Friday, November 30, 2012

A Secret about Dark Space

Shh! Don't tell anyone, but I've got a secret. My boys from Dark Space, Brady and Cam? They're Aussie boys.

Not that I mention that in Dark Space. Not that Australia even exists in the near future where Dark Space is set. In fact, the only recognisable geography that I mention? Quebec. Yeah, I don't know why either. 

Brady and Cam are both from Fourteen Beta which, in my head at least, is Australia. And Brady is from a very specific part of Australia: the north-west of Queensland, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Most of Dark Space is set on the station, but I wanted to give Brady a unique part of the world to be homesick for; something that was just his. Brady describes home here: 

We were sitting on a paddock of red dirt dotted with clumps of scrubby grass. About fifty meters away, cockatoos screamed in the line of trees that marked the riverbank. Follow that riverbank east, and around the bend you would see the stacks. You would see the smoke pouring from them and hear the bash of metal on metal as it reverberated through the town and rattled the walls of the fibro shacks.

Follow the riverbank west, and you would hit the mudflats, the mangroves, the rotted pylons of the old jetty, and the rusted croc traps half-submerged in the saltwater.

Although, I've just realised...the cockatoos probably give it away, right?

Yeah, I'm fairly sure the guy on the left is mocking me. Cockatoos give great mock. 

The Earth of Dark Space is one that has been almost destroyed by the alien race the Faceless, so-called because... well, you'll see. I didn't world-build for Dark Space so much as world-destroy. National boundaries no longer exist. Major cities are nothing but ruins. There was a massive refugee crisis, and there still kind of is. Three generations ago, Brady's hometown was a refugee camp. Now it's a town-by-default, because there was nowhere else for people to go. 

Which brings me to another Australian thing: the word reffo

This was an offensive term for refugees that arrived in Australia post-World War Two. You'll read it a lot in Dark Space, because, whether we like it or not, the first things that rear their ugly heads in times of crisis are our oldest prejudices. 

Dark Space is out from Loose Id on December 4.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cover reveal: Dark Space

Omigosh, you guys! The cover for Dark Space is out. It was designed by Mina Carter, and it is awesome

I am totally in love with Brady. I mean, the rest of the cover is great, but seriously, they could have replaced Cam with a fuzzy pink bunny and the space station with a Wagon Wheel and I wouldn't have noticed. Can't. Look. Away. From. Brady. 

And this is my cue to throw the blurb in your face again, right? :) 

Brady Garrett needs to go home. He’s a conscripted recruit on Defender Three, one of a network of stations designed to protect the Earth from alien attack. He's also angry, homesick, and afraid. If he doesn’t get home he’ll lose his family, but there’s no way back except in a body bag.

Cameron Rushton needs a heartbeat. Four years ago Cam was taken by the Faceless — the alien race that almost destroyed Earth. Now he’s back, and when the doctors make a mess of getting him out of stasis, Brady becomes his temporary human pacemaker. Except they’re sharing more than a heartbeat: they’re sharing thoughts, memories, and some very vivid dreams.

Not that Brady’s got time to worry about his growing attraction to another guy, especially the one guy in the universe who can read his mind. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just biochemistry and electrical impulses. It doesn’t change the truth: Brady’s alone in the universe.

Now the Faceless are coming and there’s nothing anyone can do. You can’t stop your nightmares. Cam says everyone will live, but Cam’s probably a traitor and a liar like the military thinks. But that’s okay. Guys like Brady don’t expect happy endings.

Dark Space is out on December 4 from Loose Id. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dark Space: Meet Cam

Last week I introduced you guys to Brady Garrett, the narrator of Dark Space. Now meet Cameron Rushton. Cam has spent the last four years as a prisoner of the Faceless. Here, Brady comes face to face with him for the first time. 

     Branski had said Cameron Rushton was in stasis, and I guess I’d thought of some sort of plastic pod, all sleek and smooth and rounded, like a throwback to those old sci-fi movies. But this was nothing like that.

     This was black, the same oily black as the Faceless battle armor, and it wasn’t sleek. It was bulky and misshapen. It reminded me of a beetle’s carapace. Back home in Kopa we used to get those big hissing rhinoceros beetles, with sharp mandibles and articulated legs. The stasis unit could have passed for one of those, except it was about ten feet long, lying on its back with its legs clamped around an opaque sac of fluid with veins through it. It was fucking terrifying.

     Just looking at it, I could feel the blood draining from my face.

     There was a body floating inside the milky fluid, and I didn’t have to ask: Cameron Rushton. It looked like he was being consumed by a giant insect, or hatched by one.

     I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was grotesque. Why the hell had Doc asked me to be here for this? Whatever this was. I fought the urge to shove my shaking hands inside my pockets. I tried to remember to breathe. If I hadn’t been surrounded by a bunch of officers, I would have cut and run. No fucking question.


     “Take a look, Garrett,” Doc said and pushed me forward.

