by Branwen OShea
GENRE: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy
They thought the biggest problem they faced was each other.
After Bleu, Rana, and their new friends narrowly prevent war between the star beings and humans, they hope the upcoming negotiation will secure the peace. Newly emerged from their subterranean haven, the Northern Haven humans are clearly not suited to Earth’s ice age, and require assistance from the enlightened star beings to survive long term on the Surface. But Commander Savas doesn’t trust the suspiciously kind star beings and their unexplainable abilities. When both sides reluctantly negotiate a joint mission to find the other Havens, Bleu must somehow cooperate with the manipulative commander to keep his friends safe.
As their team confronts unexpected dangers, Bleu and his teammates begin to suspect the star beings don’t know as much about the Surface as they claimed, while Rana is torn between remaining true to her nonviolent ways or becoming more human to survive. When an unnatural predator attacks, even the nearly all-knowing Kalakanya can’t explain it. Now the team must pull together or their new discovery will pull them apart, limb by limb.
Savas grinned. “Think of it as research. They’re a new species. You’re doing field observation.”
“I don’t think she eats at all.” Atsushi frowned. “None of the Crowned Ones seem to. They go to the gathering hall to socialize.”
“You do realize that’s impossible, right? They’re alive. They need an energy source.”
“Kalakanya said she eats air or something.”
Savas snorted. “Well, be curious. Ask Kahali when you’re alone. Later, ask the others. We’ll compare answers.”
Atsushi grimaced. “They’ll know what I’m thinking. I don’t want to upset them.”
“No, you don’t.” If he had another Medicci device to block mindreading, he’d offer it to him. There must be something the boy could do to stay safe. A tiny, guilty voice rose within him at exposing the boy to the dangers of mind-control. No kid should go through that.
“What if you keep that chant Kahali taught you running in your head? Maybe then they won’t catch on?”
“Maybe.” Atsushi was silent. “I’m supposed to be chanting that all the time, but I’m horrid at remembering.”
“Then work on that.”
Atsushi nodded and then glanced toward the fire, where the star beings suddenly sang more loudly. “You still don’t trust them, do you?”
“No, I don’t.”
“But why? They’re so nice.”
“There used to be a fish that lived in the depths of the ocean. It evolved a beautiful light that shone magnificently in the darkness. Other fish would swim close, mesmerized by the beauty, feeling completely safe. And then the light-bearing fish would tear them to pieces.”
About the Author:
As a young girl, Branwen wanted to become an ambassador for aliens. Since the aliens never hired her, she now writes about them.
Branwen OShea has a Bachelors in Biology from Colgate University, a Bachelors in Psychology, and a Masters in Social Work. She lives in Connecticut with her family and a menagerie of pets, and enjoys hiking, meditating, and star-gazing. Her published works include Silence of the Song Trees, The Calling, The Cords That Bind, and The Chasm.
Q&A With the Author
When did you first consider yourself to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to write books since childhood, and have had lots of story ideas that never made it to full fruition. I don’t think I considered myself a writer until I started writing with the determination that I’d share this particular story (the Finding Humanity Series) with others no matter what I had to overcome. I can be very stubborn when I believe in something and with this story I decided to go for it and write the entire epic adventure out, even if it takes the rest of my life to accomplish it. That determination and making this story such a top priority in my life made me realize I was definitely a writer.
What advice do you have for a new writer?
Figure out what works for you as a person. A lot of writing advice fits the author writing it, not necessarily the new writer reading the advice. That said, I have a few thoughts, but feel free to ignore them, lol.
Rules have a purpose, but writing is an art. If you understand why the rules are important, then a case can be made for breaking them.
Since I started writing fifteen years ago, the publishing industry has changed dramatically. I suggest writing the story idea that sings to your heart. If you try to write for the market, the market may well have changed by the time you’ve completed your book.
It helps to have some sense of who the best audience is for your story idea. Writing a novel for middle graders is very different than writing for adults. And if you aim to fit within a certain genre (there is nothing wrong with figuring out genre as you write, either), learn the expectations readers have for that genre. For instance, romance readers expect the couple to be happily together at the end. If that’s not where your story aims to be, that’s fine, but realize it will be considered by readers to be another genre, not romance.
Have fun with your writing. I see so many writers turn writing into a way to torture and judge themselves. I recommend that you see it as fun, because why spend your life doing something that will make you miserable?
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
The characters. I never start a new story until the characters have shown themselves. I never do worksheets on them or design them. If they want their story told, and expect me to spend years on it, then they need to be willing to tell me about themselves. I realize not every author works this way, but it works for me.
What is your favorite part of this story?
My favorite part of The Chasm is that because this is the second book, now all the characters are together and know each other. Everyone still has secrets, and they’re all forced to work together with others they don’t trust to survive.
As for favorite scenes, that’s hard. I had a lot of fun with the scene where Commander Savas, who trusts no one, least of all the mind-reading star beings, realizes he must trust their leader with his life. I also love when the characters first meet the new beings—the Ruined—and how differently the humans and star beings react to the danger. Without giving spoilers, I’ll simply say these new creatures are some of my favorite worldbuilding in the entire series, and I can’t wait for readers to get to know them better.
Which Character was the most fun to write about? Why?
I most enjoy writing the deeply conflicted and angsty characters. In this book, I’d say those were the human leader, Commander Savas, and one of the star being teens, Kahali. Commander Savas is jaded, sarcastic, and willing to do anything to save humanity. He’s also really smart and strategic about everything he does.
Kahali starts off the series as Rana’s best friend, a fun-loving musician and prankster. Meeting the humans does not go well for him, and by the end of the first book, he’s had quite the character arc. In this book, he’s still trying to emotionally recover and maintain his incredible compassion and humor, but things keep going downhill for him. His determination to take the high ground and remain nonviolent plays off powerfully against Commander Savas’ need to prove Kahali and the other star beings aren’t trustworthy. Actually, now that I think about it, the climactic scene between Kahali and Savas is also one of my favorites.
Which Character was the hardest to write about? Why?
Kalakanya is definitely the hardest to write. She does not have a POV in the series so far, but she is a very integral character and member of the team. All star beings think differently than humans do, in that they believe in nonviolence, connecting with all life, compassion, and strive to become a Crowned One, which is like their form of enlightenment, complete with certain psychic powers. Kalakanya has already Crowned, so she is always coming from a very different state of consciousness than the other characters. However, she is also very playful and humorous, and has good fun with her ability to read the humans’ minds. She often goes from wise one to teasing in a flash, and also carries many secrets. All these traits make her sometimes tricky to portray accurately on paper.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/branwenoshea
The Chasm (Book 2) on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09QFPHQVN
The Calling (Book 1) on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1735915998
The Cords That Bind (Book 1.1) on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CSK4813
Branwen OShea will be awarding $30 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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