Please welcome author M.A. Grant to Whiskey With My Book. She is the author of Honour Bound, and a 2016 Prism award finalist in the Futuristic category.
Marion, 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 a log cabin in Southcentral Alaska with my husband, two dogs, and two cats. We’re a stone’s throw from the Kenai River, with all its brown bears and salmon, and the Cook Inlet as well. I’m a geek, a writer, and a reader foremost, but have a bunch of other hobbies that keep me plenty busy all year-round. I have several books published in varying romantic genres and absolutely love meeting other passionate readers and writers who enjoy discussing stories and characters that have stuck with them.
Tell us about the Prism Awards.
I learned about the Prism Awards when I first started writing paranormal romances and was researching different writing contests. It was mind-boggling to see the lists of winners from past years; books and authors I loved were across tons of the awards categories and then I discovered new authors to read as well. I wasn’t brave enough to take the plunge into the contest myself until I connected with more paranormal, fantasy, and SFR authors. The support I found within those communities was a blessing; they welcomed diverse stories that didn’t always fit in nice little boxes and were passionate about writing deep characters who readers could connect to. Meeting these incredible people who kept proving that there was a readership for stories like mine is what gave me the courage to submit Honour Bound to the contest.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’m sure it’s cliché, but I’ve always loved writing. My parents and grandparents encouraged the habit, along with a permanent love of reading. It was a natural progression to read stories I liked and then try to write new endings or sequels. In elementary and middle school I tended to write what today would be considered fanfiction, but by high school I was trying my hand at new stories. That led to college and a creative writing major, and I’ve been fortunate enough to keep pursuing my passion ever since.
What are some of your favorite books?
I reread The Great Gatsby, Henry V, Jane Eyre, Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, and A River Runs Through It every year. But my newest favorites are Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, Anna Hackett’s Hell Squad series, and pretty much anything by Jackie Ashenden.
Where did you get your inspiration(s) for Honour Bound?
Originally, I had no intention of writing it. I’d written my novella Lace & Lead and my editor asked for more stories from the Republic. I didn’t have any idea where to go with that for a while. Eventually, two pieces clicked into place. I reread the legends of King Arthur and wondered if that kind of naïve idealism could survive in a corrupt place like the Republic; that’s how Cade came into being. The other component came from a nightmare I had about being trapped in a box with rising water. I woke up in a panic and my first coherent thought was, “I wish I weren’t afraid of that.” In the morning, that thought kept nagging me and I finally jotted down a quick scene with a little girl who was braver than me. That was my introduction to Talia. Once those two characters were fully formed in my head, it became a race to keep up on paper with the story they were telling.
If you found your way to the Northern Wastes, what would you need to survive?
Talia. But if we’re going for a more serious answer, I’d want the same kind of wilderness pack that people have up here in the Alaskan bush. I know that those survival packs don’t usually have super fancy toys people bring up from Outside, but they always provide the simplified essentials. Fire, shelter, food, orientation … The Northern Wastes are a place where your worst enemy is yourself, so I want the supplies that would allow me to use the essential skills I’ve mastered to my advantage.
What writing projects are you working on now?
Currently I’m writing the sequel to Honour Bound, which focuses on Preacher, the team’s medic. I’m also working on the last book of my Sinclair Pack series, and a new m/m romance dealing with the fae. I’m the writer equivalent of “Here’s my book … Squirrel!”
What are you reading now?
I just finished Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boy cycle and can’t wait to go back and reread it again. I’m also working through Dave Grossman’s, but with the heaviness of the content, I have to take breaks every few chapters to process what he’s discussing.
Marion, thanks again for being here today. Good luck in the final determination!
In the daylight, the tank didn’t look as terrifying. She walked toward it slowly, noticing the way the glass showed some scratches. The metal was aged, hints of rust in the corners where seams met.
‘They were lying.’
She smiled at Cade’s statement. He wasn’t angry or insulted, just factual.
She reached out a finger and brushed it along the glass. ‘They were right about the drowning.’
‘The former commandant drowned in it?’ Cade asked.
‘No. But that’s its purpose.’ She turned back to him. ‘It’s a drowning box.’
He made a motion with his hand and one of the soldiers near him turned on his comm and did something with his fingers. ‘A drowning box?’ Cade asked politely.
‘Yes. A person goes in and the box fills with water. When their heart stops and they die, the locks release and their body can be retrieved. Sometimes they’ll be brought back.’
There was disgust in Cade’s voice now, but it wasn’t directed at her. ‘Why would anyone use this?’
‘To teach a lesson,’ Talia replied, trying to understand this strange soldier better. In the slanted light she saw the planes of his face. He was young, but experience had already hardened him. Normally the Republic didn’t send its experienced soldiers to the Wastes. Why was he here?
‘What kind of lesson?’
Talia shrugged. ‘Whatever lesson is deemed important. Loyalty. Power. Fear.’
‘Were people too afraid to discuss its purpose? Is that why no one volunteered?’
‘Why not then?’
‘Because no one who comes into this room comes out alive.’
She didn’t understand how he’d read her, what tells she’d given to share that information with him. But again, that steady tone gave her no clues to his true thoughts.
‘Except me,’ she agreed eventually.
He watched her for a moment, then slowly shook his head. ‘You know it too well … You didn’t just survive once, did you?’
‘How many times?’
‘I’m not sure.’ She wasn’t. She’d stopped counting eventually. It was either that or go mad.
‘I’m sure the commandant had his reasons.’
‘You’re stronger than most of the prisoners I’ve seen here.’
She shifted awkwardly on her feet, unused to the sensation of his eyes on her figure. There was no lust there, no emotion other than detached curiosity. ‘I was a fighter.’
‘For the commandant?’
‘You’re still alive.’
She heard his unspoken question. ‘I’m very good.’
‘That’s why he wouldn’t let you die, even after torturing you with this.’
‘I’m sorry.’ His regret was genuine. He gestured at the soldier, who shut off his comm. ‘You’ve helped me a great deal.’
‘You deserve a reward—’
She took an involuntary step back when he said that, remembering other officers who’d said those same words to her after she’d won a fight. Each time she’d managed to convince them—through intelligence or violence—that she needed nothing, especially not what they were offering.
‘I don’t need anything,’ she said more sharply than she’d intended.
He took a step back and held up his hands. ‘I apologise. I didn’t mean to insult you. I simply wanted to help—’
He wasn’t going to hurt her or take advantage of her. His idea of a reward was clearly different from the camp officers’ ideas.
She took in a shaky breath. ‘Just ensure that people …’ She swallowed, surprised that the strange tightness in her throat. ‘Please,’ she tried again, ‘please make sure the Republic knows what was done here. Don’t let them forget us.’
Lieutenant Cade tilted his head a little to the side, watching her with those keen eyes. ‘I won’t,’ he promised. ‘No one will be allowed to forget.’
Find Marion at:
Tomorrow, June 7, Prism award finalists Aidee Ladnier will be featured here. Come back to get a taste of The Klockwerk Kracken. For a complete list of the finalists, go here.