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Your WordCrazy hostesses, Michelle O'Leary and AJ Caywood, welcome you to their blog about writing and hope you enjoy the mind-bending mania. Feel free to join in with your own brand of insanity...crazy loves company.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What Are We Working On? Part 5

The Light of Kaska by Michelle O’Leary

This is another sci-fi romance, which in case you couldn’t tell is my favorite genre to write. I’ve added a murder mystery to this title, though the focus is on the characters and their interactions. As with all of my work, this story is highly character driven.

Sukeza has spent the last five years away from her Kaskan home and family, a self-imposed exile as she tries to discover her true strength. She thought she’d found her place on an agricultural world as an animal handler, until the death of two children and the capture of Chase Stryker. He’s accused of murdering the children, but Sukeza is certain that he didn’t do it, even though he’s an escaped convict with a long list of violent crimes. Her insistence of his innocence earns her a strange hostility from the townsfolk, and she realizes that she was never an accepted part of her adopted community.

Chase Stryker has been in worse situations than being captured by a bunch of blood-thirsty farmers, but the situation would go straight to hell if the Collectors caught up with him. He would die before he returned to his sentence of mental containment. Unfortunately, his little defender, Sukeza, would be the focus of the townsfolk’s retribution if he busted out. No help for it—he’d have to take her with him. But how the hell did he get her home to Kaska without getting snagged by the Collectors?


Snippet of The Light of Kaska:

He shifted on the hard bench, irritated by her continued silence. What the hell did she want? His movement rattled his restraints—the shackles around his ankles, the chains wrapped around his waist, and his arms spread uncomfortably wide and bolted to the wall. The little room was heating rapidly, the sun burning through the small widow high up on the wall to his left. The night had been cold, but the day was looking to make up for it. Didn’t these people believe in insulation? Heating and cooling units? Friggin’ beds in normal jails instead of this makeshift little room in the town hall? Hadn’t there ever been a crime in this place before the murder of those two kids?

“You’ve hurt yourself,” the woman said suddenly in a low, melodious voice that surprised him. He’d been expecting a higher voice, maybe a girlish squeak. Her dark brows were now pulled together in a light frown, and he had to revise his original opinion of her age. Her slender build, doe-like eyes, and fright had made him think she was barely out of childhood. Late in her third decade, possibly early fourth was his current assessment.

When he didn’t answer, her eyes dropped from his, roaming his chains with a tightening of her features. “I’m Sukeza bet Marish. You’re Chase Stryker. You didn’t kill those boys.”

He went still, absorbing the impact of her words. Matrilineal heritage, a distracted part of his mind reflected as he registered the bet in her name. The rest of his mind was occupied by the fact that she knew who he was, knew he hadn’t killed the kids, and she’d made no move to set him free. The Collectors offered rewards for escaped convicts. Was that the plan, then? Keep him chained until those bastards came to collect him? His muscles tensed with desperate rage, but he controlled his reactions. She hadn’t come sneaking in here just to introduce herself. He wanted to question her, but something in him urged silence, stillness. He would wait.

The Light of Kaska is still a work in progress, though it’s very close to being finished. This story has been a joy to write—these characters have revealed a surprising amount of depth and dimension. Sukeza is not my usual kick-ass heroine, but she has strengths and facets that strike a very personal cord with me. Her journey home and Stryker’s discovery of her world reminds me of the importance and strength of family.

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