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Geoff Nelder is a freelance writer living in Chester, UK.
A former high school teacher of geography and information technology, he has had non-fiction books published on microclimates in the UK along with several articles in academic journals such as Weather, Geographical Magazine and the Times Educational Supplement. Geoff is a part-time journalist contributing humorous travel accounts to Cycling World.
He has had short stories published and won a commendation for a story in the Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Competition. He won first prize in the Cafe Doom short story competition in 2005. Besides his 2005 released humour novel, Escaping Reality, published by Brambling Books, he won an award for mystery thriller, Hot Air, published by a Dutch Arts Academy in 2009, and a Science Fiction block buster, ARIA: Left Luggage is published by LL-Publications. Double Dragon Publishing published Geoff's Exit, Pursued by a Bee science fiction in 2008. An urban fantasy, Xaghra’s Revenge is in the hands of the Rebecca Pratt Literary Agency.
Geoff has worked for publisher BeWrite Books and for Adventure Books of Seattle. He has been a freelance editor of novels and short stories for several years. Geoff is the 2009 & 2012 short-fiction judge for the Whittaker Prize.
What makes you proud to be a writer from Chester, UK? I was proud to be a school teacher who wrote stories in the evenings, but I can’t say I’m as proud to be a writer. It’s fun, hard work sometimes, frustrating when some publishers or booksellers don’t appreciate your art as much as others, and it’s rewarding when readers say how much they enjoy your stories.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? Tibor Fischer writes off-the-wall literary fiction that drew me back into writing. I’ve always been a writer from childhood but Fischer’s The Thought Gang is so much a celebration of words that I had to try and emulate him. I did that with my humorous thriller, Escaping Reality, but it was Jon Courtenay Grimwood’s science fiction that allowed my settings and characters to have no boundaries.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? My first published jokes and comedy scripts were for my school friends to perform on stage when I was 15. A year later and the local college magazine published my articles and comedy pieces. It didn’t seem a big deal to me then because my dad, in his spare time, was an artist for a science fiction magazine and his friend, our neighbour, was a writer and editor of that magazine, Sidereal. I grew up with writers, editors and illustrators. Only later in writing groups did I discover talented writers who’d never been published and realized how lucky I’d been.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? LEFT LUGGAGE was the obvious title because the story starts with the discovery of a silvery suitcase lodged in the struts of the International Space Station. So the title came after the concept but before the writing. Then it became clear that this was the first in a series and so the series name ARIA was prefixed. ARIA: Left Luggage became the title. Maybe a mistake as it is too much a mouthful. ARIA stands for Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia because the case contained a substance that once exposed caused the world’s population to contract infectious amnesia (which doesn’t exist in reality thank goodness).
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? ARIA: Left Luggage is a medical mystery (genre one) in the context of science fiction. Readers who dislike science fiction express surprise that they enjoyed Left Luggage. No aliens, no shoot ups in space, no robots, just an alien virus affecting life on Earth. Readers have to wait for Book two to encounter the aliens. I love writing science fiction because of the way it allows us to escape the confines of Earth but I enjoy writing thrillers, fantasy and humour too.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for?
As I puffed, riding my bicycle up a steep Welsh hill 5 years ago I had an original idea. What if amnesia was infectious? Then what if no one was immune. I researched like crazy for 4 months to discover a) there was no known medical event of infectious amnesia, and b) that the concept – especially with retrograde amnesia (lose say a year’s worth per day backwards) – hadn’t been used in published stories, nor on TV or film. It took a year to create the first 100k draft. I showed and discussed it with SF luminaries such as Charles Stross, Robert Sawyer and Mike Resnick, who all endorsed it.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? An important part of my writing is peer critique. I belong to the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Critique Group and you can see me wince in agony to open emails with copies of my work with the errors highlighted, then at the end the critter might say how much they enjoyed it and looking forward to the next instalment. Brilliant. I expect you want me to say how receiving praise from readers is a reward? Of course it is. Recently too when I scribbled some stories for infants and their beaming faces glowed at me.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? Interesting question. I’ve had negative vibes from a teacher who didn’t like my style, but balanced up by another who loved it. It disturbed my early writing career to be told by a content editor that I must ‘expunge my thats' and by others since who berated my Tell, use of filter words, adverbs and pleonasms. I’ve learnt from those stings and improved.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Receiving royalty payments is an endorsement in real terms and helps to finance writing retreat stays, new computers and postage to keep sending more stories to more publishers. The most rewarding is when I worked for a season as the administrator for a small press publisher – BeWrite Books. Wow, I learnt so much about protocols, methodologies, handling printing companies and the ins and outs of contracts. It’s helped me understand when talking to potential publishers of my own work.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? Negative but interesting have been my experience with literary agents. The first was a woman based in Scotland. She lauded my Left Luggage and sent it to several mainstream publishers after which I heard nothing. I don’t mean she passed on rejections. I mean she stopped writing and emailing me. I phoned her office and a man said he was living there now after she’d moved out. He knew not where but gave me the landlord’s number. He said she’d done a moonlight flit on her rent and he’d discovered nearly a hundred packages all over her flat including up a staircase. Mostly unopened. He opened several to find they were book manuscripts. He moved them to the basement where they probably remain, yellowing and rotting. I did more investigation and found her living with her fiancé on a Mediterranean island. Apologies. I learnt to ask for references – other clients to chat to. Hence my current agent is real.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? If you haven’t already, have your manuscript content edited (not just proofread) or at the least join a critique group.
