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.
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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.
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.
Link to Giveaway:
Naomi doesn’t expect anything unusual from her annual family trip to visit her grandparents in Ireland. What she expects is to celebrate her thirteenth birthday, hang out with her friends Ciara and Shehan, and deal with her gran’s Alzheimer’s. What she finds is a country hit by an unexpected virus that rapidly infects the majority of the Irish population over the age of twenty-one.
Amnestic-Delirium Syndrome (ADS) starts off with memory loss, but the virus soon turns its victims aggravated, blank, or violent. Naomi and her friends must survive on their own, without lucid adults, cut off from the rest of the world, until a cure is found.
But there are whispers that ADS is not terrestrial, and soon Naomi and her friends learn the frightening truth: we are not alone.
- What is your writing routine? Do you aim for a word count, to tackle a certain number of pages at a time, or do you go scene by scene? (Something else?)
I do some preparation (research, emails, sometimes a bit of social networking stuff) in the morning. I find I can’t get into a good creative groove before about eleven a.m. so that’s when I start writing in earnest. Usually, I’m working from some kind of rough outline but the further I get into the book the more it tends to diverge from what I anticipated might happen. That’s cool because it means I’m usually surprised rather than knowing exactly the way a book will unfold. It takes on a life of its own.
I used to have a word count I tried to reach each day but four years ago I developed health issues and was diagnosed with polyneuropathy. Now it’s very uncomfortable to sit still for long periods (or stand or walk for long periods!) so I have to keep getting up, moving and shift positions and stuff. Overall this has shortened my daily writing period so I don’t have a word count or set number of pages I try to reach; I just do what I can, all the better if I can get a scene finished.
2. What was your inspiration for your book? What was the most fun and the most difficult part of getting the story just right?
I love zombie movies and also plague outbreak movies in general so with Stricken I kind of married the two. The infected in this book aren’t zombies but they’re certainly not themselves and some of them are dangerous (others aren’t at all). On a deeper level, at the time I was writing Stricken I didn’t know my mother had Alzheimer’s but I’d known for years that something wasn’t right. I think that was very much in my consciousness and that it shaped aspects of the book. Stricken is my first middle grade and writing from a younger point of view was so refreshing. But it was my editor’s idea to include lists, which became the most fun part for me. Who doesn’t love lists! On the other hand, the most difficult part was finding a good point to end the book while still leaving room for more in the future because I knew the story in its entirety was too long for one book.
3. What are your favorite books? What authors inspire you the most?
There are so many authors and books I love. In the past year I discovered Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friends Exorcism and Horrorstor and ate them both up. Recently I was also delighted by graphic novel Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me by Lorina Mapa. I’m always finding new inspiration. I’m usually more excited to read something new or an author I haven’t read before than to revisit books or familiar authors. I’ve been writing speculative and horror-leaning stuff lately so I’ve been reading more in those areas, but one of my forever favourites remains The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. I’m also an enormous fan of Judy Blume who showed me, as a young person, what it looks to be unflinchingly truthful about young people’s lives.
4. Odd question – what TV shows do you like?
This is a great question because I just finished watching the Americans finale and it’s one of my favourite shows of all time. It’s incredibly character driven for a show about spies. All the relationships are so nuanced and intricate. There are multiple levels to every conversation and action and you feel you know and cared about the main characters so much (even when they do horrible things) that it makes every single thing that happens all the more gripping. But I like a lot of different kinds of shows: Wilderness survival show Alone, makeup artist contest Face Off, Stranger Things, The Crown, This is Us, The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m sad that this is the final season of Nashville; I’m really going to miss it. I’m also a big fan of Star Trek Discovery and Doctor Who (I can’t wait to see Jodie Whittaker as the doctor!).
5. Lastly, is there anything else we should know about you? Do you like to listen to music when writing? What book projects are on the horizon for you?
I need quiet to be able to put myself in the world of my characters. Sometimes I’ll actually listen to white noise to block out noise from neighbouring apartments. I do like listening to music beforehand though, to help put me in a certain frame of mind that matches up with whatever I’m working on. In the past, I wrote a lot of contemporary young adult books and while I might return to that at some point these days I feel a strong pull to horror, sci-fi, and storylines with fantastical elements. I have a speculative YA, horror YA and a sci-fi MG that I’ve been working on but I’m not sure which will see the light of day first.
Thanks so much for having me over to bookblogarama to talk bookish things!
About the Author
Long before I was an author I was a fan of books about Winnie the Pooh, Babar, Madeline, Anne Shirley and anything by Judy Blume. Throughout high school my favourite class was English. No surprise, then, that most of my time spent at York University in Toronto was as an English major—not the traditional way to graduate with a B.A. (Hons) in film studies but a fine way to get a general arts education.
After getting my film studies degree I headed for Dublin, Ireland and spent the majority of the nineties there in forgettable jobs meeting unforgettable people and enjoying the buzz. I always believed I’d get around to writing in earnest eventually, and I began writing my first novel in a flat in Dublin and finished it in a Toronto suburb. By then I’d discovered that fiction about young people felt the freshest and most exciting to me. You have most of your life to be an adult but you only grow up once.
