I am so excited to introduce you to our guests today. They are a Mother-Daughter writing team of the series - The Iron Altar. They're on tour with their newest release, Frostbite and I had a chance to chat with this duo today. Welcome to IAB Shelley & Emma, better known as Casey Lea!
Casey Lea is a mother and daughter writing team with a strong interest in science fantasy. The Casey
Welcome to IAB. I'm so glad you could stop in today to chat. May I offer you a beverage?
Two Vampire Wines, please. Red of course.
Now that we are settled in, let's get to know you better.
BK: Looking out the nearest window, describe the scene you see.
The mountains in the distance, the lake outside our house and our old dog on the deck, looking suspiciously through her cataracts at everyone walking past.
BK: Tell us about your office. Is it a mess like mine, or is everything in its place?
What office? I’m afraid it’s a tablet in the lap and a comfy couch. Serious work gets done at Emma’s. She’s got two computer screens, which I used to think was overkill, but is brilliant for editing. It makes comparing different versions, or cutting and pasting very easy.
BK: What is a must-have, such as coffee or a favorite pen, that you need to write?
Shelley needs plenty of water to keep the aging brain hydrated and regular calories to keep the fingers twitching.
Emma finds insomnia extremely productive, especially when followed by copious caffeine.
BK: Do you like to write in silence, or do you need music or background noise?
Shelley tends to write with favourite programs playing on the TV. Admittedly this can be distracting, especially during Battlestar Galactica or Game of Thrones or The Gilmore Girls, so rereading has to be done in silence.
Emma definitely needs the sound of silence.
BK: Tell us a bit about your hero/heroine, and their development.
We’ve got two heroines, which makes life interesting. They were created to fit their roles and were initially pretty simple. Darsey was an ordinary girl, smart and feisty when she had to be, but basically trying to find herself and her place in the universe. In contrast Amber Grace was an old lady with an iron will, determined to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Strangely, once we let them loose on the page they instantly gravitated toward each other. It turned out they’d both suffered traumatic losses and then carried guilt over them. They both became survivors who were driven to protect others. They dealt with their similar experiences in a similar way and this similarity became more marked after Amber entered her new body.
She became young again, with all the hormonal challenges that entailed and also shared cells and DNA with Darsey. They started to converge which seemed to make sense as they headed toward the same altar. They’re both smart, loyal women capable of great courage and conviction. Amber has the advantage of moral perspective and knows what she has to do, while Darsey flails around being overprotective. Amber remains more cynical and impatient of incompetence, with a potentially sharp tongue.
However, they ended up with similar personalities and that made their different knowledge of the altar a nice contrast. Darsey had no idea what was coming and would fight it tooth and nail. Amber understood it completely and would fight to take her place on it.
So we unexpectedly had our heroines trying to merge, with some convergent evolution, but it suited what happened to them and what they were then destined to share.
BK: What is your unique twist that you've brought to your storyline?
The sacrifice made at the end of the trilogy wasn’t quite what we thought it would be initially. So that might be a surprise, but it grew very naturally from each character’s motivation.
BK: As a writer myself, I'm always curious how other writers get through stumble blocks. When you find a story not flowing, or a character trying to fight you, how do you correct it?
This is the best part of writing together. It’s much easier to get going again when you can discuss what’s happening and then brainstorm options. In fact we recommend talking to yourself if necessary. Just going over things out loud can help. The planning board is also useful. Write down every idea you can, color them in (just for fun), slap them on the board and see how they fit. If nothing works step away from the book for a while and do something that relaxes and distracts the brain. Get those creative juices flowing.
When it comes to wrestling with our characters we always let the characters win.
They know who they are and we’re just along for the ride.
BK: Using the letters of your first name as an acronym, describe your book...
S – space opera
H – hectic
E – entertaining
L – lovable characters
L – loving each other (in a range of ways. It’s not all about the sex, people!)
E – exotic
Y – why not?
E – erotic
M – mesmerizing
M – marvellous
A – absolutely amazing. Buy, buy, buy!
BK: How did your writing journey begin?
With learning to talk. We’re lucky to come from an extended family of journalists and English teachers, so writing is in the genes. I think that’s true of many people and all authors probably have a shared history of creating stories from an early age!
BK: Using the letters from the word, Summer, how would friends and family describe you?
S – smart (both of us, though some people might add ‘ass’ to that)
U – unicorns (we can dream)
M – mysterious (cultivate it, ladies)
M – motivated (gotta write)
E – eccentric (speaks for itself)
R – romantic (who needs cynicism. Let’s wrap the world up in a bow. And unicorns.)