Who is your favorite author and why? I’ve named Tibor Fischer. Another is China Mieville, whose lateral thinking takes something like a city, then superimposes another one in and on it such that the occupants of one cannot see those of the other. Clever stuff as in The City & The City.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? I awoke this morning with a headache. Not your usual hangover throbbing, or dehydration fuzziness, or even a migraine jabbing on just one side, but as if a worm had crept tweaking pain receptors, and triggering childhood smells of lime ice-lollies. Yet, that wasn’t the strangest discovery I made in bed. Cranking open my eyelids, I found a mass of red hair – not mine. A woman’s sleeping face faced me. I didn’t recognise her. Had we...? My hands groped downwards and found no pyjamas... I rarely get that lucky. I edged backwards re-groping for the side of the bed. Too late, her green eyes opened followed by screaming.
Over coffee in an unfamiliar kitchen we found notes. We’d woken up like that before, many times. It’s what can happen when you have amnesia. I know because it happened to my mother. The above wasn’t really me yet it was, vicariously, because a main character in my ARIA: Left Luggage novel has amnesia and so does everyone else he meets. The damn thing is infectious. Worse, it’s retrograde so that he forgets a year’s worth of memories every week.
Please add questions and the answers to any questions that you believe your readers would like to know.
Q: Wow, is that the crux of the story?
A: The nub of ARIA is how people behave, and sadly forget themselves to death when they have retrograde infectious amnesia. It doesn’t exist in reality – at least not yet, and not on Earth – thank goodness. Or, workers would forget how to make penicillin, insulin, clean water, food and electricity. They’d forget where their work is, what bus to catch home, what home? Kids who’d just learnt to write find they forget how to read, and soon, how to talk. Older folk fare better in that it would take over a year for them to forget 52 years of memories.
Q: Anything unusual from your research for writing ARIA?
A: Often the research phase of a novel project is as rewarding as the writing. ARIA is released after a mysterious case is discovered on the International Space Station and brought to Edwards Airbase. I wanted the case to stick to the superstructure by an unknown method and fretted so much I found an email address of an engineer at NASA. He, Leroy Chaio, replied that the struts were very thin aluminium, which worried him because micrometeorites could punch holes and he was ON BOARD at the time! My agent reckons that email is a first for an author being helped from space.
How many published books do you have? 6 fiction, 3 non-fiction and several co-authored anthologies.
Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia Today, Jack caught a bug at work. He catches a bus home. By the time he disembarks in the desert town of Rosamond, all the other passengers and the driver have fuzzy heads. Jack had caught an amnesia bug, and it’s infectious. Imagine the ramifications: The passengers arrive home, infecting family; some shop en route infecting everyone they meet. The bus driver receives more passengers giving them change for last week’s prices and today’s amnesia. Some passengers work at the power plant, the water treatment works, the hospital, fire station. All shut down in weeks. One man, Ryder Nape, realizes what’s going on, but can he persuade friends to barricade themselves in a secluded valley, hiding from the amnesia bug?
