What is home?
Is it brick and stone and slate?
Where is home?
Is it behind the garden gate?
What gives home
that special place in the soul?
What is that thing
that makes the damaged whole?
What is home?
Is it truly in the place?
Or is home
a single loved one’s face?

©️ jane jago 2018


Author Feature – from ‘Liberator’ by Darren Bullock and Nick Bailey

Liberator (The Liberators Book 1) is a fast-paced, page-turning military sci-fi by Darren Bullock and Nick Bailey.

JJ was standing on the north landing pad as Orlanda’s dropship flew in, the surrounding graznia palm fronds waving frenetically in the ship’s downdraft. The craft thumped down, the ramp lowered and Orlanda came stamping out. Two NCT troopers stood at the ramp’s base and assumed guard positions; entirely unnecessary, JJ thought, but he understood it was done for the look of the thing.

When Orlanda reached him, she hugged him unexpectedly. “Thank you for agreeing to help, Colonel,” she said. “I really don’t want my father involved if I can avoid it; the fallout would be unbearable, and the cost to Skye astronomical. If she’s still alive.”

JJ was sure she was grinding her teeth. “You’re Liberators, both of you. Of course we’ll help, lass. And drop the colonel, we haven’t used ranks since everyone left. I’m in charge by default because no one else wanted to do it.” JJ grinned lopsidedly and placed a hand on Orlanda’s shoulder as she stepped back. “We’ve contacted as many people as we could find; we may have to wait a little while for folks to arrive, but that’s unavoidable. We should be able to pull a full crisis team, Truth willing.”

“The Truth can go fuck itself, Sir. No offence, but it’ll be people with guns that get this done,” Orlanda replied.

“Aye, girl, it will at that. Let’s get inside and make sure the guns are clean and the people are dirty, then,” JJ said, still grinning, which earned a smile in return. “Your men can stay here if they want to get some R&R.”

“No, they need to go back. I can cover this up for a while, but if the strike team are away and there’s an emergency I’d be fucked and my father would be on my ass like a rash.”

“That’s a pretty colourful image that I’m not going to think about too hard, if that’s okay.”

Orlanda went still. “What’s wrong with my ass?” Her expression was deadpan.

“Same old, same old, eh?” JJ said, and laughed, making her laugh a little too.

Orlanda turned and signalled that the ship could go. A man brought out a holdall and put it at Orlanda’s feet, saluted, then ushered the guards back into the craft.

“Let’s get inside. Actually, I’ve got a job for you right away,” JJ said as the engines roared and the ship lifted away.

Orlanda picked up her bag and followed. “Okay, let’s get this stowed and you can run that past me. Who are we expecting to come?” she asked.

“We’re still working on that; so far we’ve got responses from Drey, Toran, Slay…” JJ began. When he got to Shan, there was a clang as Orlanda dropped her bag.

Darren Bullock in his own words:
I was enthralled by science-fiction growing up. It was everywhere – television, film, and books, but oddly enough it wasn’t sci-fi that drew me to writing. While my great friend and co-author Nick Bailey was ploughing through piles of 2000 A.D. I was searching out the next Commando Comic and I vaguely recall reading a tattered old copy of The Eagle has Landed. I later moved on to a bit of sci-fi and some light horror/thrillers. Those are the books that made my mind race, filling it with fantastic words and descriptions.
When I met Nick, we put our heads together and started our own military sci-fi comic (which crashed at the third page)
But now some time later, through a labour of love... Liberator is born. And now our follow up endeavor — Dust Publishing.
Proving that old printers like me, don’t just look at the pictures.
You can follow Darren on Twitter and Facebook.
Nick Bailey not in his own words:
Nick was born at a very young age, in an uneventful corner of the West Midlands, England. Star Wars came out when he was six years old, and his path was set. He met lifelong friend, and co-author of Liberator - Darren Bullock, at school and then things just got worse. They had to write made-up stories just to stave off the boredom of existence, so it was inevitable that books would end up published.
At 45 years old, he should probably be concentrating on a proper job, but writing is too much fun, and he isn't stopping now.
Since this is the internet, it should probably be noted that he likes cats, dogs, long walks on the beach, and blowing up spaceships.
Nick assures us that he is, in fact, still alive.
You can find Nick on Twitter and the Dust Publishing website.


A Bite of… Orlanda Nixon

Orlanda Nixon is one of the great characters you can meet in the military sci-fi Liberator (The Liberators Book 1) by Darren Bullock and Nick Bailey.

