A.B. Whelan writes young-adult fantasy and sci-fi stories with plenty of romance, action and a hint of religion. She is the author of the award winning Fields of Elysium series. She is known for giving away loads of signed books and unique goodies. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and Google+.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done? I tend to be a little melodramatic, so one time when I was pretty broken up about a guy after he called off our relationship, I went hiking in early June to the top of a range nearby called the Wellsvilles. They're incredibly steep, and just over 9,000 feet--not the tallest range, but, like I said, steep and sheer. The tops of the peaks were still covered in snow in some areas. The very, very top is like this hairline ridge in some spots. I went by myself, to be dramatic, and get some perspective, but it was soooooo dangerous. It was very windy up there and one swift, unexpected gust could have sent me flying down a very steep cliff. No one knew I was there. If I'd gotten hurt, I might have died. At the time I obviously didn't care, because my heart was broken. Ha. These days it's like a daily news feature to hear about some hiker who's disappeared or died in a stupid stunt like I pulled. I'm thankful now that my stupidity didn't kill me. But it could have!
What impact does a bad review have on you?
Usually it lasts for a few hours to a day, but I've learned to roll with the punches. I have coping strategies to help me hear criticism. I'm thankful to any reader who takes the time to review something, but there are those reviews that are no help at all. They're actually the ones that are hardest to deal with. I go through all the expected emotions--why? What does it all mean? Should I even keep writing? And I do, because I'm a fighter and I want to improve. Constructive criticism often presents itself in a negative review and I learn from that. It just takes a few days to digest.
How would you describe your protagonist? The protagonist from Blue Hearts of Mars, Retta Heikkinen, is a fighter. She's young and impressionable, and so she's willing to learn, but she also approaches things with a healthy dose of skepticism. She's a bit of a dreamer and she's definitely a romantic, and sometimes she's dramatic, though she tries to overcome that tendency. Retta's been through some hard stuff, and she's survived by laughing things off and interpreting the world with her dry sense of humor.
What is your dream for yourself as an author? It used to be to earn a living through my writing. Now I'd like to also be able to interact with people who enjoy my stories. It's really satisfying to get a good review from someone who just stumbled across my book and would love to see a sequel. That's an amazing feeling!
Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes. But it's not for everyone. Love is an abstraction, though, and because there's nothing concrete associated with it, it can mean many things for many people. What I believed was love when I was fifteen is so different from what I know of love now.
Do you have a favorite author? Why is he or she your favorite author?
I have a lot of favorites because I love a lot of stuff and it's all different. But if I had to pick just one (or two) to take with me to a desert island, like who's work I'd have unlimited access to, even their new stuff, at this very moment I'd pick Brandon Sanderson and Wallace Stegner. See, world's apart! Brandon is a favorite because he comes up with amazing ideas and he has a unique ability to make the endings of his books absolutely EPIC. I've seriously never seen anything like him before in the history of fantasy writing. Stegner is a favorite because he makes the mundane gorgeous. His books are usually about relationships and his writing is so lyrical it can make me weep.
What inspired you to write Blue Hearts of Mars?
When I wrote down the first lines, I really became intrigued by the idea of what makes us human, and I don't mean just flesh and blood. I think there's something more, and I wonder if it's something substantial or quantifiable? I wanted to see where the ideas took me. Would I be able to come to a satisfying conclusion about what the soul is? I've wondered for a while as our civilization approaches a technological singularity what will happen when we have the capacity to create near-human machines. Is there a threshold where the metaphysical merges with the technological and a soul or spirit suddenly inhabits something we considered almost inanimate? This question has perplexed many people before me, and now it is also my question. I still don't have an answer.
Do you have a favorite YA novel?