“Geoff Nelder inhabits Science Fiction the way other people inhabit their clothes.” — Jon Courtenay Grimwood
“Geoff Nelder's ARIA has the right stuff. He makes us ask the most important question in science fiction--the one about the true limits of personal responsibility.” —Brad Linaweaver
Robert J. Sawyer calls ARIA a “fascinating project.”
“ARIA has an intriguing premise, and is written in a very accessible style.” —Mike Resnick
Let me answer the first question that came to my mind when the book ‘ARIA: Left Luggage’ arrived. The word ARIA has its roots in Italian meaning air.
Science Fiction as a genre literally is in a world of its own because human beings are obsessed with how to destroy or alter all of humanity by a single threat. It is rare that we find an author who can approach this kind of fiction from a new perspective, but Geoff Nelder has a truly unique concept.
As the first chapter begins the reader is introduced to Nelder’s large cast of characters like Vlad, Jena, Dan, Abdul and Antonio. His quantity of characters almost overwhelms the reader at first, but each has a role to play in this ordeal. The variety of solid, believable interpersonal relationships like the between Ryder Nape and his fiancée Teresa are essential as the world is threatened with massive memory loss by an alien virus. ARIA begs the intriguing question that as people lose their memories what is so important to their lives they must make a note of it to read when they wake up each morning?
The year is 2015 and there is never a dull moment as the reader joins the crew of “the shuttle, Marimar, in orbit approaching the International Space Station” and follows the science at the Dryden Space Laboratories at Edwards Air Force Base in California and the NASA Goddard Labs in Maryland. Travels to London and to the Anafon Valley in North Wales. Follow the viral repercussions to the Chester Zoo in UK, Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and to Banff National Park in Canada.
The author caused this reader to ask how the world would handle such a virus if brought back to Earth from an exploratory mission, who on earth might be immune, and what secrets could NASA and WHO be keeping from us? That is what good science fiction does. It captures the readers’ imagination and takes us to places that we believe are impossible, but somewhere in the dark corners of our minds we recognize that there is a slim probability.
Cold Coffee Press endorses ARIA: Left Luggage - by Geoff Nelder (volume one in the ARIA series) as a science fiction, action filled fiction that has already won the coveted Preditors & Editors Readers Poll for best science Fiction novel of 2012. Please consider purchasing and reading the whole ARIA series (available at Amazon): ARIA: Left Luggage (ARIA Trilogy Book 1), ARIA: Returning Left Luggage (ARIA Trilogy Book 2) and ARIA: Abandoned Luggage (ARIA Trilogy Book 3). Reviewed by Cold Coffee Press on September 26, 2014. http://www.coldcoffeepress.com
You must buy ARIA because it is the ONLY book with infectious amnesia. You need this book to solve the question what is the most important thing we treasure in our minds? See the fictional infectious amnesia before it happens to you!
Meet the Aliens
In Returning Left Luggage, Book Two of the ARIA Trilogy, we finally meet the aliens. Unlike most science fiction aliens, these ignore the remaining humans, or make use of them for labour. They don’t bargain on encountering the psychotic Dr Antonio Menzies, and when he discovers how to use their telepathic-controlled gadgets, odd things happen.
Meanwhile Ryder’s isolation group are in the South Pacific facing invasion problems of another kind. That, and trouble in the French Alps, along with a runaway exotic weed, makes this sequel one you’ll not want to miss.
ARIA: Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia
Without our memories, who are we?
In 2015, a case found in the struts of the International Space Station is brought to Earth. It releases a virus giving people amnesia. They lose their memory at the rate of a year’s worth every week. No one is immune. Infectious amnesia is unheard of. Industry breaks down as people forget where they work and how to perform their duties. People die as they forget their medication, and production ceases along with food, water supply, and energy. A few small groups realise what is happening in time and find isolated refuges. Ryder Nape takes a group to a secluded Welsh valley where safety from the virus is possible. Biologists call the virus ARIA: Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia.
In this conclusion to the trilogy, Dr. Antonio Menzies arrives on Zadok. The ARIA-3 bomb had reached there two days previously, causing havoc. Surviving Zadokians consider a mass-migration to Earth to escape the effects of ARIA-3. Antonio’s madness grows, and he makes disturbing discoveries in their laboratories.
Meanwhile, Ryder’s group is now on a Pacific island. His relationship with Jena is unstable and others have coruscating infatuations in tune with the increasingly desperate situation. When their island becomes unsustainable, and the alien-Earth hybrid weed gets out of control, where should they go?