Here is a recent interview between Charisma Stone of the Independent News Network and Orlanda Nixon a CEO in the Nixon Combined Technologies Corporation and former member of the Liberators.

The shows titles flash up on screens and HUDs all over Sanset Zukon and beyond. Slick words mixed with celebrity names and exotic worlds coupled with glossy pictures and video images of far flung places cram the viewing area. Eventually a number of shots sweep around a digital studio then zoom in on the host of the show with her first guest.

The host beams at her audience down the lens.

“Hello and welcome to tonight’s special episode of Shine a Light. As you can see I’m not Kelly Brightwheel, they are very unfortunately indisposed this week. This being the case, I am in fact Charisma Stone, your guest host for tonight in what I’ve decided to call ‘Stone Chips’. We’re going to put some quick-fire and hopefully illuminating questions to persons note in this week’s media. For the next few minutes my first victim, ha-ha, is the Nixon Combined Technologies heiress — Orlanda Nixon.”

Orlanda Nixon, dressed immaculately in a white pinstripe suit, nods cordially and smiles. “Ha-ha, yes good evening, Charisma. I was not expecting to see you this evening.”

Charisma slips right in to interview mode. “No, well I am known for surprising my guests. So Orlanda, we’ve spoken before at length on my, investigative program ‘Carved INN Stone’.”

Miss Nixon looks intrigued. “Yes. Indeed we have.”

Charisma continues. “That time it was about some of your more interesting escapades, but let’s start off with an easy one. Could you tell us — do you do it just for the money?”

Orlanda almost snorts. “Ah, the money question. Well no, I primarily do my job because I love it. You see not only are NCT a multi system educational, support and supply corporation, but we also bring humanitarian aid to over one hundred worlds. And as an important asset to NCT, I strive to be at the cutting edge of the business, with my close friend Skye Pennington. It is my passion.”

The camera pulls in for a close up of Charisma as she raises an eyebrow. “Cutting edge, yes. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve felt overwhelmed or out of your depth?”

“No, never. Even if it’s something I’ve never encountered before, I have a very level headed approach to everything.” Orlanda replies.

The director pulls in for a tight shot of Charisma’s eyes focusing hard on Orlanda’s expression. “Even at NuBosko?”

Orlanda doesn’t flinch. “Ha yes, even at NuBosko. Everything was certainly levelled out there. Charisma, I thought we were going to see your lighter side tonight?” She looks down the live camera lens.

“Absolutely and on that very note, we’ve just had a question that’s come in from Coppernoob. Where did you get your clothes from tonight?” Charisma looks up from her linkpad.

Orlanda visibly brightens at the question. “Well, this one has been hand made for me by Elle Maxi, but usually I pick up things from all over. Regal is my favourite right now, but I do have quite a few pieces from…” Charisma attempts to cut her off.

“Do — ”

“And my shoes are fantastic. I picked these up in a place just out of the system near —”

Charisma presses on regardless. “Do you regret anything in your life?”

Orlanda is visibly put out, but replies. “No. I wouldn’t say regret at all. I would like to review a couple of things, to make some minor tweaks, but no.”

“Things, such as?”

“Places I should have been.” Orlanda says. “People I should have handled differently.”

Charisma tests the water and digs a little deeper. “Do you think you could you reconcile them now, or in the future?”

“They’ve already been reconciled. As for the future — it’s looking bright.” Miss Nixon looks like she’s about to begin closing the interview down.

Charisma changes tack. “Let’s take another question from our audience — when you’ve been involved in hostile takeovers, what’s it like to handle such a long powerful weapon? That’s from Slaymar.

Orlanda frowns, and with a slight shake of her head answers. “Well, Slaymar. The weapons are — dead easy to handle. Some of the tools can be a bit fat headed though. Some of them might look bigger than they are, especially when you’ve got small hands.”

“Do you actually know this viewer?”

“Some really small, tiny hands — Sorry. Let us just say, I know where he lives.”

“Now, Orlanda, you’ve been a stalwart representative of your family’s company for a many years. Do you find it difficult with your father being a major stockholder and of course your boss?”

“Not at all. My father is a very fair and excellent boss. I’m treated much the same as the other CEOs, there’s no favouritism. Pushing for mega-corporation status is a tricky business and we all have to be pushing in the same direction.

Charisma glances off set then says. “Okay, we’re almost out of time so, moon or stars?”

“Whatever I shoot for, Charisma, I never miss.”

