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PRISM 2016 FinalistToday, I am pleased to welcome Michelle Diener, author of Dark Horse and 2016 Prism award finalist in the Futuristic category.  Dark Horse was one of my favorite reads of 2015.    I guess that award committee has excellent taste!

Michelle, nice job on becoming a Prism award finalist!  Thank you for joining us today.

Will you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in Australia with my husband and children. I write full time now, but I started my working life with a Masters Degree in Translation, working as an editor for a distance education college. It was a perfect job for me, because I’ve always had very wide interests, and I was editing course work on computer science, electronics and horticulture to name just a few. I moved into publishing law and tax books for a large academic publisher (as you can see, I’ve always loved books and the written word) and then finally, because I also got a BCom majoring in information systems along the way, I ended up working in the IT field. I love traveling, and have lived in a number of countries in my life.

Tell us about the Prism Awards.
The Prism Awards are given to the winners of the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Writers Chapter contest for published works at the Romance Writers of America conference each year. There are a number of categories, and DARK HORSE, my science fiction romance, has been nominated a finalist in the futuristic category.

What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always written, and it was most definitely because I loved how books were able to transport me to a whole new world. I loved that feeling and I wanted to create it myself.

What are some of your favorite books?
Anything by Jane Austen. I’ve reread her so many times. Anything by Iain M.Banks, whose books were my first real dip into the science fiction genre. All of Terry Pratchett’s works. And I love Patricia Brigg’s Alpha and Omega and her Mercy Thompson series, Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series and JD Robb’s In Death series. I also am a huge Agatha Christie and Mary Stewart fan.

Where did you get your inspiration(s) for Dark Horse?
It honestly came to me out of nowhere. I had already been working on another science fiction idea (which I’m really excited about) but Sazo and Rose and their complex relationship kept interrupting, until I set everything aside and worked on it. The concept of having someone extremely powerful but unstable as your only ally was so interesting and fun, I just couldn’t stop until the story was finished. And then it wasn’t really finished, so I wrote Dark Deeds, and I am now writing the final book in the trilogy, Dark Minds.

If you found yourself out in the part of space populated by the worlds of the United Council (from Dark Horse), what race would you want to meet first?
Hard one! Gosh, I think the Bukari, because they’d tell me everything I needed to know. They seem to be much more chatty and open than everyone else. 🙂

What are you reading now?
I’ve just finished reading Shades of Treason by Sandy Williams, one of my fellow Prism finalists, and it was terrific.

Michelle, feel free to add anything else that you would like people to know about you or your books.
Readers who are interested in finding out about me and my books can go to michellediener.com for more information, and to sign up to my new release notification list which I use to announce my new releases. They can also find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michelle.diener.author/ or Twitter: @michellediener. I also hang out at magicalmusings.com, the group blog I share with a bunch of awesome authors.

Michelle, thank you so much joining us today.  Best of luck in the Prism award finals!



I reviewed Dark Horse for Smart Girls Love SciFi Romance.  If you are interested, you can take a look here.


And now, here is an excerpt from Dark Horse:

About a ton of fluffy, gray-white fur and extremely large teeth was coming straight for her, and there was nowhere to run.

Rubble and rocks blocked the door into the explorer craft, and the other craft was on its side.

Rose stood still, hoping the gryak was mock-charging, and wouldnʼt cross over the river.

No such luck.

She was reluctant to try out her new-found jumping trick, not trusting herself not to land on her head, but as the gryak launched itself from the water, icy droplets flying, she gave up, turned, and jumped for the craft.

The pleasure of using her muscles, the freedom of near-flight, flooded her senses and she reveled in it. After being confined for so long, it was a heady shot of champagne through her blood. She landed on the wing and jumped again, reaching the roof of the craft perfectly, even gracefully, more out of luck than skill. She couldnʼt help the little whoop of joy that came from somewhere deep inside.

She looked up, and saw the Grih soldiers lining the opening above her were coming down on thin cables like the one that had saved the soldier whoʼd fallen.

Her jump surprised them as much as their jump surprised her, she guessed, from the way they reacted to the sight of her suddenly crouched on the roof of her little spaceship.

With a hand signal and a barked command, the big guy whoʼd been standing in the middle, the one sheʼd exchanged a look with earlier, had them all letting the cords on their fancy automatic grappling hooks winch them back to the top again, weapons trained on the gryak. He stayed behind, though, eyes never leaving the gryak, and walked carefully to her ship.

He was going to climb up to her.

The gryak had stopped when sheʼd jumped, and gone very watchful when the soldiers had dropped into its cave, but now it prowled up and down in front of her craft, confused and distressed.

The black helmet and then the enormous shoulders of the Grih whoʼd stayed below with her rose up, her rescuer easily pulling himself onto the roof with her.

They stared at each other again, not that Rose could see much of his face through the helmet, and she mentally called up the Grih sheʼd learned over the last eight weeks.

“Iʼm Rose McKenzie. Pleased to meet you.” Grih informal greetings required her to touch her nose to his left cheek, and he to hers, but they were on more of a formal footing, she was guessing, and his helmet was in the way anyway, so she extended her hands palms facing each other, waiting for him to either cover hers or let her cover his. She couldnʼt remember who should do what, right at that minute.

There was a moment of silence, and then the thin, gray-tinted glass on his helmet retracted, and she looked directly into startled pale blue eyes with a dark outer-rim of navy blue. “You speak Grih.”

“Iʼve been studying it.” She looked at him, and tears pricked her eyes.

Sazo had said the Grih were as close to being like her as it got in this part of the universe. But sheʼd thought heʼd been talking in general terms. Bi-pedal, with two eyes, a nose and a mouth. That was the most sheʼd hoped for.

She even thought it didnʼt matter. She would be happy to be alive, and wouldnʼt care if she looked completely different to the people who would hopefully take her in.

But Sazo had come through for her.

The guy looking back at her was big, head and shoulders bigger than a tall man, but while his nose was a little sharper than average, and his eyes were the shade of a wolfʼs sheʼd once seen on a nature documentary, no one on Earth would have looked twice at him.

Well. They would, but because he was good looking and intimidating, not because he looked like an alien.

The first tear slid down her cheek, and she sniffed and flicked it away with the back of her hand.

The gryak chose that moment to charge the craft.

With another shriek, it slammed massive, clawed hands on the side of the explorer, and started trying to climb.

“Maybe time to go?” she suggested, and the Grih looking at her tears with absolute confusion gave a nod, grabbed her around her waist, and shot his grapple hook up into the air.



Dark Horse

Amazon Links for the Class 5 series:







I hope you will come back tomorrow for an interview with Prism award finalist and author of Echo 8 – Sharon Lynn Fisher.  For a complete list of all the finalists, go here.