Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Interview With Lilly Cain & A Giveaway

Lilly Cain’s ALIEN REVEALED is the second erotic science fiction romance launch title from Harlequin’s new digital-first publisher Carina Press. According to the author, ALIEN REVEALED is “the first of a series of novellas about the Confederacy Treaty, the first agreement between humans and an alien race.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lilly Cain about her writing life, her new release with Carina Press, and black sand beaches. And one lucky passenger will win a copy of ALIEN REVEALED (details follow the interview).

3…2…1…blast off!

The Galaxy Express: When did you decide to become a writer, and why?

Lilly Cain: I’ve been writing forever. Or at least it seems that way. I recently found an old scribbler from elementary school in which I was writing a cool fantasy story. If it was a little scarier or a little sexier, I might still have a market for it! Unfortunately I see my spelling hasn’t improved all that much, LOL. In high school my sister, who was a genius in math, was terrible in English class, so I wrote her creative writing assignments for her. It was fun! I “helped” my older sister in the same way in University. :) Then I got busy with life, marriage, kids. Until I decided to take some time off with my second child I never gave the pleasure writing brought another thought. But being home gave me plenty of time to read, and to think. One day I just took up my pen. The ex thought I was crazy. But Heck, he’s the ex now, isn’t he? ;)

TGE: Without going into spoilers, what kind of setting and characters can readers expect from ALIEN REVEALED?

LC: In Alien Revealed, not too long from now in the future, the Inarrii have come to our solar system to negotiate a treaty – their protection for our resources. But humans have never met another sentient race and might not really be prepared to do so. So Inarrii agent Alinna Gaerrii approaches with a certain degree of stealth – until she crash lands smack dab in the backyard of a local human Starforce base. Luckily for her, Major David Brown is there to pull her from the wreckage.

In other words, most of the story takes place in the future, on earth in a military base. :)

TGE: What drew you to a futuristic setting for ALIEN REVEALED?

LC: Actually, I’ll tell you a secret. Alien Revealed wasn’t the first book I wrote about the Inarrii people. First I wrote a book about a Starforce military agent being defended by an alien. Then I realized that there was so much more about the people to be said and I developed a series, including a prequel and a few sequels. The prequel became Alien Revealed. As to why a futuristic setting? All I can really say is that I was playing a game of “What If?” while watching TV. As in I said to myself – well that’s a cool story, but what if she didn’t die? What if he loved her? What if they were in outer space? What if he wasn’t human…and so forth. I think all writers play that game – with TV shows, with other books, with overheard conversations. :) I looked at a story and turned it into something else entirely, something far from the here and now. That’s when I realized how much I wanted to write science fiction romance.

TGE: What was the path to publication like for this book?

LC: Initially I had offered this book to my original publisher, Red Sage Publishing. But they had already picked up the beginning of two different series and their schedule wouldn’t allow a third set from me. So I offered the book to Angela James at Quartet. It was just her thing – a novella, and sci-fi romance! Sadly Quartet was not to be. But when I heard she had joined forces with Carina Press as a part of Harlequin, I sent it to her again – I really wanted to work with her! She was very excited but a little too busy to take it on. It was reviewed by Rhonda Stapleton, an editor with Carina Press, and voila! She loved it. I got a personal call from Angela James after it went through their selection system. That was a delight – I really admire Angela! From there I learned that I would be lucky enough to participate in Carina’s launch and it’s been gold ever since!

TGE: If Alinna and David were going on vacation, where would they go and what would they do?

LC: I think Alinna would take David to visit her home world. She loves it there and would like to show David the black sand beaches and the red mists that surround the many tiny islands on her mostly water planet. It’s a sensual world and I expect they would spend a good deal of it alone with each other. :)

TGE: What’s your approach to balancing the romance/SF/heat elements in your stories?

LC: For me there are three arcs to a story – the romantic and erotic arcs, which are deeply entwined, and the external plot arc. The romantic and erotic arcs are driven very much by the characters. The external plot arc is where the sci-fi or fantasy aspects of my stories are most evident. For instance in Alien Revealed, the back story of the hero is that he is about to take a team of pilots out to defend a colony of settlers headed for the largest moon off of Jupiter. Except he and his team have to pass one more psych test. These are external plot elements.

