Saturday 6 January 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Hannah State of Fredericton, NB, Canada.


Hannah is our First guest for 2024.

She been here before and it is a real treat to have her back.

If you missed her previous visit, please go HERE.

She is sharing the good news of her new book.

Read on my friends.

Hannah D. State is an award-winning Canadian author and science fiction/fantasy writer. Her debut novel, Journey to the Hopewell Star, was named “A Must-Have New Brunswick Book of 2020” by Atlantic Books Today and was a Gold Medal Winner in the Young Adult Sci-Fi category in the 2021 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. Hannah has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from Queen’s University.

Hannah is bothered by inequality, violence, greed, complacency, snakes, entering a dark room, and not getting enough sleep. She enjoys writing about strong-willed characters who don’t fit the norm and who overcome great obstacles with perseverance, self-discovery, and help from others. Sometimes Hannah can’t keep up with her characters’ ideas and plans, so she takes breaks, drinks coffee, does yoga, and takes nature walks to calm her mind and really listen. Born in London, Ontario, Hannah and her husband moved to the East Coast in 2016.


Title: Journey to the Dark Galaxy




A mysterious signal from deep space. Mischief and murder at a military base.

Earth’s leaders are given an ultimatum: deliver Sam Sanderson to Logom, a planet known to house a hostile AI civilization, or face interplanetary war.

When Sam receives a strange letter drafting her into the Great Alliance for Interplanetary Affairs as a matter of international security, she expects to get answers. But instead of receiving a warm welcome, she finds that most people under the surface are distant, cold, and have built walls of silence. While grappling with her unique power and the consequences of her actions, she learns that the organization she’s supposed to serve has a chilling past and guards a dark secret.

You better wish upon the stars they don’t send you to the Dark Galaxy.

A harrowing journey into the unknown. An uncertain future.

While Earth’s scientists scramble to defend their world and the planetary alliance from the AI threat, Sam is forced on a mission to the Dark Galaxy. A place where dangers lurk, tensions run high, and things are never what they seem.

But will the journey change her forever?

As Sam desperately navigates a maze of lies, dark secrets, and finds herself at the heart of a dangerous journey, she discovers that it will take much more than her courage and power to save humanity.

The Story Behind the Story:

In my second novel, a sequel, I wanted to continue Sam’s adventure with her friends but also explore darker themes. I wrote it during the pandemic, a time of severe isolation and perhaps loneliness, too, and played around a lot with those themes in the book. The stakes are higher. Sam is dealing with both physical isolation (being so far from her grandfather and home) and mental isolation. She’s forced to adapt, question her situation and circumstances, learn what she can, and mature quickly.

If people haven’t read the first book in the series, that’s okay. The sequel is written in such a way that you don’t need to read the first book to understand the story. People can approach these books in whatever sequence they want.

The inspiration for this book came from different experiences. Part of the story takes place at an underwater military base with leading-edge technologies. When I first started my career in the Canadian civil service as a contract administrator over a decade ago, I worked at a Defence R&D laboratory in Toronto, Ontario. The lab has a wonderful history of innovation and bright scientists and staff making medical advancements in the military field, including Sir Frederick Banting, the discoverer of insulin, who established groundbreaking research in aviation medicine. His team included Wilbur Franks, who developed the first g-suit (a.k.a. the Franks Flying Suit), which prevented pilots from blacking out when subjected to g-force during flight manoeuvres. They also developed and constructed a human centrifuge, which was used to train air force pilots and, later, Canadian astronauts.

The technologies in my story are from my imagination, but I was inspired by that experience and loved working in that science setting. Just to set the record straight, in the story, the base and its employees are written in an eerie way (it’s important to give our characters challenges) and in no way reflect my personal experience. The people I worked with were awesome.

With the sequel, I wanted to experiment a bit and bring in new characters with different backgrounds and experiences. I wanted to create a bit of mystery. Kwan was a fun character to write. She has incredible skills but a difficult past. As the story progresses, she realizes her memories are unreliable, and she ends up questioning her own identity. It goes with the darker tone of the book. Memories are an interesting phenomenon. In part, they help us define who we are. But I didn’t realize how fragile memories were until I read Dr. Julie Shaw’s non-fiction book The Memory Illusion. It’s not science fiction. Memories can be tampered with. People can be made to believe they’ve committed crimes. Scary stuff. Building upon that premise, I wanted Kwan, in the course of her journey, to uncover difficult truths about herself and the organization she works for. It’s as much Kwan’s story as it is Sam’s. I didn’t want to place Sam in the role of the sole heroine. I wanted the characters to challenge and support each other, experience (at times shocking) revelations, go through transformations together, and grow from the experience.

