Monday, June 6, 2011

MuseItUp author, Alice Roelke

Please tell us about yourself?
I’ll leave that to my biographers!  They’ll get half of it wrong and write the rest with far too much sensationalism.  Oh, and that bit about the destruction in Norway?  Never happened.

Tell us your latest news?
My SF/mystery ebook novella, “The Space Station Murders,” is currently for sale from MuseItUp Publications, on the website (, or on

I have two more stories coming soon from the same publisher: a novel in 2012, and a short story after that.  The novel is called “Watch Over Me,” and the short story “Those With Guns.”  The former is fantasy/women’s fiction/YA, and the latter is SF/action.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always loved to write, and it was a very important hobby to me, but I didn’t consider myself a writer until my mid-teens when I started to take it seriously and learn as much as I could.  I took a correspondence writing course, though I didn’t finish it, I practiced a lot, and I read and re-read books about writing.  I was fortunate enough to win a national writing contest for teens at age seventeen. I got paid for it and they printed my whole story in the magazine and everything!  Such laurels lasted a surprisingly brief time before I again started to feel worthless as a writer, but I kept practicing and trying to learn as much as I could.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Hm, I think my first ‘book’ was a story about talking guinea pigs sneaking aboard the space shuttle.
Or did you mean THIS book?  :)  This one was inspired by my interest in stories with SF settings, and in exploring characters.  And perhaps a bit of hardboiled mysteries.  (Though I don’t say my story is actually hardboiled.  Maybe medium-boiled at most.)

I’m also a big fan of buddy stuff, and mystery novels, and police-type dramas.  I found myself wondering, “How would someone handle it, if he was a policeman and his partner died?”
I started out the story to answer that question, “How does he go on?”  The story starts after the main character has been living as a homeless man for a while, just barely making it.  The most he can do is survive, but there’s this spark in him that wants to make it, to not give up, and to help people who are in trouble.  I found myself rooting for him.  I had to find out what happened.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I certainly don’t consider it message-driven, but there is a theme that I think is important, about not giving up even if life has kicked you in the stomach a few times.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  (Has anyone ever realized it?)
It’s based on imagination.  I do recognize parts of myself in each of the two main characters.  However I don’t think anyone would recognize me in them.  :)  I’m neither a grouchy, tough ex-cop, nor a street-smart ex-miner.  :)

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Ray Bradbury.  He inspired me to try to make words sing, and to write my heart out.  Reading his words always makes me want to be a better writer.

What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?
Killer in the Rain, by Raymond Chandler.  I’m a big Chandler fan, and it’s nice to see his beginnings.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I recently started Find A Victim, by Ross Macdonald.  He’s a new author to me, and looks quite promising on the hardboiled front.

What are your current projects?
I have several fires in the iron and a bunch of projects in the works: a children’s novel, a time travel adventure, a sweet romance, a SF detective novel, etc.  I’m also working on a sequel to “The Space Station Murders.”

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t think so.  I could always say “I’d have been a better writer, and do a better job telling the story,” but you can’t change a thing like that; you just have to do the best you can.
I wrote it for myself, from my heart.  If I’d known it would be published, I’d have been much more self-conscious, and frankly, I might not have finished it.  I’m glad I wrote it without planning to do anything with it, or I might’ve frozen up.  (Right now I’m having some trouble that way with the sequel.)

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve been interested in writing since I could first write.  My parents read to me a lot, and I always knew they valued stories and writing.  (My dad wrote, too.)  Making your own stories seemed magical to me, a wonderful thing to endeavor to.  But more than that, I’ve always had stories inside me that wanted to come out, and writing was a way to make that happen.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I struggle with writing description.  I struggle with getting really really depressed and thinking everything I write it horrible bilge.
I sometimes look at something I’ve written, even something like this that’s found a home, and think “Ah, that’s the worst writing in the WORLD!”  And then other times I think it’s wonderful.  I really don’t know how to tell objectively.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The mystery element, making all of it come together.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I definitely got something visceral and important from writing it, but I couldn’t tell you whether it was a learning experience or an experience of writing down things that were important to me.  Most stories I finish help me grow in some way or another, but I couldn’t always tell you how.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you’ll like this story and get your money’s worth reading it.  I’ve love to hear from you about the story!

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
MuseItUp Publications, a fast-growing Canadian ebook publisher.  They were new when I sent to them.  I heard about them because Terri Main mentioned on an email list we’re both on that she had sent her science fiction mystery novel, Dark Side of the Moon, to them.  And then just a couple of days later, she wrote saying it had been accepted!

She had been working hard on this excellent novel for YEARS, but I thought it was such a niche book (hard-SF cozy mystery set on the moon) that she’d have trouble finding a publisher for it, and it would take ages.  I was pleased she found somewhere, and decided it was worth trying to send my SF/mystery novella to them as well.  And they accepted it!

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

~A. M. Roelke~
"The Space Station Murders"
My writing blog:
Writing credits:

 A grieving ex-cop.   A crowded space station.  A killer on the loose.


Ahead, a fight.

A long, loping run took Herbert to the fracas. Three thugs—the Jensen brothers—wailing on a smaller guy, curly hair. He was giving as good as he got, but with three to one, the odds were obvious.
Herb slammed a fist into the eldest Jensen’s ribs, hooked a leg around his, and pulled him down. Trod over him and tackled the next guy in the pack, the biggest Jensen, leaving Curly with only one opponent. Curly, breathing hard, trying not to double over, blew on his fists, rocked side to side, and clocked his opponent a left hook.