It looks as if Charisma is steeling herself for her last question. “And finally then — as well as Nixon Combined, in the past, you’ve had an association with a Private Military Corporation, the Liberators. Are you currently back working with this defunct group?”

Orlanda smiles. “Now I couldn’t tell you even if I was, could I?”

Charisma leans forwards in her seat. “Recent reports have it that the PMC has been involved in a huge, messy altercation with —

“That’s enough Ms. Stone, this interview’s over.” Orlanda gets up and leaves the set.

You can find out more about Orlanda Nixon and the Liberator crew here.

Sunday Serial – XXIII

“You did it. Clever girl. And now you’re here. Welcome home. I’ll shut the gates, then Bonnie can get out and explore. There’s lots of garden out back for her.”

He put Anna down and charged off to close the gates.

“Out you come, Bonnie. Have a look at your new home.”

Bonnie jumped out and immediately began sniffing around. She wee-ed neatly, then meandered over to meet Sam and signified her approval by jumping up to lick his face. He stroked her silky head.

“Welcome home Bonnie. You and your Mum are going to live here with me.”

Anna locked the camper smiling mistily, then she was swept off her feet and held to Sam’s broad chest.

“Get the keys out of my shirt pocket, woman. Gotta carry you over the threshold, so you have to get the lock.”

He strode towards the big oak door and Anna fished in his pocket.

“Which key?”

“The Chubb.”

She leaned down and unlocked the door, before turning the handle. Sam finished the job with his foot and carried her into a wide beautiful hallway.

“Oh Sam,” Anna cried softly, “it’s lovely. But what about Bonnie’s toenails and her hair?”

“That’s what it needs. Right now it’s just a house. I need you and Bonnie to make it a home.”

She couldn’t speak through the lump in her throat, so she just kissed him. Hard. He laughed and thundered up the shallow stairs with her held close to his broad chest. He kicked open a door and dropped his burden on the bed, following her down.

“Now then. I reckon it’s about time we christened this bed.”

Anna grabbed him by the hair and dragged his mouth down to her own. He kissed her hungrily, then rolled her onto her face before bending to bite the soft skin of her inner thigh. Anna groaned and the sound seemed to drive Sam mad. A while later, once the madness had been fed, they lay in a sated heap, and both noticed the truly horrible state of their clothing. Anna’s tee shirt was torn beyond repair and her little denim skirt was bunched around her narrow waist, while Sam, who was still wearing his trousers and boots  found himself hobbled like a grazing horse.

“We really are behaving like teenagers,” Sam managed to croak through his laughter.

“Not me as a teenager. I was a proper miss goody two-shoes, so this has the added benefit of novelty.”

She twisted her head to look at him.

“Could you manage to move, love? I think I’m losing the use of my legs.”

He levered himself over onto his back.

“That’s about all I can manage. I can’t even see my boots.”

“In a minute I’ll help. I just have to recover the power of coherent thought.”

Sam scooped her up with one arm and pulled her to lay across him so they were face to face.

“Hello beautiful,” he said softly. “Happy?”

She nodded.

“Don’t think I’ve ever been happier.”

They lay there for a while, content in each other’s arms. Then Anna stretched and got up to deal with her disordered clothing, which she did by pulling the tee shirt over her head and lobbing it into the corner, pulling down her skirt, and retrieving her panties from the floor. Once she had wriggled into them, she bent to the sartorial chaos around Sam’s feet. “Lift up your backside, then I’ll slide your trousers and pants up. After which you should be able to move.”

She suited action to words and Sam sat up gratefully.

“I’m impressed. Beautiful. Sexy. And logical. I struck lucky when I met you.”

She smoothed his blue-black locks.

“Can I borrow a tee shirt? You trashed mine.”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

He grinned unrepentantly.

“I’ll buy you another.”

“You will not. Just lend me something to put on for now.”

He went over to a chest of drawers and withdrew a plain white tee.

“It’ll be massive on you.”

“Never mind. It’ll cover the tits.”

It did, but it also covered her skirt, reaching almost to her knees.

Sam laughed.

“You look like a little girl in her dad’s shirt. But sexy with it.”

She knotted the tee shirt on her left hip, and aimed a cuff at him.

“Less of the sexy mister. Show me this house. And let’s show Bonnie the garden.”

He grabbed her hand enthusiastically.

“Yes. And let’s move your stuff in. I want to feel like you are really here to stay.”

