by Theresa Kay
(Broken Skies #2)
Publication date: September 18th 2015
We came in peace. Lie.
We had no role in the Collapse. Lie.
I have always been honest. Lie.
I never lied to her. Truth.
Reunited with her brother, and surrounded by Flint, Peter and her new-found grandfather, Jax Mitchell has still never felt more alone. The choice to follow Rym back to the city to find answers and see Lir is an easy one, but their reunion is cut short and Jax is forced to leave Lir behind. She finds herself traveling with some unexpected companions and heading back toward a place she’d hoped to never see again.
After being imprisoned—and tortured—on the orders of his uncle, Lir hasn’t seen daylight or linked to anyone in weeks. After a lifetime of connection, the pain and loneliness is almost too much to bear. Elated that Jax actually came, Lir finds renewed hope and strength to continue fighting his uncle’s influence over the E’rikon, even when things look hopeless and Lir’s been branded a traitor by the very people he’s trying to save.
While Jax and Lir fight separate battles, their missions have more in common than they realize. It’s a race against time to stop men driven only by greed and power. But the people they trust the most might be the very people working against them—and “family” doesn’t mean what it used to. Will they recognize their friends from their enemies in time to save the people they love or will they lose each other in the process?Purchase:
Vitrad laughs with his mouth open and runs the tip of his tongue over his lips like a hungry predator. “That is too bad. But I will have her, Steliro. I am positive I can find some… incentive for her to return.” He leans forward until he is speaking directly into my ear. “How was it to feel the link, only to have it ripped away again? Convince her to return—to work with me—and I will let you keep her. You have my word.”
“And what good is your word? When you have turned us into nothing but hatemongers and—”
This time he uses his kitu to put yet more power into his blow. He strikes me hard enough to loosen a few teeth and fill my mouth with blood again; I stumble back and fall to the ground. I push up onto my elbows, wipe away the trickle of blood from my nose, spit onto his boots, and look up at him with what I am sure is a morbidly green grin.
“It is bad form to lose your temper like that, Uncle.”
Vitrad springs before I have a chance to scramble to my feet. His fist slams into the side of my head and knocks it down to the concrete with a load crack. He starts kicking, and I curl into a ball. It is no use trying to fight back. In my weakened state, I am no match for him. So I simply wait for his fit of temper to pass, squeezing my eyes shut and blanking my mind.
The first time he beat me, I did fight back. That was right after I broke the bond—a last-ditch effort to thwart his plans to turn Jax into a weapon. When Vitrad found out what I did, he was enraged, and I felt the full brunt of his fury. I was much weaker for the second beating—after spending a few days locked below ground without food and water—but still I tried to maintain some semblance of control, even if it was only evident in how long I was under the kiun before passing out.
It was not until he threatened Stella’s safety that I stopped fighting back.
Now, though, the threat to Stella has been lifted. He portrays her as his doting niece—he insists that she go with him almost everywhere—and by using her to generate sympathy with my people, he has taken away his own ability to use her against me. He cannot touch her, and I know it. Still, it is too late for me. Vitrad is fully aware I have no useful information for him, that since I broke the bond he can no longer get to Jax through me. At this point I believe he simply likes to see me bleed.
This rabid animal that takes out his anger on my body is not the uncle I grew up with. He is not the person who played with me as a child, who laughed at the dinner table with my parents, and who grieved his bondmate’s loss, surrounded by my entire family. He is not even the inflammatory but pragmatic military leader I once knew. Behind closed doors, in the presence of only his most trusted, he is not even E’rikon. As he rails against the world with his fists and his feet, his Vi’askari look away from the physical violence he inflicts on me. It is not something our culture condones, even against those they call traitor, and they refuse to admit something could be wrong. But I will say what they will not.
My uncle was not always insane, but he is now.AUTHOR BIO:
She's constantly lost in one fictional universe or another and is a self-proclaimed "fangirl" who loves being sucked in to new books or TV shows. Theresa originally wanted to write horror novels as an ode to her childhood passion for Stephen King novels, but between her internal Muse's ramblings and the constant praise for her sci-fi pieces from her writer's group - The Rebel Writers - she knew she should stick with what was working.
Writer's Block and Self-Doubt
For me, the most discouraging part of the writing process is self-doubt, something that goes hand in hand with every writer's foe-- writer's block. I struggled with both when I was writing Broken Skies, and there were two things that got me through it: the support of my amazing writer friends and giving myself permission to write garbage.
I had no problem cranking out the first draft of Broken Skies. I wrote it during a session of Camp NaNoWriMo (the summer extension of the regular November challenge to write 50k words in thirty days). It was my fourth time doing a NaNo challenge, so I knew it didn't have to be pretty. For the most part, I did fine with meeting my daily word counts and rarely got too far behind. So, at the end of the month, I had a book. Well...sort of.
Broken Skies as it is now is very different from what I had on July 1, 2013. There were very few things I liked about my first draft, but there were some. I had the bones of the story and characters who wanted to talk, so I decided to rip it apart and rewrite it.