Herb smashed the giant’s face a few times, dodged the return blows; he was too fast for the giant’s fists, so the giant lunged forward to tackle him.  He sidestepped and caught the guy from behind, jumping on his back.  They both toppled to the floor. By the time he’d gotten loose, the oldest Jensen was getting up, the one Curly had been fighting was down, and both Curly and his opponent had a busted lip.

“Molloy,” growled the biggest Jensen, picking up a pipe hidden beneath the park bench and smacking it into his palm. He advanced on Herb, murder in his eyes.

“Time to go, kid,” said Herb Molloy, voice rising. “Street fight looking to turn into a homicide fest.”

The kid kicked the approaching thug in the back of his knees and took off running, scuffed sneaker soles flashing behind him. He ran all out, the way he’d fought; Herb was behind him the whole way, even when he put on a burst of speed.

They stopped three streets down, leaned against a shop wall (Spaceship Repairs), and panted. “Thanks,” said the kid, doubled over, holding his side. He spat phlegm in the alley, stood up, and offered his hand.
Herb looked at it a second, took it. Most street folks didn’t offer to shake hands.

“Zack Ives,” said the kid.

“Herb Molloy.” He eyed the kid, who wasn’t as small as he’d looked fighting the Jensens. He was almost Herb’s height and not as young as Herb first thought. Ives moved with youthful energy, but the lines around his eyes said he was probably closer to Herb’s age.

He wore ratty jeans, blue sneakers, and a flannel shirt that had seen better days.  His eyes flashed dark blue, and his hair was the unruly kind that curls naturally, getting bigger and bigger if you didn’t do some serious pruning. He hadn’t for a while. His tanned, olive skin and his accent marked him as someone from a planet, not a native space rat.

“You new to the station?” said Herb, drawing back from the firm handshake.

“Yeah. What’s it to you?” The kid drew back too, eyes narrowing as if he wanted another fight.

“If you weren’t, you’d know to stay away from that bench. That’s Jensen territory after 1200.”

“Military man, huh?” said Ives.

“I was,” said Herb, wondering at the kid’s nerve. “Come on, I’ll show you a place where the homeless aren’t quite so territorial.” He turned; with loping steps, he headed toward the bridge.

“I’m not perpetually homeless, you know. I’m gonna get a job.” He caught up to Herb.

“Yeah, you and everyone else. Look, you don’t have to prove anything to me, kid.”

“Okay. Sorry.” He was silent a moment, jogging alongside Herb, still sending off jittery vibes from the fight.

“Tried to buy passage to Magnus, you know. Supposed to be work there. I just got off Marshall. Job market’s bust. Thought I had enough for a ticket here and then to Magnus, but they said the price has gone up. Then somebody stole my dough when I was sleeping, so now I gotta try and find a job here. I mean, I didn’t come here just to take advantage of the park benches.”

“Nobody does.” Homelessness was a huge problem on stations, though, just like in casino cities. The weather was nice, and you could lose all your money easily and not have anywhere else to go.

“I can drive a cab, but I guess there’s not much use for that up here.” He gestured vaguely to the wide, metal walls of the space station. “I didn’t think it’d smell quite so bad in space. Aren’t they supposed to recycle the air? Clean it or something?”

“They do. They never get all the smell out, though. Everything’s reused up here.” He found himself slowing his speech a little, perhaps for contrast to the quick-talking Ives, perhaps in an effort to calm the kid down.

“Yeah. How ’bout that? I mean, you can’t get a drink of water without it being somebody’s recycled pee.”

“It is on planets, too. Everything is. Just not recycled quite as directly.”

“Hey, I never thought of it like that.” By now the kid sounded quite cheerful. He was practically skipping as he kept up easily with Herb’s pace. He would be a talker, thought Herb.

“Here it is.” He stopped in front of the bridge, a real bridge over a small, artificial stream segment. It was meant for station beautification, but the homeless had pretty well claimed it—at least after dark, when the cops stopped patrolling to keep them away. Already, a few of the regulars were setting up camp.

“Listen, I’ve got stuff to do. Take care of yourself.”

“Okay.  Hey, thanks! See you around!” The curly haired kid (why did he keep thinking of Ives as a kid?) turned a big smile on him and waved. Herb raised a hand in brief reply, blinking. Time he got out of there.
He walked the station streets, back the way he’d been going, past uniform gray walls, floors, and ceiling decorated in a few places with paint to advertise shops. Most of the walls were sprayed with a chemical substance that kept paint from sticking to prevent graffiti and keep the station looking clean and crime-free, never mind what it was really like.


  1. Please stop by my blog to pick up the award I've nominated you for.

    Blogger is not letting me comment under my name on some of the blogs I've visited today. : (

    Susanne Drazic

  2. Hi Susanne, thanks for stopping by. I'll head on over to your blog.

  3. Alice will be visiting me with The Space Station Murders on the 17th. I already read the book and wrote a review. Two Thumbs Up (as Roger Ebert used to say).

    Drop by my blog for Magical Mystery Month all June long.


  4. Marva, thanks for letting us know.

  5. Kimberli, glad you enjoyed the interview. Do stop back again sometime.