Friday Five: Jami Gray

2814First published with Escape: June 2017
Favourite romance trope: Emotionally scarred H/H, with Alpha tendencies from a military background, with paranormal elements. (Yeah, picking one isn’t easy.)
Ideal hero (in three words): Protective, complex, unexpected
Ideal heroine (in three words): Courageous, Quick-witted, kick-ass
Latest book: Lying in Ruins

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

An avid reader, when I hit high school, in-between the fantasy and murder-mysteries from my school library, I started sneaking my mom’s romance novels out of the house. Then entering the big bad world as an adult, I stumbled through life and discovered my characters suddenly became harder to hurt (emotionally and physically) while their relationships became crucial to my stories. A therapist would have a field day with this, but my stories shifted to heroines who didn’t need a hero to ride to her rescue. Sometimes it was more satisfying if she rumbled up to his rescue on her Harley.

How do you write? What is your process like?

I started out a solid pantser (one who writes with little to no planning), something I soon learned would not work long term, mainly because I’m a series writer and it’s way too easy to lose a sub-plot or a subtle piece of a character before you realise it. After eleven books I have mastered the art of a basic outline. Granted it can’t be too detailed because then I get bored (not a good thing when you’re the one telling the story), but my outline has enough major points to ward off distractions and keep me (somewhat) on point. Characters tend to come to me first, bringing their worlds along for the ride, then comes the fun part—creating conflicts of all shapes and sizes.

What was your hardest scene to write? Which kind of scenes do you find difficult to write? Which scenes do you enjoy writing the most?

Some of the more emotional scenes are difficult, only because to do justice to why a character reacts the way they do, without providing an easy emotional out, is tricky business. Anger’s a great emotion, but can be overused. Fear, even in the strongest person, can be the most corrosive. Love can cut both ways on the good/evil spectrum. But emotions are the core of who we are, and why we choose to act the way we do to any given situation. Writing such scenes aren’t just painful for my characters, they’re painful to write, but when done right they’re also the most rewarding.

 

What do you do when you’re stuck with a scene?

One of the most frustrating parts about story creation is hitting those plot pits, you know the kind that will drop your story into an endless chasm, never to come back? Yeah, those. The fun part about being a writer, nothing is ever final until it’s published, which means much like the awesome Dr. Who, I get to play with timelines, or in this case, story lines. Since the scene is stuck in my head, I’ll leave it for a day or so while I mentally rewrite it ad nauseam, changing little things with each rendition until something finally wrenches those clawing talons from my ankles.

 

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Do you have one already? 

As much as I’d like to say I’m bi-symbolic because I could swing either toward wolves or leopards, going to have to admit I tend to lean more towards the canine. As a proud rescue mama of my Fur Minxes, Lola and Angel, it’s easy to guess I’m a huge dog person, and yes, I’ll admit, being highly allergic to the feline population doesn’t help. However, leopards are stealthy, cunning, majestic felines that rule their worlds with a cynical eye, but wolves have this fabulous duality of both pack animals and lone predators built on a basis of loyalty and fierce determination. An introvert by nature, something about the ability to move between social and solo appeals to me.

Fur Minxes

 

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?

When a two-hour span of my search history chronicles: How to set up a marijuana grow house, US Dept. of Defense’s list of current projects, most lethal FOB (Forward Operations Bases) of the US military, and how to set a Trojan virus, I’m pretty sure Homeland Security has me on a list somewhere. It was for my PSY-IV Teams series (a group of ex-military psychics) and I was impressed no men in dark suits came knocking on my door.

Where is your favourite place to write? 

I tend to write at my desk normally, but my favourite place to write is with my writing group during our retreats. As desert dwellers, we tend to head north where green things grow and the temperature tends to rest beneath broiling. We try to carve out a long weekend once or twice a year to get together. We stockpile coffee, food, and power cords and then disappear into our worlds for long, blissful uninterrupted hours. Occasionally one of us will surface, mutter a question about some fantastical element and its probable outcome, but the sounds of Mother Nature are interspersed with the click of fingers breezing over keyboards, broken by the slurp of caffeine intake. This picture was from one such jaunt, a lovely multi-room cabin where cell signals were only achieved by driving up the road, holding the phone at a 90 degree angle three feet from your body. It was lovely!