BK: What is the craziest thing you've ever written about, whether it got published or not?
The sidle pougar, which was a story told by Shelley’s father that found its way into one of her children’s poems. The sidle pougar is a type of cougar that only runs around mountains in one direction, so two of its legs are shorter than the other pair. We used to pretend it was chasing us whenever we were in the mountains, but it was easy to escape. You only had to change direction and it would fall over, with its two longer legs flailing.
BK: Tell us one thing you've done in life that readers would be most surprised to know.
This question was a real sticker. It hung around long after the others, though we don’t know why, because we’re both interesting and surprising. Yes we are! Who said that? Ooh, Shelley has one. She used to work for a small, local press called Hazard as a manuscript assessor. Yes, she was working for the enemy, but she always put some encouragement, along with constructive ideas in her rejection letters.
BK: What can we expect from you in the future?
More and more. We’ve got three trilogies mapped out. Yes, that’s nine books; all set in the same multiverse, but moving between worlds of fantasy, technology and both. We really love our science-fantasy! We’ve also got a folder of ideas, including YA, so will probably be busy for a very long time.
This or That...
Coke or Pepsi? Coke.
Night Owl or Early Bird? Night owl all the way!
Fantasy or Mystery? Fantasy.
Pen/Paper or Computer? What slash what? Computers for sure. It makes writing together possible.
Pizza or Burger? Pizza. Cheese ranks almost as high as chocolate!
Rock or Country? Rock.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Really? Chocolate!!!
Beach or Mountains? A beach for Emma, as long as it’s tropical, otherwise it’s two votes for the mountains.
Thank you so much for having us as one of your stops today. It has been great getting to know more about you and your book, and hope you will come back when the next release is out (*hinthint*)
Wishing you much success!
Casey Lea is a mother and daughter writing team with a strong interest in science fantasy. The Casey
Shelley Lea (pronounced ‘lee’) was born on a snowy June day, near the bottom of the world, in Invercargill, New Zealand. Reluctant to supply a date of birth, she would rather claim several decades of maturity, but only a few days of actual wisdom. Those decades have covered a range of jobs, a couple of degrees (including English Lit), one great husband, plenty of travel, two gorgeous daughters, several scatty cats and one charmingly dumb dog. They’ve also included an on-going struggle to put pen to paper in any spare second. This has led to some dire poetry, some eyebrow raising children’s stories and finally to something resembling a novel. This languished in a sadly disjointed and hand written form until…
Emma Casey inherited her mother’s love of books and the ability to string two sentences together (sometimes three). She proved to be the missing link in trying to actually finish a manuscript. Younger, savvier and able to turn on a computer without causing it to explode, she picked up the book and ran with it. Emma is also studying graphic design and happily provides Casey Lea’s cover artwork.
Book Genre: Science Fiction/Romance
Publisher: Pegasus Press
Release Date: IceFlight – December 8th, 2013. Frostbite – TBA (March 2014)
Buy Link(s): IceFlight - http://www.amazon.com/IceFlight-The-Iron-Altar-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B008DO6Q5S Frostbite - TBA
The Iron Altar trilogy – The Iron Altar trilogy follows the paths of two women, one young and the other ancient beyond belief. Both are destined to die on the same altar.
One death would precipitate mass murder and destroy billions. The other sacrifice would claim only two lives – the martyr and the monster who made the Iron Altar.
Amber Grace will be that martyr, but only if she reaches the altar first. And only if she still thinks we are worth dying for…
IceFlight – Darsey Ice never thought her first trip past Jupiter would claim the lives of her crew. But then she hadn’t expected to become the first person to make contact with aliens either. Kidnapped, enslaved and lost on the Outer Rim of a mighty civilization light-years from Earth, the only person she can turn to is her enigmatic new owner.
A dishonored outcast, he is just as alone as Darsey. Exiled by his people and struggling to survive, the last thing he wants is a rebellious primitive as a slave. She complicates his efforts to hide a dangerous secret and to complete a quest that is likely to claim both their lives.
Frostbite – When the ice comes for you… When it has already taken your friends… What do you do?
Amber Grace has spent countless lives preparing for battle, but has finally run out of time. She is mortal now and can only hope that her enemy is close, that when the monster comes to devour them all, she will be ready.