I got about two chapters into the rewrite when I hit my first wall. That sneaky little voice in my head (the one I'd managed to block out when all I had to concentrate on was word count) spoke up and said my writing wasn't good enough, my story wasn't good enough, and I might as well give up.
I listened. I closed the file I was working in and didn't open it again for almost two months.
Thankfully, the main character, Jax, is a stubborn one and she refused to shut up until I got back to work. This time, I made it to about the halfway point before the doubt crept in again and laid down another roadblock for me.
It was the same old chorus of 'not good enough' but this one hit me much harder. Already frustrated because I was having trouble fitting the pieces of the story back together, I just wanted to wipe my hands of the whole thing. But my crit partner talked me down and rescued Broken Skies from the recycling bin. Soon after that, I joined a writing group that went on to become The Rebel Writers.
The rewrite was coming along nicely. There were still places where I stumbled, but the support system I had in place was invaluable.
And then along came writer's block. I was confident enough with the story and my writing, but only four or five thousand words from the end I became completely stuck. I knew what needed to happen, but I just couldn't get there. Nothing was right. Nothing was good enough. I'd write a few sentences and then immediately delete them.
Writer's block is a vicious self-feeding monster. The more blocked I was, the more stressed I got. The more stressed I got, the less I wrote. The less I wrote, the more guilty I felt. The more guilty I felt, the more stressed I got...and so on.
It was awful.
And this time I had no idea what to do about it.
I went back and forth for about a week. A sentence here. A paragraph there. But no real progress. Then, I came across an article posted by Rachel Higginson on her Facebook page.
I won't repeat the entire article, but the premise was just writing and giving yourself permission for it to be garbage. It's one of the main tenets of NaNoWriMo too, but I'd never heard it worded in that way and it was just the shift in mindset I needed.
So I did it. I gave myself to write whatever came to mind even if it was awful. I started about an hour after I finished reading the article and banged out the last four thousand or so words of Broken Skies over the course of a couple hours.
It wasn't perfect, but I had something I could work with. There were still two months of read-throughs and revisions ahead of me, but it was still an amazing feeling.
I still struggle with both self-doubt and writer's block, but I know I can get past them with the support of my writer friends and by learning to let go of perfection and just get the words down on paper.
Writing With Depression
Broken Skies, from the first word to publication-ready, took me eight months to write, polish, and revise. And that was after taking two months off from working on it and having to entirely rip down the first draft and essentially re-write it nearly from scratch.
It took me fifteen months to write a beta reader ready first draft of Fractured Suns. The first sixty-five thousand words or so were written in the two months after the original publication of Broken Skies, meaning the majority of those fifteen months were spent on the last third of the book.
Why did Fractured Suns take me so much longer to write than Broken Skies? Due to some major events in my personal life, I was (and still am) suffering from depression.
Depression is more than feeling down or sad all the time. It starts with that, but then an invasive sense of apathy sets in and that is the worst part of it, when you feel nothing at all. (If you’re interested in a spot on explanation and description of suffering from depression, you should check out Allie Brosh’s posts on her blog Hyperbole and a Half: Part One and Part Two)
Yes, I published some other works in that fifteen month time frame (three short stories and two novellas). The majority of them were written before the major depression hit and it wasn’t until I was running up against the deadline for my Z Chronicles short story that everything started coming apart again. I almost backed out of that anthology. But then Sarah’s story came to me and I knew she was a character I could write—an anguished mother who was slowly falling apart (in her case, literally).
So, at the very height of my depression, I wrote the first line of Six Days: "There isn’t much left of me."
And, at the time, there really wasn’t. Not for my character, Sarah, and not for me.
Writing that story was a turning point for me. I switched from a medication that wasn’t working to one that does. I started being more open with the people in my life about how I was feeling and I went to therapy. They were small steps forward, but they were necessary and they got me to the finish line on Fractured Suns.
My life’s still not where it was and the circumstances that led to my depression have not been resolved, but there is light at the end of the tunnel now and I’m hoping to get back into a more regular writing routine so that other projects that have been delayed (cough, cough, Bright Beyond) can be completed.
So, I guess my point in telling you all this is that I hate that it took me so long to get Fractured Suns to those of you who’ve been waiting (hence the dedication) and I hope you enjoy it. And to those who’ve been waiting for Episode Three of Bright Beyond: it’s coming along and I hope to have it out very soon.
What 5 things should readers know about you?
1- I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was very young, but never had the nerve to actually try publishing anything until I got my first Kindle and started chatting with indie authors.
2- I’m much more comfortable talking about books than almost anything else, especially if the conversation is about books other than ones I wrote. I read almost every genre and I’m great at book recommendations.
3- I’m an introvert and pretty shy. Plus, I'm awful at making small talk with people I don't know, so if you ever meet me in person and I don’t say much, that’s why.
4- I’m a total geeky fangirl who uses words like “ship” and “OTP” in real life conversation. Once I’m introduced to a new fandom I binge watch/read everything I can get my hands on in that world.