Jane Jago



The whistle and flap of swan wings
And morning mist
The sharp piping cries of moorhens
The wild goose hiss
A fisherman sits in silence
Awaiting a bite
While all around the frost flowers
Steal the light
The crunch of booted feet
On gravel under
As slowly now the sun draws
Haze asunder
The tiniest streaks of blue
Across the sky
And all the while the swans
Fly noisily by

©️jj 2018

Weekend Wind Down – Mole

The Mole groaned and farted and belched noxious fumes as its diamond edged teeth ground their way slowly through the sandy subsoil. As it dug, a series of precisely placed nozzles sprayed a sticky mixture of polymers and ground rock onto the walls of the freshly-made tunnel stabilising it an inch at a time. As the monster inched its way forward, a rattling, clanging conveyer belt shot surplus material into a closely following fleet of lorries.

Up high, in what would have been the head if the Mole was a living animal, a strangely-conformed man plied the controls with the virtuosity of a maestro. He was thick necked and heavy chested, with almost unnaturally long, muscular arms. His legs, on the other hand, were thin and twisted and would certainly not support his weight should he need to walk anywhere. But he never walked. He never left the Mole. He was Driver, symbiotically linked to the great metal digging machine and as incapable of living outside the confines of the behemoth as it was incapable of functioning without him.

They were the most successful of the dozen experiments in symbiosis that had been carried out a decade previously, and were the only partnership left in existence. If that partnership caused ethical worries in some quarters, those voices were soon hushed by those who appreciated the profitability of the gigantic earth mover.

As the present digging conditions were easy, Driver and Mole were entertaining themselves by playing chess. This would very probably have been frowned on by their masters, but neither man nor machine ever saw fit to mention it. Nor did they mention their musical evenings, or the books they read together. Some things, they reasoned, were just nobody’s business but their own.

For most of the morning, progress continued to be excellent and the giant machine chewed its way through the earth at a comfortable five miles an hour whilst beating its operator at chess for the nth time in their partnership. Right about lunchtime, things changed. Driver was shovelling a doorstep of bread and cheese between his busy teeth when the note from the engines changed and the Mole slowed.

The driver picked up his communicator.
“Rock,” he grunted “speed cut by four fifths.”
He cut off the protesting squawk from five miles above his head and carried on with his sandwich. When he had finished his lunch, he toggled his communicator.
“It’s rock. Hard rock. Ain’t a thing anybody can do. Just send the water bowsers we need to cool the cutters.”
“There’s no rock down there.”
The driver sighed and switched on the powerful lights that formed the Mole’s ‘eyes’.
“Video on,” he said grumpily.
The watchers in the office on the surface were treated to a view of the Mole’s teeth biting into a solid rock face.
“Okay. Water bowsers ordered.”

Some five hours later, as Driver was considering his options for supper, the engine note changed again. He toggled his communicator.
“We’re through. Speed increase to two miles per hour. Putting Mole on auto. Signing out for night.”

He didn’t wait for a reply, shutting communications down and swinging to the floor. As his stomach started to rumble, he heard a knock on the Mole’s metallic outer skin far below him. He opened the door and stuck his head out. Down at ground level he could see a foreshortened figure standing on the bottom step of the ladder that led to his cabin. He whistled. The figure looked up, and he recognised the homely features of his own brother.
“Chu want bro?”
“Nuffink. I got a pot of Mam’s rabbit stew for ya. Chuck down the rope.”
Driver grinned toothily and dropped a thick rope with a hook on the end. His brother ducked and then attached a large bucket to the hook before stepping back. Driver flicked a switch and a small motor purred into life, gently hauling in the rope and its savoury burden up the fifty feet to the cab door. When the bucket reached his feet he lifted it in gently. Ma’s rabbit stew wasn’t to be treated with contempt. His brother gave him a thumbs-up and stepped away from the rumbling, grumbling monster.

Driver went arm-over-arm into his cramped living quarters and tenderly removed the lid from the big enamel pail. It contained several carefully packed items. First there was a brown crock of butter and a loaf of soft, fresh bread. Then he lifted out a heroically sized hunk of fruit cake and a pot of clotted cream. The bottom of the bucket yielded a lidded dish of thick, savoury stew and a letter in his mother’s careful printing.

He inhaled a lungful of savoury steam and reached for a spoon. After about half the bowl, he leaned back in his chair and gave a replete sigh.
“Ma,” he said reverently “I love you”.
A deeply feminine, and richly amused, contralto voice, which seemed to emanate from the very air around him, chuckled appreciatively before speaking.
“What’s it worth not to tell Ma you only love her when your belly is full?”
“She knows already, Mole. You can’t never pull the wool over Ma’s eyes.”
The laughter in the ether went on for quite some time, and it cheered Driver as he went about clearing up after himself and storing the bounty from the bucket.