 

 

Writers Retreat View
Besides writing, what is something else that you’re really good at?

Organisation. While I ride the line between plotter and pantser (writing without a plan), in every other aspect of my life, I must plan and things must be in their place. Trips have an itinerary, I have a list of tasks to accomplish for almost everything, and I can’t sit down to write unless everything’s done. In fact, I share an office with my husband (see photos). Can you tell who owns which desk?


31476 (3)In a world gone to hell, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…

The world didn’t end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remained of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.

Charity uses lethal survival skills learned too early in her work as a ‘Hound, sniffing out pivotal secrets for one of the most powerful people on the west coast. Her work is deceptive, deadly, and best performed solo, which means when she has a run-in with a member of the notorious Fate’s Vultures, she has no intention of joining forces in some mockery of teamwork. The man might be sexy as hell, but she travels alone. She will accomplish her mission and she will settle a score – hopefully with the edge of her blade. But fate has other plans.

As one of Fate’s Vultures, a nomadic band of arbitrators known for their ruthless verdicts, Ruin witnesses the carnage of corruption and greed battering the remnants of humanity, and he bears the scars to prove it. Now he has a damn ‘Hound showing up in suspicious circumstances, leaving every cell of his body sceptical – and painfully aroused. The woman is trouble, and Ruin has every intention of steering clear. But when they realise they have a common enemy, Charity and Ruin will have to set aside their distrust if they want to achieve their mutual goal – justice and revenge.

Sometimes, when the world’s gone to hell, it’s better to stick with the devil you know…

Lying in Ruins is available now

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The Romance Reader’s Survival Guide to the Apocalypse

by Annabelle McInnes

Congratulations! While you were tucked up in bed reading, you managed to survived the apocalypse. Nuclear war has wiped out humanity or maybe it was a resurgence of the bubonic plague. Ninety-five percent of the world’s population has been wiped out, infrastructure has collapsed, as well as any capable and cohesive government. Somewhere, somebody is trying to resurrect the world, but right now, that’s not your concern. Survival is.

You’re a romance reader, you know the deal, your dashing hero or heroine are on their way. But you’re also a woman of the modern age, so you don’t need anyone to save you. But your survivalist skills are a little rusty. How are you going to survive? Or more importantly, what are you going require from day one? I’ve provided a list of the top ten requirements for romance readers to survive the apocalypse.

  1. Water

Water is your number one priority; you won’t live long without it. It’s a nuclear wasteland out there and luckily for you, you’re immune to the radiation poisoning. You can’t drink the water and you’re thirsty from wandering degraded highways. You want a filtration system that is easy to use and lasts a long, long time. There are “straws” on the market that filter waterborne bacteria and protozoa from liquid. You might have to deal with skin irritation from the radiation burn, but at least you won’t have parasites.

  1. Keeping warm

Next you’re going to need to keep warm, until you can snuggle with your honey to share body heat. A tent is good, but heavy to carry and time consuming to put up. Staying warm is key, no matter what time of year it is. An emergency bivy, otherwise known as an ultra-light sleeping bag, reflects your body heat back towards you and will keep you toasty and warm. They can be rolled up into a compact bag, are waterproof, windproof and made to completely protect you from the elements.