All Amber has to do is hide and wait, keeping herself safe so she will be there to save everyone when death comes for them. But one thing the Universe never guarantees is safety.
Forced from hiding and trapped on the Rim with the criminal scum of every interstellar species, Amber finds herself truly living in a way she hasn’t for millennia. Suddenly her choices are more than equations and the potential of billions killed must be balanced against protecting her friends.
Amber finally dares to embrace her last life, but a single mistake costs everything she has won.
Now the ice is coming… and it’s not alone.
IceFlight - In front of them a massive waterfall fell through the pyramid, a silver curtain blocking their path. It filled the entire landing and Darsey tried to stop and stare, but the floor wouldn’t let her. Instead it kept flowing forward and carried her with it. She tried to walk backwards, but the strange cushion of air accelerated to waft her faster, straight at the monstrous waterfall.
"Wing," she squeaked and her fingers found her companion's hand. She squeezed tighter than she intended, but Nightwing didn't flinch.
"It's kay. See."
Darsey stared unblinking at the silent curtain of water she was rushing toward. They hurtled into it and she grabbed Wing’s arm with her other hand, but the flow parted ahead of them. A v-shaped gap appeared above the path, looking like the ripple left by a speedboat. She had to duck her head against his shoulder to fit, but it worked.
Wing put his arm around Darsey while they slowed to a sedate drift under the weight of a ten story waterfall. Silver boiled above them and the light grew dim. The path under their feet began to glow blue and when she glanced up at the kres he looked haggard. He also looked starkly alien and she suddenly realized how familiar his strange features had become to her. She’d started to see him as just another person, but that didn’t mean he was human. Not even close.
Darsey looked away with a shudder and her spasm seemed to trigger a nightmare. The bridge under them pulsed red while a siren sounded and then the silent waterfall began to roar. She looked up just as the shield protecting them vanished.
The water fell and Darsey fell with it. The weight of a giant fist pounded her while she plummeted down into darkness and the noise was so overwhelming it seemed as solid as the water. She could hardly feel Wing’s fingers clamped tight round her wrist, but she knew they must be there because she was still alive. His com field was the only thing keeping her that way and she prayed he wouldn’t let go. Not that it really mattered, because the impact when they finally hit the bottom was going to be brutal. His shield would be overloaded and they would both die anyway.
Frostbite - Zak broke off when his words were lost in a thud and a grunt. Misty ducked her headfurther from cover to see what was happening. Ace. He'd finally managed to slither from his party burrow and do some work. Impressive work too. He must have taken Zak down with a diving tackle, but the nearest cover was meters away. Not a bad leap.
Unfortunately, Zak arched hard enough to throw Ace off and they came to their feet together. Two swords appeared and they attacked each other instantly. Their blades clashed repeatedly, without pause or hesitation.
Misty stopped and stared. She had never seen such a fight. Every blow was countered and each riposte was blocked. It was like watching someone fence with a mirror. There were no advances and no retreats. The fighters stood toe-to-toe, perfectly matched. The pace increased, until their swords were a blur, but still no one broke through with a blade.
Zak decompressed a second sword and slashed at Ace recklessly, driving him toward the cliff. The clash of blades was constant as the Beserk pushed forward. Misty took half a step toward them, but Ace spun around Zak, away from the drop. He swung his sword over his shoulders to guard his back and caught the blades trying to cut him down from behind. He twisted his arms while crouching, to turn and sweep one of the weapons from Zak’s hand.
Ace leapt high, while Zak jumped too. Their swords collided and they both swung a fist as well. Ace smashed his opponent in the mouth, but a punch like an anvil glanced from his chin and he staggered. He fell to a knee, before surging upright to back away and look for the Beserk. He attacked as soon as he saw the stranger - still on his back in the dirt.
Zak sprang to his feet just in time to counter the blow, then took an unsteady step and Ace paused too, breathing heavily despite com support. The stranger used the back of his hand to wipe blood from his lips and frowned when he saw Ace wiping his own bloody mouth.
“Get out of my head, snot balls.”
“Glad to,” Ace sneered. “I don't usually play in garbage.”
Zak sprang forward, but this time he put his full weight behind his swing. The wild blow was a risk, but Ace was too surprised to take advantage of it. He belatedly tried to block Zak’s sword, but its momentum was too great. Both swords flew through the air and Misty jumped aside when they clattered past. Ace reached to his wrist for another blade, but was too slow. This time Zak tackled him and they went down together. They grappled with each other and rolled across the plateau toward the cliff.