Yes, well. I have a lot of favorites. I like a lot of old YA, like stuff William Sleator published when I was growing up. It's so different from what teenagers read now, but Sleator's books are what made difficult physical concepts digestible for me. The ideas in his books blew holes in my mind, in a good way. He made me want to be a theoretical physicist and I still wish I'd gone that route. I also enjoy a good romantic YA book, like Twilight. Shhhh. I know that's heresy these days for so many people. But I read Twilight after a long stint in college where I only read lofty, noble literature, and after a couple years as a copyeditor where I only read badly written manuscripts about religion and how to manage church businesses. So Twilight was an amazing divergence for me. I'm reading more YA than ever before, but I'm also a slow reader these days. There's so many good books out there. I have an endless TBR pile.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
All over! I want to see every place I can before I die. I'm just not very good at traveling, sadly. I subscribe to a site on Facebook called Our Amazing World (or something). They constantly have stuff up about amazing, impossible places. I want to go to them. All of them.
Now that you read criticisms about your work, do you wish you could re-write it and start over or not and why?
In some ways, yes. But I also believe that any artist is constantly evolving. When we look at Jane Austen's early books, there's a visible difference between them and her later books. If Jane had been super annoyed that her first books weren't as articulate and refined as her last books, and she'd never published them because they weren't quite there yet, we might not have Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. Same with Brandon Sanderson's evolution from Elantris (his first book) to The Way of Kings. We see the same thing with the Beatles early albums to their later albums like Abbey Road. You have fans who hate Hard Day's Night and love the White Album, but one might argue that the White Album couldn't exist without Please Please Me. So, I think we should value the early writings of any author, including me. I hope I'm not writing in precisely the same way when I'm forty-five that I am today. That would be sad. I want to grow. But to grow I have to accept who I was two years ago, including the books I wrote then and chose to publish. But, as you know, it's not easy to accept that a work is ever finished. Haha. If I didn't accept that a work was done, however, I'd never publish anything.
Can readers expect more books from you in the future?
Not only yes, but hell yes. I have several works in progress, including a couple novellas and short stories. My plan is to release three full-length novels this year and at least one novella and short story.
About this author
Nicole wrote her first fantasy novel in 7th grade on her mother's old Brother typewriter. It was never finished but it strongly resembled a Dragonlance plot and she's forever wondered what happened to the manuscript and Tonathan--the handsome elven protagonist. After living in Nashville where she worked as an editor, she returned to the Utah desert where she was raised. Nicole now lives near the Wasatch mountains with her husband. She writes and raises her son and three cats full time.
I spent my morning reading reviews of Fields of Elysium on Goodreads and Amazon. I have to admit that I left the computer very emotional. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write such wonderful reviews.
To show my appreciation, I will enter every reviewer’s name, regardless of the number of stars, a $10 Amazon gift card or Paypal Cash giveaway on March 31st. Random Picker will choose a winner.
If you want to win some cash, write a review (no minimum words requirement) for Fields of Elysium on Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes&Noble. I will enter your name for the monthly $10 Giveaway.
Each site you post your review on will equal one entry.
The already existing reviews will be entered repeatedly in the monthly giveaway.
Have a question? Send me an email to authorABWhelan@gmail.com.
"I was a junior in
high school when the most amazing thing happened to me. I met Victor Sorren. I
know this statement sounds anything but special. Girls bump into boys all the
time. But Victor Sorren was no ordinary boy. He was the most fascinating and
gorgeous guy I ever met, and he lived on the New Earth, called Arkana...."
The statement above is a lie, I have
to admit. I only used it to get your attention. By rich I really mean
relatively poor. And by quick I mean in ten to twenty years if you’re lucky,
talented and a hard worker. So why am I being so negative? I’m not really, just
being realistic and trying to set the many aspiring Indie writers’ expectations
appropriately. Why? Because more and more people are telling me that they wrote
a book and self-published in hopes of making some quick cash, becoming a
bestseller, and quitting their day job. I’m not here to shatter those dreams,
but I do want to put things into perspective. I’m also here to shed a little
light on the question: Why is it so hard to get people to buy self-published
books? And along with that, hopefully give a few tips on what I’ve done to
overcome that challenge. Keep in mind, although my success has been moderate as
an Indie author, everyone has a different style and what works for me may not
work for you. You have to find your own niche.