5- I’m awful with visual creativity. I can’t draw or sculpt or even pick out paint colors for my house. Unless we’re talking stick figures, I can only make pretty pictures with words.
· Earliest literary influence?
I think the first author I read who I think has an influence on my work now is Stephen King. I started reading his books when I was eleven. It probably explains why most of my work has darker elements to it and why, and, in my writing group, I’m known as the one who is meanest to her characters.
· When and why did you begin writing?
It started out in second grade when we had to write a story. I ended up with a six-page story (wideruled notebook paper, front and back) and most of the others in my class had only a couple paragraphs.
· How did you come up with the title for Fractured Suns?
I wanted the titles within the series to go together well, so all the titles in the Broken Skies series reflect the progression of Jax’s perception of herself: Broken, fractured, and then shattered.
· Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The Broken Skies series has strong themes of redemption, forgiveness, and believing in yourself. I think it’s important for the readers to grasp that, although Jax thinks she’s broken and almost everyone tends to treat her that way, she’s actually one of the strongest characters in the series because of how she has gradually begun to overcome her past and move forward despite the many setbacks she faces.
· If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Fractured Suns?
There’s one thing I’d like to change about Fractured Suns (and that other people would LOVE for me to change), but it’s not something that I actually would change. That particular event is a key turning point for Jax and it absolutely had to happen. I know. It sucks. I really am sorry for that chapter. If you’d like to chat with some people who suffered those same feels, you can join the Facebook discussion group.
· How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
For the Broken Skies series, the names are pretty important especially the E’rikon ones since their name have specific significance. The E’rikon are all named with the same prefix as their father and often go by nicknames that exclude that prefix (i.e. Stellan, Steliro “Lir”, and Stella). Rym’s full name is actually Virym since he is the son of Vitrad. This custom is one of the reasons Jastren is so insistent on calling Jax by her full name even though the prefix is from her mother. The prefixes are also important within the E’rikon hierarchy as the “higher ups” have personal guards who are designated as such by adding the prefix of the person they serve to the E’rikon word (loosely translated) for solider, askari. Members of Vitrad’s personal guard are called the Vi’askari.
(This is totally random “behind the scenes” author stuff that has no relevance to the plot, but if you pay really close attention in Fractured Suns, you’ll pick up on an interesting relationship based on the connection between two names)
That said, I used a random name generator to come up with Steliro. It wasn’t until Broken Skies was nearly complete that I came up with the E’rikon naming convention.
· Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
This one’s a no brainer for me: The Rebel Writers. They’re not only my writing group, they’re some of my very best friends and I couldn’t have done any of this without them.
· What does your writing process look like?
I'm a pantster, so I don't outline. I typically start out with an idea for a character and form the story around them. Before I start writing, I have a general idea of where the story will end up and a few of the steps along the way and I just go from there.
· Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
Dialogue. Half of the time I want to tell my characters to be quiet and just do something. When I was writing the last scene in Fractured Suns, I was messaging with my crit partner and I said something along the lines of : I just want them to shut up and get on the ship and 400 words later... THEY’RE STILL TALKING!
· What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
Marketing, no question about it. I’m an awful salesperson.
· What advice can you give aspiring authors?
The one thing that really helped motivate me and get me writing was giving myself permission to write garbage. Basically that means putting away my expectations, telling my inner editor to hush, and just writing-- even if it's no good at the time. I think one of the things most writers need to keep in mind is that you can't edit what isn't written. Tell the story first and then worry about going back and fixing the holes. You'll be surprised at the things that will flow onto the page when you stop expecting perfection and just let yourself write.
· Do you have a favorite conference to attend? What is it?
Utopia (formerly UtopYA). UtopYA 2014 was my very first writing conference and my first chance to meet some of the other Rebel Writers in person. In 2015, all the Rebels came along with some of our superfans and we’re really looking forward to attending next year as well.
· Full-time writer or do you have a day job?
Day job. I’m a paralegal at a divorce firm. It can be quite interesting at times.
· What’s your favorite dinosaur?
Velociraptor. Jurassic Park was one of my absolute favorite books as a kid. I probably read it at least twenty times.
· If you could have any accent from anywhere in the world, which would you choose?
British. I’m a bit of an anglophile thanks to BBC and Doctor Who. In fact, most of my works have some sort of Doctor Who easter egg.
· Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Are there any that make you screech and hide?
As long as the bug isn’t on me, they don’t really bother me. Case in point: I took this pic of an awesome looking spider hanging out on my mailbox. I might not check the mail for a while, but I’m not going to go out of my way to get rid of him.
· Do you have any tattoos?
I have a blue butterfly on my shoulder that I got on my eighteenth birthday and a Broken Skies/book themed one on the back of my neck that I got this past summer (you can’t see it in the picture, but under the open book is the phrase “Not wind. Words” which is from a scene in Broken Skies).
· How can readers find you?
They can contact me through my website, www.theresakay.com, and I can also be found in the wilds of the internet on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.