Earlier this year, I posted the cover reveal for Starla Huchton's wonderful New Adult science fiction romance, MAVEN, and this week I'm proud to announce the release of the second book in the Endure Series, NEMESIS. Here's a little about the book, plus an interview with the author and a GREAT giveaway.
In case you missed it, here's where you can find Book I of the Endure Series, MAVEN:
Maven (The Endure series, book 1)
By S.A. Huchton
Genre: New Adult Sci-Fi Romance
How far would you go for love?
Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.
Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.
Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?
Nemesis (The Endure series, book 2)
by S. A. Huchton
Genre: Science Fiction Romance (New Adult)
Tech genius Daniel Brewer isn't the only one with a romantic history. Already weighed down with the impossible problem of the Maven Initiative's plans for world domination and disaster, Dr. Lydia Ashley is finding it more and more difficult to keep things in balance. With an old flame reappearing and the schemes of a vindictive new rival thrown into the mix, her hopes for a life with Daniel may be on the brink of annihilation.
When Lydia's past is brought to light, one big secret could destroy everything.
At 1045, there was a quiet rapping at her door. Lydia turned to see Dr. Corvis standing there, smiling politely. It was like watching a shark circling for an attack.
"Do you need something, Dr. Corvis?" Lydia said.
"Dr. Miller and I have worked out a possible sequence of alterations for one of the bacteria. Care to take a look?"
Sure she was walking into a trap, Lydia agreed anyway. One of the work stations had been arranged with four different devices: an electron microscope, a centrifuge, a chromosome splitter more compact than any she had seen before, and a rotating rack for petri dishes.
"Where did that come from?" She indicated the splitter. The display screen on the top showed a squirming object, pinned in place by the microlasers hovering above the sample tray. The controls hummed, waiting for their next command.
"My own personal stash," Nick said, coming up behind her. He was closer than she would've liked, but given the confines of the area there wasn't anything for it.
Lydia was stunned. "You own a chromosome splitter? How did you afford that?"
Nick shrugged. "It was a gift from Dr. DeBeauvoir."
"He's as generous as he is brilliant," Dr. Corvis gushed.
"Uh huh." Lydia gave her a sidelong glance. "So what have you been working on?"
Dr. Corvis answered for him. "Dr. Miller had some amazing insights on how to achieve the necessary virulence while maintaining its water-borne nature."
"You figured that out? That was the one thing I was dreading the most. I had hoped to find a workaround so I wouldn't mess with bacteria's environmental needs." What Lydia hadn't said was that she was terrified of creating some super bug that would become airborne and infect everyone on the station.
Nick moved over to the electron microscope and looked into the eyepiece, adjusting the focus. "If you take a look here, you can see the segment of the chromosome we're targeting."
He took a step back and she positioned herself in front of the device. "What am I looking at, exactly?"
Nick leaned against the table, closing the distance between them some. He was close enough that she caught the scent of sandalwood from the soap he'd used since she'd known him at Stanford. Focus, she reminded herself.
"These base pairs are responsible for virulence and environment adaptation. They're right beside one another so it can be difficult to separate them. You have to know exactly what you're doing or you could wind up with something really nasty."
Lydia looked up from the eyepiece and was startled to find his face less than a foot away from her own.
"Good thing you're here to make sure we don't do that then, I guess." She sounded like an idiot. His proximity was flustering her.
"I was about to make the first cut with the splitter, but I wanted to show you one other thing first." Nick slid up to the microscope and she skittered away, as though he might burn her if they touched.
If he noticed, he didn't show it. He made another slight adjustment to the eyepiece. "Here." They traded places again. "This is the chromosome segment responsible for host selection. According to Anna, this was being altered to make it viable on multiple cellular types. What this basically means is that the cell wall degradation mechanism will be much more powerful and adapted to both rigid cells from plants and softer cells from animals. Really wicked stuff."