Did I have big dreams when I first
starting writing and publishing? You betcha! I had “bestseller” bouncing around
in my head, dreams of being well known across the industry, of finding a
publisher with my first novel, of quitting my job and becoming a career author!
Well, three years later I’m a fulltime author, but none of the other dreams
have yet to come to pass. But I’m not giving up, because I’ve gained a lot of
perspective and really had time to think about why I write in the first place.
It’s not for the possibility of riches or of a publishing contract or of book
signings or fame or glory…no, it’s simply because I love it! I’d encourage
anyone else who’s thinking about writing a book, already writing one, or having
already published one, to ask yourself the same question. If your answer is
anything other than you love writing, maybe you’re on the wrong track.
So you’ve written and published a
book, woohoo! Success! Right? My answer is a resounding YES! You should be
extremely happy, writing a novel is challenging and doing so should be
considered a HUGE victory. Even if you don’t sell a single copy, you should be
proud. If I sell 10 of my books and you only sell 5 of yours, does that mean
mine’s better? Maybe, but not necessarily. It simply means I’ve had more
success overcoming the stigma that Indie novels have. Namely, that they’re
poorly edited crap that isn’t worth the $0.99 or $2.99 or whatever you pay for
it. On that note, why is getting people to buy self-published novels so
difficult? Here are my thoughts and solutions:
Problem:Editing! Everyone finds typos in novels, even big published
ones. Some people roll their eyes, some people laugh and joke, others barely
notice or ignore it and move on. But most published novels have few, less than
a handful in a 300-400 page book. Indie novels, on the other hand, yikes! I’ve
read a few that have had in the 50-100 range, sometimes more! That can be excruciatingly
painful for a reader. So anytime someone picks up a self-published book
somehow, somewhere, begins reading it, and finds tons of typos, there’s a good
chance it’ll hurt every Indie author.
Because that person’s going to say “Hmm, self-published books are poorly
edited. I don’t know if I’ll read anymore.” We all suffer even though you had
nothing to do with that book!
Firstly, edit edit edit…and then edit some more. Have friends read your books
and give prizes for finding the most typos. Have friends of friends read them.
Hire a professional copyeditor if you can afford it. Read it ten times
yourself. Find every last bugger. Do us all a favor and help erase the stigma.
Because when someone reads a typo-free self-published novel, they’ll say, “Wow,
this had less typos than that big bestselling published book I just read!” And
they’ll realize, there’s more out there than just books from the big publishing
houses, so much more.
Am I just talking about typos here?
Although that’s a huge part, no! There’s so much more to editing. Cleaning up
dialogue, reading it out loud, thinking “would someone really say that?”
Killing excessive use of adverbs, sentence structure, pacing, the list goes on
and on. Edit your book to death until no one can tell it’s a self-published
novel. When people start reading your book, they’ll respect you, they’ll
appreciate your effort, and they’ll be much more likely to tell other people
about it as well as buy your next one.
Secondly, giveaway free copies of
your book! I know, I know, you’ve worked so hard and you deserve to be
compensated. You just have to bite the bullet on this one. The only way to
ensure people will read your book and appreciate all your hard work and your
talent and the painstaking time you took to edit your novel, is to force them
to read it. And if you offer it for free, it will greatly increase your chances
that they will. If you giveaway ebooks it won’t cost you a thing. Maybe they’ll
write you a stellar review, maybe they’ll tell a friend, maybe they’ll buy the
next one. Every book you giveaway has the potential to result in real sales
Problem:The plots of Indie novels don’t make sense! This can
definitely be true sometimes. Hell, my first drafts usually have all kinds of
problems! Unfortunately, many times the bugs don’t get worked out, because,
well, us Indies don’t have a team of eagle-eyed editors to point out the flaws
in our stories. But that’s no excuse, because it’s killing our ability to be
taken seriously in the industry.
