Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Australian Ladies of Sci-Fi Romance: S.E. Gilchrist

[This week, The Galaxy Express is profiling a number of Australian sci-fi romance authors. I'm pleased to welcome aboard Ros Baxter, Amanda Bridgeman, S.E. Gilchrist, Donna Maree Hanson, Anna Hackett, Shona Husk, Nicole Murphy, and Yolanda Sfetsos.

Each informational post will focus on one of the authors and will feature a cover and blurb. Social media links will be at your fingertips so you can learn more about these lovely ladies and their work. Enjoy!]

Welcome and thank you for dropping by.  I'm S. E. Gilchrist and I write science fiction and contemporary romances for New Adults and Adults.  My latest project is the New Adult series, the Mars Academy which consist of five novellas that combine science fiction / space exploration, action, adventure and romance.  The series is set approx one hundred years in Earth's future where mankind has long ago colonised the planet, Mars now inhabited in the main by 3rd generations Martians.  The overall story arc is the mission is to locate and claim a resource rich / Earth like planet in the name of the Earth Republic.  However, the struggling Mars colony has aspirations of complete independence from the yoke of Earth and plans of their own.

On board the Columbus are:

·       Senior officers and crew members from the Earth Republic

·       Crew members from the prestigious Mars Academy
·       Members of the Earth Republican Army
·       And sleeper members of the revolutionary force, the Independent Territory of Mars.

The first book, Stranded, kicked off the series on 30 January 2015.

The second book, Cosmic Fire, was released on 29 April 2015.  Plans are for the third book, Cosmic Force, to be released in August 2015.

COSMIC FIRE (The Mars Academy #2) – S.E. Gilchrist


The Mission – find and claim a new earth

Ensign Dana Lawson of Sector Seven fire team on the star ship, Columbus, has one goal: her own command. On an exploratory mission to Alpha Centauri A, she has the opportunity to earn her stripes, but instead faces a challenge that threatens to send her plans up in smoke.

Rick Morgan, a guy with heartbreaker imprinted in his DNA, the warmest smile and the bluest eyes she’s ever seen, ignites a fire inside her heart. He is trouble, on every level…and he’s brought his dangerous past with him.

Now a saboteur has Dana and Morgan in his sights. Together, they must learn his identity before he strikes again and kills them both…or destroys the ship and everyone on board.

