Hi, all! For those of you who don’t know, I wrote a dystopian romance collaboration last summer! It was written with the lovely Iris Ng-Bakalar, a friend I met through the Prague Writers’ Group here in Prague 🙂 Hi, Iris! – if you’re reading, which you should be, to make sure I don’t write any fantastic craziness as I am apt to do when not watched with a stern eye…
However, I suppose I should get to it and give the gritty stuff on how the book got started.
It was, in essence, a misunderstanding.
Yes, you read right. We accidentally started writing a collaboration.
This is how it happened:
Iris and I were chatting on Facebook, and in the midst of a desultory recounting of her day, she wrote this sentence (or something extremely similar) : “Well, we almost went for a doughnut.”
At that I kind of blinked, and cocked my head, and looked at the computer screen, huffed out a little laugh, and typed back that she should totally use that for the first line of a story.
And she was like, Yeah?
I was like, Yeah.
Now here’s where things get a bit fuzzy. She somehow thought I meant we should collaborate on a story. To me it seemed like she came up with this collaboration idea herself, and I was all surprise. Oh, okay, I thought. She wants to write a collaboration. Didn’t expect that, but what the heck, could be fun to start a story about a failed doughnut excursion, right? So we veered toward discussing plots and setting and genre – where would this phantom doughnut beginning appear?
At this point, Iris was thinking short story (as she told me later). I was thinking novel.
So I banged out a first section and sent it to her.
She banged out her section and sent it back.
And it kind of escalated. We wrote our respective parts, edited the others’, discussed plot points, characters, and chatted and argued and got all dramatic and huffy, and while there weren’t tears, there were several – ‘well, you write it then’ and ‘why do you have to make such sense and ruin my brilliant idea?’
So, yeah, we did spend some time soothing down each others’ ruffled feathers, but most of the time it was just utterly and amazingly addictive – I think we were both pretty constantly thinking, What did she write this time and why the heck isn’t she on Facebook?!!!
And that’s about how it continued, with both of us on Facebook glued to the message screen as often as we could be, thinking when is (Sonya / Iris) going to write again?
I hardly slept. I ate, went to work, wrote late into the night and late into the morning.
And then – oh, my, gosh – her male character wanted (ahem) with my female character! I was like, Noooo, my poor baby! I felt like I was giving my child away for sex.
Um, yeah, that’s what it felt like. And it was the strangest freaking feeling ever! I was thinking, If I do this, what kind of mother to my character am I? I am a horrible, terrible, no-good – she needs a chastity belt! End of story.
Then I was like, Dude, just chill. The character knows what she’s doing. After all, she *is* a few weeks old; she knows what she wants.
And, well, Iris’s character definitely knew what he wanted.
Whether he got it or not, though, you shall have to read to find out – ha ha! As the Czechs say, “Tudle nudle!” (pronounced too-dluh noo-dluh – and, yes, I am thumbing my nose at you, or I would be if my fingers weren’t engaged typing)
So, anyway, on to the facts about the new release 🙂 It’s currently only on Kindle, but we’re working on getting the print version (which has the coolest font!) as well as the Smashwords version to get it out to other retailers.
Here is the cover, and below that, the blurb! And after that… (drum roll) excerpts!
Serycia Fade, a slave marked for death…
I run into the most impoverished level of our walled city, where poisons and toxins swirl in oily black puddles on the streets, and people are gathering in a square in line for food.
But they can’t be here.
I scream at them to get out, get away.
And the world explodes.
Soren Lost, a Level 1 nonentity…
She breaks into my life like a shard of sunlight shining in a squalid world just before the square explodes. Staggering out of the rubble, she offers me a pill that will give me a month of health in exchange for me getting her back out of Level 1.
Only thing is, a powerful man has her marked for death; she’s got city protectors on her tail; her former master has been mind-wiped and doesn’t remember she exists; and I have a sister to protect.
I should refuse, should leave her mired in her own troubles.
But there’s no one else to save her. So I take the month of health and do my damnedest to save her myself.
Good thing, too, because if I get her to the lab on Level 3, her research might be the key to finding the cure for the virus that dooms us all to die at twenty-six.
If I can keep her alive that long.
Aaaaand now for excerpts from each of our main characters. Soren goes first…
I hurl the grenade.
The world explodes with light: brilliant, scorching white that reflects off every steel surface, magnifying the effect a hundred times. Confused shrieks echo down, the protectors’ microphones crackling as they all shout over each other at once.
I whip away from the glare, arms tightening around the silken girl against my body. Just before I close my eyes, I see the twists of her braids. Smell something sweet that reminds me of dreams and pillows.
Then she is washed away, light rushing forth like a tide, and finally blocked out by red-tinged darkness as my lids shut tight over my eyes. I turn my face away and against the top of her head. Muffled against me, she tries to speak, her hands frantic around me, trying to tear away like a cat in water.
Blinking stars from my eyes, I clutch her arm and yank her towards the hole in the ground. “Go!”
Now for Serycia…
His words relax me, but the way his work-roughened fingers move on my arms softly, languidly, almost as if he’s entranced, pushes awareness into my mind of our isolation, of how much taller and stronger he is than I am, and of how he’s gone silent and he’s breathing in the sweet scent of my hair – of me, and I know it is sweeter and headier than anything else he’s ever smelled except for delicacies brought down from the upper levels. I think of how he could take me down under him and experience what he will never have the chance to experience again, and no one will know; no one will retaliate, because an escaped slave is less than nothing, even less than he is.
“I’m better now,” I whisper. “We should go. Thank you.”
His fingers halt their movement on my skin; his head turns as if he’s going to kiss me. Panic rises in my gut – but then he lets me go and stands up, offering me his hand.
I swallow and accept it, shivering inside at the way his callused hand curls around mine, then he lets me go and smiles at me, as if asking if I still trust him, and I smile tentatively back.
Anyway, I think the story only gets better as it goes on! Or do I know so? I hope so! We had tons of fun writing it, and I hope anyone who curls up with it one afternoon will have even more fun reading it! Of course, without the drama and ruffled feathers fluttering around and my worries about – what the heck does her character want from mine? Iriiiiiis! Control your characters!