All About Ethel the Space Pirate

Back in February, Meankitty interviewed the cats who own author Jess Granger, and today I (the human, not the cat!) wanted to point out something else wonderful about Jess, besides the fact she’s a devoted pet servant and author of one of my favorite subgenres, science fiction romance. Jess has also been sharing a “choose your own romance” style adventure on her blog about Ethel the Space Pirate which is both hilarious and tricksy! Readers get to help pick what Ethel’s going to do next. As I too have a choose your own romance (albeit not available on my blog), I am always looking for more fiction in this format and wanted to share Ethel.

Jess had this to say about Ethel’s origins:

I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when I decided to write The Many Adventures of Ethel the Space Pirate. I wanted to put up a free read on the Fun Stuff page of my website, because I figured if people read something and liked it, they’d be more likely to pick up Beyond the Rain. I only had one problem, I didn’t have anything written. So I thought doing a serial story on The Butterfly Blog would be fun. Hopefully I could attract some loyal readers and play with it, like the days when I used to write fan fiction.

I thought making the story interactive would turn it into something new and different. I figured letting the readers decide where the story would go next would be entertaining. I didn’t expect it to force me into a whole new style of spontaneous writing. I’m a plotter by nature. I usually know exactly how I want to end a story. In fact, the first thing that usually comes to me in a story is the big dramatic crisis at the end of the book. I guess I like the drama.

With Ethel, I have no idea what is going to happen next. That is a strange place to be as a writer. For example, I always give people three choices of what Ethel should do next. In one section of the story, I had two choices already woven into the part I had just written. I knew what was going to happen, for the most part, if the readers chose either one of those two.

Unfortunately, I needed a third choice. So I looked back and noticed I had written about some tracks in the dunes as a setting detail, and I decided to make following the tracks the third option. Guess which one the readers chose? Yeah. I had no idea who or what made those tracks or what they led to. Ha ha, joke’s on me.

With only one day between the reader choice and the next post, I have to think of the next segment and write it fast. That also doesn’t lend itself to much forward thinking. However, the story is turning into a wild adventure. There’s a freedom to writing fast, and not knowing where you’re going. At some point, I made something explode, just because I was bored with writing dialog. That explosion has led to an exciting twist in the plot.

Now with Ethel fans showing up as characters in the story, I’ve got a feeling things are going to get even more wild. I even let the readers decide what Ethel looks like. Will Ethel fall for the dashing Qinn, a mix of Indiana Jones and Han Solo? Or will the dark and dangerous bounty hunter, Devar storm into the story with guns blazing and steal poor Ethel’s heart?

I can’t tell you, because I don’t know! That’s up to you to decide. Any way you slice it, the story is a blast to write. You can read the whole story from start to finish here, but be sure to read the latest chapter every Wednesday morning on The Butterfly Blog.


For more info about Jess, her website’s here. Everyone be sure to pay Ethel a visit this week! You won’t be sorry you spent the time to follow her adventures.

Jody W.