Book Tour and author interview for The Thirteenth Guardian by K.M. Lewis

 


The Thirteenth Guardian
by K.M. Lewis
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Apocalyptic Fantasy
Release Date: June 11th 2019

Summary:

Da Vinci’s secret pales. Michelangelo concealed an explosive truth in his famous Creation of Man fresco in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. Everything we have been taught about Eve is wrong—she didn’t cause the fall of man. Instead, Eve carried a far more devastating secret for millennia; one that will change the world forever.

As the modern-day world suffers the cataclysmic effects of the “Plagues of Egypt”, Avery Fitzgerald, a statuesque Astrophysics major at Stanford, discovers that she is mysteriously bound to five strangers by an extremely rare condition that foremost medical experts cannot explain. Thrust into extraordinary circumstances, they race against time to stay alive as they are pursued by an age-old adversary and the world around them collapses into annihilation.

 Under sacred oath, The Guardians—a far more archaic and enigmatic secret society than the Freemasons, Templars, and the Priory—protect Avery as she embarks on a daring quest that only legends of old have been on before. Avery must come to terms with the shocking realization that the blood of an ancient queen flows through her veins and that the fate of the world now rests on her shoulders.

Excerpt

As he approached the Sant’Angelo Bridge, he stopped for a moment and looked left at Castel Sant’Angelo, which was once the tallest building in Rome. Castel SantAngelo was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, around 125 AD, as a mausoleum for him and his family. At the top of the castle is a statue of the Archangel Michael—renowned for leading God’s armies against Satan’s army in the final battle in the Book of Revelation.

Something about standing in the shadow of the Archangel Michael this evening caused Eli to stop and stare at the statue. He noticed, for the first time, that Archangel Michael appeared to have just unsheathed his sword—as if the time for that final battle, prophesied in the Bible, had finally arrived. Eli observed that Michael had a calmness etched on his face that evoked both sadness and resolve.

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This book is on sale for $0.99 throughout July 2019! 

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PNDJ7TW

BookFunnel link to the book – https://dl.bookfunnel.com/mn6ccg5rjy

Author Interview

  1. Tell us about your writing process. Do you aim for a daily word count, page count, or a couple of scenes each day?

I travel a lot for work. A LOT. So I do most of my writing on the move. When I write, I have the story saved in the cloud – so I will start a new chapter on my MacBook at 5am in my hotel before I head to the airport to catch a flight. I will pick up the writing on my iPhone in the back of an Uber—sitting in traffic—or waiting in a long airport security line, and then finish the chapter onboard a long flight. One of the chapters in the book was started in a hotel lobby in central London, finished somewhere over the Atlantic and spell checked in an Uber from JFK in New York.

  1. What gave you the inspiration for your book (and the series)?

I have always been intrigued by Bible and religious mythology. For many years, I have wondered if the apocalyptic events described in the Bible (past and future—i.e. Revelation), were/will be caused by a physical catalyst. What is absolutely fascinating to me is that many of the apocalyptic events described in the Bible appear in several other religious texts from around the world, and also appear in the earth’s historical record. For example, the story of Noah and the Flood is almost precisely similar to flood myths from China, India, Polynesia, Mesopotamia and many other communities around the world. Many of these myths involve a huge global flood and a group of people that were saved because they somehow knew the flood was coming and built some type of boat to save their family. They also stored grain and brought some animals along for the ride too.

I tried to ignore the obvious questions for years but they kept nagging at me. So, I finally decided to start reading and digging. And whoa! Our history may be much more interesting than we have known. The Thirteenth Guardian Trilogy is a fictional account that explores some of what I found over the last ten years of looking.

  1. What sort of research did you do for this book?

Over the years, I have visited many of the locations featured in the book – The Vatican, The Capitol Building in Washington DC, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Salt Lake City, Tokyo, Rome, The Greenbriar Resort; and more. The descriptions of these locations are based largely on my experiences when I visited those locations, and also reading up on them in detail to make sure that all the details captured are as accurate as possible. I have also read A LOT about world myths and religious beliefs, and I have spent quite a bit of time researching ancient religious texts and artifacts e.g. Hindu, Egyptian, Mayan etc. There is so much rich information that is available to anyone who wants to dig into this topic – you can spend weeks and weeks, reading up.

