The Story Behind Spectra by Joanne Elder

Often science fiction plots involve extraterrestrials carrying out ruthless experiments on humans. I loved the idea of switching it up and stirring in some deadly consequences for those immoral enough to exploit a newly discovered, peaceful and intelligent life form. In Spectra, one man’s life crumbles as he struggles to stop the genocide of newly discovered energy-based life forms so unique they cause humans to acquire extraordinary intelligence for a brief period following exposure to them. Flirting with genius is too intoxicating for the chief antagonist in the story, and he decides to harness the power of the entities with little regard for the fact that he’s killing them in the process. Spectra explores the fact that human greed doesn’t necessarily come with a dollar sign, but can be manifested as something entirely different. In this case, power and control come with extreme intellect.

In my writing, I like to explore the unknown and science fiction is the perfect avenue to do that with. Past experience has shown that today’s speculative fiction may become tomorrow’s scientific fact. A subplot in Spectra narrows in on the human soul and what it is. Scientifically speaking, if it exists, it has to be something. So does God for that matter. Perhaps I was inspired to explore this particular unknown after losing my father and questioning the scientific rational behind an ever-after.

As part of the research for Spectra, I studied the human energy field. In particular, work done at UCLA where it was actually measured, thus proving that we have an energy aura surrounding our body. I also researched plasma theory to model the energy-based life forms in Spectra as plasma life, which, interestingly, could well exist. The challenge was to take this research and convey it in a completely non-technical manner so it would be merely thought provoking and entertaining for the reader.

As far as the publishing process goes, I have no doubt that all debut authors follow the same path I did. Once Spectra was complete, I queried literary agents and large presses to find a home for it. Although it’s not impossible for a debut author to land a contract in this manner, it’s very difficult and the waiting time for responses can be painstakingly long. After all, agents get bombarded with queries on mass. Ultimately, patience got the better of me and I started to submit the manuscript to smaller presses. For submissions, many smaller presses allow you to send in your entire manuscript rather than just a few chapters, which I feel serves to the author’s advantage. I very quickly signed a contract with MuseItUp Publishing and I’ve found them to be excellent. The sequel to Spectra, Entity, is also published with MuseItUp Publishing.


Joanne Elder is a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Engineering Science at the University of Western Ontario. During her professional career, she spent several years in the aeronautical and nuclear industries, published numerous technical papers in the field of Metallurgical Engineering and presented at international conferences. She now resides in King City, Ontario with her two teen-aged children and husband. Spectra, Elder’s debut novel, and the sequel, Entity, were published by MuseItUp Publishing.

You can visit Joanne Elder’s website at


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