Currently residing near Toronto with my Dub husband, I’m an aunt to twenty-one nieces and nephews, and a great-aunt to two great-nephews. I became an Irish citizen in 2001 and continue to visit Dublin as often as I can while working on novels about young people.
My first young adult book, I Know It’s Over, came out with Random House in September 2008, and was followed by One Lonely Degree, The Lighter Side of Life and Death, My Beating Teenage Heart and sci-fi thriller Yesterday. I released Yesterday’s sequel, Tomorrow, in 2013 and put out my first adult novel, Come See About Me, as an ebook in June 2012. My most recent contemporary YA books, The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing and Delicate, were published by Cormorant Books’ Dancing Cat Books imprint in 2014 and 2015.
Link to Goodreads:
One (1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of Yellow Locust by Justin Joschko (INT)
Link to Giveaway:
Yellow Locust by Justin Joschko
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Selena Flood is a fighter of preternatural talent. But not even her quick fists and nimble feet could save her parents from the forces of New Canaan, the most ruthless and powerful of the despotic kingdoms populating America-that-was.
Forced to flee the tyrannical state with her younger brother Simon in tow, Selena is now the last chance for peace in a continent on the verge of complete destruction.
In her pocket is a data stick, the contents of which cost her parents their lives. Selena must now ensure it reaches the Republic of California—a lone beacon of liberty shining across a vast and barren wasteland—before it’s too late.
Between New Canaan and California stretch the Middle Wastes: thousands of desolate miles home to murderers, thieves, and a virulent strain of grass called yellow locust that has made growing food all but impossible. So when Selena and Simon stagger into Fallowfield, an oasis of prosperity amidst the poisoned plains, everything seems too good to be true—including the warm welcome they receive from the town’s leader, a peculiar man known only as The Mayor.
As Selena delves deeper into the sinister secrets of this seemingly harmless refuge, she soon learns there is a much darker side to Fallowfield and the man who runs it. Before long, she must call upon the skills she honed in the fighting pits of New Canaan to ensure not only her own survival, but that of her brother, in whom the Mayor has taken far too keen an interest.
And she’d better act fast, for an all-out war inches ever closer, and New Canaan is never as far away as it seems.
Why You’ll Love this book
I’m gonna be honest here: I really don’t know if you’ll love this book or not. It seems presumptuous to assume you will—there are plenty of books heralded as great or essential that I didn’t care for, so why should Yellow Locust be sacrosanct?
So instead, I thought I’d tell you why I love this book. Feel free to agree or disagree with any of them.
1) It has a kick-ass protagonist. Selena Flood knows how to bust heads. A seventeen-year-old street brawler, Selena is a pampered member of New Canaan’s elite Seraphim who scorned the posh gyms and gentlemen’s leagues of her native class in order to hone her skills in the roughest fighting pits of New Canaan’s slums. When her parents are executed for treason, Selena flees her homeland but takes her fighting skills with her, along with a data stick containing highly sensitive intel and enough anger to fuel a thousand brawls. It doesn’t take her long to find a way to put her talents to use on the road, for America-that-was is a dangerous place, and the most savage parts of it are those that pretend to be civilized. Which leads me to…
2) It has a great villain. Though driven by the threat of New Canaan’s impending war, most of Yellow Locust is set a thousand miles from the empire’s border, in a bucolic farming community called Fallowfield. With lush crops and well-fed citizens, Fallowfield stands in stark contrast to the lands around it, which unfurl with mile after mile of a blighted, poison plant called yellow locust. Running the show in Fallowfield is a man known only as The Mayor, a foppish figure with a charming smile beneath a pair of reflective sunglasses. He greets Selena and Simon warmly, offers them every kindness, but behind his mirrored lenses lurk unknown intentions. Erudite, devious, and ruthlessly intelligent, The Mayor is my favorite type of villain—the kind who’d sink a knife in your back if necessary, but would rather trick your friend into doing the deed instead, the better to keep from getting his hands dirty.
3) It has a lot of action. Street brawls, knife fights, ambushes, insurgencies—the world of Yellow Locust is a violent place. Not a great place to live, but a lot of fun to write about (and hopefully to read about, too!)
4) It took me a long time to write. Yellow Locust is a book ten years in the making, a cask-aged brew given ample time to mellow. The manuscript swelled to 150,000 words and whittled down to 90,000, shed plots and characters, survived a crucible of edits to emerge sleek and sharp and hard as steel. None of this might mean much to the reader, but after all that work, how could I not love the thing?
Anyhow, those are my reasons. I hope you agree, but even more so, I hope you pick it up and give it a chance.
About the Author
Justin Joschko is an author from Niagara Falls, Ontario. His writing has appeared in newspapers and literary journals across Canada. Yellow Locust is his first novel. He currently lives in Ottawa with his wife and two children.