Though not the best choice, a lot of people do find comfort in running away from their problems. But in Madeleine Roux’s new sci-fi horror thriller romance Salvaged (paperback, Kindle), we see the folly in running away from your problems by going into outer space and working as a janitor on a space ships whose crew is…lets just say they’re not themselves these days. In the following email interview Roux discusses what inspired and influenced this novel, and her plans for more stories in this universe.
Photo Credit: Greg DeStefano
I always like to begin with an overview of the plot. So, what is Salvaged about?
Salvaged is really at its core Rosalyn’s story. She’s dealing with a lot of issues, a lot of trauma, and she’s taken a tough job cleaning up failed research projects in space. It’s not her passion, it’s not what she was born to do, but it’s a way for her to escape the problems she doesn’t want to confront in herself. She’s sent to clean up a completely dead crew on the Brigantine, but when she gets there she realizes it’s not at all what she expected: the crew has been taken over by a hostile alien fungus, and they’re slowly being turned against themselves and against her. It’s her journey trying to save these people as much as she can, save herself, and try to stop this huge threat against humanity. That’s the most I can say without spoilers.
Where did you get the original idea for Salvaged and how did that idea evolve as you wrote this novel?
I initially conceived the novel as an ode to Beauty And The Beast. It follows some of the same story beats, but it takes that fairytale and makes it darker, twistier, while still keeping the core of that story intact. It’s a love story. It’s a horror story. It’s a journey of self-discovery for the “Belle” character. I think it evolved in the sense that I let myself get creative with the conclusion and the way the side characters are handled. It doesn’t have the same outcome as Beauty And The Beast, it should hopefully surprise you a bit with who survives and who doesn’t.
Salvaged sounds like it’s a sci-fi horror story. Is that how you see it?
It’s really a sci-fi horror thriller romance, which is a mouthful, but I think that better encapsulates it. It’s not straight horror, because this isn’t a “What is the monster? Where is it?” kind of book. Everyone knows what the monster is, and the conflict is in fighting it without also fighting the innocent hosts it has decided to use. There’s body horror, there’s a love story, there’s action, there’s a bit of mystery, it’s working inside a lot of genres.
As you said, the hero of Salvaged, Rosalyn Devar, works as a space janitor. Why did you decide to give her that job as opposed to making her a scientist or a soldier or middle management?
Well, she is a scientist. She’s taking the janitorial job to get away from her family business on Earth. I wanted to give her a secondary job that was about as different as you could possibly get from her initial career. She’s switched from doing something very mind-oriented and now she’s using her hands, she’s abandoning the familiar things that she associates with her trauma on Earth for something completely different.
Rosalyn being a space janitor immediately made me think of Jim C. Hines’ Janitors Of The Post-Apocalypse novels, Terminal Alliance and Terminal Uprising, which are also about space janitors. Have you read those books?
I’m not familiar with any of those, but I’ll have to check them out.
They’re very different than yours, more comedic space opera. Anyway, speaking of other writers, are there any writers, or specific stories, that were a big influence on Salvaged but not on anything else you’ve written?
That’s always so hard to know. I think I’m influenced by everything I read and consume. This isn’t a direct homage to any particular writer, but I do usually find myself inspired by Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber. It’s not at all sci-fi, but I often find myself trying to recapture her sense of horror and dread, while still keeping a very lush and romantic feel to the work.
What about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, and video games? Because the plot kind of reminds me of the Dead Space games.
I think maybe on the surface the premise resembles Dead Space, but this isn’t a shooty shooty find the monster in the airducts kind of story. If anything it’s closer to something like Mass Effect because you have this diverse crew that you’re getting to know, and they all have different motivations and desires, and Rosalyn is trying to balance her own survival against their wants while up against a big, existential threat.
Prior to Salvaged, you wrote five books in your Asylum series [Asylum, Sanctum, Catacomb, Escape From Asylum, and The Asylum Novellas], and another three in the House Of Furies series [House Of Furies, Court Of Shadows, and Tomb Of Ancients]. Is Salvaged the start of a new series?
There’s a second book coming, but it’s not a direct sequel. It’s set in the same universe with a different set of characters, though there is certainly some crossover. I think when you get to the end of Salvaged it’s obvious why a direct sequel might not work. There’s more to explore in the universe and the concepts put forward by Salvaged, but it didn’t seem right to just make it a traditional series. That second book is called Reclaimed and it will be out next year, probably fall again, and at this point I’m not sure how many books we will wind up doing in this universe. I would love to continue, because I think there’s a lot of potential in it.
As you know from when you wrote the Asylum and House Of Furies books, some people will wait until Reclaimed comes out before reading Salvaged, and some will then read them back-to-back. But it doesn’t sound like that’s necessary.
I think because you’re looking at separate characters in the same universe, there’s no harm in starting now. If you read Salvaged and enjoy it, and enjoy the level of tech and alien interaction you see in it, then you’ll also love whatever comes next for this universe. You also won’t have to wait long, I’m not known for keeping readers waiting. The second book is already set to come out, and because these are all sort of stand-alones in a universe, you won’t be dealing with any cliffhangers.
I’d also point out that, while I respect whatever choice a reader wants to make, not supporting a book series at release means it might not get to continue. Sales on that first book are hugely important.
Earlier I asked if Salvaged had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or video games. Has there been any interest in adapting Salvaged into a movie, show, or game?
I can’t really comment on anything concrete yet. I’d imagine it would work best as a film, since it’s quite a tight, intimate story, but I could see maybe a limited series for TV, and if you had that extra time you could do some interesting things with expanding the back stories for each of the crewmembers.
If Salvaged was to be adapted into a movie or TV show, who do you think they should cast as Rosalyn and the other major characters?
Oh boy, I always hesitate to answer stuff like this because I worry that I’ll influence how someone perceives my characters, or God forbid, offend someone if it does get made into film and other actors are cast. My very gentle suggestion would be Jameela Jamil [The Good Place] for Rosalyn and Jeffrey Wright [Westworld] for Edison.
Finally, if someone enjoys Salvaged, which of your other novels would you suggest they read and why that one?
It’s sort of a matter of taste and interest. I realize some readers tend to stick very seriously to one genre, so that might make it tricky since this is my first sci-fi book. I do think that if you like the style of Salvaged, you’ll enjoy my other work — I’m trying to build a brand off of my personal voice and style, not genre, so you might find yourself enjoying something unexpected. If you enjoy found footage haunting stories, Asylum is a good place to go. If you’re more into gothic fantasy and period pieces, House Of Furies is a good choice, and if you enjoy zombie survival then Allison Hewitt Is Trapped.