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Fantasy meets Science with Fi Phillips

Fi Phillips is a fantasy author living in North Wales with her family and a pooch called Bailey. Writing about magical possibilities is her passion.

Her debut novel, Haven Wakes, was released in 2019 by Burning Chair Publishing and the second instalment in The Haven Chronicles is due to be released later this year.

When she isn’t ‘authoring’, Fi works as a freelance copywriter. Fi tells me how inspiring she fins the potential in that space where imagination meets science.

 

Fi Phillips: Fantasy with a touch of Science

I’m a fantasy author. I love all things magical – from people with spell-casting powers, to mythical creatures, to artefacts that can do the most marvellous things. If there’s magic involved, let me at it.

But here’s the thing. I also love reading about scientific developments. I’ll give you an example – robots. There’s a whole world of robots out there, right now. Some are the kind of robots I remember from childhood viewing, like Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet, clumsy and cumbersome and unlikely to outrun or even outwalk you in a chase. Others are altogether more advanced and scarily relevant to the world we live in. You just have to look at the progress that Boston Dynamics has made to realise that. And then, there are the robots which are currently floating around and being useful, like the Astrobees (no, that isn’t a kids TV programme – they really exist) on the International Space Station.

Robots are kind of magic too

Robots are kind of magic too…photo by Possessed Photography from Unsplash

My favourite fantasy novels and films are those that have a mixture of fantasy and science, stories like Sheri S Tepper’s The True Game series or the Nicholas Cage film The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. That’s why my debut novel, Haven Wakes, includes all of that – magic and robots and plenty of future-tech that is being developed as we speak (read?).

Inspiration for me is the place where imagination and science meet.

 

Extract from Haven Wakes

“Mind yourself.” Steve pulled Hartley aside as a small robot struggled down the centre of the pavement, pulled equally ahead and back by the four dogs it held the leads to.

“Is that normal?” said Hartley.

“Of course. That’s the kind of job robots do. Walk the dog. Serve in a shop. Clean up.”

“So what do people do?”

“Everything else, I suppose,” said Steve. “Or nothing.”

“Sounds peculiar to me,” said Hartley, still watching the robot as it untangled one of its limbs from the dogs’ leads. “Where’s the fun in having a dog and not walking it?”

***

The retail and eateries district that the department store sat in was a grid of mismatched shop fronts. The stores were split into three main types.

There were the older stores, like Sebastian Green and Sons with their faux-old pillars and marble-floored entrances, that attempted to mimic old world prestige. They sold the type of item that needed to be seen before purchase. It was also the kind of item that only the richest could afford, from rhodium jewellery to the latest solar sports car and the rarest of plants.

Dotted in between the shop fronts were the pick-up pods that varied in size depending on exactly what you were collecting. The largest pick-up pod that Steve had ever seen was one that supplied cars. Scan your identity from your wrap-phone, the door opens, and away you go.

“Surely that isn’t edible?” Hartley pressed his face against the window of an eatery, the third type of store in the district.

A conveyor belt of food-filled glass plates travelled around the eatery counter. At one end of the belt, waiter robots recovered the plates to serve to the waiting customers. At the other, the nozzles of the 3D food printer moved speedily around each plate, forming the pre-ordered food.

“That’s the advantage of synthetic food,” said Steve. “You can form it into any shape you want, and it’s fast.”

“Ludicrous,” said Hartley, shaking his head as he stepped back from the window. “There’s not enough on one of those plates to touch the sides.”

***

Oh, I love that! Especially the part about why you would have dogs but let the robot walk them! And 3D printed food. Wow. More please.

Author Fi Phillips

Author Fi Phillips

 

Fiona’s Links:

Author Website – http://fiphillipswriter.com/

Haven Wakeshttps://burning-chair.myshopify.com/collections/fiction-books/products/haven-wakes-by-fi-phillips

Find Fi on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/fiphillipswriter/

Aunt Jodie’s not-so-little secret

Jordan Bell is a psychologist and educator with a passion for helping children and parents learn about science. She also has a not-so-secret super-hero identity: she is Aunt Jodie of Aunt Jodie’s Guides to (just about) Everything!

Jordan’s first book, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, gives kids a fun and fascinating understanding of the key concepts underlying the theory of evolution, using REAL science. It’s perfect for parents who want to inspire a love of science in children (7-11 year olds) or to start a child’s science education early. It’s especially useful for parents who would like their kids to have more female role models in science.

Definitely on board with that, I say (tucking my B App Sci into my back pocket with a happy sigh).

Author Jordan Bell

Author Jordan Bell

Welcome, Jordan, and thanks for speaking with me on this episode of Last Word of the Week. Can you tell us a bit more about you and your books?

Jordan: As a nerdy mama to a curious primary-schooler who always wants to understand the “why?” of life, I have had lots of experience in putting complicated ideas into words that little brains can understand.

