My Favorite Bit: Amber Royer talks about PURE CHOCOLATE
Amber Royer is joining us today with her novel Pure Chocolate. Here is the publisher’s description:
In a galaxy where chocolate is literally addictive, one celebrity chef is fighting back, in the delicious sequel to Free Chocolate
To save everyone she loves, Bo Bonitez is touring Zant, home of the murderous, shark-toothed aliens who so recently tried to eat her. In the midst of her stint as Galactic paparazzi princess, she discovers that Earth has been exporting tainted chocolate to the galaxy, and getting aliens hooked on cocoa. Bo must choose whether to go public, or just smile for the cameras and make it home alive. She’s already struggling with her withdrawal from the Invincible Heart, and her love life has a life of its own, but when insidious mind worms intervene, things start to get complicated!
What’s Amber’s favorite bit?
Pure Chocolate is, in many ways, a telenovela laid out on the page. I write comedy, so I’m playing with the genre’s overdone tropes. You need someone who’s presumed dead but really isn’t? Check. You need an evil twin? Check . . . sort of. A character who doesn’t know her own true identity? An over the top conversation that gets taken entirely out of context? A tense courtroom drama? A touch and go operation? Check, check, check and check.
But at the same time, the Chocoverse is solidly space opera. Structurally and thematically, telenovelas are a whole different world, sometimes in ways that are going to surprise a reader of more traditional space opera. Bad guys don’t get destroyed. Mostly, they get redeemed. In fact, telenovela heroes sometimes look like space opera villains.
Many novelas run on two very specific character arcs. You have a strong heroine who is marked in some way – poverty, personal shame, disfigurement – and thus endures many trials, learns from them to turn that drawback into a strength and is then rewarded with both plot triumph and true love. And the hero is often a rich businessman, ruthless and cold, who learns from the heroine that people are more important than things and arcs hard to become worthy of her.
In the first book, I subverted that expectation. Brill’s character type in a novela usually provides contrast to the actual hero, and conflict as a romantic rival, before (sometimes) dying nobly so the happy couple can be together guilt free. Obviously, since Brill’s alive and well and standing with Bo on the cover of Book 2, we’re off script. Only . . . are we?
Look at Bo’s relationship to her home world, that out-of-balance Earth determined to hold onto an economic place in the galaxy no matter who gets hurt. Do you start to see a familiar character? This series is in first person because Bo’s the only one with enough unselfish love and inner strength to potentially change the heart of an entire planet. If she can only manage not to die in a very space-opera-ish way first. And if said planet isn’t destroyed by a Zantite invasion fleet. And if she can learn a number of specific lessons about the nature of love along the way.
One of my favorite bits in Pure Chocolate is near the beginning. Bo was taken off the beach as a prank on/dig at one of the other characters. Now, being confronted by the cops, she faces a dilemma: should she tell the truth, even though the context of the situation will be ignored? Or should she lie and show mercy? Keep in mind while reading it that the Zantites are giant, somewhat shark-like aliens.
I lean in towards Murry and ask, “What’s the penalty for kidnapping here?”
“If the victim was put in physical danger – as Tawny is insisting happened — it could be death. Or maybe just assignment to a warship.” Which is a life sentence. . .
I’ve said so much to Tawny about how horrible it is to lie. Pero, this time, if I tell the truth, my abductor might not leave this room. Who’d have to kill him? On the warship, that honor had gone to the highest-ranking officer. Dghax seems to be in charge here, so it’s probably him.
Dent Head swallows visibly and goes a bit greener. His hands ball into fists at his sides. And yet, he’s not trying to escape this. There’s a hint of hero to him after all.
Dghax holds out a voice recorder. “Did you see the face of or speak with your abductor?”
. . . He takes a step forward, about to confess. My heart lurches, as I picture his neck meeting Dghax’s teeth. I don’t want to see Dent Head die for one drunken mistake.
“No!” I say, mostly to him. Pero I smile at Dghax and repeat more calmly. “No y no. I remember being on the path, then I remember being in the tree.”
Pure Chocolate Universal Book Link
Pure Chocolate Excerpt
Pure Chocolate Book Trailer
Amber Royer writes fun science fiction involving chocolate, aliens, lovesick AIs, time travel, VR, and more. She’s the author of the CHOCOVERSE comic space opera series (FREE CHOCOLATE available now, Book 2, PURE CHOCOLATE, coming March 5, 2019 from Angry Robot Books). She and her husband have also co-authored two cookbooks, one of which is all about chocolate). She teaches creative writing in North Texas for both UT Arlington Continuing Education and Writing Workshops Dallas. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes.