Welcome, Heather! Tell us a bit about yourself:
Thank you, Jae Lynne. It’s exciting to be with you. I’m a run-of-the-mill mom of three who goes crazy when I don’t write. I’ve moved a lot, all over Southern Arizona, New York, and now Kansas. I like to kayak, and so does my dog. She looks similar to a hood ornament as I row down the river.
In which genres do you write? :
I write Science Fiction/Fantasy and Urban Fantasy. My books always have a little romance. They are suitable for ages 10-100.
What inspires you to write? :
My characters. They get mighty loud. Sometimes, I wonder if writers aren’t misdiagnosed schizophrenics.
How do you choose names for your characters? :
Sometimes I take a name from a character in the Bible that possesses similar character traits. Sometimes I know what I want the name to mean and run it through Google translator until I find one that sounds good. Sometimes I like to use names I see on random signs. It’s all very calculated. (Wink, wink.) I named a villain for the mob boss in Chicago my Gram always used to talk about.
What is your favorite type of character to write? Do you have a personal favorite amongst your own characters?:
I love them all. I love the strong protagonist that has to overcome themselves to save the world (at least their world). I enjoy the quiet sidekick who is always there, waiting to save the day. I even love the villain. Every character has an entire back story that compels them, that makes them who they are. In order for the life of a story to come full circle, every character must play their part. It is the author’s job to make sure they live up to their potential.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? :
Find someone who knows what they are talking about and listen. Study. I love Strunk and White—it’s my writer’s Bible. I also recommend The Art of Fiction. Don’t ever think your writing is perfect. There is always room for improvement. Once you have realized these things, do the best you can and be happy with what you’ve achieved.
After I had written my first novel, I thought it was marvelous. I had written a whole novel, after all. None of my friends or acquaintances could say the same thing. Then my estranged grandfather passed away. A novelist himself, he left behind a significant collection of writing books. And while I was disappointed that there weren’t hundred dollar bills among the pages, the information was equally valuable. I began to read about the craft of writing. The more I read, the more I realized my flaws. Instead of bemoaning my novice novel, I revised. I rewrote. I threw out complete sections. I changed from third to first person. (I wouldn’t recommend it, but it gave me a whole new perspective on my characters.)
After over sixty rewrites, I am published and happy. Never give up.
Who is/are your favorite author(s)? :
Anne McCaffrey, Jane Austen, love A Tale of Two Cities but not all Dickens. JK Rowling is bloody brilliant. (Did you hear my English accent?) I actually enjoy a lot of stories from the Bible. I like Cinda Williams Chima. I could go on for at least another page.
How do/does your favorite authors(s) impact your writing? :
When I read Chima, my dangling participles get out of hand. When I read Austen, I begin using phrases like “in want of.” Anne McCaffrey was the inspiration for one aspect of my Tigers’ Eye Trilogy, because I love the idea of being telepathically linked.
If you were stranded on an island with one character from any book of your choice, who would it be? :
Bear Grylls Living Wild: The Ultimate Guide to Scouting and Fieldcraft And no, this isn’t all practicality.
Hollywood called! They want to turn your novel into a movie or television series. If given the choice, who would you cast as your characters?:
All I know is I want Baelon (the bad guy) to be Alan Rickman.
Tell us about your novel:
The Tigers’ Eye Trilogy is set in a post-apocalyptic future. Some might call it dystopian, but things aren’t as bad as they could possibly get until the second novel. The origin of their nation was a present-day military research facility that was mixing animal, plant, and human DNA to create super-human soldiers. Worldwide disaster (explained in the prequel, Resurrection) strikes, and the genetically engineered soldiers have greater abilities to cope. Over time, the DNA continues to evolve, and as each animal/human pair is born, their telepathic link becomes stronger.
Blurb: Your perception will sharpen once you see through a tiger’s eyes.
More than five hundred years after the apocalypse, the survivors of off-grid genetic experimentation have refined their mixed DNA to the point that humans and their animal counterparts share physical and mental links. Varying species have divided into districts, living in a tenuous peace under the President of Calem.
Ardana and her tiger ingenium Rijan leave their life of exile and abuse in the Outskirts, setting out with their twin brothers to redeem themselves and become citizens of the Center. But shedding their past isn't as easy as they had hoped. When the system that shunned them becomes embroiled in political conflict and treachery, their unique abilities and experiences from the Outskirts make them invaluable to every faction. The runaways become pawns to friends as well as enemies, and with every step it becomes more difficult to tell which is which.
Be careful. Rijan’s faint thought echoed from deep in the forest where she hunted with her brother, Adamas.
I will. My thought reached to Rijan, my ingenium. I watched, rapt with admiration for my great white tiger, the other half of my soul. Her vision momentarily clouded my mind: a large buck bounding through the forest ahead and Adamas, my brother Kade’s ingenium, concealed not far distant.
Hearing only the twittering and snapping sounds of the forest behind me, I peeked around the small wooden message board. The area was deserted. Small puffs of dust betrayed my steps as I crept, cat-like, behind the northern row of two-story shops with their owners’ apartments above.
A lifetime of cruelty had ingrained a correlation in our minds: going to see Kade would risk the loss of a few meals. I paused to reconsider and stared at the strange colors of dusk, a bright orange on the horizon that melted into a deep purple. Our mother Maran could no longer beat me, and we would be of age in little more than a ten-day. The news from the message board left me no other option. I blazed down the back of the buildings like fire in dry grass. My legs and chest tightened with the anticipation of seeing him and the fear of possible discovery.
An abrupt halt at the back door found me winded. I took a deep breath and held it, controlled it because I needed to control something. The door swung easily as I lifted the handle to silence the screeching hinges.
He was there, alone.
My heartbeat slowed, and I sighed with relief. His eighteen-year-old back hunched like an old man’s over the red-hot piece of steel he was hammering into a scythe. If only it were a sword, the head of a spear, or a lance. My anger and hatred yearned for a weapon, a weapon I could fight back with. A weapon might be the difference between living and dying if I left—when I left—now that I had a reason, a destination.
I slipped inside. The soot-covered walls of the forge remained dark while white-hot fire, like half a miniature sun, lit his small world from behind. Beads of sweat on his forehead caught the light. Brilliant eyes intently focused on their work. The muscles of his square jaw tightened before each blow of the hammer.
“Ana,” Kade reprimanded in a hushed voice, startling me. “What are you doing? You know Maran will starve you if she catches you here. I can’t protect you from her all the time, and you cannot afford to go without another meal.” He felt helpless and angry. I could sense his feelings somewhere inside my chest, like a musician whose ears detect the vibrations of a perfect note because they have been hearing it for so long. Kade was pleased to see me but apprehensive and worried for my welfare.
“Rijan can feed me. Besides, I can protect myself now. I had to come,” I whispered. “The message board, Kade . . .” Excitement built inside me, nudged at him, and pushed out his worry. Curiosity overcame at last.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much excitement in you,” he said as a smile broke around the edges of his mouth.
“There’s a new Campaign in just over a twenty-day,” I said.
Kade stared blankly. “And you want to enter. We have no lineage, no tokens, Ana.”
“We can forge a lineage.” My eyes begged him to try.
“And have a token inked into our backs in twenty-day’s time?” He thought I was crazy. I could feel it. “It’s illegal. And there was a reason we were exiled from Calem, Ana.”
Kade’s worry and desire for security played tug-of-war with my impetuousness and need for freedom. “We were barely four, Kade. No one will even recognize us. We’ll invent different identities.”
“Being twins will make us more noticeable.”
“Twins among the Tiger District are not that uncommon. Besides, it’ll be cheaper. We only need one lineage for the both of us.” I wouldn’t let it go.
“How are we going to get someone to ink the lineage token on our backs? They will ask why we didn’t have a Rite when we were sixteen. What are we going to say?”
“We lost our parents and have been travelling,” I said, as if it would be easy. “You are making excuses.”
“We have no district.” He shook his head. “They threw us out.”
“We will go to the Center and find a place.”
I could feel the conflict rage within him as he turned away to wipe his face on his sleeve. “It’s dangerous.”
“And living in the Outskirts isn’t?” I asked.
“This is the Outskirts, but in some ways—important ways—this village is different.” His eyes bored through me, forced me to recognize the truth of his words. “We have books, have been taught all subjects, and have been protected. We know we’re different, we just don’t know why.”
“You are different,” I reminded him.
“To Maran, yes, but the others care for you as much as me, if not more. We’ve gone over this a thousand times.” Kade pointed at the ground. “This village poses a different kind of danger, one we can easily survive.”
I couldn’t deny it. We knew little of the world inside the wall, the basics from a history lesson. Each district had its own ruler, a senator who spoke for and protected the rights of their district in the Senate. As a whole, the Senate balanced the President’s power.
“We need to live, not survive.” I paced impatiently near the wall. The President of Calem, barely hanging on to life, would soon die. In an unprecedented move, he had called for an immediate Campaign to determine the new president. Such a strict life would be too confining for me, but who better than my brother? And it would have definite advantages.
“We will go,” he said at last, and, when he turned to face me, there was a renewed brightness in his eyes that reflected purpose. His hasty concession led to doubt that crept into our bond.
“We will go,” he assured, “but not to enter the Campaign. I worry for you every moment you are not with me, which seems to be always, lately. Every day Maran gets worse. I petitioned the older ones to take you away, but until you’re of age . . .”
For the first time I could remember, I took the initiative and hugged him. Ages had passed since we had been physically close, but we were completely alone now . . . alone and together. He towered over me as I looked up into his face with newfound enthusiasm. His feelings wove through mine: anxiety, hesitant optimism, fear, and concern for an unknown future. There was hope in him as well, hope for us both. Elation swelled in my chest so that I could hardly breathe. Age had strengthened our connection.
Alone and together for longer than had been allowed in years. Something was wrong.
“The Campaign will be the perfect camouflage,” said Kade. “It’ll flush all kinds of creatures out of the woodwork.” He kissed the top of my head. “Besides, if you had met the new members of our village, you would never take no for an answer.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that they are from the Tiger District and would be a horrible match for you and Rijan.”
Are there any other projects you’re working on? :
I am currently finishing the second novel in The Tigers’ Eye Trilogy and also working on an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance about a girl who has a prostitute for a mother.
Where can our readers find you? :
Website: www.heathercashman.com for links to buying the ebook or paperback, contact information, more about me, upcoming news, etc.
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