He was calling her Anna already? Damn. That woman worked fast. She pushed it aside. Lydia focused on what was important: a bacterium that could attack both flora and fauna. Something that strong could be devastating. "So it feeds off of organic material then, but doesn't discriminate in regards to the source? The environmental impact that will have..." Lydia rubbed her forehead. "Not only on human life. Anything within the release area will be obliterated."
"It's designed to only work for a certain period of time, within a certain range, remember," Dr. Corvis offered. Was she really defending the Maven Initiative? "The nanotags will ensure self-destruction of any infected phytoplankton outside that."
Lydia gaped at her. "And so that makes it okay?"
She shrugged. "To them, it was acceptable."
"Now I'll show you how to split the base pairs and graft the new ones," Nick said. Her spine went rigid as his hand touched the small of her back, ushering her towards the other piece of equipment. Fortunately, there wasn't far to go and the contact was brief.
Nick's hand grasped the controls, strong and steady. He talked her through the operation, explaining where the precise cuts needed to be made and directing the microlasers expertly.
"Did you do a lot of this with Dr. DeBeauvoir?" she asked.
"Not at first," he said, keeping his eyes on the screen. "But the last two years I was in the lab almost exclusively. I got a lot of practice with this thing. They were upgrading the equipment when I left so that's why I didn't feel guilty when they sent me away with this baby. We have spent many an hour together, Sheila and I."
She tried not to laugh, but couldn't help herself. "You named the splitter Sheila?"
"I thought about calling it Lydia, but that seemed inappropriate given the circumstances."
Her face burned as Dr. Corvis giggled. She actually giggled. Lydia was mortified, and Nick didn't so much as crack a smile. He couldn't be serious.
"There." He finished the cut and turned back to her. "Want to give it a try?"
Reining in her embarrassment, she nodded and stepped up to the controls. Nick loaded up another sample. He reached in front of her and punched in the autofocus on the sample camera. Another hit of sandalwood drifted up to her, scattering her thoughts.
"You're looking for the eighteenth base pair," he said, directing her where to shift the sample plate. "Stop."
She had to remind herself to breathe. With the way her entire body was shaking, she would probably wind up creating a highly virulent super bacterium.
"Good, now lock in the sample position."
Lydia flipped a switch and six microlasers pinned the sample in place.
"This is the tricky part," Nick said. "You have to have the right touch."
Every nerve in her body electrified as Nick slid behind her and wrapped his hands around hers. If she wasn't seven shades of scarlet before, she absolutely was now. This was not happening. No way was this professional by any stretch of the imagination.
"Slowly... slowly... now cut."
Her thumbs pressed down on the buttons to fire the incision lasers, and she was careful not to jerk away as soon as it was done.
"Perfect," he said, leaning over her shoulder to smile at her.
Right on cue, a throat cleared and she jumped, pushing away from both the machine and Dr. Miller.
Daniel was standing not ten feet away, looking none too happy about what he'd walked in on.
"We're dicing bacterial DNA," she blurted. "Dr. Miller was demonstrating how his equipment worked."
His eyebrow twitched and somewhere behind her, Dr. Corvis coughed to hide her laughter. Maybe her word choice had been a little questionable, but her brain was scrambled.
"Daniel Brewer, right?" Nick strode forward, hand extended. "I don't think we've been properly introduced. Nick Miller."
Daniel was not impressed.
Lydia hurried forward, cutting Nick off before he got any closer and all but pushed Daniel toward the door. "Time for lunch? Great! I'm famished. Let's go."
She was pretty sure Dr. Harpy was still laughing when they left the lab. Apparently, she'd decided on a new plan of attack.
Print and ebook copies of MAVEN and NEMESIS
An Angkor Wat postcard signed by Daniel
Sandalwood Vanilla goat's milk soap handcrafted in small batches by Haldecraft
3 oz of Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls (green tea) from Teavana
Stonewear infuser mug with lid
MAVEN and NEMESIS postcards with party mustaches!
1.We've talked a bit about writing in general in the past, but tell me a little about your writing process. Do you have a routine?