Use beta readers. Not just anyone, good ones! People you don’t know, or don’t
know well. Honest people. People who would rather make you cry than let you
publish something that’s not as good as it can be. People who care about your books being awesome. You
can have family and friends beta read for you, but they can’t be your only beta
readers, because it’s much less likely they’ll be completely honest with you. I
recommend having at least ten people, but even five can make a huge difference
if they’re very critical and brutally honest. I say ten because I’ve had an
instance when my first nine betas had already checked in, I’d rewritten and
addressed their comments, and I was just waiting on that tenth reader as a
formality. To check the box and say “Yep, I got all your comments covered
because the other nine said the same thing!” Guess what? That tenth person saw
something that the other nine didn’t see. Something big. Something HUGE.
Something that improved the story and set the plot on a path that I never would
have planned, that made the series a million, zillion times better! Everyone
sees different things, so take every opinion seriously.
Problem:There are too many Indies out there! How do I stand out?
With the creation of ereaders and ebooks, self-publishing has never been
easier. In less than an hour, I could create a book that contains just my name
spelled backwards and forwards over and over again, publish it in print and
ebook, and make it available worldwide. I swear half the people I see joining
the YA book groups I’m a member of on Goodreads are new or aspiring Indie
authors. I think it’s fantastic! But at the same time, it makes it hard to get
noticed. This is a real problem for serious Indies looking to make a career out
Don’t be just another Indie author hawking their wares on the street. If
there’s one thing I’ve learned is that NO ONE is impressed by Indie authors
spamming message boards with rubbish about their books. Become a valuable part
of the book community as a READER, not a writer. Show people you care about
books, writing yeah, reading more, but NOT SELLING. People will notice and they
will respect you, and they might give your books a shot. But if not, who cares?
You might make a new lifelong friend in the process.
Don’t compare your books to other
bestsellers! Your book might be a cross between The Hunger Games and Lord of
the Rings, but don’t say that, please! It’s arrogant and annoying and the few
people that fall for it and read your book will hate you for it if they
disagree with your bold statement. Just be you! Unique.
The advice from the first point
stands here too. If you write well-edited books and giveaway lots of free
copies, you’ll start to get noticed, even amongst the crowds.
Be patient! Those who are trying to
make quick money will realize how hard and competitive the publishing industry
really is and they’ll give up, but if you’re serious and you keep working at
it, publishing more and more books, growing your readership slowly over time,
you’ll outlast the others. I’m not talking days or months here, I’m talking
years. You have to be in it for the long run, looking at success ten years down
the road. Every step you take today is a step in the right direction.
Problem:Indies can’t handle bad reviews! This is an important and
often overlooked stigma. Even I worry about reading Indie novels given to me by
the authors, because what if I don’t like it? Can I give my honest feedback?
Will I hurt their feelings? Will they get pissed off and write me nasty
messages? Sometimes it’s easier just to read the bestsellers because the
authors don’t give a crap whether I like their book—there are a million other
people who do!
Don’t react or respond to reviews in a negative fashion whatsoever. Many Indies
have gotten themselves into a lot of hot water that way, and once you get a
reputation for “reviewer bashing” you’ll never recover. If a review is mean or
you think it’s unfair, write it off as bad luck that the wrong person got ahold
of your book. Never lash out. If you get a review that’s well-written,
balanced, and constructive, read that review ten times over, learn from it,
improve from it. Your readers will appreciate that more than you throwing a
Wow, I fear I’ve run off the virtual
page. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you found my thoughts on the
challenges of being a self-published author, and some of my proposed solutions,
helpful or at least interesting. I wish you all the best in your writing and
publishing endeavors, and remember, never give up!
Happy Reading (and Writing)!
David Estes was born in El Paso,
Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. He grew up
in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to
Sydney, Australia where he met his wife and soul mate, Adele, who he’s now been
happily married to for more than two years.