“And now,” he said contentedly “we got a letter from Ma to read. Will I read aloud or will you read over my shoulder?”
Driver could all but hear Mole thinking.
“Read aloud please.”

And that was how they spent the evening, a misshapen man and an artificial intelligence enjoying each other’s company as they read the homely tidings from the woman they both called Ma.

©️jane jago

For the rest of this story, and more tales of hope and despair, you can pick up your copy of Pulling the Rug II.

The Thinking Quill

Dear Reader Who Writes,

It has come to my attention that there may still be those amongst you who are not entirely au fait with who I am and my impeccable credentials for penning these pieces of perfect pedagoguery. More on why I fear this in a moment, but for now, I must yet again remind you, it seems that I am Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV, Ivy to my friends, author of the science fiction and fantasy classic, ‘Fatswhistle and Buchtooth’. Mayhap it is because I have temporarily withdrawn this gem of literature from the maw of an unappreciative public whose ability to discern quality is clearly lacking.

The issue of having one’s fame less recognised than it should be, came to one’s attention when Mumsie returned from an evening at our local hostelry ‘The Pink Wigeon’. She stumbled into my writing room cursing and swearing about not being able to see as I had been writing by the light of a single candle to enchant and encourage my Muse.

“You’re wasting your bloody time, Moons,” she declaimed as she picked herself up from the floor. “No one has heard of you and no one ever will. I asked in the pub and no one had any idea. No one. Not one of the bastards.” Then she staggered back up the step from my underground lair and vanished into the night. Had she remained to hear it, my bright witticism of a reply came to me scant minutes later. “Mummy,” I would have said, “prophets are never honoured in their own hometown.” She would have had no answer to that one, I am sure!

How to Start Writing a Book – Lesson 26: The Write Voice

You may have heard it said that every writer has their own ‘voice’. But I suspect, dear Reader Who Writes, that no more enlightens you than it did myself when I first encountered that phrase many days ago now. But allow me to explain so you may acquire this essential aspect of your actualisation as an author.

Your voice is how you speak and your writing Voice is how you speak to your readers. It is that simple. When you choose the precise posy of willing words from the diverse dictionary of your capacious creativity, this – this dear reader Who Writes – is your own unique Voice.

‘But, my beloved teacher,” I hear you say, “Is this not what I already do? Am I not thus, fully fledged from the outset with my own vibrant Voice?” And I reply ‘Nay! And Nay! And thrice Nay! Oh ignorant one.” This is why is I who am the teacher and you the humble pupil, sitting at my metaphorical feet to benefit from my knowledge and wisdom in matters pertaining to the literary arts.

That which you fondly consider your Voice at present is merely your own fumbling effort to present prose in a manner that at least is not too distasteful to a reader. Consider yourself as an aspiring cook who has acquired sufficient skill not to burn their offerings. You will acknowledge that is a long way from being a Master Chef!

Your Voice is only achieved at the end of a long apprenticeship. It is the end result of your hard work. Of those long hours spent burning the candle at both ends (though I have yet to find a candle holder that permits this myself) so that you can emerge from the chrysalis of mere imitation into the fully fledged speckled butterfly of your own Voice.

For therein, dear disciple, lies the secret of attaining your own Voice. Copy that of your literary betters until you have imbibed their Voice and imprinted it upon your own. After all, who are you to think you can write with a more compelling Voice than those whose literary feet you are not fit to touch?

Until next we meet.

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

Adoring Fans can join my Facebook Group

Author Feature – from ‘Ideal Insurgent’ by Stephanie Barr

Two top analysts escaped their intellectual enslavement to the Empire, now intent on taking that same government down using any and every method at their disposal, not the least of which were their great analytical minds. Bryder was well-suited for this task, a chaos agent with laser-sharp instincts, a grudge against the Empire, and contacts with rebels throughout the universe. But Nayna was the one they'd really have to watch out for.

Bryder slid the first connector into place with a snap he could feel in his fingers. One down, two to go.

“Why don’t we start again and you explain the situation,” Ralf said. “Go from the beginning, and give me the details.”

“That’s my girl, keep him talking,” Bryder said, then played his tongue over his lips as he tried to force the second connector into its socket, given he couldn’t see it with the controller floating in the way. “Damn leads should have been longer so I didn’t have to do this blind,” he told the controller testily. The controller bobbed in front of his face with no sign of contrition.