     Shit no.

     My stomach clenched and churned.

     My skin crawled. I didn’t want to be in the same room with the unit, let alone close enough to touch. I didn’t want to get closer. I wanted to be outside. I wanted to be in my barracks. I wanted to be a million miles away, with the sun at my back and my feet in the dirt. Not here. Not in the black, in the cold, with a nightmare right in front of me.

     The unit hummed like a living thing, and I couldn’t shake the idea that if I got too close, it would suddenly attack. One of those mandibles would detach from the sac in a split second and stab me right through the guts. It would be like every horror movie I’d ever seen. Maybe that’s why all those officers wanted me there. I was their test bunny.

     I looked back at Doc.

     Please. Please don’t make me.

     He waved me forward.

     I moved closer to the unit, the soles of my boots squeaking on the floor. The unit was inky black. I could see my reflection in it, more or less: a pale face with big, scared eyes and a bad haircut.

     Keep it together, Garrett.

     I reached out and touched the bug. It was warm underneath my trembling fingers. It was smooth. It even felt like a carapace. I couldn’t see a power source, but I could feel power humming through it, below the seamless outer casing. I ran my palms over it, just to be sure it wouldn’t move. Then I raised myself up onto the toes of my boots and took a look inside at Cameron Rushton.

     A pallid face lay close to the surface of the opaque fluid.

     It was the most famous face of my generation’s war, a face I’d seen a hundred times on posters and TV. Immersed in that milky fluid, Cameron Rushton’s face was pale, paler than mine, and thin and angular as though the skin was stretched too tight across the bones of his skull. His eyes were closed; dark lashes lay against his cheeks. There was a tiny bubble caught between the lashes of his left eye. I found myself reaching out to wipe it away. I stopped myself before I touched the sac. Shit. My heart raced. What the hell was I thinking?

     Cameron Rushton was naked. He looked like a corpse. Were they sure he was alive? How could they be sure?

     I turned around, and all the officers were staring at me.

     “What do you think, Garrett?” Doc asked me.

     “Is he dead, Major?” I asked, my voice wavering. I thought I could see his body moving slightly, rippling almost, but maybe that was the power thrumming through the unit. What the fuck did I know about Faceless technology?

     Doc came and stood beside me. “Touch it.”

     You fucking touch it.

    Doc winked at me. The gesture was so out of place, so fucking absurd when we were standing beside a piece of humming Faceless technology that could be anything, that could mean we were already dead, that I almost laughed. I caught the laugh before it broke free, smothered it into a cough, and then remembered that this was terrifying.


Dark Space will be out from Loose Id on December 4. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

We have a winner!

Thanks so much to everyone who followed the He Is Worthy blog tour, and took the time to leave comments on my posts. Aw, you guys! :) 

The winner is Urb, who commented over at The Armchair Reader. Congrats, Urb, and I hope you like Tribute and The Island. And I'll bet you'll find something awesome to buy over at Riptide

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dark Space: Meet Brady

Thanks to everyone who's joined me on the blog tour for He is Worthy. It's been a blast, and there is still plenty of time to leave comments and go in the draw to win stuff.

Now, straight from Rome to outer space — that's what I love most about writing. I get to go wherever my imagination drags me, and hopefully take some other people along for the ride as well. 

Here's a teaser for Dark Space, out from Loose Id on December 4. Meet Brady, the narrator. He's got a lot of snark. He mostly uses it to hide how shit-scared he is. 

I was trying hard to get drunk.

I took a swig of Hooper’s moonshine and made a face at the taste, and then the burn. It was so rough I almost spat it over the recruiting poster tacked onto the wall of the storeroom. Join the Military and Save the Earth. Bullshit.

They probably just couldn’t fit Join the Military and Become Fucking Cannon Fodder for Aliens on the posters. Or Join the Military and Get Abducted and Fucked-Up by Faceless Nightmares in Ways You Can’t Even Imagine. I mean, look at Cameron Rushton.

We were just talking about Cameron Rushton. We usually were. He was one of the standard topics of conversation on nights like these. He came in at number three on what was a pretty short fucking list.

First we talked about girls. Not girls like any of us had seen in the flesh, but those girls in magazines with huge tits and puffed-up lips and sleepy eyes, like they’d been fucked hard all night and they were mostly pouting now because the guy finally pulled out. We talked about those girls a lot. And it was all talk. Every single one of us was conscripted at sixteen. Some of us might have copped a feel of some girl from home, but we sure as hell hadn’t been plowing busty centerfolds until they went cross-eyed. Any guy who reckoned he’d been with a girl like that was full of shit.

After girls we talked about the officers, and which ones hated us most that week, and how we never did anything to deserve it, and they were just assholes, and if they didn’t have those stripes on their shoulders, they wouldn’t be so tough. Man-to-man, we could take them. That was all talk too, I guess.

Then there was Cameron Rushton and the Faceless. Couldn’t have one without the other.