A reader all his life, David began
writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and has completed 14
novels, 12 of which have been published.
In June of 2012, David became a fulltime writer and is now travelling
the world with his wife while he writes books, and she writes and takes
David gleans inspiration from all
sorts of crazy places, like watching random people do entertaining things,
dreams (which he jots copious notes about immediately after waking up), and
even from thin air sometimes! Recently he’s been inspired by some of his
favorite authors, like Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and Maggie Stiefvater.
David’s a writer with OCD, a love of
dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a
mad-skilled ping-pong player, an obsessive Goodreads group member, and prefers
writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table. He loves responding to e-mails, Facebook messages, Tweets,
blog comments, and Goodreads comments from his readers, all of whom he
considers to be his friends.
Fire Country, Ice Country, and The
Dwellers Saga books are now available everywhere ebooks are sold or in print
via Amazon.com. Also, David pledged when he started writing to always respond
to his readers, and he loves getting comments and questions, so please contact
him using one of his favorite social networking sites below. As always, happy reading!!
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)
Or $199 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)
Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writerhttp://iamareader.com and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
Boring as it may be to admit, I’m actually not a really
exciting person. Unfortunately, I’m not the girl who has ridonkulous stories to
share over martinis—ones about nearly getting arrested, or going to wild
parties, or meeting celebrities (though one time I did see Sugar Ray lead
singer Mark McGrath in an airport—anybody remember Sugar Ray?). I mean, I’m
sure my boyfriend would fully attest to the fact that I’m crazy in a general
sense, but other than that my life is pretty average—in the best way possible.
What impact does a bad review have on you?
I think anyone who puts their work out there to be critiqued
probably goes through a similar set of reactions to negative criticism.
First, there’s the initial anger—“How DARE s/he say bad
things about my book!”
Then, there’s the denial—“This person has no idea what s/he
is talking about!”
And finally—hopefully—there’s the acceptance. And if the
review was in any way thoughtful or explanatory as to WHY the person didn’t
like the book, I know that accepting their opinion will only serve to make me a
stronger writer in the future. Unfortunately, entirely too often bad reviews
are little more than “This book sucks, don’t buy it.” Which is clearly super
helpful. But whatcha gonna do? Not every person is going to like every
book—individual tastes don’t work that way. All I can hope is that, in the end,
there are more people who do enjoy my book than don’t.
How would you describe your protagonist?
Fiery. Passionate. Protective. Street smart. Frugal. Guarded.
Loyal. There are just so many facets to Terra’s personality, I could keep going
What is your dream for yourself as an author?
My ultimate dream is to be able to support myself
writing—and only writing. Currently, I still have a dayjob, but I would
absolutely LOVE to be able to support myself by writing books. I’ve a little
ways to go yet, but the amazing thing about self-publishing in this day and age
is that it makes being able to do exactly that without having to be the next
Suzanne Collins or JK Rowling. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Not exactly. I believe in attraction at first sight.
Intrigue at first sight. And I believe that people can fall very quickly and
very hard for one another if things are right. But LOVE at first sight? That’s
always been a hard pill for me to swallow, and Terra’s the same way. She had to
deal with a lot of stuff in her past, so she’s pretty guarded when she first
meets Adam. But, of course, as soon as he starts to crack her armor… well, you
know how these things go.
What inspired you to write Terra?
I’ve always had a love for young adult fiction, despite the
fact that I don’t think I’m considered a young adult anymore (aw, sad!).
Dystopian fiction in particular appeals to me, because while you can have fun
with creating a world that is really different than our own, there’s always
some threads of reality looped in. So while, sure, our current world hasn’t
been wrecked by plague, and the Earth hasn’t been drained of all its natural
resources, and the rich and powerful haven’t split off into floating skycities.
But, who knows? In a few hundred or thousand years… maybe those things could happen.
