The Descendant

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Melissa Riddell and her science fiction/romance novel, The Descendant.

Author’s description

She wants her world back; he wants her heart.

Tilly Morgan and her four-legged companion, Kodiak, are just trying to survive the alien arrival. Two years ago, the visitors unleashed devastation—a world-wide EMP followed by a deadly virus that wiped out more than half of humanity.

Traversing the lonely landscape, she runs into an alien on patrol with one order: eradicate all human life. A mysterious, dark-haired stranger named Jareth comes to her aid, and she reluctantly allows him to join her quest to find her sister. He even persuades her to let the damaged alien tag along against her better judgment.

As her group travels the desolate world and inches closer to her goal, she’s forced to examine her unwanted feelings for Jareth and come to terms with her heart, even if the truth threatens to destroy her and everything she’s come to believe.

Guest Post: Predicting Pandemics

It’s hard for a science fiction writer not to be taken aback by the unexpected events of 2020. Given that, I asked author Melissa Riddell to share her thoughts on the difficulties of writing science fiction that occurs in the near future.

Here is her fascinating response!

When I wrote The Descendant last year, I had no idea we were going to have our own viral outbreak in the real world. Even though my book’s apocalypse starts with an electromagnetic pulse wiping out all electronics and electricity, it also throws in a deadly virus killing most of humanity. With The Descendant, though, Tilly and Jareth’s romance and character development is at the heart of the story, so the virus takes a backseat to the true narrative.

There have been many apocalyptic books written where a virus is the driver to end times, such as Stephen King’s The Stand, and most readers (me included) gobble them up because we feel safe. We enjoy imagining what it would be like to survive the chaos—from the comfort of our favorite reading chair with our favorite beverage at our side.

The only true danger after reading these apocalyptic novels was developing a sniffle during the reading. We might’ve rushed to the clinic and explained what Mr. King called this type of sickness. “Oh, sweet Jesus, I think I’ve got Captain Trips.”

Calmly, the doctor informed me—uh, I mean those readers—they were suffering from allergic rhinitis, nothing more. He might’ve shaken his head and walked away, probably adding the patient to his psychosomatic list. And he was right—a little loratadine or cetirizine cleared Captain Trips right up. I digress, though.

Enter 2020 and COVID-19. Now that the world has had a tiny taste of living through a real pandemic, some readers want no reminders of what’s going on. Their whole purpose of reading a book is to escape reality. This poses problems for this type of near-future sci-fi and kills the “joy” factor.

On the flip side of that coin, the other crowd loves it, because they can relate to the book’s characters in a much more intimate way. Heck, they might even read it again to ensure they didn’t miss any tips on how to survive the virus.

Any writer trying to “cash in” on the current pandemic is probably going to find their book in one of these two crowds—those who love it  because of what we’re living through, and those who detest it due to the current situation. My advice? Write your story. Even if it’s not popular right now, every genre experiences fluctuations in popularity, so who knows? Maybe a few years down the road, when we hopefully have COVID-19 under control in our past, those who passed over the book might be willing to give it a try.

In general, without the viral threat we’re facing, I think the difficulty in writing near-future sci-fi technology is in the technicality of the world or gadgets. If the story’s setting or tech is based on proposed developments, say in 10-30 years, then it’s imperative the writer does his or her research. Why? Because the technology isn’t that far away, and the author must prove to the reader they know what they’re writing about. Imagine getting it all wrong, and in a few years, the book is outdated and unbelievable. That’s not a good thing for the writer—or the reader.

In my opinion, it’s much easier to write science fiction for the far-off future or an advanced race, because I can make up stuff that can’t be disproven so easily. As long as I stick to fundamental laws of physics and biology (as we know it), then I can create the “fiction” part of science fiction and hopefully, the reader will happily come along for the ride.

About the Author

Melissa Riddell is from a small, West Texas town in which she still lives with her husband. Her writing career started as a hobby when she was a teenager, writing poems and short stories. Eventually, she branched out and began constructing novels. When not contemplating new story ideas, she can be found traipsing around Texas State Parks, herding her cats, or reading a book.

You can follow her on several different social media platforms below.
Facebook: facebook.com/melcriddell
Twitter: twitter.com/MelCRiddell
Instagram: instagram.com/averela
Goodreads: goodreads.com/melcriddell

Or visit her on her website.

Buy The Descendent on Amazon

The book will be $0.99 during the tour.

Yes, there is a giveaway

Melissa Riddell will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card, a signed copy of The Descendant (book 1), or an ARC of the second book in the series to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Walking down a long, metallic corridor, the hall opens, and I see people sitting at terminals or standing on discs.

Visual readouts project holographic images at the stations. Some of the crew wear visors over their eyes and move gloved hands to swipe at virtual images of the triangular ship and the solar system. When Eva passes their stations, several follow the procession with guarded faces.

The back of a chair rests in the middle of the spacious room. Before the seat is an enormous window that looks out into space.

One soft, polished boot dangles over the side of the chair. Long, deft fingers drum a beat on the black coat that covers the knee.

