FROM Geraldton to the universe and the world's largest comic and movie franchise, Amanda Bridgeman is proof rural education and life are an inspiration, not a disadvantage.
The Western Australian Mid West and its surreal coastal, red dirt and farming landscapes were the early inspiration and playground for a writer's imagination that would go on to create alternate realities and characters.
While creating her own worlds, characters, plots and series in the sci-fi, crime and thriller genres, her foray into tie-in writing for the Marvel franchise opened her up to a whole new experience - fandom.
Ms Bridgeman was born and bred in Geraldton, spending 17 years and all her schooling there.
"I went to St Lawrence's primary school and then I was in the last graduating year that went through Stella Maris Catholic College, before it became Nagle Catholic College," Ms Bridgeman said.
"I moved to Perth for university and - other than a year and half in London - Perth has been my home ever since.
"I went to Murdoch University and did a BA in communication studies, I basically studied film and television and creative writing."
At the end of her degree, Ms Bridgeman felt disillusioned with her chances of making it in her field of choice.
"I knew that only the top one per cent were going to get jobs in the screen industry," she said.
"And after 15 years of straight schooling I just wanted to go out and earn money like all my friends were."
This inevitably led to spending a good portion of her twenties following her boyfriend's band around before making the journey halfway around the globe.
When all her friends started to settle down and have children she decided to run away to London, the scene for the next phase of her creative evolution.
"While I was over in London I started to do film and TV extra work as an actress," Ms Bridgeman said.
"This work reinvigorated the spark in me, wanting to get back into the film and TV industry.
"Sitting on set and watching them set up all the shots was just amazing, I absolutely loved it."
Her father becoming sick prompted
her return to home shores.
It didn't take long for her to find herself back in the film and TV realm, working as an extra in Perth before experiencing a defining moment while watching the Academy Awards broadcast one evening in 2008.
"I was watching the Oscars and (American writer and producer) Diablo Cody won best original screenplay for Juno," Ms Bridgeman said.
"This gave me inspiration, I had a lightning bolt moment and I thought 'well if she can do it, why can't I?'.
"You have to dream big."
With a renewed drive and enthusiasm Ms Bridgeman decided it was time to pluck one of the stories out of her head and start writing, even if she felt a little out of practice.
"By this stage it had been 15 years since university and I was very rusty on writing screenplays," she said.
"I couldn't get past the first page.
"I realised: A -I was rusty and B - I didn't have enough of the story worked out in order to write it."
To help work through this she decided to write the story as a novel first, to figure it out, with every intention of going back and writing the screenplay.
As a teenager she wrote a lot, writing the movies in her head as novels and found this process worked well for her plot development.
The story she wrote after having the Oscar viewing epiphany would go on to become Ms Bridgeman's first published novel and ultimately the first in her Aurora series - Aurora: Darwin - which was published in 2013.
"I wrote five novels in the Aurora series before I got the courage to show anyone," she said.
"Then it got published really quickly because I had five novels already written.
"They were published over the course of three years with Momentum Books, which was the digital imprint of Pan MacMillan Australia."
With two books still under contract Momentum announced its closure, prompting Ms Bridgeman to get back the rights to these and she has self-published the Aurora series since.
It now consists of seven books - one of which was inspired by the small, historical town of Greenough, 24 kilometres south of Geraldton.
"Spoiler alert, in book six in the Aurora series, Decimal, the hero comes to WA heading to the SKA facilities," Ms Bridgeman said.
"My inspiration comes from everywhere, but in this case I remember well my childhood visiting Greenough and it was just the ideal setting."
The Aurora series is a best-selling military, science fiction, space opera, pitched on Ms Bridgeman's website with the summary: "Fans of Battlestar Galactica, The Expanse and the Alien film series will love this emotionally-charged military space opera that has readers hooked across the globe."
From this success, she has gone from strength-to-strength.
