Issue 047 Author Interview: Amy Bennett and “Elixir of Life”

In today’s installment of Issue 047 author interviews, we bring you “Elixir of Life,” a detective story set in space! Read on to see where Amy Bennett found her inspiration.

LSQ: Wow, what a twist! I’m stunned and thrilled in equal measure. I wish the story was longer—I didn’t want to leave this world so soon. Have you written other stories set on Black Agora Space Station?

Amy: Thank you! “Elixir of Life” was initially meant to be a much bigger story involving more of the struggle between the mafia gangs (that Sergio and Kenji belonged to) and the Titan Corporation for control of the elixir drug. It got a bit complicated, though, so I had to trim it back, otherwise I would’ve definitely blown it out to a novella length. I think I like the ambiguous finality of Carina’s story, though, and I wouldn’t return to the world. But it certainly inspired me to tap into writing more about the stars and spaceships we chase in sci-fi.

LSQ: You do a great job of creating well-rounded characters in such a tight space. I’d love to know more about them, especially the enigmatic Theia. Which character came to you first as you thought about this story?

Amy: It was definitely Carina who came to me first. A jaded, tough-talking detective with a penchant for falling for femme fatales—but set in space!—was such a fun idea to play with, and I had her world-weary voice pinned down from the start. There is a formula to private eyes we see in books or movies, so it really was just a process of fleshing her out as someone who lives on Agora. Theia, too, was really quite easy to conceptualize. I liked how little screen time she got. She was equal parts alluring and aloof; something like a dream, or a brief moment of awful clarity, lingering in Carina’s memory.

LSQ: This story has such a noir feel, and I love your hardboiled detective character. What made you decide to blend noir with science fiction? Did you draw inspiration from any other stories or authors in particular?

Amy: It really came down to what media I was consuming at the time—crime novels and podcasts—and being in a stage of wanting to experiment with writing beyond my usual go-to fantasy. It was just a little glowing ember of inspiration that sparked into life when I was listening to the wry narration of Juno Steel, a Mars-bound private eye, in The Penumbra Podcast. I just hadn’t really entertained the idea of hardboiled crime in a sci-fi setting, or that it could work so well, and I fell right into the secret, mystifying gap between the merging of the two genres. And I don’t think I can ignore the pop culture importance of 1982’s Blade Runner, too, with imprinting such a vivid image of a futuristic world onto me. That kind of revolting harmony between urban and alien settings really helped to work out Black Agora Space Station, create a tone, and develop the world—or universe—beyond it.