Ellis Morning is here today to share a excerpt from her new book Harbingers and a guest post on world building. Great to have you here today. Science Fiction/Fantasy books are my favorite.
GENRE: Science Fiction/Fantasy
The Quest Continues To Stop A Killer "Curse!" Dame Jessamine is a knight errant with a spaceship for a steed, a woman of science in a galaxy rife with superstition. Follow along as she continues her mission for truth within the barony of Nidaros!
A mysterious crop-withering blight spreads through the barony's soil. The court magicians have blamed two siblings of spawning the crisis through witchcraft. Convinced of their innocence, Jessamine has rescued and now secretly harbors Verahl Naustvik aboard her spaceship. Meanwhile, his sister Thordia flees to the Harbinger, a crashed space station from the distant and more enlightened past. Approaching the Harbinger is an act punishable by death, but Jessamine won't let that stand in the way of a second rescue. Thordia, and the Harbinger's surviving technological secrets, may be Nidaros' only hope against the blight. Jessamine prepares to embark—only to be betrayed and set upon by vengeful court magicians. Now, one wrong word or gesture will lead to deadly charges of witchcraft. Jessamine must protect the Naustviks and brave the Harbinger, all while striking a balance between ritual and reason. If she can't maintain the peace long enough to discover a cure for the blight, the entire barony will starve—unless its far-off masters decide to "restore order" with military action first! Harbingers is Book Two of the Sword and Starship series of science fiction/fantasy adventure.
Outside the barracks, Ingvar, Pontus, and I stared out into the starry night. Colorful flashes pierced a single point in the sky at irregular intervals—some strong, others flickering. Some were as short-lived as fireflies, easy to miss if one weren’t looking directly at them. Most were green and orange, with the occasional burst of red.
I held my breath while puzzling over the matter. Stellar phenomenon, meteor shower? No, it seemed much closer than that. Explosives? But silence reigned in their wake. Ingvar and I had found the Naustviks’ house full of Shipbuilder holograms and lighting devices. Could this be more of the same, wielded by adepts or others with adequate knowledge? But usually, such objects and knowledge were rare.
There was a more mundane possibility: fireworks. Metal salts like calcium chloride, ground into a powder and introduced to fire, burned up in a dramatic display of color. My mentors at the Enduring Flame Beguinage had introduced me to tricks like that, specifically labeling them tricks. Adepts performed such stunts, too, but called them “magic.”
At my side, Ingvar frowned. “They seem to hover right over the capital buildings.” He referred to the three Shipbuilder structures at the core of Nidaros’ capital: the Baron’s estate, the adepts’ keep, and the storehouse.
“Unseen. Never thought …” Pontus trailed off nervously. He stood ahead of us, his reaction invisible.
“Pontus?” Ingvar prompted. “Is there something I don’t know about?”
The lieutenant faced us, fists clenched at his sides. The right one slowly ground his wishing beads into dust. “Last week, the boys on night watch whispered about a vision like this. They convinced the next night’s shift to be on the lookout, but it never repeated itself. Forgot about it until now.”
“Wherefore didn’t anyone tell me?” Ingvar asked.
“We know not to bring you a ghost tale unless we have the ghost on a leash, sir.” Pontus tossed his head over his shoulder. “Is that close enough?”
Ingvar scowled toward the flashing lights again, saying nothing.
What inspired you to write this story? There are many inspirations! It’s a common question, so I hope to give partial answers over the course of this tour that will eventually form a big picture. The novel started out in 2006 as an unfinished short story that I decided to expand—and boy, did it ever take off! One huge influence is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. Like the protagonist in that book, Dame Jessamine is a person of greater technical knowledge than most of the people around her. She has to use that knowledge wisely, but discreetly. If she’s caught with things she shouldn’t have or know about, she could be persecuted as a witch! What was your favorite part to write? Any place I get to inject humor, especially when characters are bickering, I’m pretty happy about. Most of what’s going on in Harbingers has dire life-or-death implications, so the occasional levity is refreshing. I also enjoyed writing the reunion of 2 certain special characters, but I don’t want to give too much away! What was the hardest part to write? The Harbinger sequence. After all the hype built up by the first book and a half, I really wanted to do justice to my crashed space station. It’s a challenge to imagine what the characters might run into there, what its original purpose would’ve been, and how it might be malfunctioning centuries later. How did you come up with your characters? I decide on things like name, personality, looks, speech patterns, and habits. Then the biggest thing of all: motivations. What do they want and why? How do they intend to get it? Who or what is standing in their way? This is where plot and conflict come from. Do you have anything coming up and can you tell us about it? Personally, my husband and I are celebrating our 11th anniversary! Not much else besides that. I’ll be working on the sequel to Harbingers for the foreseeable future. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Ellis has always loved staging adventures in her head before going to sleep each night. When she was twelve, she started putting these adventures on paper.
For the next twenty years, she wrote with varying degrees of seriousness, but always as a hobby. In that time, she fell in love with Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut, the original Star Trek series, and Mystery Science Theater 3000. Science fiction became her favorite domain to work in, but she also enjoyed reading fantasy, horror, Western, and detective stories, and incorporating their elements into her work. One of her favorite things to do was make people laugh.
Ellis denied being a writer for decades. But then she sold articles to The Daily WTF, and a short story to Analog Science Fiction and Fact. After quitting her full-time job to finish her first novel, it was time to own up to writing as her calling. She's currently an editor at The Daily WTF, and having the time of her life penning novels and short stories.