by Tabitha Lord
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Caeli Crys isn’t living—she’s surviving. On the run after the genocide of her empathic people, she witnesses a spaceship crash near her hidden camp. When she feels the injured pilot suffering from miles away, she can’t help but risk discovery to save his life.
Commander Derek Markham awakens stranded on an uncharted planet. His co-pilot is dead, his ship is in ruins, and he’s only alive because a beautiful young woman is healing him with her mind.
As Derek recovers, Caeli shares the horror of her past and her fear for the future. When Derek’s command ship, Horizon, sends rescue, Derek convinces Caeli to leave with him. But his world is as treacherous as hers—full of spies, interplanetary terrorist plots, and political intrigue. Soon the Horizon team is racing to defend an outlying planet from a deadly enemy, and Caeli’s unique skills may just give them the edge they need to save it.
“Caeli, is everything okay?” he asked while they sat by the fire and she prepared their food.
She didn’t look at him but nodded. “It was a small group of Amathi soldiers. They were on the other side of the river coming through a pass, but heading in the opposite direction.”
“Do you think they might be looking for my ship?” Derek asked, a knot of dread forming.
“It’s possible,” Caeli acknowledged hesitantly.
“Shit,” he cursed under his breath.
“Or they could just be looking for ore deposits. Anyway, it would take some effort for them to get to this side of the river. It’s why I chose to make camp here. We’re okay. At least for a while.”
I don’t want to run anymore. Caeli didn’t speak out loud, but Derek heard her as clearly as if she did. Her face held a haunted look he hadn’t seen before, and despite her reassuring words, he knew she was more worried than she was letting on.
She passed him a bowl but didn’t take one for herself. Anxiety poured off her, and he didn’t have to be empathic to feel it.
Carefully, he put his bowl aside and turned to face her. “Caeli, how did you escape from Novalis?”
She looked in his eyes and then dropped her gaze to the ground. “I didn’t.”
Q&A with the Author
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Thanks for having me on you blog today! My degree is in Classics from Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and I taught Latin in middle school for about ten years. I also worked in admissions at the Waldorf School where my children attended. Other interesting things – When I was in college I worked on the crew of The Spirit of Boston, a harbor day-cruise ship that carried up to 600 people. That was fun! I was also an EMT for years, and later a medical school dropout. Med school with little ones at home just didn’t work for me. No sleep!
Where and when did your writing journey begin?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I loved to write stories as a child. In fact, when I was sorting through some of my grandma’s things after she passed, I came across a whole collection of poetry and stories I’d written. It was very sweet. In my professional life I’ve written some ad copy, blog posts, and done some editing for school publications, but I had very little time or energy for creative writing.
When the dynamics of my family shifted, as my children got older, I began to consider changing careers. While I pondered what was next for me professionally I took on a yearlong writing project at work thinking it would give me the change of pace I needed. Turns out it was one of the most satisfying things I’d ever done in my career. Since I was in the habit of writing every day for work, I challenged myself to write creatively every day as well. Lo and behold, when the report was finished a year later, so was my first manuscript.
Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
Wow. This is a tough one. I love genre fiction and my shelves are filled with everything from horror, to military thrillers, to historical romance. I also appreciate good literary fiction with characters I remember long after I turn the last page. I just enjoy a good story, no matter the genre or style!
Some of my all-time favorites include The Stand by Stephen King. To me this is the ultimate apocalypse story, full of disquieting horror. Harry Potter is at the top of the list. Such incredible world building and rich characters! Outlander is fabulous. Diana Gabaldon’s dialogue is so beautiful, and the relationship between Jamie and Claire is so complex and lovely. Recently I read, and loved, The Goldfinch. Literary fiction at its best! The Snow Child also really stayed with me after I finished reading. As I write this, I am staring at my library shelves and thinking, how can I leave off Barbara Kingsolver or Isabel Allende! Or my favorite Steinbeck novel East of Eden! I learn something different from each of these writers, but mostly I’m just incredibly grateful for the pleasure of reading their work. If someone asks me this question next week, I’ll probably have an entirely different list!
What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
Two years ago I left a job I loved to do something I loved more – write. I consider myself a full-time writer. But I’ll be honest – I struggle to find balance. It feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to write creatively, promote my existing book, network, blog, edit, etc. And there is still a household to run! I have four kids, so a good bit of my world still involves baseball games, piano recitals, concerts, school plays, and feeding the masses. Currently one kiddo is a senior in college, one a senior in high school, and two are in middle school. Thankfully, they aren’t generally home during the day.
