Counting days is irrelevant in the life of a well-to-do man, unless he counts the days passed in total service to the Empire. Salute. Submit. Shut up and scan the wrist. Therapists armed with batons and brass knuckles guide the derelict along a well-beaten path to Glory.
When human experiment Lukian Valentin escapes the Empire to save his crumbling sanity–through a grimescape of fissured highways, collapsing factories, putrescent sewers–he realizes the fight isn’t only for his life, it’s for his mind. Torturous flashbacks from a murky past spur him on a quest for freedom, while the Empire’s elite retrievers remain at his heels, determined to bring him home for repair.
Lukian needs one doctor to remove the implanted chips from his body, and another to serve him a tall glass of answers. Lukian attempts a psychedelic salvage of his partitioned mind, gleaning fragments of the painful truth about his identity.
A scorching, clothes-ripping rendezvous with a mysterious woman offers Lukian a glimpse of his humanity, and respite from his nightmarish past. It also provides the Empire the perfect weakness to exploit for his recapture.
To rise to the challenge of protecting his new life, his freedom of thought, and his one shot at love, Lukian must reach deep into his mind to find his true identity. To defeat the Empire, he requires the deadly power of his former self–a power that threatens to consume him.
~ Bewitching BT
1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?
2. What would you say inspired you to write it?
Popular assassin fiction, followed by the facts and fringe theories surrounding real-life assassins. I had a major schoolgirl crush on Jason Bourne and Kenshin Himura, and books like William Cooper’s Behold A Pale Horse kept me awake at night.
3. Your all time favorite book?
1984 by George Orwell. My dad made me read it at a very young age.
4. What made you pick that one above all others?
1984 got stuck inside my head. I even have purple 1984 pajamas that say, “1984 was not supposed to be an instruction manual.” I can’t sum up my love for that book any better than that. Technology is invading every aspect of life and it’s ripe for abuse.
In a lot of ways, Kain is both an extension of and a rebuttal to Orwell’s vision. Things can get a lot worse, but I believe there is a way out. There is a part of the human spirit that is inviolable.
5. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Completing an artistic project from start to finish made me realize that I really can do anything I put my mind to. It’s so easy to start something awesome and then give up or procrastinate. My advice is: don’t!
6. Was there ever a time, during your work for the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
Attempting traditional publication and the mountain of impersonal rejection it provided made it easy to want to give up. With self-publishing, there is no one to say no to you. If something isn’t selling, it’s up to me to try something new. It’s up to me to share my work. The possibilities are infinite. Each time I sell one book, it’s an incredible feeling. I’m reaching someone. Even if only one new person were to read my book every day, that’s more success than a stack of rejection letters ever brought me.
7. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
Kain is the first book in the Sex, Drugs, and Cyberpunk series, and I have over ten more books planned to varying degrees. Lukian Valentin will return, doing work as a bodyguard in Jambu; Sven’s past will return to haunt him; Naoko will experience some strange side effects from her relationship with Lukian… and the villains that aren’t dead aren’t ready to give up being evil.
There are also the Sex, Drugs, and Biopunk books that do not contain any characters involved with Lukian’s plot, but are set in the same world and serve as a political addendum to the story. Six Below will be released on October 23rd.
8. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
Six Below will be released October 23rd. Ninkasi Mara, a Jambutian senator’s daughter, is kidnapped by terrorists trying to take down a biotech facility contracted to upgrade the Daityan supersoldier project. The only problem is, one of her kidnappers is incredibly sexy, has six fingers, telepathic powers, and a nightmarish past that keeps him awake at night. His personal fixation with a company invested in human experimentation drags Ninkasi into a conflict she can’t avoid, and a dose of reality she wasn’t prepared to swallow.
Psychedelic Riot Helmet is planned for April 2014. Battling unemployment and probation officers, living as part of Daitya’s underclass, Zapf’s life changes when a government truck transporting an experimental psychedelic chemical explodes and rains upon a quickly-quarantined landscape. Zapf unwittingly claims the helmet blown off a dead officer for himself. His new powers of perception compound a conflict when he is mixed up in a love triangle with a lady and her sort-of boyfriend, a paranoid military pharmacologist.
9. What made you decide to go the self-pub way?
After receiving my mountain of rejection letters, I thought it was silly to sit and do nothing with a book that I toiled night and day to perfect. It was time for my story to be heard. So I self-published… and suddenly total strangers started reading my book. For me, that’s a miracle.
10. What would you say was the toughest part?
The trickiest part about self-publishing is getting noticed. It’s an ongoing battle. Every book is different, and no advertising strategy will work exactly the same for two authors, even writing similar titles in the same genre. It’s trial-and-error, with lots of error, and hopefully not too much money wasted.
11. Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
I’m fairly computer literate, so I did the formatting for my books on my own. It felt like having a knife in the brain for one day, trying to figure it all out, but now I can do it with my eyes closed.
Having a professional cover is a MUST. The first thing readers see is a tiny thumbnail of a book for sale, and if that little image can’t compete with all the other professionally-designed books out there, chances are it will be skipped over. There are websites that offer predesigned covers for an affordable price. I invested in graphic designers for both of my titles because I wanted to express the essence of my books, and it was worth every cent.
There is a wide range of editing options available for authors; I’d recommend using a site like elance. Again, if a blurb or a book sample is poorly edited, readers will know right away. Books are like turkeys, best not served undercooked. But a well-prepared one is cause for celebration.
12. How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to self-pub to when you hit ‘Publish’?
Kain took six months of work, from writing to hitting publish.
13. Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
Kain is currently available on Amazon. When my second title, Six Below, launches on October 23rd, both books will be available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks (and possibly Google Play). Expansion is in the works.
14. If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
I would have saved the money I spent on various banner ads, as they didn’t seem to do much for my particular book. But that’s a Catch-22, because if I wouldn’t have tried, there is no way I would have known. That’s the tricky thing about self-publishing–you have to try it all, but not all of it will work. Everything is also constantly changing, so what doesn’t work now, may also work later. Whew!
1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
I would wish for enough money to quit my day jobs, so I could focus 100% of my energy on writing.
2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
Does the entire boxed set of Anne Rice’s Lestat books count?
3. Name your favorite fruit.
4. Coffee or tea?
Licorice mint tea.
5. Favorite season?
Summer. Sunshine. Sand. Seashore.
6. How about fav time of 24 hours?
Any time that’s not the morning.
7. Were you a boyscout/girlscout?
I was a girlscout, briefly. I think I was banned for eating more cookies than I sold.
8. Favorite food for breakfast?
Scrambled eggs, shared with my cats.
9. Latest book you’ve bought and read?
I want to read Nomad, by JL Bryan.
10. Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
My day jobs involve cash handling; I was recently initiated into the art of coin and bill collecting. It’s insane how many varieties of coins are minted–and insane how much some collectors are willing to pay if you happen to encounter a rare bill. Of course, I haven’t found one yet, but I do have some dope nickels from the sixties. Pure silver is always valuable in the event of an apocalypse…
11. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Black, red, and purple.
12. Drama or comedy?
Comedy, all the way. If I attempt to be dramatic, after about four seconds, I can no longer take myself seriously.
13. Have a fav quote or personal motto?
My friends and I obsessively quote the great Hunter S. Thompson.
14. Cats or dogs?
Cats. (I have two.)
15. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Dinner by candlelight. Preferably salmon.
Excerpt from Kain
” Chase Brigham twirled the tip of his salt-and-pepper goatee, mesmerized by the bright graphs flickering on a computer screen: breath rate, heart rate, neurotransmitter and hormone levels, all the vitals. He snapped his fingers. “Skirra, increase the current.”
“Yes, Sir.” The female assistant in a snug ivory labcoat adjusted her glasses, and pecked an entry into a portable computer beside the examination chair. “Output is increased by twenty units.” She chewed a fingernail and tapped her foot, transfixed with the screen.
Skirra let out a long breath, and her eyes settled on the youth in the chair: twenty-four years of age, he was among the specimens in perfect condition. A silver helmet capped his skull, wild with protruding lights and wires, exposing tufts of flaxen hair; electrodes dotted his smooth and sturdy chest; thick leather bands clamped his rugged arms and ankles to the chair. His head tilted to one side, with eyes closed, breaths cresting in shallow and frequent gasps. The height recorded on his medical chart read an inch or two shorter than the other soldiers in his class.
“He’s primed.” Brigham turned to Skirra, pointing at the screen. “Inject him.”
“Sir, Commander Brigham, Sir, if I may speak–” Skirra curled her right hand into a mousy fist and lifted it to her chest, saluting him. “The biomedical research team in the Nanotech Department submitted a recent study of the compounds for review, and–” Her eyes darted to the side, and she rubbed her bitten nails together. “One of the primates in the experiment went mad.”
Brigham stared at her, dark eyes blazing, but didn’t speak. He didn’t move. He didn’t blink.
Skirra swallowed, and ducked her head forward in an anticipating nod. “Sir, not to say I am comparing your investments to a bunch of monkeys, Sir–”
She offered another pantomimed salute. “I believe… this injection will progress our work and bring Glory to the Empire, Sir!”