And that is what makes dystopian fiction so awesome.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I spent a lot of my childhood growing up overseas. My dad was
in the State Department, so I went to school all over the globe—from Hong Kong
to Poland to Canada to Taiwan—so while there are a ton of places in the world I
still have yet to see, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. So, if I really
could travel ANYWHERE, I’d have to say I want to go… to space. Yep, just give
me $500,000 and I’d be signed up to see the stars via Virgin Galactic’s
commercial space trips like THAT.
Now that you’ve read criticisms about your work, do you
wish you could re-write it and start over or not and why?
You know, it’s not really the critique from others that
makes me think, “Hmm, I wish I had written that differently,” or “Ugh, I wish I
hadn’t said that,” it’s me. It’s when *I* go back and read through the book,
that suddenly I think of a zillion things that I wish I had been able to put
into the book, or worded in a different way, or whatever. But, in the end, I am
completely happy with the book that I published, and I stand by the choices I
made when I decided it was ready to be read.
Can readers expect more books from you in the future?
Absolutely! Terra is just the first book in the Terrestrials
trilogy, so you better believe there’s a lot more to come!
About this author
Half-Chinese and the daughter of a US diplomat, Gretchen Powell spent her childhood growing up in far-off places. She made it all the way to her mid-twenties whilst maintaining her deep-seated love for young adult novels, so she decided to write one of her own.
Her creative process involves copious amounts of Sour Patch Kids and sleeping fitfully. Her many interests include anything with polka dots, Harry Potter, and playing the ukulele.
When she isn't crafting devastated futuristic worlds and fiery heroines, Gretchen also writes a healthy living blog, entitled "Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!"
She lives in Northern Virginia with her two adorable miniature schnauzers. They wear many sweaters.
route to the southern wall takes three times longer than usual. With every
other step, I find myself looking behind me, but by the time I finally reach
the wall, I’m confident I haven’t been followed. I pull the gloves out of my
pocket and put them on to protect myself against any residual water that has
pooled in the wall’s cracks, then begin to climb. As I scramble up, the
moonlight casts an eerie glow on the black brick, making me feel uncomfortably
visible. My anxiety level is high as I reach the top, and I climb down the
other side without checking the ground below. My boot lands in a shallow puddle
of rainwater, splashing up a cascade of droplets that land on the arms of my
jacket with a sizzle.
I yell out, then bite my lip and mentally curse myself for making noise. I leap
out of the puddle and instinctively wipe down my arms with my gloved hands.
Drawing a deep breath, I survey the damage. Fortunately, the thick soles of my
new boots seem virtually unscathed, and there are only a few light scorch marks
on the sleeves of my jacket. My gloves, on the other hand, are completely
those were a good investment,” I mutter under my breath, peeling off what
remains of the gloves and inspecting the pink skin on my palms. My hands feel a
little raw, but they don’t actively hurt. It appears the still-smoking material
of the gloves absorbed most of the damage from climbing. I toss them into the
puddle and offer up a sarcastic salute as they disintegrate, leaving nothing
but decorative metal studs floating on the surface.
her!” The sound is victorious and terrifying. With the flashlight lighting my
path from behind, I immediately understand why. An enormous wall made up of
huge metal panels stands twenty feet in front of me, blocking off the rest of
the tunnel from top to bottom.
A small cry escapes my lips. Barricaded in front, raiders at my back. There’s
nowhere left to run. I reach the wall and pound on it hopelessly, my fists
echoing against the steel. The adrenaline that has been propelling me drains
from my body as my impending defeat washes over me. A muffled ringing fills my
ears, pressing against my brain, and I feel an icy chill in my cheeks, which
should still be hot from the chase. The throbbing rhythm in my head calls forth
a cool darkness that begins to seep into the edges of my consciousness.
surge of light suddenly blinds me. Strong arms wrap around me, wrenching me
from the wall. The arms are bare; I can feel the smooth skin against my own. I
wonder with detached interest why the raiders would take off their jackets
after going through the trouble of using masks and gloves up top.
instincts tell me to struggle but it just seems so futile, I simply let my
captor pull me back. Through the fog of the spreading blackness, I hear screams
Why are they mad? They’ve caught me.
am shoved from behind and burst through a door into impossible sunlight. I
blink rapidly; my eyes, adjusted for the blackness of the tunnel, burn in
response to the sudden brightness. I reach up to rub them and find them wet.