MD-22169_20160629162740_1a0e0191a1acc9cc

Image source: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/sol-escape-lite-bivvy

  1. Food

So you have water, you’re warm, now you’re hungry. A gun might seem like the go-to weapon, but once ammunition begins to run dry with all the outlaw gangs hoarding it, you are going to need to think outside the box. But you don’t have the upper body strength to lug around a crowbar or an enormous cross bow like Daryl from the Walking Dead. A strategic scavenger hunt can get you a Sling Bow that is compact enough to fit into a hip bag. That’s right, a quick-fire Sling Bow that is small, mean and able to take out local wildlife for your dinner. You might be a hard-core mean survivalist of the apocalypse, but that does not mean you need to fall into clichés.

shooting-7

Image Source: http://slingbow.com/product/slingbow-hunting-package/

  1. Fire

You have caught a rabbit. You’re also a badass, so you have gutted and skinned it too. Now how are you going to cook it? You need a fire starter. The best thing about fire starters is that you don’t need to break the bank (as money is no longer required). All you will need to find is a rod and striker made from flint and you can have up to 25,000 strikes. That’s a lot of fire, and a lot of cooked rabbits.

  1. Protection

Just when you thought you had yourself sorted, everyone begins to rise from the dead. And you’ve only just cooked your rabbit! You don’t want to waste those precious rubber bands and “deathballs” that came with your Sling Bow to kill them. The solution needs to be lightweight, durable, easy to use in confined spaces, and effective. What about a multifunctional hatchet blade? Sounds impressive? It is. This baby can chop wood to keep you warm and has several other functions including a can opener, folding saw, glass breaker, strap cutter, pry bar, hammer, hex wrench, spanner and wire twist. Plus, it’s great at killing zombies. This thing is so handsome and versatile, who needs a lover in combat boots and dark fatigues when you can do it all yourself? In fact, you should probably get one for the home right now!

  1. Medical Kit

You have beaten off the zombie. High five! But you’re sprained your ankle from that Karate move you haven’t performed since primary school (it was really cool though). You need a first aid kit. There are a plethora of options out there, but what you want to look for when you’re raiding that pharmacy is a wound management module. These kits are ideal for high risk environments (zombie apocalypse anyone?) and focus on wounds and breaks. They’re compact, lightweight and relevant to your current circumstances.

  1. Entertainment

Look at you go! Only a few months ago you were spending your free time reading romance novels, now you’re hunting and killing your own food and fighting off zombies off like a pro. You’re so competent that you now have a bit of free time, and the lover of your story still hasn’t shown up yet (but will!). So what do you do to while away the time? You’ve hoarded a few paperbacks, but they’ve become repetitive. You will need a pack of cards. Snap might not be an option, but solitaire? Remember the hours you wasted in the early days of Microsoft? You can have that again! In physical form! You’re welcome.

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Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/514747432386045473/?lp=true

  1. Hygiene

Your true love is going to turn up any day now, you can feel it. You’re going to impress with your new skill set, naturally, and together, you’re going to be an awesome pair of survivalist. But, you still want your hair to be brushed, and maybe have clean teeth. Personal hygiene is an important element of staying alive. If you get an abscess in your mouth, it won’t matter how good you are at killing rabbits if you can’t eat them because of the pain. A toothbrush and comb set is an easy and light option to carry around.

The-Hotel-Disposable-Toothbrush-Wash-Sterilizer-Bacteria-Residue-Teeth-For-Adult-Hotel-Washing-Toothbrush-Comb-Set

  1. Backpack

You have all this stuff now, and you’re only going to have more. On your next food raid, you will find that elusive can of peaches, you just know it. You’ll need something to put it all in so a backpack will be essential. It needs to be water resistant with multiple compartments for keeping all your belongings separate in case of an emergency. You don’t want to mistake your hairbrush for your bladed hatchet when that zombie surprises you. It will also need an internal frame, a padded hip belt, shoulder straps and lumber support. Don’t be fooled by the big ones either (pun intended), loot a bag that is proportional to your body.

  1. Love

Your true love is here! And just as handsome as you imagined. Though you don’t need help (because you’re awesome) it’s nice to have company. Unsurprisingly, their intentions turn heated, and you have the same ideas. But before jump in your makeshift bed together, remember, don’t just fall for rugged good looks, chiselled abs and strong biceps. Your love interest has to respect you, care for you when you need it and be suitably awed at all of your amazing new skills. Don’t let them talk you down or push you around. That attitude was pre-plague.

You might be the last people on Earth, but doesn’t mean you have to settle.