So what is Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution?

It’s not just another boring bedtime story! It’s a science adventure into the ancient past that makes learning about the basics of evolution fun and engaging, and uses words and concepts that are right for kids in middle and upper primary school. For anyone new to science, my Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book and how to pronounce them.

Sounds great. Now let’s find out a bit more about you. What was your favourite book as a child?

My favourite book as a child was The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. Not only is it an amazing tale about the power of stories, but also such a spell-binding title to a child who constantly begged for yet another trip to the library – a book that never ended? Sign me up! My dad bought me a really beautiful hardback edition when it was first released in English, which was printed in red and green ink with illustrated chapter initials. That exact copy was lost to the mists of time but my husband tracked down a copy for me a few years ago and I treasure it. I’ll be reading it to my daughter this year!

A book that deserves to be a lifetime favourite! Do you have a go-to routine for writing?

I’m most productive when I have a morning to myself and I can take my laptop to my favourite café, fuel up on french toast and tea, and write for 3-4 hours. They are used to me doing this now and top up my teapot without asking. I can write anywhere as long as I have half an hour and a computer, but that’s my preferred routine.

That sounds like the perfect writing space, and writers should always have a ready supply of French toast and tea. How do you feel about reviews?

I love them! I would really like some more! Having said that, if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t appreciated my book, they haven’t chosen to share those thoughts with me, so my experiences have all been positive at this stage. I might feel differently after some critical feedback!

What’s the best response you’ve ever had to your writing?

The greatest review I ever got was from the son of a friend:
“I thought the book was fantastic. I learnt lots, I never got bored and never wanted to stop reading it, it was very clear and it’s also a very fun way to put it. I would rate this book 5 stars and I normally pick out every single fault.”

But I’ve had lots of people excited about the idea of a book about evolution for children, it seems like a book that is needed out there in the world!

Aunt Jodies Guide_Cover Print

Yes indeed! What kind of reader would like your books?

I write Aunt Jodie’s Guides for primary-school aged kids, to help them get their heads around big scientific ideas that will have an impact on their life. I started with explaining evolution, because I think that’s the kind of idea that — if you can understand it as you are growing and learning — will change the way you view the world. We desperately need future citizens who are well-informed about the science that underpins our natural and technological worlds, and I think kids are a capable of understanding a lot more than we give them credit for, if we explain it properly.

Hear, hear! Is it easy for readers to find your book/s?

Anyone who searches Aunt Jodie’s Guide should find my online store pretty easily, and the bookshops that have stocked me so far have been very generous about displaying my book face out so hopefully a few people have stumbled across it that way!

That’s great, let’s hope for more stumbles. What would be a dream come true for you?

I’d love to have my book picked up as a series by a publisher with the scope to share these ideas worldwide and maybe even in other languages! I’m currently working on Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change, and I have strong ideas for more books in the series as Aunt Jodie explains the human body, space science, and computers!

All books that I think need to be in the world as soon as possible. Please keep writing! And thank you so much for sharing with me today.

 

Aunt Jodie’s links:

https://www.facebook.com/AuntJodiesGuides/

www.auntjodiesguide.com

Twitter:  @AuntJodiesGuide

Best online buying link: www.gumroad.com/jordanbell

 

Non-fiction

I have done quite a bit of writing that is not just made up! Here you’ll find links to books on study skills for tertiary students, as well as the book that arose from my PhD studies into Australian WWI literature.

I’ve also published a number of articles both in peer-reviewed journals and student magazines. I’ve included links to all the ones you can find online. They cover literature, history, education, study skills, time management and the student experience.

Published articles (non-fiction)

I’ve studied and researched in a few areas over the journey. That’s because I started as a speech therapist, morphed into an academic skills adviser, weirdly turned into a departmental manager at a university, and then became a  tutor and later lecturer in English litearture. During that time, I’ve have had a few articles published in academic journals and magazines on topics such as communication skills, WWI history, literature, student welfare, mentoring programs, the transition from school to higher education, and the PhD journey. Here are the links if you’d like to follow up any of these articles.

Australian WWI Literature (Photo by C.E. Rhoden shows Ploegsteert Cemetery)

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Study Skills (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-fiction books

HISTORY

My academic book The Purpose of Futility: writing World War I, Australian style was published by UWA Scholarly in 2015. The result of my PhD studies, this book outlines Australian novels of WWI and shows how they differ from the canonical stories such as those written by Hemingway, Graves and Brittain.

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EDUCATION

I have also co-authored three study guides to help students make the transition from high school to university. Published by Allen & Unwin, these books demystify uni:

I’ve published some study advice for tertiary students too, such as ‘Slow death of a green balloon: the diary of one PhD examination’ (Plane Tree, 18:2, pp. 24-27), and ‘Multi-crashing: the graduate student’s guide to balancing work and study’ (Plane Tree, 18:1, pp. 30-33.)

Law