  1. Are you a pantser or a plotter? A bit of both?

A Panster. Many of the scenes that I think are the most compelling in the book unfolded as I wrote. I had no idea how the chapter would end as I wrote the first word in the chapter. I wrote the first book really fast – it just kept pouring out, and I could not go to sleep until all the thoughts were on paper. So I would just start writing and see where things would go. At the end of some of the chapters, I would stand up, look back at the computer screen, and think, “OK – where the heck did that come from?!”

  1. Do you prefer a certain type of music to listen to when you’re writing, or are you better with silence?

I always write listening to musical scores. For some reason, the genre clears my mind and opens up a channel into my mind. I am a big fan of Hans Zimmer when I write – so I put on my head set and just go to his Pandora or Slacker channel and start typing on my Mac or iPhone.

  1. What book(s) are you reading now?

I have re-read a couple of Dan Brown’s books, and I have Michelle Obama’s book sitting on my table staring back at me. I really need to find the time to read it.

  1. Just for fun — what TV shows or movies have you really enjoyed (or disliked?) recently?

Huge fan of GoT. But not for the reason that most people love the show. I think there is a much deeper layer to the show that struck me as soon as I started watching it. Has to do with ancient knowledge and the cycle of ancient history that always seems to repeat itself – Samuel Tarly is the one character that touches on it a bit in one of the seasons. If you read the Thirteenth Guardian, you can almost see the parallels.

About the Author

K.M. Lewis has lived in multiple countries around the world and speaks several languages. Lewis holds a graduate degree from one of the Ivy League Universities featured in his book. When he is not writing, Lewis doubles as a management consultant, with clients in just about every continent. He does much of his writing while on long flights and at far-flung airports around the globe. He currently resides on the East Coast of the U.S with his family.

Social media: twitter.com/kmlewisbooks and instagram.com/kmlewisbooks

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Book Tour for It Takes Death to Reach a Star and Guest Post by author Gareth Worthington

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Guest Post by author Gareth Worthington

First off, let’s get the advertisement piece out of the way. My latest novel, co-written with Stu Jones, It Takes Death to Reach a Star, is currently kicking butt. At the time of writing, we have won the New York Book Festival 2018 sci fi category, been shortlisted for Chanticleer’s Cygnus award and are on the official finalist’s ballot for a Dragon Award (set up to be an alternative to the Hugo Award). It’s also in development for TV/film with Vesuvian Media and Boilermaker Entertainment – founded by the director/producers of the famous CSI TV series franchise.

 

Stu and I are as happy as clams.

 

That said, today, I am going to talk about something not so happy, very real and pertinent to the book and me: mental health.

 

For those of you who have not read the book, it is told from two points of view in first person present tense. Stu wrote Mila (named after my daughter) – a tough, badass character who survived the slums. She’s witty and cool and readers across the board have spouted their love for her. Understandably.

 

I wrote Demitri. He’s part of an elite race, a quiet scientist, a little afraid, and very tortured inside – mostly due to an evil voice in his head called Vedmak. Readers are often split on whether they like Demitri, some saying they wished he was brave or stronger, some wishing to give him a big hug; yet these same readers all love Vedmak, who for all intents and purposes is a complete [insert expletive here]. Vedmak is viscous and evil to the core.

Here’s the important bit that perhaps these same readers miss: Vedmak only works, because Demitri is meek.

 

Let me back up.

 

Demitri was born of two things. Firstly, he is the product of my own condition: Borderline Personality Disorder. While symptoms vary, those that manifest in me include: frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment; splitting (“black-and-white” thinking), self-damaging behavior (suicide), and distorted self-image. The cause of BPD can vary; however, mine can be traced back to an abused childhood. My father was very mentally and physically abusive and we lived in social housing in a very bad neighborhood for twenty years. This latter piece, is Vedmak.*

 

When writing a character like Demitri, I wanted him to be very real. Equally, I wanted readers to feel the evil that is Vedmak. For Vedmak – or any bully – to have power, the bullied have to be weak. And so, writing what I know, I endowed Demitri with all of the inner doubts and fears and struggles that have plagued me for a good chunk of my own life. And for Vedmak, I drew on the years of mental torture from my father (and surrounding environment). Like Vedmak, my father only had power, because I was weak then.

I’m not writing this to garner sympathy or tell a sob story. I have my BPD under control for the most part, and I have spent more than thirty years building myself a very nice life. I’m good! Instead, I hope people read Demitri and understand a little better what it is like to doubt yourself every day and suffer at the hands of a bully.

