I’m so excited to introduce you to the debut novel from R.S.A. Garcia. We are in a writing group together and I’m so thrilled for her first novel, Lex Talionis, a science fiction mystery. I have an interview with her below, as well as all the details on Lex Talionis.
1. What is your favorite place to write?
If I had my way, I’d write where I had a view through a picture window to water, mountains or trees. However, my computer is in the spare bedroom in my house, so I go there. It’s got the advantage of being quiet, so it’s my favorite place.
2. Tell us a little about your writing process.
I’m a dedicated pantser. I go in knowing the beginning and the end and a bit about the middle, but I don’t like writing scenes out of order. I get inspired by kernels of ideas and usually bury them deep. They can take months or even years to germinate a story. Once that story idea has reached a point where I have to sit down and tap away at the keys, I’ll generally keep going until it’s done.
I don’t usually write more than one book at time, but I’ve recently developed that skill out of necessity. I’ve also realised it might be a good idea to start doing plot outlines and keeping lots of notes rather than storing the entire book in my head and flipping back over the text when I need to remember a small detail, like the colour of someone’s eyes. LEX TALIONIS was written this way, but I’m looking to try different methods. I’m exploring Scrivener at the moment.
3. If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
That’s a huge question! Why do I have to pick one? I’ve never been able to narrow down anything I love to just one favourite. So for now, I’ll just say there was a time I wanted nothing more than to be the captain of the Enterprise, or Xena, or Buffy. But deep down I think I just want to be Spock.
Or the woman that ends up with Shane Gooseman of the Galaxy Rangers.
What? A girl can dream.
4. What is the best writing advice you’ve been given?
You have five senses. The more you use them to build a scene, and by extension your story, the stronger your writing will be. Lots of writers–myself included–have vivid imaginations and a great love of film. This leads us to write amazing visuals, but your writing can’t immerse the reader until you can make them smell, taste and touch the world you’re introducing them to, as well as see and hear it.
About Lex Talionis
A battered young woman wakes from a coma in a space port hospital with no memories of her past. The only thing she remembers are two words: Lex Talionis—the Law of Revenge. To discover her identity, she must re-live the nightmares of her past, and face the only survivor of a terrible massacre that connects her with her abductors.
Death is the breath between one Life and the Next.
— Message of the Will, Book of the Seven Holies, Ancient Dak Scripture
Death came for Michael while he slept.
He woke, gasping and trembling, from a dream of being pushed out the airlock. His fingers were cold and numb; the weight of his head on his arm had cut off his circulation. Michael sat up, wiping sweaty strands of hair off his forehead. Shifting his feet out from under him, he cursed as pain lanced up his leg.
Shit. I fell asleep. I can’t sleep. How long was I out?
Michael crawled along the vent to the grille that covered its entrance, stopping once to catch his breath. Despite having dozed, he was exhausted and cold. The air in the vent left a metallic taste in his dry mouth and he couldn’t stop shaking. The wound in his leg, which he’d bandaged with cloth ripped from his pants, made a white-hot line down his shin.
God, it hurts. If I don’t find some meds soon…
He had to figure a way out before he was incapable of going on, or lost consciousness again–maybe for good. Michael pulled himself onto his knees, inching his way toward the harsh light that shone through the grille. Dust motes danced in the path of square patches of illumination.
Then he heard it.
Faint, a mere whisper: the brief sound of air being expelled from lungs. And it came from outside, from the corridor below the vent. Despite the fact that he was freezing, sweat broke out all over his body.
Fuck. Oh, fuck no. Please, no.
Michael strained to hear, ignoring the pain in his wounded leg, which had become twisted beneath him. There was nothing but the impossibly loud sound of his own breathing. Seconds ticked by, then minutes. He blinked as sweat dripped into his eyes.
Heart tripping, he decided he must have imagined it all. He began to shift his weight in a careful movement.
Tap, tap, tap.