The light must be making them water. Yes, that must be it.
heavy hammering echoes from behind me, fists banging against metal, but the
darkness and pain in my head has consumed me. I spin around just in time to see
bare arms reaching for me, before I crumple to the ground.
I’m sorry,” he says, grabbing my arm as he catches up. “I didn’t mean to upset
you. Sometimes I don’t think about my words before I say them, and things come
out wrong. But I wasn’t trying to offend you.”
spin around to face him, throwing his grip off my arm. “You don’t know me!” I
say. I am alarmed at the prickle I feel in the back of my throat, a precursor
to tears that I refuse to let him see. “You don’t get to know me. And you definitely don’t get to judge me.”
wasn’t, Terra.” He calmly steps toward me. “It’s not my place to judge, and
even if it were, I would never judge you for being independent. You’re so
defensive. I’m just saying that I admire your ability to take care of yourself.
I should probably add it to my notes, to be honest.” He offers me a grin.
“You admire me?” I say skeptically. I want
to step away from him, but the Intheria statue’s large stone base blocks my
think you are strong.” He reaches his hand to my face and, surprisingly softly,
brushes a lock of hair behind my ear. His fingers linger as they reveal the
bruise underneath my hairline. “And I’m sorry this happened to you.”
don’t know if he’s talking about my bruise or something much greater than that.
A lump rises in the back of my throat. The heel of my boot presses against the
statue’s base and, before my mind can tell it not to, my body folds itself into
Adam’s arms. He leans into my weight, surprised, but in an instant has wrapped
his arms around me. I stand there, pressing my cheek against his chest. The
steady rhythm of his heart pulses against my ear.
like sunsets are growing on you,” he says with a laugh.
hear Adam’s voice calling to me faintly. Beyond my name, I can’t make out most
of what he’s saying; a mechanical rumbling drowns out his words. I don’t
understand the sputtering sound, which is growing louder, until Adam turns a
corner and barrels into my line of sight.
sits astride a motorized bike-style transport vehicle, with one wheel in front
and two in the back. How the hell he got its centuries-old motor to run is
beyond me. What remains of the paint tells me that the bike was originally
black, though the shell that would customarily cover the engine is missing. At
least that explains why it’s so loud. Adam is yelling over the buzz of the
bike, but I can barely hear him. He races toward me with no signs of slowing
lunge to the side as he rushes past me, nearly mowing me down. My shoulder hits
the side of an abandoned vehicle that’s been pushed up onto the sidewalk, and I
scrape my elbow as I fall onto the broken pavement. Outraged, I wrap my fingers
around a chunk of rubble that has landed next to my arm. I am about to hurl the
rubble in Adam’s direction when I hear the second transport round the corner.
I even have time to react, the raiders’ transport has begun to slow down, only
yards away from me. The truck’s wagon is empty; two of the raiders sit inside
the vehicle’s cab. Convinced that they’ve spotted me, I crawl around the
vehicle I fell against, my heart pounding as it anticipates another chase. A
few moments pass, and I can hear that the truck is still moving. I risk a
glance back through the vehicle’s broken windows and realize I’m not the reason
the raiders have slowed down.
the end of the street, trapped between the raiders’ truck and a barricade of
abandoned vehicles, is Adam. He faces away from the raiders, who angle their
truck to block the street; only a sliver of sidewalk remains open, but I doubt
it’s wide enough for the motorbike to fit through. Does he not realize how
close they are? With his back to them, he is a sitting duck.