Freaking, evil granny. I should’ve known she wouldn’t keep her nose out of my business.

In slow motion, the chair swivels in my direction.

I want to crawl and hide. Instead, I stand and stare like the idiot I am.

Ashes and Blood

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Katie Zaber and her fantasy novel Ashes and Blood.

Author’s description:

“I’ll start at the beginning. Long ago, before roads, before we built structures, before medicine was discovered, before the government was created, before man gained any knowledge, there were The Five. Independent from each other, The Five had a mutual respect for one another. They knew their roles in the world and their duty. They were gods…”

An adventure begins when an otherworldly tree captures the attention of Megan and her friends. The environment morphs around them, transferring them to an exotic planet. Stuck in a rural town still maimed by the plague, a chance encounter with a familiar face gives Megan and her friends some security during their adjustment period.

While settling into new, promising lives, they are attacked and stalked by planet Dalya’s humanoid inhabitants, who focus on Megan. One dark night, after an epic, magical attack, the Fae King’s knight is sent to fetch Megan. When she wakes up a prisoner, she learns that there is much more to this strange world, and it is oddly more like her own than she ever would have expected.

About the Author

Katie Zaber writes new adult fiction. With multiple projects spanning from being transported to an alternate universe, to past lives, reincarnation, and trapped souls, to prophesied pregnancies—there are more stories to tell. She lives in North New Jersey with her boyfriend.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Dalya-Series-110665970357251
Website: https://zaberbooks.com/

Buy the Book on Amazon

Yes, there is a giveaway.

The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn commenter.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops.

If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

 My Favorite Excerpt

Megan

Today has been a whirlwind, and I’m not looking forward to tonight. I’m positive the elite members of society will flaunt their latest ensembles. A competition among the wealthy to win a proverbial pat on the back for the best dressed. A sport for the rich. They won’t work up a sweat—that’s for the poor. Instead, they compete with wits and money. Women prancing around wearing cage ball gowns, adorned with priceless jewels. Their main goal is to uncover juicy gossip while competing for the wealthiest bachelor. Men swirling this world’s version of expensive scotch talk business and watch women swoon. It can’t be very different from Earth’s aristocratic affairs, not that I ever attended. Movies and the internet displayed enough information to know what to expect.

I had assumed it would be a rather humdrum affair, but my opinion changes quickly, standing before the colossal golden doors. Realization hits me. I am so naïve.

It feels like I’m walking into a fairy tale, but the darker Brothers Grimm version.

Beautiful, handcrafted, golden double doors depict a grand party. Intricate artwork chiseled into the doors displays two long banquet tables of food, roasts on fancy platters, piles of vegetables, and dainty desserts. Between the buffet tables, people adorned with masquerade attire dance. They wave, inviting everyone to the party. Guests laugh, drink, and enjoy themselves under the watchful king. The artwork depicts the king having fun, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he studies everyone, meticulously watching individuals, judging their personality, appearance, and demeanor while in his presence. A crooked smile peels his lips back—it hints at his sly and cruel nature. I can’t help but look at the doors and realize this is a perfect portrayal of what awaits me.

Instead of a warm welcome, it’s a stern warning.

 

Day 14: Magical ride

Yesterday was so exhausting that I sleep for nine hours on an air mattress without waking up once, while the soft slow bass of far off electronic music mixes with the wind and dust outside my tent. I wake to a chaos of supplies I dumped randomly, in the hope that I would wake with the energy to sort through it. I do, and, after a cup of coffee, I do.

This day is as dusty as yesterday, with short bursts of almost no visibility. I’m determined to survive in this and I fill the day with getting settled in to my camp and doing a little preliminary exploration. The beach bike I have brought to the playa is perfect, its fat tires riding smooth and sturdy over the desert.

As twilight comes, the winds stop, and the world takes on a carnival glow. Color is everywhere, blinking and twinkling in the most unexpected of shapes. My camp mates invite me out for a bike ride on the deep playa, that place away from the campers where art cars roam and art installations glitter, waiting to be admired.

Today’s rule of the road? Don’t let a day determine for you how the evening will go. I shrug off my dusty scarf and join them.

Our first stop is at the DMV, Department of Mutant Vehicles, where many of the art cars are lined up waiting to get their permits to roam. Yes, even at Burning Man one stands in line to get a permit.

We pause to take in their beauty, then we head out, each stopping to admire whatever shiny thing takes our fancy. Groups seldom stay together out here, as I learn, but often find themselves magically reuniting.

Magic is the word of the night for me. The world around me has turned from a dust bowl into a dream of a fantasy tale set in a science fiction world created by a magician. It goes on as far as my eyes can see, with a depth and scale no screen could capture.

I stop my bike and just stare, somewhere between amazement and disbelief.

Many camps near the edge of the open playa offer drinks or dancing. One has set up a roller rink.

Music of all kinds plays around me. I am surprised by the number of classic rock tunes I recognize as they mix with the ever present dance music. I hear this particular old favorite at least twice, and deem it the song of the day.