What was the Zadokians' real purpose with the ARIA viruses, and how does it all end?
“ARIA mingles the most optimistic calculations from the Drake Equation with a distopian outcome, creating a read that is as intriguing as it is fun.”
—Magdalena Ball, owner of Compulsive Reader
“If you like your scifi offbeat, original, and backed by science, you’re going to love ARIA.”
—Kenyon Charboneaux, editor and writing tutor at Eros & Rust
“ARIA: a smart, entertaining gem.”
—Dr. Ira Nayman, author of the Transdimensional Authority Series
Other Books by Geoff Nelder
Erica is a nine-to-five office temp with flaming red hair, emerald eyes, and black lipstick. The highlights of her day usually include coffee meetings and intoxicated fumblings. An adventurer at heart, she hires a hot-air balloon ride for she and her boyfriend, complete with a champagne lunch.
While in the air, she witnesses an unsavory crime happening on the ground below. The perpetrators spot the balloon, and begin shooting at it, hitting the pilot and killing him. Somehow, Erica and Paul manage to land the balloon but their troubles are not over. They are tracked down and abducted by a gang engaged in human trafficking, and taken to an island in the Mediterranean. Erica soon adapts to gangland ways and uses her charms to escape. Along the way, her life shifts from bored office temp to a feisty Lara Croft now living on adrenaline and dangerous men. She is chased by a rogue named Dean, who is annoyed by Erica but falling for her at the same time.
Hot Air is a contemporary crime novel and a winner of both the Wuacademia Silver Award in 2007 and Prix d'Or (Gold) 2008 for best unpublished novel.
Award Winning action, adventure, contemporary crime novel Hot Air by Geoff Nelder will keep you on the edge of your seat as a romantic hot-air balloon ride for Erica and Paul turns ugly as they glide over an active crime scene.
Shots ring out and their pilot is killed leaving Erica and Paul to not only land the balloon, but run for their lives as their romantic endeavor escalates into their abduction by a human traffic king. Erica learns quickly and uses her sexy adventurous spirit to study her captors’ behavior in order to escape and then she must turn to crime to survive.
Author Geoff Nelder finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun while in Mallorca Spain doing research for Hot Air. BBC.co.uk/radioscotland does an interview where Geoff explains:
“For the main purpose of my fact-finding trip I needed to get up close to a watchtower, a torre, of which there are dozens on the island built to look out for pirates and invaders.
Ironically, in my book, Hot Air, I have the Gorda, a local Mafia, using one to look out for the police authorities.
I had to scramble up a mountain to reach the torre. Hooray, I could see it. Oh no, there was a new fence to stop me reaching it. Traversing the top I discovered a gap in the fence. So hands on the tower was achieved along with lunch in its shade.
This was rewarded by the sight of a gun barrel up my nose. It belonged to a security guard demanding to know what I was doing there. He said the mountain was privately owned and he had to arrest anyone trespassing and taking photographs of the villa below.”
Confiscating Geoff’s camera and giving him a stern warning the judge let him go.
Thanks to Geoff’s tenacity he came away with the research needed to give Hot Air the authenticity that it needed.
His hands on research taught him that the locals are German, the English are Scottish, the sheep wear cowbells, the beach grows Christmas trees, the sage and wild lavender fill your nose with heavenly aromas as you climb the hills, the police arrest you if they catch you photographing them, the rich buy mountains (Actress Claudia Schiffer bought an entire mountain in Mallorca to protect her and her £2 million villa from prying eyes) but the riffraff still climb them and most important to the book, the watchtower is made of limestone.
Cold Coffee Press Endorses Hot Air by Geoff Nelder for its action, adventure, contemporary fiction crime that brought about the author’s escapades that allow his readers to experience the validity of his research while enjoying this fast paced novel. We acquired this book in a Kindle/PDF format for review. The review was completed on September 2, 2015. For more information please visit Cold Coffee Press. http://www.coldcoffeepress.com
Twenty-three illustrated tales of science fiction by authors Geoff Nelder of Great Britain and Robert Blevins of the United States. Stories include 'Last Train Home,' 'Hole Card,' 'Prime Meridian,''The Earth and the Lion,' and others. Blevins and Nelder are the founders of Adventure Books of Seattle and serve as editors for the famous science fiction magazine, Escape Velocity.
