Thursday, 12 May 2016

Book Release: The Thirteenth Snare

Tomorrow, my newest book will be released on Amazon, Smashwords and many other ebook stores. The print version is already available from Createspace and Amazon.

It's called The Thirteenth Snare: Thirteen Stories of Kidnappings, Traps and Dead-End Situations.

The stories are a mix of genres, including science fiction, horror, fantasy, mystery, military and contemporary. Some are dark or dystopian while others are more uplifting. It's my hope that they will help my readers to escape, to unwind or to cure their boredom. As Donna Tartt said,

“The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, traveling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone.”
But if you're reading this, you know that human rights issues are important to me, too. They're bound to show up in my writing at least sometimes, and this book is no exception. You won't find any preaching here, though. I've tried to ask questions rather than answer them, to raise awareness rather than make arguments. I believe that by working together in positive, creative dialogue, we can solve our problems in a way that works for everyone.

People often ask me where I get my story ideas, and there's no one answer that's true for all of them. Sometimes the way a story came to be is almost as interesting as the story itself. There's a brief synopsis of the premise of each story on my website, and you may find it useful to refer to those as you read below. But here I'll tell you the stories behind the stories:

Deathday: I'm a big fan of space opera in spite of (okay, maybe because of) the fact that it's so eye-rollingly improbable. It's fun to watch, fun to read and fun to write. But I also feel that if all I can write is space opera, I don't really have any business calling myself a science fiction writer. So I gave myself an assignment: write something in the genre without using any of the common space opera elements such as faster-than-light travel and humanoid aliens. I wrote two stories in response to this assignment, and "Deathday" was one of them. The idea came when I was driving and saw two vehicles ahead of me, traveling side by side like a blockade. One was a stretch limousine and the other was a Clean Harbors truck.

Wearing the Enemy: This is one of several pieces I wrote for, and which Chainbooks owners Greg and Sally Humphrey graciously released for publication in this book. These pieces were written as first chapters of novels, so I had to turn them into complete stories before I could include them. The title comes from the security devices Jacoby is forced to wear. Even though they don't figure very prominently, they were the idea that inspired the story. "Wearing the Enemy" was an exploration or mental exercise in the process of working out the plot for my Star Trek story, Cracking Cardassian.

The Knight Wench: This is another Chainbooks story and my first successful attempt at writing fantasy. I added the horror element for this edition.

Acid Chain: When I read Errihu's "The Bones of Little Dolls," I discovered that I don't dislike the entire horror genre after all. It was a short step from there to wanting to challenge myself to write in it. "Acid Chain" was my second successful result. (The first was "The Debriefing Chair," which does not appear in this book.) 

The Tarsus Secret: This is a Chainbooks story, and it started as a dream. I dreamed the kidnapping scene, and it felt so powerful that I knew I had to put it into a story. But going from an emotionally captivating dream to a story that others could understand was harder than I had anticipated.

Outage: This was the other story I wrote for my science fiction challenge. It was inspired by the eerie feeling I had once when I drove up to a road in Merrimack, New Hampshire, that I had previously seen full of traffic, and found it empty. (I recently learned that feeling is called kenopsia.) I kept the road name in the story: Continental Boulevard.

Tour of Booty: When I wrote this for Chainbooks I imagined it as a romance, but when I finished it for this book it didn't turn out that way. I hardly ever read romance stories and I've never written one. But someday I want to, just so I know that I can.

Seeing Scars: This is an adapted excerpt from Cracking Cardassian.

The Privilege of Sleeping: This one was inspired by all those signs saying "no overnight parking" in places where the owners make absolutely no use of their parking lots at night.

Fighting Fire: Another Chainbooks story, this is a space opera indulgence--although it does stay within our solar system. The title comes from the adage, "Fight fire with fire," and the nickname for liquor, fire-water.

Gene Pollution: This was originally a Chainbooks story as well, along with the next one. "Gene Pollution" is a new rendition of the classic playing-God sci-fi story.

The Tumbleweed: Named for the rootless, directionless, constantly moving life of its heroine, this story puts a twist on a few space-opera cliches.

Hallowed Walls: This one started as a world-building exercise for my book series The Fletcher Variable and quickly took on a life of its own. Taken alone it could be either soft science fiction or fantasy, as it's set entirely on a non-human world. In the process of writing it, I fell in love with Gali and became so invested in her dilemma that I'm considering incorporating her story into my next book, The Erratic.

The Thirteenth Snare is available from Amazon, Smashwords, Createspace and your favorite ereader or reading app store.