Lenea's brother spends every clear night pointing a telescope at the same stars. When she confronts him, he lets her look through the telescope. A small sliver speck changes course, slows, and merges with a larger silvery spot.
In that brief moment, her life changes. Her brother spies on space aliens! Soon she learns the aliens have a settlement in the Kenned Valley, and that her boyfriend monitors their communications.
Then he disappears.
What do they want, and can her world survive?
Just before he has to give up and go home broke, Captain Seddry finds the perfect world. It is rich in ore, has a breathable atmosphere, and it even has a reasonable climate — an ideal place for a new Langon colony. The fuzzy natives won't be a problem. They don't have any large weapons or even airplanes, making them too primitive to ever find the mining colony hidden away in an isolated valley. Or so he thinks.
The two aliens, one dressed in green and the other in maroon, were further away now, ambling along the road. He tiptoed across the road again, snuck down to the river, and ran closer to them, wishing he had a vid recorder.
Lannes couldn't stop his heart from pounding, nor could he stand still. He stepped back on the road some distance behind the aliens and walked after them. They didn't look back or change pace. Lannes stopped. Maybe approaching these creatures alone wasn't safe. He dismissed the fear, walking faster until they turned to face him. This was too exciting to pass up.
He tried to keep the grin off his face. They stared at him. He glanced toward the river, then up, way up, into their dark, shiny faces. They were too big to follow the game path under the thorny brambles. He had an escape route.
“The man comes falling not,” the taller one said.
“What?” Lannes tried to stop the giddy laughter building inside his chest.
The other alien looked down at him. “Can you for road not.”
A rush of heat made his coat too warm. “What about the road?”
“What did it say?” the shorter one said in the alien language, and Lannes understood him.
The taller one faced to the shorter one. “Try again.”
Lannes guessed the meaning correctly and waited while the taller alien composed a sentence.
“Who the what are stars.”
He didn't want to sound flippant, but what else could he say. “I don't know. Who the what are stars?” Lannes giggled. “Who the what are you?” Although they were big, they didn't appear threatening. Nor were they surprised to see him.
The shorter alien bent his head down, staring at Lannes. “The what who are.”
“Oh,” Lannes grinned. “This's fun. My name's Lannes. What's your name?”
The shorter one squinted at him. “What the are?”
Lannes brought his thumb to his chest. “Lannes. My name's Lannes. What's your name?”
“What does Nanlas mean?” the shorter alien asked.
Lannes wanted to say, “My name's pronounced Lannes,” but didn't want the aliens to know he understood them. He wished they would talk in their language. It was easier to understand than this mangled version of Cadorie.
The shorter alien reached his hand toward Lannes' chest. “Take him back to the ship.”
Lannes leaped down the embankment, sprinted under the bramble bushes, and didn't stop until he cleared the top of a distant hill.
I live in California with my husband, and raise baby squirrels for a wildlife care center. I could go into detail about my background and education, but that is rather boring. Let me say that I am quiet, love the outdoors, and never have enough time to do all the things I want to do.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
I was at a Doctor Who convention many years ago when Anthony Ainley (the Master) stepped into the elevator with my husband and me. My husband said, “You’re Anthony Ainley. It’s nice to meet you.”
He smiled and nodded.
I said, “Your English. Can you please tell me what shepherd's pie is? British TV shows mention it all the time.” Then I cringed internally. That was an embarrassingly stupid question.
His face lit up. He said he loved his wife’s shepherd's pie and went into great detail about how to make it. We had a nice chat.
What are some of your pet peeves?
People who say, “I know you think that . . . “ They are invariably wrong.
Where did you grow up?
I’m a ‘valley girl,’ born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, but somewhat on the wrong side of the tracks. I traveled all over the country to find a place to live, and ended up back in California about 300 miles north in farm country, but not on a farm.
Who is your hero and why?
My biggest hero was Luis Leakey. I wanted to be a paleoanthropologist and dig up ancient bones in Africa. As a kid, I read everything I could about him.
Jane Goodall has also been a long time hero of mine.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
One who puts the needs of people and the environment above everything else.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I’ll let you know when I find some time to do that.
Which of your novels can you imagine being made into a movie?
Probably the Prince of Kaloria, which hasn’t been published yet. I can’t imagine any of the novels about the Cadorie being made into movies because the makeup and special effects would be difficult and costly.
The Prince of Kaloria is a simple story about a young man, the woman he loves, the alien who kidnapped him, the evil bitch he has to marry, war, assassination . . . I think it would make a great movie.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A California ground squirrel because they are smart, tough, and opinionated. They know what they want, and they go after it. I’m the squirrel handler for my wildlife center, so I have up close and personal relationships with these little hyperactive demons. Just to set the facts straight, squirrels in North America, don’t carry rabies, in fact, they are remarked healthy and often parasite free, but they do bite.
If you ask wildlife rehab people which animals are smart, (have lots of learned behavior,) they will say crows, coyotes, and squirrels. Owls and opossums are at the opposite end of the animal IQ scale.
What inspired you to write this book?
Stories have always run around in my head. For most of my life, I never had the time, or courage to do anything about them. I wrote a few, but never told anyone. Eventually, I did show one to my husband. He encouraged me to continue, so I joined online critique groups to improve my writing style and storytelling skills.
After critiquing a great many other aspiring authors, I gained enough confidence in my writing to think people might enjoy reading it.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. Lannes is kidnapped and left alone on an isolated island. Although his disappearance is vital to the plot, his time on the island isn’t addressed. I think it will make a great survival story. First, he has to find a way to stay alive and deal with his loneliness. When more people are dropped on the island, he has to find a way to build a society.
I’m about halfway through the rough draft of Hideaway Island.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in End of Innocence?
The majority of the story takes place on Cadoire Continent, one of five continents on Hocalie, each with its own language and government.
The Cadorie are short, slight, and furry with round faces, big colorful eyes, and little round ears. I wanted to make them cute and loveable, but not cat-like. They worship nature and the changing of the seasons. They tend to be law abiding, laid back, gentle and accepting, so when the aliens secretly invade, they sit and watch for a while before doing anything. When they do confront the aliens, it isn’t the way you would expect.
The invading aliens, Langons, have had space travel for several hundred years. They are much larger than Cadorie. They have long faces with pointed ears and long dangling earlobes. Both men and women have foreheads that extend all the way up to the middle of their scalps. Langons tend to be selfish and self-centered.
The Langons don’t invade Hocalie in the traditional sense of armies marching for conquest. A private corporation builds a mine in an isolated valley. They use that as a base to slowly take over the planet to meet their corporation’s needs, believing the locals are too primitive to notice or to do anything about it.
That is a mistake.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
I wanted to write an alien invasion story where the invaders were not really evil. I had used the Langons in another story and thought they would be the perfect invaders because they are selfish, self-centered, and don’t always see the obvious, but they are not inherently evil. Although a couple of the villains might be described as evil.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Names are usually easy. When I think up a character, it comes into my mind with a personality, appearance, and a name. In this book, after the first read through, I changed a many of the names. I wanted the Langon names to sound different than the Cadorie names. Also, there are a lot of characters in the story, and some of the names were similar. So I did a several global searches and replaces, most of which worked.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
It’s great fun to create non-human characters and societies. The Cadorie never developed the internal combustion engine because their planet doesn’t have any hydrocarbon deposits. They do have complex electrical technology, but not computers. Bringing them into the computer age was a challenge. There is a lot of technical stuff that has to make sense but not take over the story or bore the reader.
Tell us about your main characters—what makes them tick?
Kefan is both a talented singer and an electronics genius. His parents hover over him stifling his development and insisting that he put his singing career above everything else including his love of electronics and his love for Lenea.
Lenea is a simple farm girl, hopelessly in love with Kefan. She doesn’t care if he sings or builds electronic gadgets, as long as they live someplace more interesting than a farm in the middle of nowhere.
Lannes is a farm boy and Lenea’s bratty younger brother. He is interested in everything except school. He can translate from any Hocalie language to any other without having to think about it.
All of their lives change after they discover the aliens.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
The title comes from a speech given at the end of the book. However, there are several books with the same title, so maybe it wasn’t the best choice.
Who designed your book covers?
The cover is credited to Donna Burt. The cover features a picture of Lannes and what I thought he might feel like when he gets kidnapped.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learn every time I write, but I learn even more when I read, especially when I read other aspiring authors. That is one of the best ways to learn what doesn’t work.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you for reading my book. Feel free to contact me through Facebook or my website if you have any questions or suggestions.
If you could spend time with a character from your book, whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Except for it being outside in the snow at midnight, I would love to attend the Cadorie winter solstice celebration.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
They are all imaginary. They aren’t even human. But I’ve known some people with the same personalities.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must-read.
Boy, I wish I knew how to do that. I’d be a millionaire. If you like Anne McCaffery and/or Ray Bradbury, you should like End of Innocence. It’s a story about growing up in a time of social upheaval.
Here are quotes from a couple of people who reviewed End of Innocence
This is the best full novel I've read in a long, long time. Grade A+. The style and story remind me of two famous SciFi authors & books - Anne McCaffrey "Dragon Singer" and Robert Heinlein "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress." The social scifi story is detailed and never dull. The characters are vibrant, varied, and alive, both villains and protagonists. The story is both coming of age for the main characters and the effects of a commercial alien invasion. Highly recommended.
This young adult/sci-fi fantasy was a fun, entertaining read. The story details the exploration and exploitation of planet J746B by the technologically advanced Langons. They soon discover that the Cadorie race that inhabits the planet is not as primitive as they first thought. The story serves as an allegory for corporate greed, as well as historical events like the conquest of North America by European settlers. Romana Drew examines different aspects of the human condition - hope, love, fear, family, greed - through the eyes of all-too-human aliens. The plot that is fast paced enough to keep you turning the pages. If you like the genre, give this book a try.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Yes, I wrote several books before I wrote one I showed to people. I find it strange that anyone thinks their first book should be published. In what other creative endeavors, does a first attempt succeed? Your first painting won’t be a masterpiece. Your first song won’t be memorable. Maybe, if you have enough help, advertising, ghostwriters, or a famous name, your first book might be successful. Most people need to practice before they perform.
What are your favorite books/authors?
Anne McCaffery, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C Clark, Piers Anthony, Clifford D. Simak, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula K Le Guin, Alan Dean Foster, Poul Anderson, to name a few.
A few of my favorite books are Little House on the Prairie, Winnie the Pooh, The Left Hand of Darkness, the Tar-Aiym Krang (and the rest of the Flinx books), A Spell For Chameleon (and the other Xanth books), Mission of Gravity, Glory Road, Something Wicked They Way Comes, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (I read those four times.) I thought the Martian was a great survival story.
What book do you think everyone should read?
Everyone should read books, lots of books of different genres.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
For me, the creation and development of characters is easy. They just pop into my head fully developed, as I need them. I have never been successful at making a character list before I write a story. Nor do I understand why anyone would need to do a character sketch. I just make note of how to spell their names and maybe a few notes on physical appearance.
I suggest all writers explore the Myers Briggs personality types. It helps you gain a basic understanding of how and why people make the choices they do, why one person is super neat, and another tosses their dirty clothes on the floor next to the hamper. It can also help you gain a better understanding of how you see the world, why you look at it differently from other people, and whether your type is common or rare.
Some temperaments have lots of presidents, some lot of big business tycoons, and one rare temperament, INFP, has significantly more writers than any of the others. As children, INFP’s also tend to have lots of imaginary friends.
I could have populated a small city.
This is speculation, but growing up with imaginary friends may make creating characters easier. After all, what is an imaginary friend, if not a fictional character?
My characters drive the plot. I know where the story starts and where it is supposed to end. But the characters have minds of their own and take the story places I didn’t plan to go.
That is a very sloppy way of structuring a story. It also tends to make the story quite long.
In a different book, I made a character whose only role is the blow up the palace and get killed rather violently. The first time through, I wrote 20,000 words about this character, his childhood, his relationship with his parents, his wife and kids, his education, etc. None of which had a thing to do with the plot. In the end, I kept about a thousand words sprinkled here and there, just enough to explain why he did it.
I’m not delusional. I know the characters are figments of my imagination, but letting them run free is great fun and makes for more rounded and complex characters.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I research anything having to do with science to make sure I understand the underlying chemistry, physics, or biology even if I invent impossible tech. If the characters use old tech, such as bows and arrows, I research those to make sure I write them realistically.
Do you see writing as a career?
I am retired. I see writing as a great way to do something that might outlive me. I doubt that I will ever become famous or rich. I just hope you enjoy reading my stories.
Do you read yourself, and if so, what is your favorite genre?
I read extensively. I prefer science fiction, especially coming of age stories. But I also read fantasy and a smattering of other genres. I recently read a crime drama and a regency romance.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
Right now, I have several going at once. I am in the final editing stages of editing The Prince of Kaloria, in the middle of writing Hideaway Island, and in the middle of writing a serialized space adventure called The Adventures of Robin Mayfield. Episodes are posted on Facebook every Saturday along with a drawing.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Winnie the Pooh.
What makes a good story?
Good books have exciting and cohesive plots; complex and well-developed characters; easy to read and emotionally engaging prose.
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I start at the beginning and write to the end. Usually, I have to set up a timeline somewhere in the middle. Then I read, and edit, and read, and edit a few time before sending it off to beta readers. Then I read and edit and send it to beta readers, and edit some more.
I wouldn’t advise writing that way because it takes a lot of rewriting and reorganizing, but my characters refuse to follow an outline.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell myself not to listen to English teachers. I would tell English teachers that grading a paper with an A for composition and an F for spelling then averaging it to a D is the wrong way around. Please note, I had to write papers longhand. Now, word processors solve basic SG&P issues.
Teaching students that the mechanics of writing, spelling, punctuation, etc., are more important than content, or style, is stifling and harmful. At some point, SG&P must be correct, but none of that will matter if the content isn’t there. A dull, plodding story with flat characters but perfect SG&P is worthless. A great story full of typos has lots of promise. All it needs is a good editor.
I would tell myself to have more confidence and not hide all the things I wrote.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Writing sex scenes.
How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
Writing a book takes as long as it takes to type all the words. Editing it into a readable manuscript can take forever. I have a couple of stories that I don’t think any amount of editing will salvage.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I don’t worry about it. I worry about forgetting ideas before I get them written down.
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