LOL. Routine. That’s hilarious. I have three kids and a deployed husband. It’s all about grabbing whatever time I can.
My process itself varies from book to book. The first novel I wrote, The Dreamer’s Thread, was totally by the seat of my pants and I had very little idea what I was doing. The second was very, very different. Master of Myth is Steampunk and marks my first time doing any real research for my fiction (this isn’t out anywhere yet, so you won’t find it anywhere outside of the first 20 pages on my blog). Also with the second book was the introduction of a whole slew of passes from this thing called “beta readers”. While I did have a select few people read The Dreamer’s Thread, there wasn’t much in the way of editing done on it, and, unfortunately, that shows.
My process with the Endure series (Maven and now Nemesis as well), evolved significantly after discovering a new love for research and getting my facts right. I didn’t have to do too much of that for The Dreamer’s Thread, as it was a fantasy book, but the switch from SciFi really made a huge difference here. There was a lot of stopping and starting as I wrote Maven when I had to research things, or think about certain plot elements and how they corresponded to the science. I asked a lot of different people a lot of different questions and read a whole mess of really boring research papers just to get a sentence or two of the story. There’s no “waving the magic wand” in SciFi. In order to make it plausible, you gotta have your facts straight.
2.What was the biggest difference between writing the MAVEN/NEMESIS books and writing THE DREAMER’S THREAD?
I touched on this a little already, but one of the biggest differences was definitely the research involved. Another is the amount of time that it took me to write these books. The Dreamer’s Thread was spread out over a year between two National Novel Writing Months and sporadic plugging away in the months in between. Maven was very different. I spewed out the first 68,000 words in under six weeks, shelved it for a year when some stuff happened with other projects, then went back to it and finished it up in about a week. Maybe if I’d have known I was that close to the end I would have stuck with it, hmm? LOL. Anyway, immediately after finishing it, I jumped straight in to book two and cranked it out in under two months while beta readers did their passes and I sent out some queries. I barely stopped to take a breath before starting in on book 3, which will be out in November. That’s another difference here. The Dreamer’s Thread was a standalone, although it could have seen more books in that world had I wanted to go there. While the idea for Maven was originally a one-of, it became very clear to me about halfway in that in no way, shape, form, or fashion was this idea any smaller than two books. Somewhere into book 2, I realized it was four. That realization was a little overwhelming at the time, and I’m still wondering if maybe I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew. Due to the complexity of the plot, I’m having to actually (*choke*) outline book 4 to make sure I tie up every loose end. Although, I’m not going to lie, there will definitely be the possibility for more books in this series, but probably not focused on this couple. They will get their Happily Ever After in the end. Well, mostly. Life happens and I don’t think fictional characters are immune to that. Anyway, SPOILERS. LOL
3.What was the most challenging aspect of writing Nemesis? Are your challenges for new books usually similar, or does each book present a new one?
Each book inevitably presents its own challenges. This one had everything to do with the science. I went in with a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but, you know how stories like to throw curveballs? Yep. Very much that. The more I explored some of the how’s of the Nemesis plot, the more confusing the why’s got. This made for a real challenge in book 3 where I explain in greater detail some of what’s gone on. Book 4 is going to be really difficult to wrap it all up. Thanks, book 2. *facepalm*
And we’re not even going to talk about the characters. I’m actually a little nervous about how some of the new additions are going to be received, and on top of the ending for Nemesis… I’m half expecting hate mail.
4.Coffee, Tea, or something stronger?
If it’s before 5 pm, coffee. My brain runs on caffeine. After that, I switch over to tea.
Some nights, however, call for something stronger. Pass the cherry vodka this way, please.
5.On your blog, you said you were new to writing in both romance and science fiction. What inspired you to tackle them both at once?