“The Faceless will take you apart cell by cell,” Hooper said, taking the bottle off me. “Cell by cell, and you’ll feel every cut.”

Hooper was crazy, though.

He worked on the Outer Ring, in the Tubes.

I hated the Tubes. I didn’t like knowing there was only one little air lock between me and asphyxiation. The Tubes were sleek tunnels that led from the hangars on the Outer Ring straight out into the black. The Hawks were launched from the Tubes.

I wouldn’t go to the Outer Ring if I could avoid it. I liked to stick to the Inner Ring and the Core. It was just as precarious in the Core, probably, but it felt more solid somehow. I felt like I could never get enough air in the Tubes.

“That’s impossible,” Cesari scoffed.

“It’s not! It’s nanotechnology!” Hooper was in engineering, so maybe he knew what he was talking about. But he was also crazy. Some of that was probably down to the fact he spent half his life breathing in solvents and fumes from fuel hoses, and the other half making moonshine in the scrubbers, but Hooper was more stir-crazy than all of us. He’d been on the station longer. Hooper was eight years into his ten-year service, and eight years was a long time stuck in a tin can in space with no women.

The government said that women were too valuable to risk, so they couldn’t serve on the stations anymore. Fucking government. Fucking Faceless.

“It’s nanotechnology!” Hooper said. “Right, Garrett?”

Why the fuck was he asking me?

“Dude, like what they’re developing for med techs!”

I didn’t want to get drawn into this shit. I was just here for the booze and the cards, but apparently Hooper had decided I was his expert witness. I shrugged. “I read in a med journal they’re making nanobots that you can inject right into the heart. Doesn’t mean the Faceless have them, though.”

I hated even saying that word. What if I choked on it and all the guys laughed at how afraid I was? Or maybe what I believed when I was a kid was true: say their name aloud and it would summon them. Like demons, like every horror story I ever heard and every nightmare I ever had.

“I’ll bet they do! I’ll bet they used them to cut Cameron Rushton up!”

Cesari rolled his eyes. “They didn’t take Cameron Rushton to cut him up into pieces, Hooper. They took him to make biological weapons they could use on us!”

It was more logical than Hooper’s theory, but not exactly comforting.

“Yeah,” Hooper said. “And after that they cut him up!”

The worst part was, he was probably right.


Dark Space will be out from Loose Id on December 4. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Goin' Roman!

To celebrate the release of He Is Worthy, I'm going on a blog tour. And guess what? All roads lead to Rome!

So strap on your sturdiest sandals, load up your cart, or lie back and let your litter bearers do all the heavy lifting -- and join me on the Riptide Publishing / Lisa Henry blog tour

November 12 - Book Reviews and More by Kathy 

November 13  - Elisa Rolle 

November 14 - The Armchair Reader

November 15 - Joyfully Jay

November 16 - Words of Wisdom

If you leave a comment at any stop along the tour, you'll be in the running to win a copy of my two previous eBooks—Tribute and The Island—and a $10 Riptide Publishing credit. Entries close at midnight, U.S. Eastern time, on November 18, and winners will be announced the next day. The contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

And don't forget that the Warriors of Rome Collection is available for pre-order here, as a collection or individually, and all pre-orders enter you in a drawing to win a Nook Simple Touch.

You can buy He Is Worthy or read an excerpt here

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Happily Ever After?

This might seem like a weird confession for a writer of romance to make, but here it goes: 

I don't believe in Happily Ever Afters. 

Please disregard what it says in my little blurby thing. I was probably drunk or delusional when I wrote it. Not to say that I'm always drunk, and not to say that delusional always picks up the slack when I'm not... Let's just say that life is more interesting when you have no idea what's going to happen next, and get to the point. Which was that I don't believe in Happily Ever Afters.

There is an implication, at least I think there is, that living happily ever after is boring. It implies a life free of conflict and strife, and who the hell wants one of those? Conflict and strife define us. They make us stronger. They teach us important things about ourselves. They make real life interesting, and they're absolutely essential in fiction. 

I also think relationships are more complicated and interesting than Happily Ever Afters. At least, they should be. 

I first had a problem with HEAs when I was a child. 

"And they all lived happily ever after," my mother said, and closed the book. 

"But what happens next?" 

"They all lived happily ever after." 

"But what did they do?" 

"It doesn't say. It can be whatever you want." 

But surely if it was as exciting as what had come before, someone would have written it down? 

But you know the thing I hate most about Happily Ever Afters? The next words are always The End. Close the book, go to sleep, the story's done. And that's just not good enough. I don't want to leave a stagnant world when I close a book. I want to leave it changing, vibrant, alive.  

Maybe I just hate to reach the end of a story. Maybe that's the real reason I choose to write Happily For Nows. Leave that door open just a bit, so there's always a way to go back. 

As a reader, I like that. As a writer, I love it. That's my happily ever after right there. 

Do you prefer an HEA or a HFN?