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Title: In Enemy Hands
Author: M.A. Church
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 12/30/2016
Two very different civilizations—one bathed in bright sunlight and the other veiled in shadow.
Bad decisions, declining resources, and a king on the brink of madness force Prince Varo Kutchif, third son of the royal family and a starship captain, to attempt the impossible: barter for Black Phospolrock, an energy source the mysterious Helkan Kingdom has in abundance. Varo opens a line of communication with Adlar, an intriguing Helkan who seems to reciprocate Varo’s interest. He hopes so, because if negotiations collapse, Varo has orders to attack.
The Helkans preside over a planet shrouded in perpetual darkness. Several species have tried to exploit its natural resources through trade with them, but all have failed. Adlar Mondur is the older brother to the Helkan ruler. An assassin of the highest order, he’ll do anything to protect his king and his people—including tracking down the Yesri prince who crash-lands on their planet, leaving an ugly scar across its untouched beauty.
Thus begins a journey where two men from disparate civilizations grow from enemies to lovers.
One of things I’m often asked is when I start a book, do I already have the story in my head or is it built progressively? Well, the answer is yes. laugh Okay, what I mean is I have an idea of the story—a very basic outline. The characters are already talking to me. Or sometimes they’re yelling right in my ear. So, I usually have the who, when, and why.
It might sound simple, but who isn’t necessarily as simplistic as it sounds. When I was writing In Enemy Hands, I had an idea what I want to do, and even had a general idea of what the characters looked like. But who were they? Since I was working off an artist rendering, I had to create a history for the blond and the dark-headed models. Since I was already working with contrast—light and dark—I decided the blond-headed one should be the “good” guy. (Varo) Because, after all, good guys wear white, right? The dark-headed character, of course, should be the “bad” guy. (Adlar)
Grin But things always aren’t as they seem.
When also isn’t as easy as it seems either. Since neither character is a traditional human, a universe, needed to be created for them. I really don’t specify in In Enemy Hands when the story takes place, but it’s obviously sometime in the future since the technology is unlike anything we currently have. Beyond that, when wasn’t so much important as who in this story.
Then there is why. Can’t really have a story without why, lol. And the whole point of this novel is why. Why do the Yesri want the Black Phospolrock so desperately? Why won’t the Helkans allow the Yesri to mine the planet for the crystal? Is Varo the good guy or the bad guy… or something else entirely?
As I write, the story tends to build, and what is the very backbone of the story. What’s the conflict, what are the characters’ motivations, what the hell are these two doing? whine To be honest, sometimes even characters don’t know that. Then there are times when the concept of what isn’t very clear, especially in the beginning. In a case like that, I have to let the story unfold a bit so I can understand where it’s going.
But overall, I’m pretty flexible with a story. I’ve started out with an idea and have ended up going in a completely different direction. That doesn’t mean I’m always happy with my characters for pulling stunts like that. There is hair pulling involved—not saying if it’s mine or theirs—and a multitude of four-letter words. Again, not saying who is responsible for such language. grin
In Enemy Hands is the perfect example of a story starting out one way and going in another. It’s also something I had an absolute blast writing. As I’ve said before, science fiction is my first love, although I write a lot of paranormal, so for that reason alone, this story is special to me.
A low moan came from Varo.
“Come on, then, open your eyes.” Adlar lowered Varo to the ground.
Varo’s eyes twitched, then he slowly blinked them open. “Who… who…?”
Adlar saw the confusion. His grin was as sharp as a knife’s blade as he stared into brown eyes—big, beautifully rich brown eyes. There was no doubt now this was the same Yesri he’d spoken with earlier during negotiations. By some odd twist in genetics, the males of the ruling Yesri family had brown eyes. They were the only ones. All other Yesris either had green or blue eyes.
Adlar waited until Varo focused on him. “Greetings, Prince Varo Kutchif of Yesri.”
“Wh-what? Why am I lying down? You’re using the Universal Language Standard to speak to me, right? You sound funny. Or is it me? And how… how do you know my…. You look like…. Who are you?”
“I’m Adlar Mondur, leader of the D’noir and older brother to King Omori, ruler of Helkan.”
“Helkan? But… how’d I get here?” Varo sat up.
Adlar grasped Varo’s chin. “My dear princeling, you crash-landed on my planet, remember?”
“I… I… yes?” Varo clenched his eyes shut and then opened them again. “Yes, that’s right. I had to make…. Oh goddess! You! I remember you.”
“Excellent. I claim you as my prisoner.”
“P-p-prisoner?” Varo stuttered.
He watched as the confusion cleared and… was that fear in those eyes? How delightful. “I’m sure you know my people do not release our prisoners.”
Adlar smiled at Varo, letting his fangs show. He’d prepared himself for many reactions; he wasn’t ready for Varo to headbutt him. The force of the blow rocked him backward, breaking his grip on Varo.
“Oh frack!” Adlar yelled as he sprawled on the ground. Pain exploded in his face, spreading quickly.
Varo was on his feet and running.
From off to the side, he heard a rolling chuff. He lifted his hand and gently touched the tender, swollen area. He bet a bruise was already forming. He glared at Dar. “Too busy laughing at me to help, I take it?”
Dar yawned, showing off huge canines. He licked his lips, his whiskers twitching as he stared in the direction Varo fled. Then he laid his head between his paws.
Well, he had his answer. “Fine!” Snarling, Adlar launched to his feet and stumbled slightly as he followed Varo. Maybe his head wasn’t as hard as he thought.
Even with the pounding in his ears, he could still hear the harsh breathing of Varo as he crashed through the jungle. And crash he did since Varo couldn’t see as well as Adlar could. Adlar needed to end this before Varo broke a leg or something.
“Stop!” Adlar yelled. Then a new thought hit him. “All this noise will draw predators straight to you!”
Receiving no answer, he dug deep, pushing his body to move faster. That was his prey, and when he caught Varo, he was going to…. A sudden flash of purple streaked past him. Oh, so now the temperamental batar decided to help?
Adlar growled as Dar’s long strides ate up the ground as he closed in on Varo… then flew past him. He didn’t bother to question why Dar bypassed Varo—the irritating feline must have a reason.
About the Author
M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!
When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.
She is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
You can also email the author at – email@example.com
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