Today my guest is Sandy Williams, author of Shades of Treason. Her book is a Prism award finalist in the Futuristic category.
Congratulations on becoming a Prism award finalist Sandy! I am glad you could be here today.
Will you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure! I write science fiction and fantasy books with a strong shot of romance. I’m best known for the Shadow Reader Novels, an urban fantasy trilogy about a college student who not only has the ability to see the fae, but she can track them when they fissure (or teleport) from place to place. The thing about the Shadow Reader, though, is that it started in my head as a science fiction series. Instead of my main character reading the shadows of fae, I had her reading the tachyon trails of star ships. But I’d just finished writing an urban fantasy book and was reading a lot of UF, too, so I decided to tweak my premise a bit. It worked out beautifully! But I was still dying to write sci-fi. I’m a big Star Wars fan, and I can’t tell you how much I freaking loved Firefly. I wanted to write about that kind of adventure, and since all my books must have romance to keep me interested, the sci-fi romance genre fits me perfectly.
Tell us about the Prism Awards.
The Prism Award is sponsored by the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter of the Romance Writers of America. I entered with Shades of Treason because several of my favorite authors had won it in the past (i.e. Linnea Sinclair). It has a good reputation, and I thought, “Why not?” I love that it has a category just for futuristic books instead of lumping us in with the paranormal category, and I’m excited to be a finalist!
What inspired you to start writing?
I always like to turn this question around ask why people stop telling stories. When we’re kids, we all play make believe. We pretend to be good guys and bad guys, princesses or knights or animals or whatever. Then we gradually grow out of it and stop telling stories. I just never stopped playing make believe. Over time, I learned how to develop worlds and characters and more complex plots. Then I started writing them down. It’s all came very naturally for me, and I can’t imagine NOT writing. I wouldn’t be me if I stopped.
What are some of your favorite books?
I love reading books that have a good, high-octane plot coupled with a hot romance. Too much romance, I lose interest. Not enough romance, and I get bored. My stories reflect this, too. As for specific books I’ve loved, there are so many! Anything by Linnea Sinclair, though I think ACCIDENTAL GODDESS might be my favorite. I also recently read DARK HORSE by Michelle Diener, one of the other finalists for the PRISM Award, and wow, I love her sci-fi books! If you haven’t read them, you must.
Where did you get your inspiration(s) for the Shades of Treason?
I have no idea! Honestly! All I remember was sitting in a meeting one day. We were evaluating new library catalog systems (I was an elementary librarian for two years, then a part-time public librarian). I’d just finished writing a book and I was panicked about what I would write next. Was I all out of ideas? Did I have any other stories to tell? I started brainstorming what-ifs to see if I could come up with a new book to write. I’m a fan of forbidden romances, so I tried to come up with a scenario in which the hero and heroine absolutely, 100% should NOT be together, and the plot for Shades of Treason unfolded. Ash, my heroine, is an anomaly, a woman who has an abnormal twist in her genetics that makes her stronger and faster than other humans. She enlists to become a soldier in my futuristic universe, and because “anomalies” like her are so dangerous, the government brainwashes them to be loyal soldiers. But a side effect of that brainwashing is that Ash is compelled to do whatever her drill instructor orders, and that makes a relationship between them very, very forbidden. It’s a hard line to walk, and if Ash was a weak character or a push over or just had the wrong personality, it wouldn’t work at all. But Ash is pretty awesome, and watching these two interact is so much fun.
What do you like about writing SciFi Romance?
The spaceships. The adventure. The danger. I love all of it. But I don’t consider myself a science-y science fiction writer. I always tell people I write urban fantasy that is set in space. There is so much overlap between the genres. Strong female heroine? Check. Kickbutt fight scenes? Check. High stakes and out-of-this-world adventure? Check and check.
What writing projects are you working on now?
The second anomaly novel, SHADES OF HONOR, is with beta readers right now. I’ll get it back soon, see how much I need to tweak, then send it off to my copy editor and set a release date, hopefully within the next three months or so. Meanwhile, I’m working on the third anomaly novel. I’m so excited about it! I mean, I totally love SHADES OF TREASON and SHADES OF HONOR, but I think this next one will be even better. At least, that’s what I think this week. Ask me again next week and I’ll probably tell you it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written. 🙂
What are you reading now?
I just finished Grace Draven’s MASTER OF CROWS, a fantasy romance. It’s probably the best fantasy romance I’ve read. It was such a nice surprise! One of my readers recommended it to me on Facebook a while back. I wish I remember who so I could thank them! I’m looking forward to reading more from her.