“We don’t have time for this!” Nayna insisted over the airways and he could have kissed her because Ralf’s reaction was automatic: slow things down. The irony was that his reaction was training Nayna had likely given him: when someone wants something in a hurry, that’s a red flag to move with caution.

The gel suit had far less resistance to work against than the old inflatables spacemen used to work with, but even so, the fine delicate hand work was exhausting and he could feel it in his fingers, wrist, and shoulder. His face was noticeably getting warmer, thanks to the extra radiation and his nerves weren’t exactly helping to keep him comfortable. When he missed his socket again and the connector slipped off the tool, he had to stop himself from throwing tool out into the emptiness of space in his frustration, something foolish for any number of reasons. Not the least, of course, was that its loss would make a very difficult job impossible, but also that it was tethered and would probably smack him hard when it bounced back, perhaps even compromise the suit.

With a few Rellimarian curses and careful tongue placement, he managed to slide the connector back onto the tool. Maybe if he got a better angle… Using the handhold, he released his foot from the first foot restraint and slid his other foot into it. That left a free-floating foot, but, if he tucked it behind the other, he was unlikely to kick anything and give himself another repair task. Plus, this way, he had a better angle looking into the other side of the hole.

He sighed. No wonder he was having trouble. He was trying to install the connector upside down. Of course, that meant he had to reinstall the connector in the tool.

As he wrestled with hardware, he listened to her give a perfectly credible rendition of their escape story, only in this case, she wasn’t the mastermind with an incapacitated Bryder. Instead, he was a dastardly villain who had tricked her into loaning her room to the pilot because he was going to seduce her in his ship. She had no experience, she said forlornly with a very believable sniffle, and he said he just wanted to sneak out into orbit to give her taste of zero g sex.

Instead, he had kidnapped her, and, as soon as they had launched, knocked her unconscious. She hadn’t come to until they had come out of jump into a storm that had incapacitated the ship. No gravity, a fraction of life support and transmitter power, no engines. He had to hand it to her, variations on the truth sounded far more plausible, however unflattering they were to him, than total fabrications. And, with that, the second connector clicked into place. He glanced to the side at his Heads Up Display. It had taken him over an hour to get here. He’d better get cracking.

He took a long drag on the drink straw that reached a bag nestled between his shoulder blades and nearly choked when Ralf said, “I’m finding some of this hard to believe. I’ve worked with Bryder for years. Let me talk to him.”

Nayna said, without hesitation. “He’s dead. I spaced him.” Bryder spat it out involuntarily, contaminating his front helmet’s optics. Nor could he clean them again until he was back inside and could remove the helmet.

Shit. Shit. Shit. He had to hurry.

Ideal Insurgent by Stephanie Barr is out now.

A Bite of … Stephanie Barr

Stephanie Barr has a new book out now, Ideal Insurgent.

Q1: This books seems like science fiction. What kind of science fiction is it?

Space opera. All my books are character driven and this one is certainly so. I’m a rocket scientist so I like to keep most of my science pretty science-like, but there are bits that are pretty speculative. Still, the real driver for the story, for the action, for everything are the strong personalities and intelligence of my main characters, Nayna and Bryder.

Q2: What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

My characters are supposed to be uber intelligent–I’ve always favored smart characters–but, in order to challenge them, I had to keep tossing them into impossible scenarios and then, as the author, figuring out how they could work their way out using their brains. Turned out, that was a lot of cleverness I was asked to come up with and I was taxed to the max. Even though smarts, in general, is one of my things.

Q3: I’ve heard (heh heh) that you like to squeeze a cat (or cats) and a dragon (or dragons) into all your books. How did you do so in this?

My cats are in everything. When I do science fiction, they often get to be variations on domestic cats (or wild cats for that matter). In this case, I built on a black Maine Coone and made it a badass fighter called a “methercat.” And my “dragon” is a critter called a were-dog  that looks like a cross between a doberman pincher and a Komodo dragon. It has the personality of a dog but can breathe fire, hence it’s named “Dragon.”


My name is Stephanie Barr and I write books, fantasy and science fiction and combinations thereof. A lot of them. I'm also a rocket scientist, raising my two autistic children as a single mother, and herd a bunch of cats. I have three blogs, which are sporadically updated: Rocket ScientistRockets and Dragons, and The Unlikely Otaku. Anything else even vaguely interesting about me can be found in my writing since I put a little bit of myself in everything I write . . .  

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, on my Blog or sign up for my Newsletter.

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