That’s it! Remember to keep smiling and look after yourself out there!

Sources

  1. Lifestraw
    http://lifestraw.com
  2. SOL Emergency Bivy
    https://www.rei.com/product/813511/sol-emergency-bivy
  3. Chief AJs Survival Fanny Pack
    http://www.chiefaj.com/product-page/chief-ajs-survival-fanny-pack
  4. Fire Starter
    http://www.survivalcampingstore.com/Aurora-Fire-Starter
  5. Liltucker
    http://liltrucker.com
  6. Major Wound Management Module
    https://www.seton.net.au/work-wear-ppe-first-aid/first-aid/first-aid-kits/major-wound-management-module.html
  7. Hygiene Kit
    http://www.prepperssurvive.com/diy-hygiene-kits/
  8. How to Choose a Backpack: Expert Tips for Finding the Right Size, Fit, and Features
    http://www.ems.com/f/ea-how-to-choose-a-backpack.html

32434 (1)They thought they’d found a refuge, but the battle for survival has only just begun…

Surrounded by the destruction of the human race, Euan, Nick, and Kira find solace in one another, making their underground bunker a haven and a home. Sheltered under layers of steel and cement, they should be safe, but danger isn’t always kept outside — sometimes the enemy is within.

When their electronic warning system detects intruders, Euan and Nick must investigate. Outside, they discover the true terror that is approaching, and Euan must make a terrible decision: stay or go. To stay is to watch the only people he loves perish under the weight of pure evil. To leave is to face his certain death to protect them and potentially save humankind.

Despite all his preparation, skills, and strength, Euan knows that each decision carries the risk that he could destroy them all.

The second book in the Refuge Trilogy.

Fractured Refuge releases 12 November: iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Nook, Kobo, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

True Refuge is available now: iBooksBooktopiaGoogleNookKoboAmazon AUAmazon UKAmazon US

Feed Your Reader: Love Brings Light to the Darkest Places

32049 (1)
Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

The human race has been all but wiped out, along with our best traits: compassion, empathy, and generosity.

Euan is a survivor. In a dystopian wasteland infused with violence and cruelty, he protects something invaluable. His love for Nick and the solace that comes with the connection keeps him from destruction, and offers him that most elusive and dangerous emotion of all —
hope.

But happiness comes at a price and a hunting trip leaves Nick vulnerable to the evil that still infects the world. When Euan returns, he finds Nick broken and bloody, irrevocably damaged in both body and soul.

Now Euan’s only goal is to find a place for Nick to heal, a safe place, a refuge where they can rest, recover and repair their love. When they risk a raid on an abandoned house, they discover the unthinkable, the rarest treasure of all. A woman.

“an amazing dystopian read” – Deborah, Goodreads

Read Annabelle’s moving story about her inspiration behind this trilogy.

True Refuge is available now!
Fractured Refuge, Book 2 of the trilogy, is available for pre-order.

iBooks, Booktopia, Nook, Kobo, Google, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AUS

 

Exclusive Excerpt 2: True Refuge

32049 (1)

Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

‘Come here,’ he ordered.

Kira jerked like a startled rabbit. A tiny kit suddenly aware that the wolf was in her burrow. This time, she did attempt to take that step back, only to find herself boxed in by Nick’s finely muscled frame.

At Euan’s tone, he had moved in behind her. The need for a second serving less imperative to meeting their desires. His blond hair waywardly fell over his brow, his green eyes glittered with comprehension and sympathy. Nick still battled the demons that seared his soul with hot iron brands, but he’d set that internal torture aside, as well as his bowl of food, to meet Euan halfway to protect and nurture the woman caught between them.

Over Kira’s head, their gazes connected, clashed, tangled in an almost visceral melding of minds and understanding. After everything they’d suffered. Because of everything they’d suffered. On this, they were in agreement.

‘Both of you,’ Euan continued. ‘Come here.’

