When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.
When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.
Where do you find your inspiration?
So far, several places. I have a bunch of partial stories I started years ago, so I've been working to finish them, bit by bit. But I've also written stories specifically for various anthology calls for submissions. When I'm ready to write, things seem to come my way.
Are you tempted to write in other genres?
I love writing in sci fi and fantasy, and in the last couple years have branched out into MM romance and magical realism. That's enough to keep me busy for quite a while. J
What's the process of your writing?
It varies, but generally I sketch out a basic outline of the story, and then tackle a scene a day. When I finish the first draft, I let it sit for a week or two, and then dive back in for a second round, and usually post parts of it to my critique group. Then I give it a third go and ship it off.
Do you have a favourite book that you've written?
So far I've only written shorts and novellas, but of those, one of my favorites is the one releasing now – The Homecoming. It was fun to write… I call it my wolfman meets spaceman story. I enjoyed combining elements of sci fi and paranormal in one piece.
Do you find the sex scenes easy or hard to write?
Sex scenes are easy. Making them interesting and meaningful is hard. I don't like using sex in a story unless it advances the plot, but when it does, it also has to make the reader go "oooh", not "eeew." I'm also a big fan of "fade to black".
What stories inspired you to write?
The first one was The Lord of the Rings, which I read in second and third grade. It opened my eyes to epic fantasy, and I followed it up with the Sword of Shannara. On the sci fi side, Anne McCaffrey's dragonriders captured my fancy. And Sheri Tepper showed me that an author can leave you thinking long after a book is finished.
Which of the characters in your books did you have the most fun writing?
I enjoyed getting inside Hari's wolf mind in The Homecoming – it was enlightening to see things through a wolf's eyes. Everything looks different from the ground, and a wolf's mind is rougher, more carnal.
How much happens in your brain before you know you have a story? Do you have to envision an entire plot or just a few ideas?
I just need the grain of an idea, then I can flesh it out a bit on paper and run with it from there. Sometimes that means a full outline, sometimes just some scribbled direction. And even a full outline often changes as the needs of the story demand.
What is the best part about being a writer? What’s the most challenging?
The best part is those times when the stars align and the words just pour out of you. I woke up in the middle of the night one evening with the idea for a story in my head, and it just flowed. It wasn't long, but I wrote the whole thing in one sitting. The worst part? Trudging though scenes when it's not flowing but the writing has to be done.
But you do it, because you HAVE to write.
Hari reached the edge of the woods just in time to see Neru crouching to leap at the two-legs. Young fool.
He gathered himself and jumped after Neru, knocking him aside as his teeth reached for the two-legs' throat.
Neru turned and snarled at him, backing away toward the woods.
Hari stood firm, ears back, hackles raised, and drew the corners of his mouth back to reveal his teeth. Back off, Neru.
The whelp shook his head and grinned with the brashness of youth, until Hari leaped at him and nipped his ear. With a surprised yelp, Neru turned his head, deferring to Hari's strength. As you say, brother. There was a cockiness to Neru's look that unsettled him.
The other wolf backed up slowly then turned to disappear into the woods.
Hari caught a glimpse of Mavi watching from the shadows. The old wolf snarled, and slunk off after her son.
What do you seek, old mother? Hari wondered, watching Mavi's silver-tipped tail flicker into the darkness. It was clear where Neru's courage and cunning had come from.
Hari turned back toward the two-legs. He was holding a strange stick, not unlike the one that Hari's grandmother had shown him in the wolf dream.
But it was his face that caught Hari's eye. He knew that face. The two-legs' eyes were white-gray, and his jet-black hair was swept to the side.
Despite the danger, he shifted in the manner only a few of the clan are able to do in the cold. He grew quickly taller and less hairy but no less muscled, and stood naked before the two-legs.
They stared at each other for a long moment. Hari felt an immense attraction washing over him. He saw in his summer form that this two-legs was beautiful. His own body responded to this… man… in an unexpected way, seeing and feeling things his winter form could not. Hari leaned forward and sniffed the stranger, drinking in his musk. It smelled enticing. Strangely familiar.
He sensed the two-legs stiffen, and to reassure, him, Hari licked the man's neck.
The two-legs was trembling now like a young whelp, so he tried something else. He took the stranger's face in his hands and kissed him.
The shaking slowed, and then the man was kissing him back. Hari was hungry for him, like a starving wolf at the end of a long, hard winter.
It is not the time for this, the keh whispered in his ear.
He broke contact and turned away, ashamed that he was betraying his Clan, and for lust. An emotion of his summer form.
"I'm sorry," he said to the two-legs, without looking back. "It won't happen again." Even he was not sure if he meant Neru's attack, or the kiss.
He shifted back into his winter form and loped off into the woods after his pack mates.
Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.
Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”
Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (http://www.queerscifi.com) site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.
Cate Ashwood's books on Goodreads
Keeping Sweets (Newport Boys, #1)
ratings: 1018 (avg rating 3.75)
Brokenhearted (Hope Cove, #1)
ratings: 764 (avg rating 3.72)
A Forced Silence (Zero Hour, #1)
ratings: 635 (avg rating 3.90)
Married for a Month
ratings: 407 (avg rating 3.80)
Wholehearted (Hope Cove, #2)
ratings: 458 (avg rating 3.51)