Next up on my Kindle, though, is GAMBLED AWAY. It’s a historical romance novel, and I preordered to solely because the best writer on the planet has a short story in it. I’m totally in love with Joanna Bourne’s stories and writing. Sci-fi and UF are my genres, but I love me a good historical romance too, and there’s no one better out there than Bourne. Not only does she have the best prose — something I usually don’t care about much — but her stories star spies during Napoleon’s time. Her women are strong, clever, brave. Love them so much! And her heroes are just as delicious.
After that, I plan to read ECHO 8 by Sharon Lynn Fisher. I read GHOST PLANET a while back and enjoyed it, and since Sharon is another finalist for the PRISM Award, I really want to read her book!
Sandy – feel free to add anything else you would like people to know about your or your books.
Thanks so much for having me on the blog! I love sci-fi romance and hope the genre continues to grow. If you like science fiction and fantasy with a strong shot of romance, you might enjoy my books. And whenever I stumble across awesome books, I post them on my Facebook Page, review them on Goodreads, and let my readers know about them in my newsletter.
Thank you for visiting with us today Sandy! Best of luck in the final Prism awards.
Are you interested in Sandy’s book? I know I am. Let’s check out this excerpt:
It took them twenty long minutes to reach the river. Most of that time was spent jogging through the purple-leaved trees that filled the bottom of the DFC. They provided good cover, but hopping over roots and ducking beneath their low limbs drained even more of her energy. When she stopped beside the river, she meant to slowly lower herself to the ground. Instead, her legs gave out and the motion turned into a semi-controlled fall. The only reason she didn’t land face-first in the water was because she caught herself at the last moment. The rocky bottom bruised her palms, and the chilly water sloshed up to her elbows.
She didn’t care. Scooping water into her mouth, she tried to rinse out the desert that coated her tongue.
Beside her, Rykus did the same, drinking and spitting and coughing. He dunked his head into the stream and ran his hand through his short hair.
Ash’s hair was past her shoulders, dirty and tangled. A quick dunk wouldn’t work for her, so she settled for shaking out the arms and legs of her stolen uniform.
Rykus tried to shake out his clothes too. A beach was forming underneath them, but still Ash felt the rocks and grit everywhere.
She stood up and stripped.
In her peripheral vision, Rykus froze. She felt his gaze as she unfastened the last button on the shirt, threw it aside, then shimmied the pants down over her hips.
Rykus didn’t say a word when she stepped into the cold stream. Neither did she, but she couldn’t keep a small grin off her lips as she moved deeper into the water. She might be black and blue and covered in blood and dirt, but she had a lean, toned figure, and Rykus was a man.
An untouchable man, she reminded herself.
The stream was only waist-deep in the middle. She crouched until the water lapped at the top of her shoulders, and then she began scrubbing.
Seconds later, she heard Rykus wade into the stream.
It was hard not to turn around to see if he’d stripped too. She’d seen him almost naked before, shirtless and wearing only a tight pair of black briefs. She was the only woman in her class of anomalies—the only woman ever to complete the training—and he was built like a Zenith Predator, all hard, defined muscles and smooth, lethal movements.
Almost-naked wasn’t the same as naked though, and she wouldn’t mind seeing him again.
But it would be a bad idea. An epically bad idea.
Sucking in a deep breath, she dunked herself.
Underwater, she ran her fingers through her hair, pulling out twigs and grass and a surprisingly large rock. She rubbed her face and neck, then she stayed there, submerged and unmoving, letting the shallow river rinse the sweat and grime from her body. She hadn’t had a shower in weeks, not since she was first taken into custody, and despite the exhaustion in her limbs and the chilly water, it felt good to be clean again.
She rose when her lungs first began to feel the strain of holding her breath. She heard Rykus behind her, felt him move closer. Once again, she had to fight not to turn.
Her hair moved. He lifted it to find the small braid that rested underneath it all. His breath was warm on her shoulder. He let the braid slide lightly through his fingers.
“Why do you wear this?” he asked. He was close. If she leaned back just a fraction, she’d press against him. She’d feel him. She’d learn whether the cold water affected a certain part of his anatomy or whether she did.
And he’d probably tear into her, going off about her insolence and recklessness in a combat situation.
“You ordered me to,” she said, keeping her tone light and flirtatious to hide just how much she wanted him to move closer. It was a ridiculous need. She was under his control, and he had a code of ethics. Even if he wanted her—and she acknowledged that her emotions and thoughts were so screwed up that he might not—he wouldn’t cross that line with her.
Find Sandy at:
On Monday, June 6, Prism award finalists M.A. Grant will be visiting to talk about her book Honour Bound, so be sure to stop by. For a complete list of the finalists, go here.