It wasn’t so much a conscious decision on my part. My stories define what they’re going to be without consulting me. I’d actually been hanging on to the idea of Lydia and Daniel’s story since high school, but it was only recently that I felt ready to write it. This was accompanied by a wave of WTF HAVE I DONE when I finished it, as I didn’t even have a clue that Science Fiction Romance was a thing until I started to research the market viability of the project. I’ve spoken out a lot on the battle trying to convince SF readers that the romance aspect isn’t a deterrent to the story, and, conversely, convincing Romance readers that the SF elements don’t detract from the relationship. Really, the two are so intertwined they’re impossible to separate, although that won’t be 100% obvious until the third book. It’s not an either/or situation. For this series, I absolutely, unquestionably had to have both.
6.What has the experience of being a science fiction author been like for you?
It’s… well, it’s really wild, actually. I never considered myself a huge science geek by any stretch until a few years ago. Fascinated by, yes, but not passionate about it to do anything with it. Due to the nature of the Endure series, and what I’ve exposed my non-SFR author friends to in the process, a few of them have started coming to me with questions about all of this stuff! Can I just say how crazy that is? Apparently, I have a knack for retaining weird facts and explaining complex topics in easy to understand ways. Sooooo not what I expected to come out of all this. When a friend calls me up on the phone and asks for some guidance regarding the relationship between space and time… oh yes. That’s very weird. Especially considering my books aren’t space related. LOL. But, because of some of the folks I’ve gotten to know, like Phil Plait and Pamela Gay, I get a constant stream of all kinds of amazing information. It’s incredibly cool that I can pass this on to others and that they consider me a resource of sorts for this stuff. I don’t consider myself anything close to an expert in much of anything, but I know enough to be dangerous. Or to put them on the right path for research, anyway. I think it’s pretty awesome I can talk about some of it with actual confidence in my words. Knowledge is so empowering!
7.For THE DREAMER’S THREAD, you did a wonderful podcast version. Are you planning to release audio versions of this series?
At this time, no. I don’t have any plans for an audio version, and I know that’s disappointing to some people. There are a few reasons for this. One is because of the adult content in the stories and I’m a big chicken. Anyone that saw me at Balticon this year got to experience the eighty shades of red I turn reading certain, uh, scenes aloud. I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I’m comfortable narrating this sort of material. Maybe someday, but not yet.
The second reason is that I’m finding my time is really limited these days. I have to pick and choose my projects very carefully and pour my energy into what I’m really passionate about. This is the downside to working in several creative areas. Between book covers, writing, and audiobook narration, coupled with the demands of being a temporary single parent, something had to give. Unfortunately, narration is something that’s had to fall by the wayside. Maybe when I have all three kids in school I can pick it up again, but with a three-year-old running circles around me and two preteens bringing the drama, yeah. I’m having to hit pause there.
Thank you for the wonderful questions! I hope people find my answers helpful and/or interesting!
Starla Huchton released her first novel, The Dreamer's Thread, as a full cast podcast production beginning in August 2009. Her first foray went on to become a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards.
Since her debut, Starla's voice has appeared in other podcasts including The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, The Drabblecast, and Erotica a la Carte. She is also a voice talent for Darkfire Productions, and narrates several of their projects, including The Emperor's Edge series, This Path We Share, and others.
Her writing has appeared in the Erotica a la Carte podcast, an episode of the Tales from the Archives podcast (the companion to Tee Morris and Philippa Balantine's Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series), which garnered her a second finalist badge from the 2012 Parsec Awards, and a short story for The Gearheart (earning her a third Parsec finalist badge). Her second novel, a Steampunk adventure entitled Master of Myth, was the first place winner in the Fantasy/Science Fiction category of The Sandy Writing Contest held annually by the Crested Butte Writers Conference. Maven was her third completed novel and the first in a planned series of four, being released under the name S. A. Huchton. Nemesis is the second in the Endure series.
After completing her degree in Graphic Arts, Starla opened up shop as a freelance graphic designer focusing on creating beautiful book covers for independent authors and publishers. She currently lives in Virginia where she trains her three Minions and military husband.
And remember to get your copies of MAVEN (Endure Series, Book I) and NEMESIS (Endure Series, Book II)