Genre: Short Story Collection, Science Fiction Tales
Escaping Reality is a humorous thriller set in Northern Britain and Amsterdam. The story opens with musician Gerry Ricketts having his face pushed into a water-filled gutter by a large policewoman. He is under arrest. After a quick trial, Ricketts is sentenced to ten years in Stonelodge Prison for a jewel robbery he did not commit. Determined to discover who framed him, Ricketts begins plotting his escape. It won't be easy. Stonelodge is a Category B prison, old and smelly, with heavy security. His luck finally turns when he enters into a sexual relationship with Wendy, the prison librarian. He finally makes his escape, hiding out in the Northumberland moors, and eventually reaches Amsterdam. But the plot that landed him in prison is bigger than he knows, and his troubles are just beginning as he struggles to stay one step ahead of the law and clear his name.
Escaping Reality, although set in Europe, was inspired by the 1960's TV series The Fugitive. Geoff Nelder's other books include Exit - Pursued by a Bee, ARIA, and Hot Air.
Genre: Humorous, Action-Adventure Thriller
Exit, Pursued by a Bee is driven by a Southern-belle heroine-astronaut, involves a Palaeolithic mongrel called Kur, Glastonbury Festival chaos, steamy sex in space, a mean-momma loose-cannon journalist and an out-of-control general who'd fix anything by nuking it. They are all involved in the attempt to overcome time-quake calamities created when alien artifacts depart from Earth, oblivious to the chaos they leave behind.
Two decades ago astronomers confirmed the existence of planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. Today more than 800 such worlds have been identified, and scientists now estimate that at least 160 billion star-bound planets are to be found in the Milky Way Galaxy alone. But more surprising is just how diverse and bizarre those worlds are
Extreme Planets is a science fiction anthology of stories set on alien worlds that push the limits of what we once believed possible in a planetary environment. Visit the bizarre moons, dwarf planets and asteroids of our own Solar Systems, and in the deeper reaches of space encounter super-Earths with extreme gravity fields, carbon planets featuring mountain ranges of pure diamond, and ocean worlds shrouded by seas hundreds of kilometres thick. The challenges these environments present to the humans that explore and colonise them are many, and are the subject matter of these tales.
Contributor: Geoff Nelder
Cover illustration by Paul Drummond. The anthology features 15 tales from leading science fiction authors and rising stars in the genre:
"Banner of the Angels" by David Brin and Gregory Benford
"Brood" by Stephen Gaskell
"Haumea" by G. David Nordley
"A Perfect Day off the Farm" by Patty Jansen
"Daybreak" by Jeff Hecht
"Giants" by Peter Watts
"Maelstrom" by Kevin Ikenberry
"Murder on Centauri" by Robert J. Mendenhall
"The Flight of the Salamander" by Violet Addison and David Smith
"Petrochemical Skies" by David Conyers and David Kernot
"The Hyphal Layer" by Meryl Ferguson
"Colloidal Suspension" by Geoff Nelder
"Super-Earth Mother" by Guy Immega
"Lightime" by Jay Caselberg
"The Seventh Generation" by Brian Stableford
Genre: Fiction, Drama, Chaosium Fiction
Two competition judges discuss everything they know about entering, judging and (most importantly) winning short story competitions, in an easy-to-follow question and answer format.
You will learn exactly what competition judges are looking for, how scoring systems work, how to score highly in every category, what impresses judges the most and what turns them off, how to write an exceptional short story, which types of competition give you the best chance of winning, how to avoid being disqualified, and much more.
Dave Haslett is the founder of ideas4writers, the ideas and inspiration website, and has judged two ideas4writers short story competitions that each attracted hundreds of entries.
Geoff Nelder is an award-winning short story writer and novelist, and the fiction judge for the Whittaker Prize in 2009 and 2012.
Genre: Other, Self-Help, Contests
Author and Co-Author Geoff Nelder’s Published Books
ARIA: Left Luggage (ARIA Trilogy Book 1)
ARIA: Returning Left Luggage (ARIA Trilogy Book 2)
ARIA: Abandoned Luggage (ARIA Trilogy Book 3)
Extreme Planets: A Science Fiction Anthology Of Alien Worlds (Chaosium Fiction)
Exit, Pursued By A Bee
How To Win Short Story Competitions
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