All the air left his lungs. The grille wavered and darkened before his eyes.
The sound came from right below him, on the wall just under his hiding place.
Tap, tap, tap.
He recognized the rhythm. It had been centuries since anyone had used it on a military vessel, but everyone had studied the same vids in their naval history holobooks during basic training.
Three short, three long, three short. SOS. Save Our Souls. A cruel jibe. The only soul left to save was his, and the very thing he tried to escape stood right outside, mocking him with the ancient distress signal none of them, least of all him, would ever be able to send.
The tapping stopped. Michael stared at the opening in front of him, seeing the grille being yanked off like paper as if it were already happening, seeing the light falling fully into the narrow vent, revealing him where he crouched, helpless and too terrified to move.
Not that he would be able to escape even if he could.
The silence pushed at his ears. The grille in front of him continued to filter the light into shapes on the inside of the vent. He waited, certain he was a dead man; wanting it to be over now, because he was tired, so very tired.
Eventually, it dawned on him that it had been silent too long. It took a few more minutes before he worked up enough courage to make his way to the front of the vent and look down to see the empty corridor stretching out on either side.
After he opened the grille and slid down from his hiding place, his legs gave way below him and he crumpled to the floor.
I’m still alive. I’m still alive.
But not for long if he just sat there. He had to find medication. That meant Med Bay–and the bridge.
He shuddered, his mind shying away from the endless corridors that waited for him, lights flickering while darkness edged their walls.
Don’t think. Just go. Go now.
Leaning on the wall, Michael pushed himself to his feet. He started limping down the corridor, slow at first, and then faster. The way to the bridge would be long and dangerous, and if he was right, he had very little time to get there.
Desmond Obuki was not particularly kind or generous. He gave to charity for the tax breaks and avoided fund-raisers like the plagues they were usually trying to eradicate. He was a businessman, not a meal ticket. But he was also something else.
And if the shoe on the unmoving foot he had spotted told him anything, it was that the Elutheran had a human down on the ground. It kept lashing out viciously, its muscular proboscis waving between its short, sharp beak as it chirped away to itself. The feathered red ball of its body rippled every now and again, as if caught in a stiff breeze. It was at least knee-high; definitely an adult.
After that, he couldn’t very well walk away. The warren of alleys surrounding Bradley was dangerous. Not so much for a former soldier like himself, but even he wouldn’t be here now if he wasn’t trying to beat the clock.
He had no idea how the Elutheran had managed to overpower the human, but a mudsucker couldn’t be up to any good in an area like this one. The guy had probably fallen asleep drunk in the gutter, and the Elutheran must have come across him. Humans were few and far between in this part of PortCity; the least he could do was drive off the little mudsucker and help the poor bastard up out of the gutter.
He didn’t need to check the dim street for friends of the alien. The alley finished in a dead-end beyond the spot where the Elutheran had the human backed up against the building. The smooth seventy-foot walls of the ore factories on either side offered no hiding places.
“Hey! Get the fuck off him!”
The Elutheran panicked. It sucked its feeding tube back into its head, rolled across the narrow alley, bounced along the lower edge of the wall and shot past Obuki before the man could grab hold of it. Shrugging his shoulders, Obuki walked over to the gutter and bent over the shape clad in a dark jumpsuit and a pair of spacer’s boots. There was a faint smell in the air–like rust.
“Hey, you, wake up. This is no place to sleep off…”
He rolled the body over and sucked in his breath.
His hands were wet. He looked at them and it dawned on him that the top half of the jumpsuit was not red. It only looked that way because of the blood.
He’d lost his comm panel on the flight back. Hadn’t thought much of it at the time as he had a replacement at the office, but that wouldn’t help him contact the police now.
He looked at the battered face again and sighed. It had to be a woman. And she was still breathing.
Well, he thought, no good deed goes unpunished. He would be late for sure now. Grumbling under his breath, he picked up the unconscious woman and strode out of the alleyway.