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Douglas Adams meets Red Dwarf and Futurama in Ruth Masters' sci-fi

Think Hitchhikers or Red Dwarf inhabited by Harry Potter characters and you come close to the (out of this) world of sci-fi writer Ruth Masters... Arts editor Trish Lee talks to the local author about her inspiration.

LOCAL support worker Ruth Masters is also author of humorous science-fiction novels, which have been compared with the work of Douglas Adams and TV series like Red Dwarf and Futurama.

Ruth’s work is enjoyed by readers of all ages, thanks to her vivid imagination, detailed storytelling and lively sense of humour

Ruth Masters with her latest book
Ruth Masters with her latest book

Her first three books make up The Truxxe Trilogy, telling of the adventures of Tom Bowler, a human who finds himself working in an intergalactic service station during his gap year.

He discovers the secrets of the planetoid Truxxe, traverses across the universe to rescue his alien friend from the impenetrable planet Porriduum and ultimately defends the Earth against an alien invasion.

The trilogy comprises All Aliens Like Burgers, Do Aliens Read Sci-fi? and When Aliens Play Trumps.

Ruth Masters author talk at the Scifi Ball in Southampton
Ruth Masters author talk at the Scifi Ball in Southampton

In her fourth book, The Extreme Autograph Hunters, we meet Jeremy and Alistair, who happen upon a working time-machine and use it to collect autographs from the great and good of history – getting into a few scrapes along the way.

The Ultimate Autograph Hunters follows the same adventures through time, but from the perspective of Rosemary and Joanne.

These two novels are not story and sequel, more ‘paraquel’ as they run alongside each other. Ruth believes that she may have coined this phrase.

I asked her when her interest in sci-fi first began. “My first memories as a young child are watching old films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

“The original Lost In Space series was always a favourite of a Sunday lunchtime too. I enjoyed how imaginative it was and how silly it was too and remember watching it with my dad and we would talk about the characters and concepts.

“I remember enjoying Red Dwarf and Doctor Who as an older child as well and found them fascinating. But it wasn’t until I was 17 and off school with glandular fever for for two months when I really got into reading sci-fi.

“I read the entire Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy saga and A Clockwork Orange and I think that’s when I knew I wanted to write sci-fi, although I had always had an active imagination and enjoyed writing from a young age.”

She remembers sending a story about a yellow dragon to Penguin books when she was little and wrote a lot of stories in school.

“I wrote a story about a boy and his shadow when I was about nine and I was asked to read it in front of the whole school, but I’m not sure about the first story I ever wrote.

“I liked all writing exercises at school though, even on Mondays at five years old writing about what we had done at the weekend.”

As an author, Ruth gets her ideas “From the mundane and every day, to influences of other sci-fi stories.”

The idea for the Truxxe trilogy came from a visit to a motorway service station.

“I wanted to write about a service station that was suitable for different spacecraft, different beings and served burgers to aliens. The idea for The Extreme Autograph Hunters and The Ultimate Autograph Hunters came from my love of fandom and my experience at science fiction conventions – both as a published author and as an attendee.

“I get ideas all the time though... I have long lists of them.”

She is inspired, as far as style goes, by the lighthearted but conceptual style of Hitchhikers or Red Dwarf. However, “I think the dynamic of my main characters in the trilogy can be seen in Harry, Ron and Hermione in books like the Harry Potter series.

“I’m also inspired by dystopian futuristic novels, but I haven’t written anything too dark yet. I think Belisha Beacon has some very dark moments (with references to torture and drug use), but it’s essentially still a sci-fi comedy.”

Is the writing process something she enjoys? “I do and I don’t. I think most writers are guilty of procrastinating as the process is not an easy one. But once I’m in the mindset to sit firm and write, I find it just flows.

“Research can break that flow, but it is necessary. There was a lot of historical research for the paraquels (The Extreme Autograph Hunters and The Ultimate Autograph Hunters. They are two different perspectives of the same adventure through time) and a lot of scientific theory research for the trilogy.

“I do enjoy starting a new book from scratch as none of the rules have been decided yet and there are so many possibilities.”

So she has many more ideas in the pipeline.

“I’m currently writing a novel about a stag party/road trip across space and I’m hoping to add a lot of my ideas and concepts into that that I’ve been cooking up over the last few years.

“It will be a fun ride with lots of twists and turns.

“I’m also polishing up a play, Sitting Tenant, which I’m hoping will be performed next year.

“I’ve written two other plays, Revolution and A Christmas Carole, which have been performed by Newbury Dramatic Society in the last few years. I do enjoy writing scripts too.”

Attending conventions as both visitor and contributer/exhibitor, Ruth is starting to build a loyal fanbase for her work – she even met her partner at a Dr Who convention and found they share a love for a lot of the same sub-genres.

“I enjoy getting feedback from readers and chatting with them at events. It’s so rewarding, especially when I get told that the books would make great films.

“Of course, it would be fantastic if that fan base could grow and if more people could find out about the books.”

Finally, I really had to ask if she believed in aliens. Of course she does...

“Yes, because it seems impossible that out of billions of worlds that we would be the only ones.

“I sometimes ask myself if a spaceship landed in the field behind my house, would I get on board. I would like to think that I would.”

Ruth will be signing as a guest author this weekend at Megacon at Birmingham NEC, plus she’s booked for Basingstoke Comic C (May 20-21) and Stars of Time, Swindon, June 24.

There will probably be more events added as the year progresses – so long as she hasn’t jumped aboard that spaceship…

n If anyone would like to book her for an event or author talk, they can get in touch via the contacts page on her website.

Ruth's books are available from www.ruthmastersscifi.com

She is published by the local Viking Bay.

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