Excerpt Cosmic Fire © S. E. Gilchrist

Exasperated, I slapped fifty-two cred-bots into the guard’s open palm. I turned smartly on my heel and planted my hands on my hips, staying well clear of the energy shield imprisoning the partner I’d been assigned the moment I’d boarded the exploratory star ship, the Columbus.
“I swear this is the last time I’ll bail you out.”
Looking totally unrepentant, Rick Morgan grinned. “What can I say, Dana? The party got a little out of hand.”
I decided not to argue about Morgan’s continued use of my first name. Being the same rank, our team usually referred to each other by surname or a call-sign. Or at least they used to; now a lot of them used first names. The further we travelled from Earth, the more we became like family.
Personally, I preferred calling my partner Morgan; it kept him at a distance.
“Somehow I find that hard to believe. And I bet you had nothing to do with spray-painting pictures of flowers all over the outside walls of the captain’s sitting quarters.”
Captain Sanchez was the Man, the one who ruled the ship. I’d never met him but I’d heard from others he was considered a good leader. Hard but fair. Rumours were he’d been laid low with some kind of virus for the past week and hadn’t made it out of the infirmary for the last four days.
It made me shudder to think how he’d react when he saw those flowers. Anyone less touchy-feely was hard to imagine. The Man was military as far back as his great grandfather.
Jaw clenched so hard my bones ached, I stepped out of the way as the guard crossed the room to the controls and shut down the shield.
“Hey, I thought he might need a little cheering up.” Morgan shrugged.
Barely suppressing his grin, the guard said, “He’s all yours.”
I cringed inwardly at the thought. “Come on then, Morgan. Let’s get out of here.” Without waiting to see if he followed, I stalked through the open door and along the passageway leading to the chutes. I punched the level4G button on the panel and waited.
The lift took its sweet time.
As did my partner.
When he finally slouched to a stop beside me, I swung around and stabbed my right forefinger into his chest. “You’re unreliable. I’m requesting another partner the first chance I get. I need someone who’ll watch my back.”
He brushed my hand aside. A tiny smile twitched the corners of his mouth. “That’s a bit harsh, dontcha think?”
The chute doors opened and I was hit with a wall of noise. It was packed and change of shift time.
Shoulders stiff, I squeezed inside to find myself sandwiched between a six foot tall woman of African-American descent who I recognised worked in engineering and Morgan who plastered himself up against my back. The idiot performed a little suggestive doggy movement.
He’s so annoying. I slapped his arm.
“Friend of yours?” The engineer, with the name Anne Johnson on the tag perched on the shelf of her large boobs, quirked an eye brow and grinned. Her gaze did a quick sweep of—yes, I hated to admit it—Morgan’s impressively wide shoulders and lean physique. I guess his curly, light-brown hair was kinda attractive. Added to that, he had baby-blue eyes with awesomely long, dark lashes which he flashed in the direction of every female over eighteen.
“No. Partner,” I admitted sourly.
“Lucky you.”
“If you like morons.”
Behind me, Morgan quipped, “She’s always grumpy first thing in the morning.”
The other woman laughed. A great booming sound that cut through the din and had heads turning to stare inquisitively at me. I cringed. I’d never liked being the centre of attention. My favourite place was the background. I’d always fancied myself as being a bit of a dark horse. The run-in. The one everyone least expected to win the race. It was better that way. People left you alone. And that was just the way I liked it.
Face flaming, I snapped, “I’d be a site happier if I hadn’t handed over the last of my pay to get you out of the slammer.”
“Ooooh, tough night?” Sympathy was like warm honey in the engineer’s voice. Over the top of my head, the other woman eyed Morgan with gleaming eyes. As if he was a tasty side of beef.
Lapping it up, Morgan whimpered pathetically. “You have no idea. I could tell you all about it later. How about we connect after my shift?”
“Here’s my code.” A shooting star couldn’t move any faster. The engineer snapped up her cuffs on her left hand to reveal the tiny, square part metal/part organic plate that held her id. Everyone on board wore this plate where our identification and other pertinent personal information had been implanted. And in case, we had our arms chopped off for any reason, the same intel was implanted in a microchip behind our right ears.
Johnson raised her hand in the air. I flinched sideways as my partner’s wrist made contact with the engineer’s, two inches from my ears. A faint zap of energy as the pair exchanged numbers and the deal was done.
Wishing I was anywhere but here, I stood between the two possible future lovers and attempted to shrink smaller inside my clothes.
Trust Morgan to use the situation to his advantage. The guy must have tom-cat in his DNA. Eight months since we’d set off on our mission and during that time I’d seen at least three different girls hanging off his arms in the past fortnight alone. Oh yes, I definitely needed a new partner.
Finally, the doors whooshed open to level4G.
I elbowed my way onto the passageway. With one swift tug on my jacket to ease out any possible wrinkles that may have dared mar my starched olive-green uniform, I marched off in the direction of the break room.
The rest of the brigade team for sector seven, a group of thirteen men and women of varying ages, were already assembled when I strode through the double doors. Murmuring greetings to my fellow fire-fighters, I wound through the occupied benches bolted to the floor and found an empty seat near the back.
I sat, angled my feet shod in heavy, anti-gravity boots, neatly together side-by-side. Flicking a minute speck of fluff off the black insignia, branded with a red M for Mars Academy, that encircled my upper left sleeve of my jacket I fixed my gaze on our commander manning the front desk.
It was unusual for him to address a standard sector meeting. Normally our Sector Officer, Beth Shawoski, was the one who laid out our programme for the week. But I’d heard a rumour in the mess only last night that our ratings were down. Worse, our sector team flagged behind the others in the areas of tactical response time and team coherency. I surmised the commander was here to lay down the rules and tell us to pick up our game.
Morgan followed and plonked down. He shimmied closer until our thighs touched. He stretched out his legs, hogging all the space.
Compressing my lips, I wriggled to the left.
He wriggled to the left.
Now I was sitting on the edge of the bench. If I moved any further I’d fall and land on the floor on my backside. Without lifting my gaze from our boss, I elbowed Morgan sharply in the ribs, smiling when he gasped.
Heads turned, some firies grinning, some scowling, hissing at us to be quiet.
Taking the not-so-subtle hint, Morgan finally slid across the bench leaving a decent space between us.
“Are you ready down the back there?” Commander Jones beetled his grey-flecked brows as he glared towards me.
“Yes, sir.” Positive my face was now cherry red, I sat up even straighter.
Morgan was such a shit-stirrer. Thirty-five weeks I’d known him – but who’s counting?—and already he’d gotten me into more hot water than I’d ever been in my entire life. I didn’t need his kind of trouble.
I knew what I wanted—captain bars on my shoulders and my own command. And no hot-shot firie was going to get in my way.
Leaning back in my chair, I shoved my hands into my pants pockets not bothering to suppress my grin. Dana would have to be the prickliest and sexiest chick I’d ever met. She acted all stiff and proper, but I’d bet my last cred-bot she was a real fire-cracker in the sack.
As usual, she’d come to my rescue, bailing me out yet again from the slammer. Yeah, she was a real sweetheart, kind and generous under that businesslike manner she wore like a uniform.
It bothered me more than I was comfortable with admitting, how horny I felt whenever I was around her. It also worried me how much I enjoyed teasing her and watching her rise to the bait. She was my work partner. That was all. And that was all it ever was going to be; mixing sex on the job never ended well.
But a guy could still look and look I often did when she was about. With her shiny brown hair that I longed to run my fingers through, and those sherry-coloured eyes, and those pouting pink lips, she was worth looking at. But, hell yeah, I wanted to do more than look. I wanted to peel off that uniform and take my time over the gorgeous body I knew hid beneath.
Damn it. I had it bad. 
I shifted on the chair.
Up front, Jonesy fixed me with his laser-like stare and I quickly wiped the smile from my face. When he resumed his lecturing, my mind wandered. But my thoughts didn’t go far.
Like they always did, they zoomed onto the one issue that had dominated my life for so long I’d forgotten what living without it would be like. Dad. Mum. My kid sister. The desperation of surviving on Mars with limited funds and massive medical bills.
There’d been no response to the message I’d sent the Company before we’d departed. Now we were way beyond any communications reach with either the Earth Republic or Mars. I had no way of knowing what was going on back home. No way of knowing whether there’d been any ramifications from my message. Or whether it had all been a wasted effort on my part. 
My gut churned as clammy sweat broke out along my spine.
I hated the thought of my return from this mission.
Of what I’d find.
Or rather, what I wouldn’t find.
Maybe it would be better if I never returned home.
If none of us ever went back.

About the author

SE Gilchrist lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley of Australia with her family and pets. She writes in the genres of science-fiction, ancient history, apocalyptic and contemporary rural romances and loves combining romance with adventure. The author of over fifteen books, SE is also passionately interested in animal welfare/rescue, the environment, bushwalking and kayaking.