Brigham tilted his head back, rustling a mane of waist-length silver hair. He raised his eyebrows. “Then do it.”
Skirra traced her fingers over pencil-thin lids on a rack of vials on the table, hefty onyx rings glittering on her fingers. She selected a vial, a glass tube with a murky, bloody liquid, and unscrewed the lid. She opened a disinfectant pad, and prepared a cotton ball; she jammed her syringe into the vial, extracting the necessary liquid for the experiment.
“And that is the department’s shortcoming.” Brigham wandered closer to the examination chair, staring at the youth. “They have become so obsessed with transcending human limitations that they’ve grown disgusted with the body.” He glanced at the screen, a satisfied smile twisting his lips. “It will forever retard their efforts.”
Skirra blotted the youth’s arm with a disinfectant-soaked cotton ball. “How is that, Sir?”
“The will to live is something animal, irrational. It can’t be quantified. It can’t be predicted. So they eschew it, negate it from their calculations.” Brigham glanced at the digital clock in military time on the wall. “But that same will is infinitely powerful, and if they could learn to master it, to subdue it…” He clenched a fist and shook his head. “If they could bend that power to serve their goals–”
Skirra drove the needle into the youth’s arm.
“If we don’t push him to the limits–” Brigham rested an arm against the back of the chair, surveying the unconscious man. “We won’t ever know what he’s fully capable of doing. If we don’t understand his capabilities, we’ll never be able to control him; and, if we can’t properly control him, we’ll never be able to utilize those capabilities.”
Beads of sweat pooled on Skirra’s forehead as she monitored the values on the screen.
Brigham spun around and paced toward the door, twirling his goatee, deep in thought. A long kluzein baton dangled from his belt and knocked against his leg.
Skirra waited for Brigham to turn his back, and reached to give the subject’s hand a firm squeeze. She pressed her palm against his bare chest, and worry warped her face. She bit the fingernails on her free hand.
Brigham tapped his fingers against the back of the examination chair, studying Skirra.
“Oh! Sir!” She threw both hands into the air and blushed. “Sir, I–Oh–” She tucked her arms into her chest. “Sir, his vitals are stable!”
“Let’s begin.” Brigham marched toward the chair.
She scampered away and leered at the restrained man, lurking behind Brigham’s broad shoulders.
Brigham loomed over the youth, and with a sharp gesture of the hand, spit the booming command: “Aadima.”
The youth stirred from his drug-induced catatonia. He rolled his head to one side, the silver wired crown tipping forward, and slowly sat upright, confined by the bonds of the chair. His eyes fluttered open, brown, wide, and blank, reflecting an awareness scrambled.
He squinted, struggling to draw Brigham into focus. A moment passed: he shook the fog out of his head, and his posture stiffened, recognizing the man in front of him. He pounded a fist against his chest in salute. “Commander Brigham, Sir!”
Brigham looked to the screen; he glanced at his watch, and turned to Skirra. “Thirty-seven seconds. Note it.”
Skirra fumbled with an electronic notepad, trembling and tapping in her notes.
Brigham knelt on one knee beside the examination chair, and waved an intricate series of hand gesticulations in the subject’s face. “Greetings, Kain.”
The man sat rigid in the chair, staring blankly ahead.
“Dvitiiya.” Brigham paired his command with a symphony of motor signals. “Disable.”
“Secondary Dvitiiya functions.” The youth spoke in an empty voice. “Disabled, Sir.”
“Kain.” Brigham climbed to his feet, clutching the back of the chair. “Tritiiya.”
The subject remained frozen in his chair, eyes glossy and unblinking.
“Damn you!” Brigham grabbed a flat remote from his pocket, pointed it at the man in the chair and clicked.
The youth moaned, violent tremors wracking his body. He convulsed and flopped in the chair, the leather bonds subduing him, holding him in place.
Skirra brought her hands to her head, watching in horror as graphs spiked and numbers soared.
“There are no uses for faulty machinery!” Brigham towered over the shackled youth, indifferent to his pain. “None! You remember that.”
Skirra glanced at the clock, and chewed her nails.
“Kain.” Brigham cleared his throat. “Load Tritiiya.”
The subject’s breathing slowed and he shifted his posture, sitting upright. He stared ahead, speaking in a monotone. “Tertiary Tritiiya functions loaded, Sir.”
“Kain.” Brigham waved his hand, and spoke in a thunderous voice. “Load Caturtha.”
“Identification confirmed: granting access to restricted Caturtha systems.” He mechanically rotated his head toward the floor, and spoke with eyes closed. “Proceed with instructions.”
