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Title: Storm Season
Author: Pene Henson
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Lesbian, Lesbian Romance, Romance
Release Date: 02/02/2017
The great outdoors isn’t so great for Sydney It-Girl Lien Hong. It’s too dark, too quiet, and there are spiders in the toilet of the cabin she is sharing with friends on the way to a New South Wales music festival. To make matters worse, she’s been separated from her companions and taken a bad fall. With a storm approaching, her rescue comes in the form of a striking wilderness ranger named Claudia Sokolov, whose isolated cabin, soulful voice and collection of guitars bely a complicated history. While they wait out the weather, the women find an undeniable connection—one that puts them both on new trajectories that last long after the storm has cleared.
Roadmaps and Next Steps
With two books behind me, I’m finding myself in the odd and wonderful new space of having to plan my future writing, as well as new goals for self-improvement, and I can’t wait to share my plans!
Over the next month and a half I will be writing the first draft of a short romantic story that will hopefully be published late in the year. The short story is going to bring together my love of women in sports and my love of putting people into wide open spaces and finding out what happens to them outside their comfort zone. In it, a successful and very tall pro-basketball player is heading home to Montana, a place she’s avoided for years. There she’ll face her own frailty and flaws, face her family, and reconnect with a high school crush.
I’m excited about writing it, though my goal isn’t just to write the story. I want to work on a couple of different styles of writing. I am writing this in the past tense where present tense tends to come more naturally to me. But I think it’s important to exercise and learn how to write from new angles. Also because it’s a short story I’m keeping it in a single point of view, which is something I don’t ordinarily do. Add to that, I want to write something that’s real and character driven but mostly just sheer fun.
After I finish that draft and send it off to the editors, I plan to work on a sequel to my first novel, Into the Blue. That book was a love story between two boys—best friends and surfers, who lived in a ramshackle beach house with their thrown together little family of friends. This time the love story will focus on one of the women of the story, so we’ll see the household from another side. The book is set about five years after Into the Blue, where the people in the book have grown up aa bit and are living newly adult lives, still building this found family and spending as much time on the ocean as possible. The setting will still be Hawaii and the blue beach house near the ocean, where all the Blue House kids live. All of the old characters will feature, especially my darling forever and ever surfer couple Tai and Ollie. But the story for them has moved on to new stages.
I have the bare bones and a lot of inspiration and I’ve set myself a deadline of October for the first draft.
In writing this sequel, I want to delve further into the joys and complications of building a found family. I want to explore how relationships with partners and friends change over time as your priorities and loves change. It’s hard to build a family, and it takes work and commitment. I want to watch these characters deal with that. And I want to work on creating the kind of situations and confrontations and sorrows for my characters that makes their happily ever after so much more valuable.
After that my time is open. Aside from the fact that no doubt I’ll be editing these two books, working, parenting etc. But there are characters in Storm Season with more tiny stories to tell. And I have this idea for a book set among the women of the U.S. national soccer team as they grow up and love and achieve their dreams. I should write that.
Also if over the next year, someone can teach me to be funny and also to write complicated spy plots, that would be swell.
The wind’s knocked out of her at the first blow. Her knee thuds hard against the ground. She crashes down. A log bangs against her thighs. She’s stopped by a boulder, and spills half into the creek. Her phone falls out of her hands, thumps on a rock and lands with a disheartening splash.
She freezes. She’s an idiot. An idiot with her ass half in a creek, gazing at the towering black trees and sky and wearing a vintage safari suit with cute shoes. Her knee hurts. And her wrist. And her hand. And her butt. She releases a shaky, shaky breath. Her head spins.
Down here, the world seems lonely and darker. She’d better find her way back. She pushes herself to her hands and knees on the boulder. A white pain lances her right knee.
She whimpers and rolls to take the weight off her knee. Her eyes prick with tears. Her knee has been a problem since she trashed it eight years ago in top division soccer. But it’s never done anything like this. Of course, she usually doesn’t fall down rocky cliff slopes in the middle of the night.
She takes a breath and calls out. The campsite is a good distance away, up the slope and through the trees. She pushes herself upright again to try to crawl out on one knee. The rock is slippery and treacherous. She moves forward a few grueling meters, slips, and lands on her hip.
She inhales through her teeth and calls more loudly. “Hello! Beau? Annie?”
Her words are caught up in the swirl of wind. They echo at her from the gully banks. She slides toward the slope she plummeted down, holds onto a tree, drags herself up onto to her good foot, but she can’t put any weight on her other leg and she can hardly hop up the ravine.
“Hey! Hi! Help!” she cries. It’s no use. The wind whips around her. They’ll realize she’s gone soon, but she’s got no idea how long it’ll be until someone can find her. Why would they think she’d wandered down here? “HELP!” She calls more loudly, but the wind steals her voice and sweeps it away.
The dark surrounds her, burying her. The creek water is cool. The trees swirl above her head. Lien doesn’t want to cry, but her knee hurts, and she’s covered in mud and caught at the bottom of a cliff without her phone. She’s frightened she’ll fall farther. A bird or bat wheels above her near the treetops. Animals chitter off to her right. Something’s going to eat her, and no one will know. She gives in to the tears.
She takes a steadying breath. And another. “Okay,” she says aloud.
She peers upward into the dark. There are trees and thick, exposed roots up the cliff. She needs to drag herself up there. If she goes slowly, maybe she’ll be okay. As she reaches for the nearest root, the noise of the wind breaks. Through that tiny silence she hears a footstep. It’s unexpectedly close. It couldn’t be someone from the campsite; it’s on the wrong side of her, unless the fall flipped her admittedly dubious sense of direction about. Another tread sounds. Human. Probably. Lien’s heart pauses; her hand slips a bit. She’s still; her nerves are at the ready.
“Hello?” she says. Her throat is tight as she swallows. A silhouette looms out of the dark. Lien looks up, up, up farther to see a head. “Hello?” Her voice shakes.
“Hello,” comes a low voice. The woman leans over the precipice from the shadows. “Ranger service.”
Standing up there in the dark with the wind and the sky behind her, the ranger is superhero-tall, broad-shouldered, and solid. Lien’s so grateful she could cry.
About the Author
Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the city’s LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time enjoying the outdoors and gazing at the ocean with her gorgeous wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. Into the Blue, her first novel, was published by Interlude Press in 2016 and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
Storm Season will be published by Interlude Press on February 2, 2017. Connect with author Pene Henson at PeneHenson.com; on Facebook at facebook.com/penewrites and on Twitter at @penehenson.
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