Nick nudged Kira in Euan’s direction. They moved as one until she was pressed between the two of them. Nick’s defined arms banded around her waist, while Euan’s heavily muscled limbs wrapped around both of them. It was an embrace of solidarity, one of hope, to herald the start of a relationship that, at that point, only two parties were aware of.

Euan bent and rubbed his nose, lips and chin back and forth over the crown of Kira’s head. The delicate strands of her hair caught in the bristles of his beard. Under his palms, Nick’s shoulder blades rose and fell. The mixed scent of intoxicating feminine essence and masculine exertions flooded his senses. Kira’s soft puffs of breath fluttered against the cloth of his shirt at his chest.

He wanted to protect them, shield them both from the horrors of the world they now resided in. A reality that was terribly close to their door. He’d become their safeguard, the impenetrable wall that buffered them from the truth and sheltered them from their enemies. He inhaled slowly. His eyes drifted closed while he comprehended the beauty he held in his arms. He began to unravel the thoughts that twisted in circles inside his mind ever since he’d first seen the little sprite appear out of the trees. He was old enough to know himself, to know what he wanted. He wasn’t a man who got hung up on the direction of the moral compass of a defunct society. So he knew without hesitancy, that he wanted them both.

Together. Forever. Or for as long as this life allowed.

True Refuge releases 20 September 2017.

Pre-order now: iBooksBooktopiaGoogleNookKoboAmazon AUAmazon UKAmazon US

Exclusive Excerpt 1: True Refuge

32049 (1)

Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

The area was devoid of life as Euan ascended the hill to the dilapidated farmhouse. Its high-pitched tin roof and slatted, rotting wooden exterior, shattered window panes and waterlogged gutters was a stark contrast against the dew-covered pasture that grew long without domesticated animals or machinery to consume it. He took the Glock from the waistband of his pants and palmed the grip as he climbed the sun-bleached steps up to the front door.

All was silent. Not even the faint morning breeze could be heard from the small porch. The quiet was deafening, it screamed a thousand warnings and the stillness spoke its own language, one Euan could understand.

Nobody was here.

They’d all gone. Euan could only hope they’d left Nick’s body behind.

He took a deep breath, maybe the last he’d take with his heart intact, and pushed open the rotting door with his free hand. He inwardly cringed as the loud squeak wrought havoc on his already shot nerves.

Euan stepped straight into a living room. The weak morning light filtered through the gaps in the tin sheeting where the roof panels had fallen to the floor from the weather. Dust moats glinted gold in the sunlight, the stink of decay and fear stung his nose. In the shadows it was cold, but he didn’t think of that, he couldn’t.

Battered furniture had been pushed to the walls to give space for a macabre performance. A play where cruelty was its drawcard and pain was its allure. Boot-prints of black and brown, blood and earth was evidence of an audience. A destroyed dining table, torn carpet and scorched floorboards were proof they stayed for a show.

In the centre of the amateur stage, the star of the entertainment lay motionless.

Nick was as still as death, a lifeless participant surrounded by destruction.

Euan’s nightmares were confirmed.

The bile in his stomach rose up to burn his throat. He scrunched his eyes closed in devastation at what was before him. It took everything he had not to cover his face with his shaking hands and cry into the silence.

The man who had given his life meaning, given him a sense of purpose, of worth. A man who held Euan’s heart in his hands and likely didn’t even know it.

A man who now lay in a lifeless ball on the floor before him.

True Refuge releases 20 September 2017.

Pre-order now: iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Nook, Kobo, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Finding Refuge

Annabelle McInnes - alternative profile pictureAnnabelle McInnes is the author of True Refuge and the Refuge Trilogy. This is the tale of where she derives her inspiration.

It is hard to articulate poverty and desperation without sounding morose. There is a constant cramp in your stomach, a twisting snake that feeds on hunger, anxiety and fear. It reached minus two degrees celsius that first winter I was by myself. I was cold, I was hungry, and I was often very afraid. After three months in limbo without a dollar to my name and not much more than my school uniform to wear, I was offered basic assistance from the government so I could continue my education without having to leave school. The first cheque I received I bought a coat. It was made of wool and viscose and it required all of the money not tied up on essentials to purchase. It reached my knees and had three black buttons down the front. It was grey, and it was warm. I often wore it to bed, not for heat it offered, but for the comfort it brought me, the safety it provided. I could wrap myself in that wool and hide under bedcovers that smelt of stale cigarette smoke and cheap washing powder.

