Alicia (A.O.) Godmasch is a film producer, writer and location manager. She can now add YA author to that list! Her debut young adult sci-fi/fantasy/horror novel, called Retrograde: The Darkness, was just released this week. In the spirit of page-turning epics The Hunger Games, Starship Troopers and World War Z, Retrograde is the first in a duology series, perfect for sci-fi/fantasy/horror fans. This week Alicia will be taking over our Twitter account to answer questions, tell stories, and give advice. See our exclusive interview with her here!
Young Entertainment Mag: Your new book is out this week! What’s it like to finish this crazy year with a book release?
Alicia (A.O.) Godmasch: It is actually so incredible to have had the opportunities to work on some really fantastic projects despite all of the nuttiness that was 2020. To me, Retrograde is actually the greatest of all of the projects for the last year and that is why I feel so exhilarated to have completed. I just feel so much gratitude for everything.
YEM: The book is called Retrograde: The Darkness. What is the book about?
Alicia (A.O.) Godmasch: It’s about a young woman named Isis that, despite all of her privilege, decides to go out and join an elite military unit assigned to combat an ancient supernatural enemy that works along with the Retrograde to wreak havoc and destruction on her planet. Along that way she comes to know an enigmatic and mysterious soldier named Khalfani. As this Retrograde draws closer, Isis cannot shake the magnetic attraction that grows between them. The greatest warrior in their army Aurora seems to be the key in unlocking that mystery, but she does things on her own terms and in her own time.
YEM: This book has elements of action, adventure and sci-fi. Where did you get the inspiration for this story?
Alicia (A.O.) Godmasch: Believe it or not, I was researching Steven Spielberg a couple of years ago because a friend of mine and I were in the process of working on a project. One day, I was watching one of his talks where he discussed “the whispers” and he said that a lot of people have good ideas, some people even have very good ideas, but you will know when you have a great idea when you hear this whisper. In order to hear it however, you have to tune out all of the psychic noise and listen.
Well one day when I was on set with a colleague of mine, who is like my spiritual guru, we were talking about the Mercury in Retrograde phenomena and all of the sudden, I legit heard the whisper. And what I was told was that this was my story. I went home that night after working twelve hours and began writing. And that night and every night thereafter I dreamed about this story and it played out to me like a film scene by scene. The next morning I would wake up and write about what I dreamed the day before and that was how Retrograde: The Darkness came to be.
YEM: Did you research planets in Retrograde when writing this story? Are you a fan of science and the study of planets?
Alicia (A.O.) Godmasch: Yes! Definitely. I happened to be doing a lot of research about planets before I even began writing the book. When I first began my research it was at the time when they had recently discovered a new planet and it was almost completely black. I believe it was WASP-104b. And I just thought that was so fascinating so I took a deep dive into planetary movements and so forth. I am a BIG FAN of science and the study of planets yes. I have a friend that is an Astronomer. His name is Dr. Peter te Lintel Hekkert who actually reviewed my book and I could just sit and listen to him speak for hours.
YEM: How did you create the planet of Damara? What does the planet look like in your mind?
Alicia (A.O.) Godmasch: It actually looked very similar to the planet on the cover of the book. That was also something that came to me in my dreams. It was almost like a ghost planet with beautiful colors that reflect light. Damara is a beautiful planet but it makes you wonder from far away if it is real or merely an optical illusion.
YEM: The main character Isis Pnina Mahmoud leaves behind her life of leadership to join the army to protect her planet. Was it important to you to create a fearless leading lady?
Alicia (A.O.) Godmasch: Yes, it was definitely important to me to create a fearless leading lady. I think her fearlessness was inspired by my mother. My father died at a young age and left my mother with five young children to raise alone. That never stopped my mother from putting herself through nursing school, and going from an LPN to an RN (Registered Nurse) to a DON (Director of Nursing). It was not easy for her either to do this while working sometimes up to three jobs. But she did it anyway.
Even when she was in between jobs, she never once applied for unemployment. That left quite an impression on me as a child. I learned how to master the grind. So nowadays when I am sleep deprived on set and wishing to be in my own bed, I think of my mom and fight those feelings off. I was hoping with this story to inspire young women to be fearless like my mother, like me because at the end of the day we are limitless beings. I want this book to give readers that extra impetus to reach for whatever it is that calls to them.
YEM: How did you create Isis’s character? Was she based on anyone you know?
Alicia (A.O.) Godmasch: Yes for sure. Her fearlessness was based on my mother and the rest of her is perhaps an amalgamation of many persons that I know currently or knew in the past that had a positive influence on me.
YEM: Do you hope Isis Pnina Mahmoud inspires readers to be brave?
Alicia (A.O.) Godmasch: Yes. I think we all need a little bit more bravery during these times. We all face situations that could be potentially challenging for us. But facing those challenges head on is what it takes sometimes to create solutions that help us to endure. What would you tell young readers that are looking for their purpose just like her? I would tell those young readers to continue to aspire for better, to never give up on love and not just romantically. I mean trust that even if for whatever reason they feel unloved or alone or ashamed that their time will come. They will hear their calling and find happiness.
YEM: You also have experience in film production. How does writing literature differ from working on a film?
Alicia (A.O.) Godmasch: That’s a great question. I feel that with a book, you can take your time and review it, edit it, linger on it, read it aloud, etc… You can really dwell on it more. Whereas with film, you can certainly go from a to z with that process within a shorter time frame depending on if you have some of the key elements in place.
In some productions, they have even continued writing the script as they went along. You definitely cannot do that with a book. Also if you go through a publishing house for a book, you are likely looking at a couple of years before the finished manuscript is packaged and released. I love both of these arenas because they are similar in some ways and differ in others. The vibe I find is different for me when I am writing a book. There is more urgency in the filmmaking process I find.