I’m an obsessive-compulsive planner. I have a daily to-do list, a monthly project list, and I live by my calendar. I try to hit four power yoga classes per week, and although I don’t work at the school anymore, I am a Board member now and I work on a few committees, so I plan those things in as well. When I was working full-time outside my home, I made time to write and I protected that time fiercely. Now, other things weave their way into my day and cut into that valuable time. It requires real discipline, and a detailed calendar, for me to stay productive.
How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
Tabitha Lord: I had two distinct parts of a story floating in my head when I began writing Horizon. The first was the crash sequence. It was more basic at the time of its inception – just a young man who crash lands on a planet, and a young woman, in some kind of trouble, who saves his life. The second part was more complex. I was playing with the idea of what would happen if one segment of an already small isolated population evolved differently (either naturally or by design) from the other. What if some had gifts that enabled them to imagine a different kind of future for themselves and their world? What if they were empathic and could sense each other’s emotions and thoughts? What if some of them could heal with their mind? How would the unchanged people feel about their neighbors? It created such an interesting premise I knew I had to find a way to make it into a story.
What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
I think the premise on which I based the conflict on Caeli’s world is really interesting and unique. The ethical challenges of an empathic civilization were really fun to explore. I also feel that Horizon is an accessible sci-fi story, even for those who don’t regularly read this genre. It’s a traditional space opera in the sense that it contains battle scenes, adventure, and a good vs. evil premise, but the relationship between Caeli and Derek is also central to the story and I hope will hook readers in.
Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
I chose to write Horizon from the perspective of both Caeli and Derek, and I have to say, writing Derek was more fun. He’s a pilot, a spy, and a soldier (basically, an all around bad ass!), so he tended to have more of the action scenes which I really enjoy writing. Although Caeli has more of my real-world experiences tied up in her character, and is probably more like me in personality than Derek, I sort of have a crush on him!
Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
I really enjoy writing the action sequences. But, by far, my favorite scene is chapter 18, and I think it’s because so much hinged on me figuring out this little plot tangle. My female protagonist, Caeli, had to be alone and on the run when she met the male protagonist, Derek. Previously, she’d been part of a resistance movement, and she was very dedicated to this cause. She’d never leave just to save herself. I had to create a scenario where she felt backed into a corner, thinking she was putting everyone else in danger. It took me days to work it out, but once I did, the other pieces fell into place and I had the deliciously nasty scene in chapter 18!
What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
Well, first and foremost, I hope they get lost in the story. I love when I am so engaged in a book that I lose track of time, or I have to stay up late to finish. I also hope they are invested enough in Caeli and Derek’s relationship and their world to continue on to the next book.
There’s a lot of conflict in Horizon. Caeli’s people have been nearly annihilated and Derek’s world faces a horrific enemy. But I have to say it’s the idea of redemption that I wanted to explore in Horizon. Without the possibility of redemption, we are faced with absolutes. And in my experience, things are very seldom so clear. When Caeli is forced to live and work in Alamath, the city of her enemies, she comes to understand this. Her friendship with Finn, an Amathi soldier guilt-ridden over his participation in the genocide, reflects this as well. It makes for a richer story, I think.
What are your hopes for this novel?
Ah! What does any writer want? Best-seller lists! Awards! Movie rights! But seriously, I’d like to acquire a solid base of fans willing to follow my characters on to their next adventure. I’d like to build a reputation as a good storyteller. And I also have some marketing and sales goals in place.
What do you have in store next for your readers?
I’m currently drafting Horizon’s sequel. It’s about one third of the way finished, with the rest pretty well outlined. In Horizon, Caeli leaves her world just as it’s on the brink of another major uprising. In the second book, she’ll return and rejoin the resistance movement. I also have the bones of a thriller outlined, a few short stories swirling, and an idea for a historical fiction novel.
About the Author
Tabitha currently lives in Rhode Island, a few towns away from where she grew up. She is married, has four great kids, a spoiled Ragdoll cat, and lovable black lab. The house is noisy and the dinner table full! She holds a degree in Classics from College of the Holy Cross and taught Latin for years at a small, independent Waldorf school. She also worked in the admissions office there before turning her attention to full-time writing.
You can visit her blog at www.tabithalordauthor.com where she posts author interviews, hosts guest bloggers, and discusses some favorite topics including parenting and her writing journey. Horizon is her first novel.