It was there, under those blankets that I dreamed. Entire worlds would rise and fall, dependent upon my will. I would lie with my back to the wall, my headphones on, a tape-player reciting audio books borrowed from the library. I ignored and chaos, the anarchy and the terrors that surrounded me at night while I lived in a youth refuge that housed both boys and girls from 12 to 18. It is not hard to imagine the events that go on there, in the middle of the night, when youth workers are tired, and children have learned to become very adept in evading adults. 

From the age of sixteen I lived in that refuge in Canberra. For those first three months, most of my meals came from school, where they offered me sandwiches from the canteen. I would hoard them and, as they grew stale, I would simply remove the mould from the crusts. Why waste the entire meal when only small sections were tainted? I still fight this need today. I’ve read that Youth homelessness effects 11 out of 1000 children in Australia. But I suspect there are many more. You likely won’t see those invisible children on the streets. They’re in hostel, youth refuges, or living in the spare rooms of friends whose parents are brave enough to shelter fugitives from the storms of life.

For two years I lived amongst the poor, the drug addicted, the traumatised and the mentally ill. I navigated a world completely foreign to most, a world that I hope you will never see. A world of destitution, desperation and despair. Where laughter comes with a sardonic edge, and no favour is ever given without consequence.

There is both abundant hope and wretched futility in those places. Girls as young as fourteen, pregnant, destitute, kept me up all night with their coughing and their stories of a better life for their babies. They dreamt of houses, of safety, of simple things like education and shoes. They knew nothing except their own tiny, singular world. There was a fruit bowl in the communal kitchen, laden with exotic offerings. It would often rot without being eaten, not for lack of hunger, but because most didn’t even know that such things were edible. 

True Refuge and the Refuge Trilogy draws from these experiences. I work with my memories of boys yet to be moulded into men of muscle and power. Young souls desperate for love and guidance, yearning for a hand to hold, but often too bitter and hurt to reach out. The worlds I create are cruel and cold and barren. A reflection of my memories of that time, but I also write stories of love, of beauty, of people that overcome adversity, that push past their hurt and pain to become champions, heroes for humanity. I write about the wonderful things that men and women can accomplish because I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it, I’ve endured and prevailed.

My experiences colour my writing, they influence both the darkness and the light. I strive to write characters that are more. About men and women who overcome societal constructs, their own histories and demand more from their worlds, more from the people that surround them, more from their leaders and their government. I have learnt that heroes do not ride down from castles on horses that glimmer in moonlight to save maidens with long hair. They come from within. Only a hero born from within yourself can pull you from the mire of poverty. Only heroes that are created by our own bravery, resolve and grit, merged to our hearts, and become intrinsic to our natures can truly guide us to freedom. They drive us, motivate us, and inspire us. They demand that we keep going, get up and try again. Until one day, you are the hero, you are the champion. You are the one shaking your principal’s hand to receive your Year Twelve Certificate, you are walking down the aisle to marry the love of your life, you are holding your beautiful baby boy in your arms. You eat bread without mould and you write stories about love and triumphing over adversity, about men who defy society and women who challenge those men without fear. That is the beauty of this one, wild and precious life. Take it, embrace the hero inside yourself and demand more from everything around you. Then love it, and maybe, when you can, write about it too.


32049 (1)

Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

The human race has been all but wiped out, along with our best traits: compassion, empathy, and generosity.

Euan is a survivor. In a dystopian wasteland infused with violence and cruelty, he protects something invaluable. His love for Nick and the solace that comes with the connection keeps him from destruction, and offers him that most elusive and dangerous emotion of all —
hope.

 

But happiness comes at a price and a hunting trip leaves Nick vulnerable to the evil that still infects the world. When Euan returns, he finds Nick broken and bloody, irrevocably damaged in both body and soul.

