Cara’s note: My guest today is Veronica Scott, author of the Sectors sci-fi romance series. She has a new one out, Star Survivor, a spin-off from Wreck of the Nebula Dream. What I like most about her books are her characters and the authenticity of the world she builds. It’s sci-fi, but it is so believable. When you read her post and see the kind of research she does, you’ll understand why.
By Veronica Scott
Thanks for having me as your guest!
There’s nothing more fun for an author than revisiting favorite characters from a past novel, especially if now is the time to tell the story for two of those people, who were not the primary couple in book one. Almost as soon as I finished writing Wreck of the Nebula Dream, my “Titanic in space” scifi novel with romantic elements, I was being asked by readers to write the sequel. People really wanted to know what was going to happen next for Twilka, the ‘Socialite’ rich, spoiled girl and Khevan, the sexy, deadly bodyguard/assassin who serves a jealous alien goddess.
I had to figure out what kind of life they’d each be stepping back into, because everyday life does go on. It’s always amazing to me how the rest of the world keeps following its humdrum routines, while someone else is suffering through a disaster or a personal crisis. For Twilka, I envisioned a return to her high life as a well-known party girl, but to that she’d add the new notoriety of being a survivor of the famous wreck, and leverage it all into becoming a cutting edge high fashion designer. She does have a generational billionaire businessman father, after all. I got to live out my own “Project Runway” fantasies with this plot line, and the research was fun.
Khevan was a different, darker story, since he was sworn to serve the Red Lady of D’nvannae as a senior member of her Brotherhood. The elegant, old fashioned weapon of choice for them is the knife, which meant I needed to research how to survive a fight with sharp blades. (The Brotherhood has blasters and other modern weaponry too of course.) Up until now, my view of knife fights was that it was a blur of action with lots of scary sharp edges, you inevitably got stabbed, bled a lot and end of story. Game over. Yes, but I couldn’t exactly write that in a novel and Khevan was going to need to have at least one major duel at close range in this book.
First I reread a few passages from my library of fiction and nonfiction books by Special Forces soldiers, to refresh myself on how true warriors described a life and death situation of this type. What they were thinking, how they approached it. Next I went online to youtube and pulled up all the tutorials on knife fights. I watched hours of the basics, then the intermediate and finally the advanced techniques and tactics, scribbling notes and viewing certain key moves over and over to get it right. I got out my father’s big hunting knife and my late husband’s even bigger blade and very slooowwwwly tried some of the maneuvers I was seeing in the videos. I knew I was making progress when I watched an action movie with a big choreographed knife fight scene and I was calling out the moves as the opponents made them.
I could see the ebb and flow, the defensive blocking and the offensive techniques – it made sense to me. I hope I did some justice to the efforts of my Youtube ‘tutors’, in writing the eventual scene in the novel. Could I take someone on in a knife fight now and win? Uh, probably not. But at least now I’d have an idea of how to approach it, starting with how I held the knife.
Gotta love research!
The survivors of a terrible wreck meet again—but this time only one can survive.
The long-awaited sequel to The Wreck of the Nebula Dream…
They survived an iconic spaceship wreck together. She never expected to see him again … especially not armed to kill her.
Twilka Zabour is an interstellar celebrity. She built on her notoriety as a carefree Socialite who survived the terrible wreck of the Nebula Dream, and launched a successful design house. But now the man who gave meaning to her life, then left her, is back–this time for the worst of reasons. Will he kill her … or help her survive?
D’nvannae Brother Khevan survived the Nebula Dream in the company of a lovely, warm woman, only to be pulled away from her, back into his solitary life in the service of the Red Lady. Now Twilka’s within his reach again–for all the wrong reasons. Khevan will do everything within his power to discover why Twilka has been targeted for assassination, and to save her.
But Khevan is not Twilka’s only pursuer. Will allies Nick and Mara Jameson arrive in time to aid the couple, or will Khevan and Twilka’s ingenuity be all that stands between them and death?
Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the book, when Twilka and Khevan meet again, after five years apart. (No knives or fashion in this selection!):
She’d known it was a mistake to agree to venture out of her cabin, much less to go to the casino, but her companions had been begging her to join them on this final night of the cruise. A woman couldn’t concentrate on business all the time, could she? Not even to avoid unpleasant realities. A migraine nagged above her eye, threatening to become full blown, and the loud thumping music in the casino aggravated the pain. Twilka Zabour paused at the entrance to the private, high stakes gaming area and froze.
Oh, yes, a major flashback was inevitable now. Not just because the lights and the music and the crowd were reminding her so forcibly of the last night on board the Nebula Dream, but because of the man standing in the center of a largely female, laughing group of passengers. He stood with his back to her, thank the lords, and all she could see were his broad shoulders and that glossy, unbound mane of hair, but the high roller running the table was a D’nvannae Brother.
The memories were a physical pain in her gut as the room spun around her.
“Drink. I need a drink,” she said, grabbing at the glasses balanced on the tray of a passing server. She didn’t care what they were, nor was she displeased to find the goblets contained two completely different feelgoods. Even as the waiter exclaimed in annoyance and her own companions exchanged astonished glances, she shoved the now empty glasses at the man, snatched a third from his tray, swirls of orange and green froth, and sauntered forward. Twilka headed to the table with a casualness she in no way felt, her nerves taut as a bowstring, her pulse pounding. The migraine took hold with a vengeance now, fueled by tension and the feelgoods. At least she’d worn a killer dress.
“Twenty thousand on the red,” she said, having seen his bet and choosing the opposite. “I’ll spin.” Sipping the abominable, too sweet concoction, she leaned over to spin the retro wheel, giving the room a full view of her cleavage, accented with perfume dust and temporary diamond-studded tattoos.
There was a growing silence around the table. She didn’t think the onlookers knew who he was—had been—to her. She was famous, her face appearing everywhere as the embodiment of her brand, but he was just a D’nvannae. In reality, Khevan could never be dismissed as “just” anything, could he? Her companions had caught up to her, Lissa and Jord standing at her side, slightly behind. Tossing her hair, she raised her glass as the croupier proclaimed her win. “Again.” She leaned over and licked Jord’s ear, caressing the outline with her tongue as sensuously as she could manage in her highly fraught state of mind. She’d taken him by surprise, but he played along, putting his arm around her waist and pulling her close, turning so her hip curved into his crotch, spilling the drink a bit as he nuzzled her neck.
“The lady wins again,” said the dealer.
“Your lucky night,” Khevan said, inclining his head to her slightly.
Lords, his voice was as deep and sensuous as ever. Twilka grabbed the table rail with her free hand. Did he know who she was? Of course he did, but the bastard was pretending not to recognize her. “Available for contract, I see.”
“Technically true, but traveling to an outlying temple for a required ritual,” he said. His handsome, tattooed face gave nothing away. “There would have to be an emergency for me to take a contract tonight.”
“Did you want to let the bet ride?” asked the croupier.
“No,” she said abruptly. “I don’t tempt fate too far any more. Cash me out.” Sick of the game, barely able to see for the lightning flashes in her field of vision caused by the migraine, she abandoned her drink and took Jord’s arm. “I think we’ve wasted enough time here, don’t you?” Beaming at Lissa, she added, “Let’s go to the cabin and start the party again.”
She stumbled ever so slightly as she spun around. Jord kept her upright and they walked away. “What the seven hells were you doing?” he asked in a low voice. “Did you know that guy?”
“It was him, wasn’t it?” High pitched and excited, Lissa’s tone betrayed her fascination. “Your D’nvannae?
“Not mine, never mine,” she said, biting her lip as too much of the truth slipped out.
Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Three time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”