 

Everyone would like to believe that they would be strong in the face of adversity – but for some, that choice just isn’t as easy. For some, the ultimate goal of feeling good in our skin seems just so far away. For some, it may very well take death to reach a star.

 

*Disclaimer: Vedmak plays a HUGE role in the book, beyond his torturing Demitri. He is also not my father so you’re allowed to like him!

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It Takes Death to Reach a Star

By Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington

Genre: Sci Fi, dystopian, apocalyptic

THE WORLD YOU KNOW IS DEAD. WE DID THIS TO OURSELVES.

The epidemic struck at the end of the Third World War. Fighting over oil, power, and religion, governments ignored the rise of an anti-bacterial-resistant plague. In just five years, the Earth was
annihilated. Only one city survived—Etyom—a frozen hell-hole in northern Siberia, still engulfed in conflict.

The year is 2251.

Two groups emerged from the ashes of the old world. Within the walled city of Lower Etyom, dwell the Robusts—descendants of the poor who were immune to The New Black Death. Above them, in a metropolis of pristine platforms called Lillipads, live the Graciles—the progeny of the super-rich; bio-engineered to resist the plague.

Mila Solokoff is a Robust who trades information in a world where knowing too much can get you killed. Caught in a deal-gone-bad, she’s forced to take a high-risk job for a clandestine organization hell-bent on revolution.

Demitri Stasevich is a Gracile with a dark secret—a sickness that, if discovered, will surely get him Ax’d. His only relief is an illegal narcotic produced by the Robusts, and his only means of obtaining it is a journey to the arctic hell far below New Etyom.

Thrust together in the midst of a sinister plot that threatens all life above and below the cloud line, Mila and Demitri must master their demons and make a choice—one that will either salvage what’s left of the human race, or doom it to extinction…

 

Praise for ITDTRAS

 

“… merging the best of apocalyptic fiction and science fiction… compelling.” ~ Library Journal

 

“Cinematic, thought provoking, and immersive, this is an option for fans of darker, grittier, and more science-focused dystopias in the manner ​of the novels of Philip K. Dick.” ~ Booklist

 

“… I cannot fathom how Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington created this masterpiece.” ​~ Readers’ Favorite

 

“…this new series has the potential to render popular franchises like the Hunger Games, the Maze Runner, and Divergent as mere forerunners in the genre.” ~jathanandheather.com

 

About Gareth Worthington

Gareth

Gareth Worthington BSc PhD is a trained marine biologist and also holds a doctorate in comparative endocrinology. Currently, Gareth works full time for the pharmaceutical industry helping to educate the world’s doctors on new cancer therapies. His debut novel, Children of the Fifth Sun, won in the Science Fiction category at the London Book Festival 2017. He has a number of passions, including: martial arts (he trained in Muay Thai at the prestigious EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore), studying ancient history, and most of all writing fiction. Born in England, Gareth resides in Switzerland.

About Stu Jones

Stu

Stu Jones has served full time as a law enforcement officer for twelve years. Over the course of his career he has worked as an investigator, an instructor teaching SWAT close quarters and defensive tactics, and as a member and team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team. He is also trained and qualified as a law enforcement SWAT sniper, as well as in hostage rescue and high-risk entry tactics. He is an Eagle Scout, a lifelong martial artist, and an avid outdoorsman.

http://www.ittakesdeathtoreachastar.com/

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrGWorthington

On Amazon: https://amzn.to/2uoafnV

On B&N: https://bit.ly/2KZbBjg

On Kobo: https://bit.ly/2NUczLy

 