The basic exception to this method is that, since I write erotic romance, some sci-fi elements can help develop an exotic twist for my erotic arcs. In Alien Revealed, since one member of the couple isn’t human, I can use that to enhance the growth of the erotic relationship. This is a round about way of reminding you just how hot these aliens are, btw. :) Being different can be a very good thing.


TGE: Do you have any favorite science fiction romance books, films, and/or television shows?

LC: Oh yes! I am a big fan of all the Star Trek series, plus I loved Battlestar Galactica, V and so many others. I loved Alien, and so many sci-fi movies. I have enjoyed a number of books in the genre – Moonstruck by Susan Grant, Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair and on the erotic side, Alien Overnight by Robin L. Rotham was a lot of fun! ;)

TGE: Is there anything else you’d like to share about ALIEN REVEALED?

LC: How about a little excerpt?

“I repeat this is Agent Alinna Gaerrii, Unit Nine. Tel sho ahoi. I am in a crash situation.” Alinna called out the codes in Inarrii and in Standard English in case she was picked up by the human military base she was about to crash land on. They shouldn’t be aware of her presence, but under the circumstances, if they did hear her, at least they would likely assume they were getting a garbled report of the now burning airjet on the ground. Thankfully the local dialect had been ingrained in her consciousness after six months of intense monitoring and translation of their communications.

She was going down. Her small observation pod hurtled toward the ground at an ever-increasing rate. Caught in the downdraft of an out-of-control human airjet, her tiny spy craft seemed as doomed as the vehicle that had crashed to the ground in front of her moments ago. Shuddering sensations raced up Alinna’s arms and along her scalp. Her L’inar nerve lines forced her skin up into narrow bands and ridges along her neck and hairline in an instinctual reaction as her concern turned quickly into fear.

Her pod was not meant for this kind of action. A tiny craft rigged to avoid human detection, it was only meant for short-term surveillance. There was barely enough room on board for her long body to lie flat against the monitoring equipment. Her mission was simple—park her ship on the moon and use her pod to observe human behavior—to watch, but not interact. But I am going to interact; they’re going to have to peel my Inarrii skin right off their shiny new Starforce facilities. Sweat beaded on her forehead as Alinna fought again to regain control, wrenching the hand controls up and back until they pressed against her chest.

Warning lights flashed. Her altitude was dropping erratically. “No shit,” she said aloud. Six months of listening to the Humans’ fondness for verbal vulgarity was rubbing off. She’d been observing a heated argument on the ground when the human airjet took her by surprise, veering suddenly off its scheduled course and into the airspace above the woods surrounding the new military base. Swerving right into her path, its engine had disrupted the ultrasonic pulse waves that kept her pod safely aloft. In seconds, the airjet had crashed to the ground and erupted in flames while she watched, unable to do anything other than struggle for control over her own vehicle. The airjet had broken into three jagged pieces; there was little likelihood anyone survived.

The automated emergency beacon started to flash as Alinna gave up trying to recover and instead braced for impact. The tips of treetops snapped hard against the outer shell of her pod, twisting the small craft into a spin. Alinna held on, her heart pounding. Her curving L’inar nerve lines were tight and burning in alarm. The fall took forever, the last of the ultrasonic waves battering the tiny ship against the tall spikes of Earth vegetation. Then, with one sudden stomach-wrenching drop, the craft hit the ground.

Alinna lay stunned inside her pod. For a moment, she ignored the screaming monitors around her. I’m alive. Then the sharp scent of ozone caught her attention. The warnings flashing and beeping around her suddenly had meaning again. She scrambled to unfasten her harness and wiggle her way to the escape hatch at the front of the craft. She snarled in frustration when the latch release refused to operate. Time to get out—now. Urgency flooded endorphins through her body, lending her a full measure of Inarrii strength.

Alinna slammed the hatch completely open as a shudder rippled through the ship. She could smell smoke. Security measures dictated she would need to hide the craft while on alien soil, but she wondered if there would be anything left to hide. She dragged her body through the narrow hatch, grabbing her emergency pouch on the way out. This was so much easier in the escape simulations. Disembarking was simple when she was in the weightless docking bay of her larger vessel—secreted now in a crater on the darker side of the Earth’s moon.

