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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Cornelia Amiri talks about her new sci-fi fantasy book, Rare Finds, and what inspired her characters.

JJ Barnes editor of The Table Read online creativity, arts and entertainment magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Cornelia Amiri about her life and career, what inspired her to start writing, and the story of her new sci-fi fantasy book, Rare Finds.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

That’s a funny story. Since I was a kid I wanted to be an author. But for the longest I didn’t have the confidence or the time. I was a single mom. As things often do when it comes to my writing, it all  worked out on its own. The Celtic Warrior Queen Boudica started my professional writing career. I love history and in reading a book about the dark ages, I came across Boudica. She impressed me. So, I started jotting down notes on how I envisioned her revolt against Rome.

Cornelia Amiri on The Table Read
Cornelia Amiri

Before I knew it, I wrote a novel. I had no knowledge of the writing craft when I wrote the draft, so I couldn’t revise it into a workable book. But It proved that I could definitely complete a novel. However, I used parts of that work in my romance book, Druids In The Mist. 

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When did you take a step to start writing?

After accidentally writing the draft about Boudica, I wrote one on purpose, The Celtic Fox, (originally titled The Fox Prince). That became my first book, published January 2001. It’s still available. 

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

My first book, The Celtic Fox, the book I learned to write with, took about two years to finish. 

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

Normally, I take 6 months to complete a novel size book. But this took longer because arthritis ate all the muscles away in both of my hips. I couldn’t sit to write for over fifteen minutes at a time. And I was in a lot of pain. I also had two hip replacement surgeries while working on Rare Finds, that caused writing delays as well. Because of all of that, it took me a year to write this book. However, with both surgeries completed, once my physical therapy is done, I’ll be back to my old self. 

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Rare Finds?

I was inspired by the original Star Trek and The Orville TV shows. I wanted humor, and a massive starship, and I wanted the characters to travel planet to planet and have crazy adventures. Mainly, because it seemed like it would be so much fun, just like watching those two shows is so much fun. I also wanted to build more than one world and more than one kind of alien. And I wanted the aliens and the planets to be crazy, totally funny—and all-out space opera. 

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What were your biggest challenges with writing Rare Finds?

Since they go planet to planet, I had all these different stories linked by the major story—the relationship between Niamh and Robbie. Usually, for romance, it’s just one main outer story plus the inner story, which is the relationship. So, I had to figure out how to present that along with all these minor stories. When I finished several revisions, I went back and strengthened the conflict between Robbie and Niamh. I used the opposites attract trope as a focus for their relationship.  

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist? 

I love Celtic history and Celtic mythology. The main key to ancient history is archeology. So, I decided the male antagonist would be an archeologist but in space, so a xenoarchaeologist. And from Celtic mythology, I picked Niamh, the Irish goddess of beauty and brightness. That also gave me another trope to draw on—the beauty and the geek. 

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

I have all these little stories within the big story. Most of these minor stories have a bad guy. But my chief antagonist is Dagda, the Irish Father God. Niamh had a human lover that died, so when Dagda sees the goddess is interested in Robbie, he puts a geis on her, hoping Robbie’s fate will mirror her first love’s. The geis, something like a curse, is if Robbie becomes seriously ill or wounded, Niamh can’t heal him with her magic.

I was inspired by so many ancient tales of Celtic mythology where gods and other characters have a geis placed on them. And preventing Niamh from saving Robbie with her magic if he is fatally wounded or deathly ill really ups the conflict of the book.

Rare Finds by Cornelia Amiri on The Table Read
Rare Finds

What is the inciting incident of your book?

Robbie lands on a remote planet, and is shocked to find it’s inhabited by the gods of Irish mythology. When the chief god, Dagda, uses his powerful magic to hold Robbie at his mercy, Niamh helps him escape. She makes her getaway by jumping aboard the shuttle with Robbie. But not before Dagda puts a curse on the immortal beauty.  

What is the main conflict of Rare Finds?

Mainly, it’s that Niamh’s role as a goddess and her use of magic conflict with the rules and orders of the captain of the starship. And Robbie, who feels pulled between the two, sides with the captain more.

Robbie learns that he has to support Niamh, let her be herself, while helping her find a way to use her magic that  complements the authority of the captain. Also, Niamh and Robbie need to find a balance, so instead of causing conflict between them, their personality differences will bring out the best in each other.  

Did you plot Rare Finds in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

I am a panster so I don’t outline my work first. But I had a premise, then worked up character charts on the hero and heroine, and I had a basic idea of the beginning and ending. With that, I began freely writing the first draft.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Rare Finds need?

I have a wonderful editor I’ve used for all 35 of my books. I also had two great beta readers for this book. I found one of them on Tik Tok. 

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Support other authors and make writing friends. They are a writer’s biggest asset. 

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I am renaming my novella, The Brass Octopus, to The Librarian and the Rake and creating a series of funny romance novellas, set in that same alternate Victorian Universe. The heroine in each book is a Librarian. I plan to write books titled: The Librarian and the Cowboy, The Librarian and the Spy, The Librarian and the 5th Avenue Millionaire, etc. I also plan to write other books set on the same starship in Rare Finds, using other crew members and aliens as the main characters. 

And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

I am proud of Rare Finds. I’m happy to say it was well worth the effort. It’s different from any sci-fi romance I’ve ever read in that it has all these planet to planet adventures mixed in with the major story. I also think it’s funny and a lot of fun. I believe readers will really enjoy sharing Niamh and Robbie’s adventures as they fall in love.  

Here are the links to my website and social media:

Amazon Author Page:

my website

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