Skirra slinked beside Brigham, and lifted a pair of clunky taupe goggles covered in a swarm of blinking lights. She leaned over the chair and rested the goggles on the bridge of the youth’s nose, and fitted the frames, one at a time, over his ears with a gentle touch. She paused, her rings glittering beneath the blinding light above the exam chair, and compulsively thumbed the bristle of hair poking out beneath his helmet. She stroked his temples once, twice, before yanking her hands away and lifting them into the air. “Sir, goggles are ready, Sir!” Her cheeks blushed.
“Kain, do you recognize the image of this man?” He drummed his fingers against the back of the chair.
“Recognition affirmative, Sir.”
“Spectacular.” Brigham joined his hands in a deafening clap. “Execute primary Caturtha commands, and target this man.”
“Target confirmed, Sir.” He stared in a daze at the lightshow provided by the goggles. “Requesting variables of mission duration, Sir.”
Brigham pealed his final command. “Caturtha functions will terminate when his Glorious duties are fulfilled.”
The youth twitched. “Parameters understood, Sir. Caturtha, execution complete. Awaiting further instruction.”
Brigham waved dismissively. “Kain, I require no further services from you today.”
The youth’s eyes fell shut and he slumped forward in the chair, restrained by the leather bonds.
Skirra hovered over his body, moving to take the glasses away. She paused, glancing at his chest, and swiped the goggles from his face, retreating behind Brigham.
“Skirra, send for Krodha. We’re finished today.” Brigham turned and strode toward the door.
Skirra stood up on her toes, lifting a hand to her mouth, and reached out, groping with words, with questions. “Ahem–Yes–”
Brigham exited. The electronic door slammed shut.
Skirra curled a limp fist against her chest. “Sir–”
She trotted to the desk and lowered her head over the intra-complex communications device. She pushed a button and made demands through a speaker. “Session cleanup required!”
Skirra scrambled across the floor and knelt beside her subject. Unimpressed with the numbers on the screen, she clutched his lifeless hand. She struggled to loosen his bonds, wiggling the straps, and succeeded enough to rotate his wrist so his palm faced up. She felt for one pulse point, pawing at his flesh until she found it, and repeated the action on a second pulse point.
She tugged at the straps binding his other wrist, and felt again for one pulse point, two pulse points, pressing the pads of her fingers into his skin. “You poor thing.” She removed the helmet from his head and ran a hand beneath his chin, pinching his cheeks together, watching his lips pout.
The electronic doors to the examination room clicked open.
Skirra leapt away from the chair, eyes wide.
A broad-shouldered hellion stormed into the room, dressed in a black uniform wrapping tightly over every bulging vein, every curving muscle of his body. He had a mane of black ringlets, square jaw, and frosty eyes. “You said you were finished!” His lips curled when he spoke, revealing a flash of teeth.
Skirra made a trembling salute at her chest. “Yes, Krodha, my apologies, Sir–”
She rushed to the table and dutifully unbound her subject, unhooked him. She found a knit grey sweater on the floor and tugged it over his head.
Krodha stomped toward the unconscious youth, grabbed both of his wrists, and ripped him from the chair.
He drooped in Krodha’s arms, feet dragging on the floor.
Krodha hoisted him up and gave him a shove.
The youth’s legs folded and he crashed against the floor, cracking his elbow, smacking his face against the hard tile.
“Aah!” Skirra zipped across the room and dove onto the floor, rolling her subject over and resting his head on her lap. She ran her fingers across his forehead, through his hair. “Be careful with him!” She rebuked Krodha with a pointed finger.
“Ms. Department Head, you know all about Ascended Machine Technology.” Krodha squatted, wrapped one of the youth’s arms around his neck and held a steady grip on one of his legs, hoisting him onto his shoulders in a fireman’s carry. “You know how it works.”
Krodha dropped him.
The youth crashed against the floor, landing on his back.
Krodha kicked him in the ribs with a cold laugh, and squatted to hoist him into another carry. He sauntered to the edge of the doorway, the youth dangling over his shoulders, and glanced at Skirra. “You engineered this stupid mongrel to take a beating.” ”
About the Author & Links:
Doctors suspect Brie developed an overactive imagination during childhood to cope with the expansive corn maze known as rural Pennsylvania. Unable to afford an operation to have the stories surgically removed from her brain, she opted instead to write them down.
Brie lives in British Columbia with her boyfriend and naughty black cat, somewhere not too far from the sea. She enjoys trips to the local farm, chatting with her long-distance friends on a rotary phone, and roflstomping video games from the nineties.
Brie’s favorite authors include Anne Rice, George Orwell, and Hunter S. Thompson.