Alinna scrambled to her knees on the thick carpet of vegetation outside her ship. She staggered as she rose to her feet and moved away from the small craft. Taking refuge under the sagging bows of a huge tree, she stared at her ruined vessel. The human airjet had destroyed the ultrasonic wave pattern keeping her aloft, but she could have recovered if she’d been a little higher. But in the business of surveillance, being close was a necessary risk. It was the landing that had wrecked it, the landing and being bounced and smashed against the trees. The branches of the massive vegiforms around her had slowed her enough to save her life, but the pod was done.

A soft breeze brought the acrid stench of smoke. The human airjet was burning nearby and would surely have military attention at any moment. She needed to get rid of the pod and hide. She tapped the skin at the base of her left ear, initiating her internal command unit. Without much hope, she requested total silent mode for the pod. Before her, a shimmer of light flickered over the craft as it attempted to initiate the power field to make it once again invisible to the naked eye or casual scan. She grimaced. Nothing happened. Not surprising, after the beating the vessel took on the way down, she thought.

Kahemnit dal,” she whispered. “Shit.” The human curse sounded more satisfying, and certainly more graphic. An errant breeze flipped a lock of her shoulder-length brown hair into her eyes. She blew it away from her face with a huff of annoyance. I have no choice. I have to destroy the ship. “Tel sho ahoi, sho amnetii.” Alinna used her internal command unit to access her damaged craft’s communication system to signal her people, hidden far away on the secret Jupiter Moon Base. With luck, they would hear her, although she might never know what they thought of her decision. They could not respond to her; any incoming communication held a much higher risk of detection.

“I am initiating sho amnetii gohan yi.” She began the short self-destruct sequence, pursing her lips and hoping it would work. If the ship was too damaged for its last service, she would have to find some way to destroy or hide it herself. That might not be possible, having crash landed on the outskirts of the heavily guarded human Starforce base. She scanned the woods. She was going to need a more secure hiding spot, and soon. If she was discovered by the humans, the mission would be a total loss, spelling disaster for her career and serious trouble for the eventual first contact between the Inarrii and Humans.

Alinna stepped away from the shelter of the tree and shivered as the cool breeze brushed against her legs. She felt wet. Confused, she looked down at her legs and was shocked at the sight of a long rip in the heavy material of her blue flight suit. Blood ran freely from a deep gash in her calf. As if the sight of the injury suddenly made it a reality, pain swept through her body. She staggered. A soft moan slipped from her lips as she realized how badly she was injured. Pain blossomed in her head as well, making her wonder if she’d also suffered a concussion during her abrupt drop to Earth. Before her, waves of heat rose from her tiny spy pod. At least the self-destruct appeared to be working.

She staggered away from the craft, trying to get out of range as it used its own components to create a chemical reaction to reduce it to a tiny puddle of melted plastics. After perhaps a few dozen steps, she fell to her knees. She flicked on her internal comp’s smart mode, since the realization she was about to be unconscious was inescapable. Maybe it could think of a way out of this. At the very least it would continue to gather information. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted the lumbering flight of another human aircraft headed straight toward the crash site, and her.


TGE: What else can readers look forward to from you?

LC: I have an erotic romance novella coming out with Red Sage Presents in October – Building Magic. It is a shapechanger novella about a race of dragons on another world, one in which a civil war is raging and threatening the desert dragons with extinction. It’s a fast paced and exciting story! And as I previously hinted, there is another sci-fi novella on it’s way – Naked Truth, the next in the Confederacy Treaty series following Alien Revealed. No date on that one though at the moment. It is still in revisions. Finally my current work in progress is a sequel to my fist book, Dark Harmony. Entitled Dark Rhythm it is quickly turning into my favorite story to date. :)

For more information on my books, where to buy them or about myself, drop by my website, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook

Thanks for your time, Ms. Cain, and for your art.

Now for the giveaway! To enter for a chance to win Lilly Cain’s ALIEN REVEALED, simply leave a comment for this post. A winner will be picked at random. The deadline to enter is 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 13, 2010.

Joyfully yours,