Ms Bridgeman is a Scribe Award winner, which recognises the best international tie-in writers, a two-time Tin Duck Award winner, a WA science fiction prize, and a finalist in the national Aurealis and Ditmar awards for speculative and science fiction writing respectively.
She has also written another original work, the alien contact drama, The Time Of The Stripes.
Ms Bridgeman said after writing for sometime she finally had the breakthrough she had hoped for.
"I eventually got a novel across the line with Angry Robot Books," Ms Bridgeman said.
"That book was called The Subjugate."
The Subjugate and The Sensation make up the sci-fi crime thriller Salvation series, based on two detectives trying to find a serial killer in a town filled with neurally edited violent criminals.
"At the time I had read a lot about the neural implant they were trialling with Parkinson's disease sufferers," Ms Bridgeman said.
"So the idea to neurally edit and control criminals came about.
"The Subjugate is being developed for TV by some very exciting producers, Anonymous Content, the people behind True Detective, Mr Robot, and The Alienist.
"It's been optioned by Australian producers Aquarius Films, who made the films Lion, Berlin Syndrome and Dirt Music."
Screenwriter Becca Johnstone is attached and the project recently received development funding from Screen Australia.
To add to its accolades, The Subjugate, is also being studied at two German universities, Dsseldorf and Cologne, as part of a program on Australian speculative fiction, in conjunction with the Centre for Australian Studies.
Ms Bridgeman's tie-in writing for the Marvel X-Men universe franchise came about through Aconyte Books, at first she took an opportunity to pitch for the board game Pandemic.
"Eerily this was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit," she said.
"I wrote the book in 2019, it was edited in 2020 and released in September 2021."
She went on to win the Scribe Award for her procedural thriller, Pandemic: Patient Zero, which was the first novel set in the award-winning Pandemic board game universe and released worldwide.
The delays involved with the editing and release of the Pandemic novel ended up opening another door.
"The publisher said 'Do you want to pitch on some Marvel stuff?'," Ms Bridgeman said.
"They gave me a list and Marvel was on it, so I originally pitched for the Marvel Heroines line, because there are several lines you can pitch for.
"They give you a compendium of characters to choose from.
"They are the secondary characters, not the big main names."
After researching online, Ms Bridgeman decided upon Dazzler.
She said Dazzler as a character came about, around 1980, as a joint initiative between Marvel and Casablanca Records.
Coincidentally at that time Casablanca Records was producing the band KISS, a fact that sealed the deal for Ms Bridgeman - a KISS fan.
"Dazzler started out as a disco chick, but over the years she became a rock chick," Ms Bridgeman said.
"Because she is technically an X-Man, in the X-Men universe, she had to go with the Marvel: School of X line of books instead of the Marvel Heroines line.
"It was a lengthy pitching process, but we got it over the line.
"It was amazing to see my manuscript come back from Marvel with notes on it.
"I was in a pinch yourself moment, knowing someone from Marvel was reading my work."
Her latest novel, Sound of Light, set in the Marvel X-Men universe and featuring the mutant Dazzler, was released worldwide and has been embraced by Dazzler fans around the globe.
"Dazzler has a really big following in the gay community," Ms Bridgeman said.
"They really loved what I did with her, the feedback has been great."
While being a published author in her own right, she said experiencing the particular form of fandom that Marvel X-Men attracts has been awesome.
She said attending Perth Comic Con in April this year was an awesome experience, which meant she to got to see up-close how much people love the characters and embrace the whole universe.
Ms Bridgeman has also written an X-Men short story, Eye Of The Storm, part of the Marvel: School of
Her latest release is The Darkest Cargo, the first book in the Spud Compton novella trilogy - a sci-fi action/adventure horror series. Book 2, The Deepest Jungle will be released in June and Book 3, The Deftest Deceit, will be released in July.
Her global success proves regional WA might be remote and sparsely populated, but it is the source of talent on an international scale.
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