26 June, 2012

Guest Post :: Keira Telford - Silver:Acheron (A River of Pain)

About the Book

Dishonourably discharged from the Hunter Division and banished for crimes she did not commit, Silver struggles to come to terms with her new prison-like surroundings: a segregated area of the city called the Fringe District, populated by murderers, thieves and rapists. 
Starving, and desperate for money, she reluctantly accepts the Police Division's invitation to enroll in a covert Bounty Hunter program: an initiative devised to infiltrate the criminal underworld of the Fringers, and to force the very worst warrant dodging law-breakers to meet their fate—death.

Unfortunately, Silver doesn't realize that the Police Division is about to up the ante. They need more than little snippets of information and arrests—they need someone to pull the trigger.
They need an executioner.

Second Reclamation Territory
Amaranthe, 2342 CE
One Month Ago
It’s her job to kill monsters.
Chimera are the abhorrent result of an Old World catastrophe, and Silver is a trained Hunter. In the final months of the Second Reclamation, she kicks down the door into a large, crumbling room in some lost building in a forgotten corner of the Out District. Having been recently—and abruptly—re-designated as part of the Second Reclamation Territory, this area of abandoned Old World land represents a significant chunk of the unreclaimed city. Once taken back into human control, it will become an add-on to the expansion of the cramped and over-populated Sentinel District.
Silver’s sweep of this building is part of a final push to wipe out any stragglers left hiding in the shadows of the city’s dereliction, so that the rebuild can commence. With no working power supply, the room she finds herself in is dark, and it reeks of putrefaction.
Stepping confidently inside, her steel-toed Hunter Division boots leave temporary imprints in the puddles left behind from the leaking roof. She readies her PP-2000, a powerful submachine gun designed for close quarters combat. It’s a standard issue, basic weapon of survival for the Hunter Division.
The sound of her entrance has stirred a pack of starving Chimera from sleep, and she doesn’t hesitate to expend an entire magazine of bullets into their mutated flesh.
And, then … she waits.
One more step, then two.
Her boots now leave imprints in Chimeran blood as she makes her way deeper into the room, a strange noise in the far corner quickly drawing her attention.
No chance to explore it.
Headset crackles.
Her heart rate leaps from a sedate eighty to an adrenalin fueled one-oh-five in less than a second. The voice on the other end of the static is fellow Hunter, Rachel ‘Red’ Jenkins.
“Silver, what’s your status?” Red’s sultry voice echoes in the hollow shell of the room.
Silver ignores her, and keeps her eyes focused on a shape moving in the shadows. She flicks on her pocket flashlight and spills the beam over a bundle of ivory skin crouched against the wall.
More crackles.
“Silver? Status report? I heard shots fired,” Red persists.
Silver crouches down, resting on her heels in front of the vulnerable bundle—a naked woman. 

Guest Post
Do They Have Cows?

That’s one of the most important questions that anyone’s ever asked me: Do the people in my books have cows? It was posed by one of my early beta-readers, long before Acheron was written, back when The Lost & Damned was first reinvented as a novel (after spending the first six years of its life as a script).

The truth is: I had no idea what the people in my books ate. The apocalypse had wiped out 99% of all life on earth, so I concluded that they couldn’t possibly have any cows. Nor sheep, for that matter. Nor rabbits or chickens or pigs, and they certainly weren’t cannibals. I sat back and pondered this dilemma for a while, eventually concluding that they must eat Chimera.

Chimera are the grotesque by-product of a biological weapon gone wrong, and a nuclear war that destroyed all of human civilization as we know it. Now, several hundred years later, the Chimera prey upon humans and humans have learnt to hunt them. And since Chimera populate the Americas in numbers akin to racoons (or some other indigenous pest), meat is plentiful.

It was settled, then: Amaranthian humans hunt and eat Chimera.

But I didn’t stop there.

Where do my characters get milk? If they want to eat pancakes, or enjoy a milky cup of nettle tea, they need to have milk. The solution? Chimera are mammals. They can be milked just like cows or goats. Tallow candles can be made from their belly fat. All kinds of things can be carved from their bones, and their skin (which could be likened to elephant hide) can be used to make leather.

The point here is that you should never underestimate the importance of good world-building—especially if you’re writing sci-fi or fantasy. It’s like writing a book about a lawyer and having to familiarize yourself with legal process. Or writing a detective story and learning all about proper investigative procedure. You’d think it was a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at just how many authors (and screenwriters, for that matter) seem to rely on a few impressive bells and whistles to mask the lack of depth and detail in their work. Perhaps the audience won’t notice how absurd it is that two scientists armed with high-tech mapping devices and constant radio contact with the rest of their crew manage to get themselves lost in a cave. If you keep them distracted with the big, shiny spaceship, everything is sure to be okay.

... Or not.

Whether you’re creating a new civilization, a planet, or an entire universe, the world your characters inhabit has to be just as vivid and complete as the world you live in. It has to make sense, and it has to be believable. If your characters are driving cars in a post-apocalyptic world, where are they getting their gasoline? Or is it gasoline at all? If it is, who’s drilling for oil when most of the world is dead?

The list could go on forever. You’re going to have to be creative, and do some careful research. If you’re going to explain how they’re manufacturing C-4 in a bathtub in a warehouse on the outskirts of town, you’d better not mess up the chemistry. (And I really hope I didn’t, else this is going to be really embarrassing later).

Spend as much time invested in creating your world as you do in fleshing out your characters. We all know that if readers can’t empathize with your characters, they’ll lose interest and stop reading. But if they aren’t fascinated by your world... well, they’ll get bored just as easily. It won’t matter that your protagonist is the most beautifully flawed hero anyone’s ever brought to life. If the world he or she resides in is paper thin and dull as dishwater, no-one’s going to give a monkey’s.

Here’s a thought to leave you with:

Writer [rahy-ter]
A person who composes with language.

So what are you waiting for? Go compose a symphony :)

About the Author
Born and raised in Britain, Keira moved to British Columbia, Canada in 2006. She now shares a townhouse on the west coast with her husband and 9 guinea pigs, yes 9 guinea pigs.
Author of the post-apocalyptic romance novels called Silver.
The world might end, but love endures.

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Tour Stops

May 31 - Meet & Greet at VBT Cafe' Blog

June 5 - Guest Blogging at Beauty in Ruins
June 7 - Guest Blogging at Lori's Reading Corner 
June 11 - Guest Blogging at AZ Publishing Services 
June 13 - Guest Blogging at Wise Words
June 15 - Guest Blogging at The Lucky Ladybug 
June 20 - Reviewed at Books, Books, and More Books
June 22 - Interviewed & Reviewed at A Book Lover's Library 
June 26 - Guest Blogging at B00k R3vi3ws 
June 26 - Reviewed at Ereading on the Cheap 
June 27 - Interviewed at Reviews & Interviews
June 28 - Guest Blogging at Immortyl Revolution 
July 3 - Interviewed by Louise James