Now Euan’s only goal is to find a place for Nick to heal, a safe place, a refuge where they can rest, recover and repair their love. When they risk a raid on an abandoned house, they discover the unthinkable, the rarest treasure of all. A woman.

Pre-order now! iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Kobo, Nook, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Feed Your Reader: It’s Time to Meet Fate’s Vultures

31476

In a world gone to hell, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…

The world didn’t end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remained of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.

Charity uses lethal survival skills learned too early in her work as a ‘Hound, sniffing out pivotal secrets for one of the most powerful people on the west coast. Her work is deceptive, deadly, and best performed solo, which means when she has a run-in with a member of the notorious Fate’s Vultures, she has no intention of joining forces in some mockery of teamwork. The man might be sexy as hell, but she travels alone. She will accomplish her mission and she will settle a score – hopefully with the edge of her blade. But fate has other plans.

As one of Fate’s Vultures, a nomadic band of arbitrators known for their ruthless verdicts, Ruin witnesses the carnage of corruption and greed battering the remnants of humanity, and he bears the scars to prove it. Now he has a damn ‘Hound showing up in suspicious circumstances, leaving every cell of his body sceptical – and painfully aroused. The woman is trouble, and Ruin has every intention of steering clear. But when they realise they have a common enemy, Charity and Ruin will have to set aside their distrust if they want to achieve their mutual goal – justice and revenge.

Sometimes, when the world’s gone to hell, it’s better to stick with the devil you know…

Read an Excerpt here

Available now!  Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon, Google, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Booktopia

Out of This World: MA Grant

To celebrate Star Wars Day, we asked some of our science fiction authors to tell us what Star Wars means to them. Then, to support science fiction readers everywhere, we dropped the prices on their books…

MA Grant

Star Wars has always held a special place in my heart. It is one of the first movies my dad introduced me to and I instantly fell in love with the concept of the Force, the Jedi tasked to protecting its balance, and the sheer, epic scale of the universe. It was my little girl King Arthur saga on sci-fi steroids and it started a love affair that’s never ended.

As a nerdy outsider, I connected with the characters and their motivations, especially Luke’s desire to move beyond his small hometown and Leia’s refusal to be anyone but her brilliant, tactical self. As a budding writer, I was amazed by the dedication the film makers, novel writers, and fans put into collecting and sorting details. Yes, I was that kid who checked out an out-of-print Star Wars encyclopedia from the library, only to go home and use a typewriter to create my own mini-encyclopedia with targeted data I needed for my attempts at fanfiction (which, at the risk of admitting my age, wasn’t yet a thing).

My love for this series and world has never faded, and now that I’m an aunt, there’s something magical about watching my niece and nephew fall as madly in love with the story as I did. Skype calls spent reading Golden Books adaptations of the stories, character costumes sent at holidays, and discussions about which Jedi are our favourites remind me that good stories don’t just transcend genre; they transcend generational gaps and bring us closer together.


24680The Lawmen of the Republic: fierce, honourable, soldiers, men. But what happens when all that they’ve been told turns out to be lies?

The wars to establish the Republic are over. The families of the Ton have risen from the blood and ashes to claim the new aristocracy. Their prodigal son, First Lieutenant Alexander Cade, is the Lawmen Academy’s youngest and most successful graduate. However, his muddied bloodlines force his exile to the Northern Wastes, the last unclaimed territory of the Republic.

Lailian scout Natalia Volkova knows that her survival in a rebel labour camp rests entirely on her iron will and killing prowess. Her fierce quest for freedom is tempered by only one thing: conflicting memories of the young Republic lieutenant who helped liberate her camp, and then returned to the fold of her people’s oppressors. She never expects that their paths will cross again – under very different circumstances.

