Paul Grover

Science Fiction Author

An interview with Mira Thorn


So let’s start with some background, where did you grow up?

I come from Earth.


Specifically?

I was born in Hammersmith, in London.  When I was five, my Dad took a job in the legal department of the Pan-African Mining Corporation and we moved to Cape Town.  We lived there for several years and when I was nine my dad quit his job and sank his savings into an Energy Farm in Namibia.  


It was amazing. I loved it.   


My sister hated it, we were between the Namib desert and the Skeleton Coast. 


Anyway, Nina was always a city girl. She is six years older than me and was just getting into boys and parties so it hit her hard. I fell in love with the place. I had a whole desert to play in.


When I was in my teens I got into JetSuit racing. I had a trial for the regional team in the J4 category.


There was pretty big Rocket Punk scene in the whole of Southern Africa. It was centred on Cape Town, but everyone came to Namibia to fly Fish River Canyon.


The Rocket Punk subculture that got me through my teens. It's kind of hard when your girlfriends are attracted to boys and you're attracted to your girlfriends.  Being a Rocket Punk got me out of that whole social world. 


I often wonder if I would have been good enough for J1… I doubt it, but it’s good to dream.


What do you do now?

That’s a good question.  I’m still officially a naval officer, but as you know the Navy is going through some changes.  I’m spending a lot of time on the Frontier, hauling cargo and… um… doing archaeology.


Is astro-archaeology something that interests you?

No, not especially. It seems to have an interest in me.


They call you Mouse, where does that come from?

My dad used to call me Mira Mouse because of my size.  The flight controllers on Illustrious called Mouse because they say I sound squeaky on the com.


I don’t mind it, it’s a part of me now.


So how was life on the Berlin?

It was okay, routine.  I think I needed that after Mars and everything that came after.  Some of you know my life has not been easy these last few years and I would be lying if I were to say it’s not affected me.


Flying a Steelside is very different to drop ship or a fighter. It’s not hands on and you’re just not connected in the same way.  It is pretty sweet putting ½ million tonnes of steel on exactly the spot the captain wants it. That can make me smile and I see why cruiser pukes do it.  In the longer term it’s probably not for me.


Sure, What’s the scariest thing you have encountered on your travels?

Another difficult one… Mars was awful, a colossal shit storm.  You know up until we deployed, flying had been a game.  All I wanted to do was go faster, lower and more extreme than anyone else.  Aussie Jon grounded me and I signed on with the Corps just to get back at him.


I have not got the words to tell you how frightening it was, during the last few months we were loosing crews on a daily basis.  I think part of me died there.


When we lost the Berlin, I honestly thought that was it and we were done for.  The Kobo was a mess, and it took all of Ethan Tate’s expertise to get it running.  We did it and we got through it.  It’s ironic,  had I not been through Mars I don’t thing I would have come through it.


I guess if it doesn’t kill you it strengthens you… although sometimes things that do kill you strengthen you, that’s a different story.


You’re one of the most decorated pilots to come out of the war, they call you the Queen of Cydonia…

Maybe… but it’s not worth it. War is never worth it.


Tell us a little about your friends.

That won’t take long!  I have known Rich Barnes forever, he’s like the biggest man you ever did see, straight talking and loyal.


Then there is Monica Garret; she is the medic on the Berlin. She can drink anyone under the table and does not suffer fools graciously.  She kept me sane on the ship and helped in other ways...I’d tell you, but it would get her struck off the medical register.  


I made some new friends too, Xander is… well you know who Xander is.  He has a son called Luke who looks a lot like him.


Ethan Tate was one of our Marines on the Berlin, a sweet kid who saved our arses.


Alex!  How can I forget Alex?  Alex Kite is a total dick and I love him to bits for it.  I would not change him if I could. Probably one of my closest friends, he knows things about me no one else does.


I love them all and I don’t tell them enough.


Any romantic involvement?

There is someone… its early days… but, you know, I think she’s the one.  Have I gone red?


I’m so lucky, Tish is the smartest and most compassionate person I have ever met.  She can handle herself in a fight, but she has an innocence the universe can’t ever take away.


Yeah, early days, but she’s special.


Whom (or what) do you really hate?

Myself… sometimes… sorry that makes me sound weird.  I have had my issues but these days I’m a lot better.


Other than that liars and hypocrites are high on my list.  They change you, once you’ve been taken for a fool once you become suspicious of everyone and everything.


What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?

I like beer, there is a Tarantella brew called Belt King, they make it from belt ice and it’s lethal.  Colour–anything black matches my mood most of the time.


Out in space there is not a lot to do, I read a little now my vision is better and Tish has some weird musical tastes she’s introduced me to Frontier Metal… it’s brutal.


Planet side I’ve had a few runs in a JetSuit, only J3 spec.  I took on Mizarma’s Avalon Canyon with Shannon Wade recently.  That was amazing, a dream come true.  She is so fast I could barely keep up.  We’re talking about flying Fish River Canyon back home, once everything settles down.


Shannon Wade?  The Shannon Wade?

Yep!


How did you meet her?

Long story, interesting too.


What does the future hold for you?

I wanted to sit in the desert and grow old and cranky but I have seen what’s coming and it does not look good for us as a species.


I’m not sure war is the answer, maybe if we can come together humans will make it. If I can play a small part, I’ll do it.


There are certain people who want to see me on a Steelside, but I don’t know if that’s for me.  I’d rather strap on a star fighter or a drop ship. it’s what I do best.


Tell us about your Ship, why Second Chance?

Tish named her.  We don’t get second chances often and the ship’s name recognises that.  I have time to live my life again and I intend to take it.  This time I’m doing it on my terms.


As ships go, she is standard; we have some extra armament and the shield generator is upgraded.  I recently saw an Aurora that had been customised to a bounty hunter's specification.  I got to thinking maybe the Chance could be uprated into a war horse.


Best thing about her?  My stateroom has an enviro-sim system!


You mentioned ADD in the past, how has that affected you in your career or life?

I’m impulsive, I don’t always think things through.  It’s always there but I think I manage it quite well.


How did you join the Navy with ADD?

I lied on my application.  Like I said, I’m impulsive and don’t think things through (laughs).  


You said you have issues, is it something you want to talk about?

Yeah, I guess.  Most people think my troubles came from the war.  I think that brought everything to the fore but I have always struggled with doubt and fear.  


Things scare me, so I try to control them, dominate them.  It can lead to some weird behaviour.


<pauses>


Over the years I have self harmed, used drugs, slept with the wrong people.  I have been suicidal.


It’s not something I talk about easily, but it is something that needs to be spoken of.  I am not special; I am not unique.  I know there will be people out there reading this who have been through something similar or are going through it.  My message to them is don’t give up, talk to someone. It’s hard, but do it.


There is no problem that can’t be fixed, somehow.  It’s not easy, but it is worth it.  Get help and don’t let your demons take your life away, you are too special.


So what are your immediate plans?

Dunno, I have a universe to save… come back to me once I’ve ticked that off the list!