If you’ve read this far and aren’t bored yet, I’ll just include one more note. On the theme of artificial intelligence, I’m interested in how fast it is advancing and how it’s being used. I’ve been reading a lot of AI-related articles in the news lately. Governments around the world are using technology for population tracking, and in my opinion, it’s intrusive and frightening. I wanted to explore AI further, including the ethics and risks. Especially today, when kids are exposed to technology at such a young age, there is so much potential for disaster, vulnerability, privacy invasion, and manipulation. It’s definitely a scary world. At least the subject matter makes for intriguing stories. I want people who read this book to be bothered by the themes. I hope it forces people to question the power and control (or lack of control) we have with these new technologies.


Fakebook link:


A couple questions before you go, Hannah:

Scribbler: Can you tell us about the perfect setting you have, or desire, for your writing? Music or quiet? Coffee or tequila?  Neat or notes everywhere?

Hannah: Coffee and tea all the way! I crave quiet while writing. No distractions. I usually get most of my writing done at home in my office. It’s like I have an invisible sign on the door, and my husband knows when I’m in serious writing mode. He’s so supportive. Sometimes, I’ll go to a coffee shop to change it up. I enjoy listening to music if it’s quietly playing in the background. But if it’s loud or there are lots of people, I get easily distracted.

At home, I type my ideas on the computer. But at the coffee shop, I enjoy scribbling ideas in my notebook. Unfortunately, I’ve developed messy handwriting over the years. One day, I would love to do a writing retreat in a peaceful setting, surrounded by nature.


Scribbler: How do you decide on the titles for your novels? Do you have one when you start a new story or later?


Hannah: That’s a good question. Typically, I’ll choose a title later in the writing process, once I’ve decided upon location, setting, characters, and which themes to explore. In the rare case that I’ve started with a title, it usually changes by the end. Trying to write a story to fit a title can be limiting, in my experience. I prefer to develop the story and see where it goes before choosing a title that reflects it.



An Excerpt:

Tearing her watery eyes from the photo, she turned, glancing out the small, circular window at the unfathomable expanse beyond. Her stomach fluttered. She felt lightheaded. Now she was hurtling through space—ever farther away from everything she knew and loved. Any shred of comfort and safety, all the things she’d clung to and hoped for, were gone.

She’d never felt so alone in her life.

Frustrated, she slammed her fist into the armrest. She hadn’t expected things to turn out like this. They’d barely managed to get out in time. And despite planning for this mission, she didn’t feel ready. None of them were. The attack had shortened their timeline considerably. Getting to Logom, the planet where Duskara lived, would be a long journey in itself, and a dangerous one. But this was only the beginning. They needed a way to infiltrate Duskara’s Malborg army situated on that planet. Their plan of attack on Duskara had not yet been finalized, and the details were hazy at best. They were flying blind.

At least they’d gotten out of range of the Gargol ships. They were now in SWIFT navigation mode—superluminal wayfinding intergalactic faraway travel. But traveling by SWIFT navigation mode wasn’t comfortable or relaxing. In this long, winding wormhole, time was fleeting, and spacetime was distorted. Barreling through a tunnel in spacetime like this—all without registering any movement whatsoever—made it hard to determine what was real and what was not. She couldn’t even look out the windows. The constant stream of strange lights and dizzying tunnels looping in every direction made it impossible to get one’s bearings. It was a weird feeling. It played tricks on her mind. The lights outside could just as well have been an extravagant light show or an optical illusion. But her body felt different, like a constant whirring inside her bones. At the molecular level, it felt like her atoms were racing around sporadically. It felt like being on a ship in the middle of the ocean with hundred-foot waves, except they spiraled in all directions. A person could go mad in a constant state of flux like this.

Maybe she’d get used to it over time. She hoped so.



Thank you for being our guest this week, Hannah. We hope you get to that Retreat someday and we wish you continued success with your writing.



And THANK YOU to our visitors and readers.

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