Today we are welcoming author Diane Morrison into the fray for a little chat before we take a look at her new novel. Welcome, Diane!
SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.
DM: Shaundar Sunfall is a young Star-Pilot in the Avalonian Imperial Navy. In his universe, this is an interstellar navy with magically-powered Age of Sail ships. He is a mixed-race elf in a traditionally segregated society, and this, among other reasons, makes him an outcast and a troublemaker. He’s also quite intelligent and a bit of a nerd. He’s looking to prove himself, so he lies about his age to join the Navy when war is declared. He’s the type of protagonist who does more fighting with his brain than his fists – although one often can’t avoid such things entirely.
SC: Sort of an elfCIS. Like that. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?
DM: I am a real-life practicing witch. Where would you like me to start? LOL
Okay, I’ll tell you about what inspired me to become a witch. I used to be a very scientifically-minded child, who didn’t believe in such things. I had a dream when I was ten that came true. In that case, it was about having a writing room in my closet. Having forgotten completely about the dream, I built one six months later, and then a friend reminded me of the dream.
One might naturally assume that I got the idea subconsciously from my dream, and that’s what I thought at first too. But this dream was followed by several others. Here was the most intense one that solidified my belief:
I dreamed that I was late for the school bus in the morning, which came to the bottom of the hill I lived on. I knew I had to catch the second of three busses. The first one came and went. I started running down the hill, and for some reason, my dad ran after me, trying to open a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. But I saw the second one pull up, and start to leave, and I said, “Too late; I’m never going to make it now.” The dream ended.
By this time, I’d had enough of these dreams that I was waiting for the morning school bus early. But there were no problems, so I dismissed this as an anxiety dream.
But it was Friday, and on Fridays, instead of taking the second of three busses home, I took the second one. And I got kicked off the bus because a bully tripped me getting on, so I whacked him with my lunch kit. My dad had to pick me up, and guess what we had for lunch?
As I’ve gotten older, these dreams have come less frequently, and always about more important matters where real pain or emotional significance is involved. But I always appreciate them when I get them, and more than once, they have saved my life.
SC: So, your kitchen is stocked with Campbells, right? LOL. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?
DM: I’m currently in the final edits for book 2 of the Toy Soldier Saga, To Know Your Enemy. And I’m rewriting book 3, Brothers in Arms. I also have several short stories on the go; I was recently accepted into SFWA through my pro short story sales, and my family wisely recommended I write more of them.
SC: Well, thanks so much for dropping by today. Let’s take a look at your book now.
All about on the decks of the Queen’s Dirk, the crew were running and screaming. There were too many dead and wounded to count, and the Chiurgeons had elves spread out over the tables in the mess, the garden, even the Captain’s bed.
Shaundar sensed Lieutenant Sylria on the remains of the fo’c’sle, now mostly a debris field, commanding the mages to ready spells and the weapons crews to continue their attack. He could also see the gravity well of the Vengeance, just now coming about on their starboard side, though he was certain that it had been much longer than they needed.
“I have the helm!” Shaundar cried.
“Get us out of here, Shaundar!”
He turned his head and studied the rapidly oncoming Balorian ship through both the hole in the starboard wall, and Queenie’s senses. Even with Sylria’s magical boost, he knew this to be hopeless.
“I can’t do it, Sylria,” he said in a hollow voice. “They’re just too fast.”
Sylria looked down at her feet for a long moment. She squared her shoulders. “Then we shall die with honour.”
Shaundar nodded. Amazingly, there was no fear, just sadness, that he would not see his family or Narissa again. “Sails, evasive manoeuvres!” Shaundar commanded. “Hard down!”
As the insectoid ship neared, it closed those claw-like limbs to grapple them. But under Shaundar’s power and direction, they dodged the attempt. Shaundar saw a whole army of armoured Balorian warriors pour out onto the deck and stand to the rails.
Sylria shrieked, “Mages, fire!” and she let off a lightning bolt herself. There were only a couple of elves left alive topside to obey Sylria’s command, but they responded. Flames and electricity washed over the orcs, enough that it stopped them in their tracks and aborted their boarding attempt.
“Bring ‘er about,” Shaundar ordered. “Hard astarboard!”
Queenie answered sluggishly with all the shorn rigging and shorthanded crew, but she came back around. As they swooped back towards each other, Sylria’s command rang out. Defiantly, the Queen’s Dirk fired another volley.
The Balorians greeted it with a broadside of their own as they both swung starboard at the last moment. The larboard ballistae both missed, but two of the three others dented the hull. The third pierced it once more on their larboard side with a ringing tear of sheet metal.
Their catapult did not fire at all. Whether it was because it was damaged, or because there were too few crew left to man it, Shaundar would never know.
The decapitated Vengeance had only one gun it could bring to bear on the pass, but it fired that larboards bombard at point blank range. The fo’c’sle simply collapsed like a sandcastle. Sylria was swallowed into the sinkhole. Shaundar roared in horror and pain but could not hear his own voice in the overwhelming noise.
There was no sail crew left to command, but hoping against hope, Shaundar bellowed anyway,
“Hard aport!” The mizzenmast was shorn away, and he knew it, but knowing there was nothing else to be done, he yelled out, “Prepare to ram! All hands brace for impact!” just as Garan had attempted.
He didn’t flinch as the Queen’s Dirk collided head-on with her foe.
About the Author:
Diane Morrison lives with her partners in the Okanagan Valley, BC, where she was born and raised. She has been published in SFF markets such as Terra! Tara! Terror!, Air & Nothingness Press, and Cossmass Infinities. Under her pen name “Sable Aradia” she is a successful Pagan author, a musician, and a Twitch streamer and podcaster. She likes pickles and bluegrass, and hates talking about herself.