette.
It was my last party in one of Hospital Earth’s residences. I’d been dreaming about this moment for years. At midnight, it would be Year Day 2789, and me and my friends would become 18 and legally adult. Tomorrow we’d be packing our things, and the following day we’d be leaving. There’d be no more Principal giving us orders, no more staff nagging us, and no more rules. We’d be free!
I was wildly excited and scared stiff, both at the same time. We’d be free at last, but we’d be leaving behind everything we knew. The group of nine of us who’d grown up through Nursery, Home and Next Step together would be splitting up to go on different University courses. When it was just before midnight, and everyone started singing Old Lang Zine, I was on the edge of crying.
‘Do you know how old that song is?’ said Jarra. ‘Old Lang Zine dates from a thousand years ago in 1788.’
I groaned. Jarra and I have been best friends all our lives, and I love her dearly, but her obsession with history drives me crazy. I must have told her a thousand times that it bores me to death.
I put my fingers in my ears. ‘Bad Jarra! This is a party not a history class!’
‘But it’s fascinating,’ she said. ‘Robert Burns wrote the . . .’
I picked up my glass of Fizzup and threw it over her to shut her up, then burst into tears. Jarra and I had had neighbouring cots in Nursery, neighbouring rooms all through Home and Next Step. She’d not just driven me mad talking about history, she’d comforted me when I got depressed, rescued me when I got in trouble, and been there for me whenever I needed her.
I thought of all the times we’d stayed up late at night, giggling over vid stars, complaining about teachers and staff, and taking opposite sides whenever we discussed parents. I’d talk wistfully about my unknown parents, wondering what star system they lived in, hoping they regretted their decision to hand me over to be a ward of Hospital Earth and run away from the stigma of having a throwback baby. I’d daydream about having contact with my parents one day, while Jarra ranted in anger about hers, insisting she never wanted to have contact with people who’d rejected her at birth.
And now I was going to study medicine at University Earth Europe, while Jarra had some mad idea of lying her way into an off-world history class and fooling them into thinking she was a norm like them. We’d call each other of course, and meet up sometimes, but it wouldn’t be the same as having neighbouring rooms.
Jarra was maddening sometimes, but I was going to miss her terribly.
Jarra’s classmate, Fian.
Everyone in the class was taking turns to introduce themselves. I listened to the blur of names and felt weirdly depressed. There’d been years of battles with my father about me wanting to study history instead of science. There’d been months more of arguments about me applying to University Asgard in Gamma sector rather than studying with the badly rated history department on my home planet in Delta sector. There’d been a final explosion when my parents found out that all history Foundation courses were held on Earth so we could study the days of pre-history when people only lived there. My father had raged for hours about me wasting my time going to the planet where only throwbacks lived, and even my mother had seemed worried about it.
I’d stubbornly held out for what I wanted, and was finally here on the course I’d dreamed of, but now . . .
I’d pictured this moment a thousand times, but it wasn’t matching up to my expectations. I hadn’t realized we’d be staying in a primitive dome with depressing grey flexiplas furniture that matched its depressing grey flexiplas walls, but what was really disappointing me was the other students. I’d pictured myself having eager conversations with people who loved history as much as I did. I’d thought all the students would be a lot more friendly and outgoing than people back in prudish Delta sector. I’d even had secret hopes of meeting a girl who wouldn’t be like Deltan girls, outraged at a boy wanting to do more than hold her hand.
Instead, there was one intimidatingly confident and beautiful girl from Alpha sector, and a couple of rather terrifying students from Beta sector, while most of the rest seemed as quiet and subdued as a Deltan class. Standing up for a moment to mutter their name and home planet, then hastily sitting down again. I had a sinking feeling that coming on this course had been a dreadful mistake.
I didn’t even bother to turn my head to look at the last girl introducing herself, or listen to what she was saying, until she said the words that caught my attention.
‘I love history, but it’s difficult to combine it with a Military career.’
As I spun round in my chair to look at the girl, the boy from Beta sector called out in a teasing voice.
‘I’ve never met anyone Military before. What does a Military girl do when a man kisses her?’
She gave him a cold stare of disgust. ‘That depends. If he asks politely first, and I say yes, then I kiss him back. If he doesn’t ask politely, or doesn’t take no for an answer, then I throw him across the room as a gentle hint to improve his manners.’
I stared wide-eyed at the girl who loved history, at her passionate face and her riot of gloriously untidy hair, and I knew coming on this course wasn’t a mistake.
I turned to the boy sitting next to me, and urgently whispered. ‘What’s that girl’s name?’
‘Jarra,’ he said.
A sensational YA science fiction debut from an exciting new British author. Jarra is stuck on Earth while the rest of humanity portals around the universe. But can she prove to the norms that she’s more than just an Earth Girl? 2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an ‘ape’, a ‘throwback’, but this is one ape girl who won’t give in. Jarra invents a fake background for herself – as a normal child of Military parents – and joins a class of norms that is on Earth to excavate the ruins of the old cities. When an ancient skyscraper collapses, burying another research team, Jarra’s role in their rescue puts her in the spotlight. No hiding at back of class now. To make life more complicated, she finds herself falling in love with one of her classmates – a norm from another planet. Somehow, she has to keep the deception going. A freak solar storm strikes the atmosphere, and the class is ordered to portal off-world for safety – no problem for a real child of military parents, but fatal for Jarra. The storm is so bad that the crews of the orbiting solar arrays have to escape to planet below: the first landing from space in 600 years. And one is on collision course with their shelter.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janet Edwards lives in England. As a child, she read everything she could get her hands on, including a huge amount of science fiction and fantasy. She studied Maths at Oxford, and went on to suffer years of writing unbearably complicated technical documents before deciding to write something that was fun for a change. She has a husband, a son, a lot of books, and an aversion to housework.