BOOK EXCERPT

Chapter One: MILA

No matter how badly I want it to be different this time, in the end I still die.
     We all do.
     I lie on the cot, cold sweat clinging to my skin, arms raised to my face, stuck like a marionette tangled in its own strings. The dream feels so real. Another breath—count it out. In, two, three, four. Out, two, three, four. My heart slows, my mind no longer caught in the grip of the terrifying dream: a battle in which I play a critical role, yet I’m no soldier. This nightmare stalks me night after night, and even though I know I’m dreaming, I’m powerless to prevent the inevitablethe coming of Death.
     The alarm on my personal electronic device, or PED, chirrups three times: 05:00. Not much sleep during the dark hours, again. I squeeze my shoulders, rubbing away the dull, muscular ache, and try to remember the fading embrace of a brother who now feels far away. A deep breath in, a slow exhale out. Get up already, Mila.
     The frigid floor stings my bare feet. I shrug into a few less-than-clean garments and pull on my boots. The stale smell of the attire fills my throat. A shiver crawls across my skin. Sard, it’s cold. Gotta find something warmer. After rummaging through a pile of soiled clothes that lie in the corner of my room, I pull out a short leather jacket, its collar lined with fur—though from what animal is unclear. Shaking it hard a few times, I stare at the fur lining. I know the lice are in there somewhere. No time to try and clean it now. The jacket slips over my shoulders, the ice-cold collar snugging up around my neck. It stinks like dead rat.
     My PED and my precious collection of writings go into my satchel, carefully so as not to crush the worn old picture that lies at the bottom. I fish out the faded image of Zevry and me. I can be no more than eight-years old in this photo. He’s grinning, as usual, with one arm wrapped around my shoulder. It was taken more than twenty years ago—yet little seems to have changed. Still have roughly cut short hair, now with a streak of color in the front. Still have a lean, almost boyish frame—though I’ve added some piercings and tattoos over the years in an attempt to distinguish myself. And then of course there’s my scar—cutting its pink path across my forehead and left eye. Slashed deep into my face not long after this picture was taken, it’s a permanent reminder you don’t walk the streets alone in a place like Etyom.
     No time for this. I stuff the picture back into my satchel and head out the door without locking it. Anything worth stealing is already on me—and it wouldn’t take much to force the door to my closet-sized room anyway.
     My boots creak on the rickety stairs leading into the bar below. It’s quiet now, a far cry from the bedlam hours earlier. Smoke hangs lazily in the air, like the memory of an old ghost.
     “Come on, Clief.” I cough. “How do you breathe this stuff night after night?”
     The man at the bar raises his head but continues to wipe down the counter. “Oh, it’s not that bad. Sorta like burning plastic.” He offers a tired smile. “Off so early?”
     “Every day.” Still pinching my nose and squinting, I make my way toward the door. “I’m serious. Get some fresh air in here. That botchi is going to scramble what’s left of your tiny brain.”
     He huffs out a laugh. “And that out there? That’s where you get the fresh air?”
     “You know what I mean.”
     As I push open the door, the wind hits me like a frozen punch in the mouth. Going out in this icy hell never gets easier. The streets are dark and cold, shadows upon shadows concealing the horrors of Etyom. It’s hard to believe this place was once considered a haven. Long ago, it was a vast, sprawling gulag-turned-mining community called Norilsk. Between World War III and the New Black Death, nearly nine billion people around the world lost their lives. Those who were left fled their homes and cities in search of someplace safer. For many, this barren hell hole was it. The conflict hadn’t fully destroyed the city, and the New Black Death struggled to take hold in the brutal Siberian climate. Survival was possible here.
     A mass migration followed; the Russian government was helpless to stop it. Outside Norilsk, organized social structure, atleast the way people understood it then, gasped its final dying breath. And then, silence. Communications with the outside world went dark. Zev said anyone who hadn’t died in the war succumbed to the New Black Death. It was then everyone here knew they were truly alone. They chose to isolate themselves, even renamed the city Etyom. My brother and I weren’t born for another few hundred years, the descendants of those who fought to survive. We’re fighters, Mil. Survivors. Nothing can keep us down. That’s why we’re called Robusts. But then why didn’t you come home to me, brother?
     I pull the jacket closer around my neck. Bilgi’s place is only a block away, and it’s a good thing, too, because with average temps below zero, the wind is cutting through me like a razor. I half run, half walk, down the quiet street, torn between wanting to get there fast and not wanting to bust my tail on the ice.
     Six raps with my knuckles in the practiced manner and the rickety door immediately opens. Bilgi waits inside. His simple place is lit by a single oil lamp. It’s barren and less than inviting, but I’m not here to be pampered.
     “Love me so much, you just wait for me by the door now?”
     “If you would rather stand on the stoop a little longer, then be my guest,” he answers in a clipped tone, ushering me in.
     “Come on, let’s do it already. I need to get my blood pumping.”
     The words are barely out of my mouth, my arms still stuck in the sleeves of my jacket, when he lunges forward. I see it coming, but the impact still throttles me as Bilgi’s heavy hands encircle my neck and drive me against the wall. My hair scatters across my face. Bring it, old man. The jacket comes free, and with a flurry of punches and a swift roundhouse kick to Bilgi’st high, I drive him back.