Cade’s honour limits his choices to one: take his band of specialised Lawmen into the Wastes, and protect it and its people. There, he meets Talia, a tough, resilient refugee who holds little respect for the Republic and its laws. But as a deathly outbreak leads to a desperate race for a cure, Talia and Cade will find themselves on uncertain ground: What is right is not always obvious, and what is honourable is not always right

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Out of this World: Nicole Murphy

To celebrate Star Wars Day, we asked some of our science fiction authors to tell us what Star Wars means to them. Then, to support science fiction readers everywhere, we dropped the prices on their books…
Nicole Murphy
I can still remember how it felt as a seven-year-old, seeing A New Hope for the first time. I walked out of the cinema feeling like my head was going to burst open, unable to hold my mind as it expanded to take in the scope of what I had just seen. I wasn’t new to SF – I was a veteran Dr Who watcher at that age – but Star Wars expanded my vision in a way nothing ever had before. The opening scene alone, with the famous sliding shot showing the size of the Imperial Star Destroyer, was the most incredible thing and then consider the scope of the Death Star alone to a seven-year-old – a space station the size of a moon that could blow up whole planets. That was just the beginning.
Since then, every Star Wars picture has continued to expand my mind (yes, even those that shall not be named) with the size of the story, the world, the characters, the stakes. And I’ve never let my mind get small. I can honestly say that Star Wars played a huge part in the person I am today and I will be forever grateful for it’s place in my life. May the Force be with you – always.

21764From Escape’s fresh, exhilarating science fiction romance catalogue comes a story of corporate espionage, betrayal, sex, and bodyguards. Just another day in the colonies.

Cassandra Wiltmore is the heir to the throne of Rica, but it’s unlikely she’ll be stepping up any time soon. So she spends her days managing and building the Rican Balcite Mining Company. The company has made her family wealthy beyond imagination, but that kind of power needs careful control, and Cassandra is just the Wiltmore to control it.

When a new bid for the mining license is announced, Cassandra is determined to squash it. Then the thefts and threats begin, and every step she takes seems to be wrong. Taking on a new protector seems like an indulgence Cass can’t afford, but she equally cannot afford to be caught off-guard. If only the best man for the job wasn’t also the best-looking man she’s ever seen.

Kernan Radaton has ambition, and as protector to Cassandra Wiltmore, he’s well placed to reach all his long-held goals. If only his new all-business boss didn’t make him think of only pleasure. With the company, the heir and the family under attack, the last thing anyone needs is a distraction. But once everything is safe again, Kernan is developing new ambitions — ones that involve a lot of very personal time spent getting to know his boss on a very personal level.

 

Out of this World: Donna Maree Hanson

To celebrate Star Wars Day, we asked some of our science fiction authors to tell us what Star Wars means to them. Then, to support science fiction readers everywhere, we dropped the prices on their books…

Donna Maree Hanson

At age 17 I was already a science fiction aficionado. But seeing Star Wars: that cinema screen opening to wider proportions and the huge spaceship flying overhead sealed my fate. My heart raced, I jumped up and down and was filled with awe. Since then I have had a lifelong love of the movies and the tie in books. I was in love with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo both! I wanted to be Princess Leia.

It was Star Wars that inspired me to write. My first ever story idea was in the Star Wars universe at age 19. I didn’t write it then. I won’t write it now. The inspiration still lives inside me, however.


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Sixteen-year-old Rae Stroder lives in a hollow asteroid, a defunct refuelling station, with a brain-damaged adult, Gris, to keep her company. Low on supplies, they’ve been eking out an existence for years. Everything changes when Alwin Anton, ultra-clean, smart and handsome AllEarth Corp company auditor, arrives to find disarray. Full of suspicion, he interrogates Rae, threatening her with prosecution for theft. He uncovers the fact that she is not Rae Stroder at all, when space pirates attack.

During the attack, Rae is taken prisoner and Alwin Anton escapes in his space ship. The pirate women prepare Rae for sale on the infamous Centauri slave markets. It’s all going badly, when she is purchased by a mysterious Ridallian.

Meanwhile, the space pirates are out to kill Alwin Anton because he holds the secret to Rae’s true identity. It’s a race against time to unravel the intrigue of Rae’s past to secure her future.

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