 

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Author Interview for Passage by Indie Gantz

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This is my stop on the Blog Tour for: Passage by Indie Ganz. This tour will run from September 3rd to 7th. Check out the tour schedule here.

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Passage (The Akasha Series #1)
by Indie Gantz
Genre: YA Scifi

Fantasy
Release Date: March 2018

Summary:

Uncover a Lifetime of Lies in this Fantasy Adventure!

On day one, Charlie Damuzi and her mute twin brother Tirigan are blissfully unaware of the dangerous world they live in. They may be aliens living on Earth after the extinction of humans, but to Charlie, life is pretty mundane.

On day two, the Damuzi family is ripped apart by a family secret that forces the twins to flee the only home they’ve ever known.

Determined to find a way to reunite their family, Charlie and Tirigan travel to uncharted territory in search of their salvation.

But that’s just Charlie’s side of the story.

In the future, forty days from when we first meet the Damuzi twins, Tirigan is on the move. His destination is unknown, as are the people he’s surrounded himself with, but his mission is still the same.

Keep his sister safe and reunite their family.

However, as Tirigan attempts to navigate the complex bonds he’s formed with his companions, he’s forced to confront the one thing in life he has yet to fully understand.

Himself.

Family. Deception. Power. Destruction.

It all begins on day one.

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If you’ve recently finished Passage, the first book in The Akasha Series, chances are you’re desperate to start the second book! Picking up right where Passage left off, Kindred: Book II of The Akasha Series will see Charlie and Tirigan’s timelines merge. By the end of the second book, a burning mystery will be solved and more than one relationship begins to unravel.
Friendship. Trust. Dependency. Lies.
The Damuzi Twin’s Story Continues
Author Interview:
  1. What is your writing process? Do you aim for a word count daily or maybe just a scene?

Typically, I like to write scene by scene. As I’m writing, I will play out the scene multiple ways in my head and then go back and edit it so it is consistent and fluid. I could never go by word count because cutting myself off like that would inhibit my creative process. However, the downside is that sometimes I’ll go days without writing, because I don’t have the scene in my head yet.

  1. What sort of research did you do for this book?

I read up on Anunnaki and Sumerian history and mythology. I also boned up on my basic science knowledge since the series discusses  geology, chemistry, physics, and biology.

  1. What are you working on now? Any chance of a sequel?

Currently, I am reading the proof for Kindred: Book II of The Akasha Series. The release date is currently set for February 1st of 2019. I am also working on the third book, as well as the first companion piece novella that serves as a character profile for one character.

  1. How did you come up for the idea of your book?

I’ve always really enjoyed both science fiction and fantasy novels, and wanted to create something that could serve as a genre crossover. The most important aspect of my series is the characters, so I spent time developing the main characters first. The story formed as a sort of subversive narrative of popular YA tropes. From there, I’ve followed the characters and the stories they have to tell.

  1. Just for fun — what TV shows or movies have you really enjoyed (or disliked?) recently?

Most recently I’ve watched the Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country, the first season of USA’s The SInner, and binged the latest season of Orange is the New Black. The most recent movies I’ve enjoyed were Hard Candy, The Greatest Showman, and A Quiet Place.

 

About the Author:

indie2bgantzIndie Gantz grew up in Northern Virginia and received her Psychology degree at George Mason University. Despite her passion and curiosity for the human mind, Indie left her chosen field of study to finally give voice to the many imagined minds she has created.
Indie lives with her family in North Carolina. She spends her days drinking tea and clacking keys.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

 

 

GIVEAWAY:
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Blog Tour for Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis #2) by Rebecca L. Carpenter

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bb22bnew2bcoverButterfly Blood (Metamorphosis #2)
by Rebecca L. Carpenter
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Release Date: August 2018
Lakewater Press

Summary:

A sixteen-year-old girl who cheated death continues her fight for survival as she goes up against real-life monsters, desperate for her unique blood, while risking everything to reunite with the love of her life, who is battling his own soul-sucking demons.

Add to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon (ON SALE for $0.99 from August 27th – 31st): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DYLLVDX/

Butterfly Bones (Metamorphosis #1) on Goodreads

BUTTERFLY BONES AMAZON US (FREE from August 27-31): https://www.amazon.com/Butterfly-Bones-Coming-Age-METAMORPHOSIS-ebook/dp/B01M1E9854/

BUTTEFLY BONES B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/butterfly-bones-rebecca-carpenter/1124807692?ean=9780994451170

Book One:
Butterfly Bones (Metamorphosis #1)
Release Date: November 2016

Summary:

Bethany should be dead, just like the doctors predicted.

But along came the butterflies, altering the order of nature.

And now nature is hell bent on revenge.

Because when fate’s path is disrupted, it’s only a matter of time before balance must be restored.

 

About the Author
rebecca2bauthor2bphotoRebecca Carpenter is a native of western Colorado. She is married with two grown children and has been blessed with four amazing grandchildren. She owns and directs a large childcare center where she shares her love for books. In her spare time, she freelances as a copy editor, helping others attain their writing dreams. She finds solace and clarity while spending time with her husband exploring the beautiful mountains of Colorado.

Author Links:
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Book Blitz for Rain on Neptune By Lisa Jade

Rain on Neptune

By Lisa Jade

Genre: Sci Fi, Dystopian

In the city of Pyre, only those with excellent genetics can visit Earth’s colony planets, including the legendary Orithyia. Those without this advantage live in relative poverty, under the forceful control of the Council.

Quinn isn’t one of Pyre’s elite, though she’s desperate to see the stars. After an incident with the Council’s thugs, she stows away on the latest ship to launch, the Neptune.

But when a series of deadly ‘accidents’ occur on board, Quinn and her new friends must figure out who’s orchestrating the attacks – and why.

About the Author

Lisa Jade is a fiction writer based in the UK. She lives in Shropshire with her husband and mostly writes Science Fiction, Dystopian and Post-apocalyptic fiction. With two novels already available, she is currently working on a number of new projects.

Having joined her local writer’s group, Lisa has been involved with the creation of annual anthologies, as well as attending and hosting writing workshops. She also regularly takes part in flash fiction competitions and has had a number of pieces of short fiction published.

https://www.facebook.com/LisaJadeBooks/

https://lisajade.net

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2meayNv

Amazon US – https://amzn.to/2N8RVWA

Goodreads – https://bit.ly/2mehn1x

Excerpt

I wait until the early hours before sneaking out. I creep down the stairs and past Dad’s room, reassured by his squeaky snoring, and pull my rucksack from the cupboard. I try to be even quieter than normal tonight – Alice decided to stay over for once, dozing in the box room that sits upstairs, next to mine. Perhaps she sensed some tension between the two of us and took it on herself to provide a barrier to keep us from clashing. I’ll never call her out on it, but secretly I’m immensely grateful.

Even so, I don’t want her to know where I’m going. If they wake in the night, they’ll know exactly where to find me; but they have no clue how often I’m out here. How often I slip away.

There’s an absolute silence over Level Four as I make my way towards the edge. Despite the warm day, the night is bitterly cold. I tug my jacket a little tighter around myself.

Eventually, I reach a rusted sign. DANGER – KEEP OUT is scrawled across it in what looks like spray paint. A half-hearted, last-ditch effort to keep people like me away from the Drop-off.

None of the Levels have external fences. The floor simply drops away into the darkness, meaning that a drunken stumble or accidental misstep can spell disaster. It’s not quite so bad on the upper Levels – they’re smaller, so falling just means you hit the next floor down. It’s still certain death of course, but here? When there’s nothing but miles of ocean below and no way of being found?

Only a lunatic would come out here.

I nudge past the sign and keep walking.

The Drop-off.

Here, the lights of Pyre fall away. The cobbles underfoot sink down into a smooth, white tile. This tile is always underfoot in Pyre, though it’s usually disguised by concrete or shrubbery. Sometimes, it’s bizarre to think about it. Pyre is just a massive airship floating over the Atlantic – and yet, somehow, it’s become a country in its own right.

But I don’t care about that – not right now.

Because as the lights fade, and the chaos of the day sinks back into the folds of my memory, I’m captivated by the stars.

The sky overhead is inky blackness decorated with a tapestry of stars. Swathes of deep blue and indigo swirl above me, highlighted every so often by a splash of pink. The lonely moon resembles a silver disc that sinks into the glittering canvas. And the stars themselves – a million tiny, indifferent specks, images created a billion years ago. Many are already dead, burnt out millions of years ago. In their place are millions of others, stars I’ll never see, patterns that will cascade through the sky like brushstrokes on a scorched, blackened wall.

I can’t help it. When I think about the beauty that must be out there, how long a simple thing might take, how impossible it all seems – I’m filled with strange emotions.

Excitement. Ambition. Hope. And a wonderful, indescribable, near-painful sense of joy.