On To The Next Adventure, Then

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Woohoo!

The day I published Rogue Elegance I sat back, poured myself a glass of wine, and told myself that I was finally, finally done.

Done with what? With the story? With writing? With becoming way too emotionally attached to my own fictional characters?

Turns out, I wasn’t done with any of it.

Even before the official Rogue Elegance launch party arrived, I plopped myself down at my desk and started typing.

As people have come to the end of Rogue Elegance, they’ve noticed that there’s a rather subtle cliffhanger at the very close of the epilogue. Readers are left wondering what the heck happened to Evander the Hawk. Questions I’ve been receiving over text and email have generally looked as follows:

  • Uhm, where did the Hawk’s body go?
  • Did he write that letter before he died? Did he write it after he died?
  • Has the Hawk become a Hawk in the most meta transformation, like, ever?
  • Is there a sequel? It sounds like there’s a sequel.

Here are my answers to the questions, in order:

  • I’m not even sure where his body went. I like to imagine it turned to ash and floated away, a la the vampires in old reruns of Buffy.
  • I’m not answering that question without a lawyer present (I’ve always wanted to say that).
  • No. This isn’t Animorphs. Although, real talk, that would be great.
  • Yes. There is a sequel, it’s called Rose’s Rebellion. You can check out the prologue here.

I’m really excited and flattered that so many people are so interested in reading more of Emerala and Nerani’s story. Seriously, I couldn’t have imagined a better response to the story I’ve been working to get on paper for so many years. This entire experience has been so surreal. There’s definitely a lot more to tell, and the cousins have only just started exploring the wide world outside of Chancey (because let’s be honest, running from cannibals on a frozen tundra doesn’t exactly leave you with a lot of time to stop and look around).

As it so happens, I got a little bit sidetracked.

(Me? Sidetracked? Inconceivable) I started

Shea_Jack
Jack Casey and Shea Parker

working on a new project during my science fiction writing course in graduate school. What was meant to be a short dystopian story has since blossomed into a fully fledged manuscript, complete with everything a YA apocalypse novel needs: zombies, corrupt governments, zombies, brainwashed military, zombies, and one kick-ass female protagonist.

I’m really excited to share this one with you all, and I think you’re all really going to like Shea Parker and her adventures. I’m wrapping up a draft of the manuscript now, and then I’ll be getting it in to an editor for some serious reworking. I can’t wait to see where this next story goes.

In the meantime, here’s a teensy excerpt from the manuscript:

I feel, suddenly, like I can’t breathe. I pull my gloves from my hands, baking already in the stifling heat of the car. My fingers claw uselessly at the yoke valve on my R.C. Gear and I expel a reedy breath, unable to remove the respirator from my face. Outside the car, the rising sun hangs heavy over the street. The shimmering ether snaps frantically against the pavement, mirroring my nerves beneath my skin.

I am alone.

Completely and totally alone.

Panic bubbles within me and I grip the steering wheel, hard—unthinking. The holographic display rumbles into life, flashing my vitals at me in a disconcerting shade of red.

Shea Parker,” Pat monotones. “Seventeen years old. Class one mechanic permit. Heart rate: one hundred fifty beats per minute. Health level: negative. Please remember to breathe in case of panic attack. Remain—

I cringe at the tepid voice droning out from the speakers, wrenching my hands away from the wheel. The voice settles into silence. It is too little too late. A shadow stretches across my lap and I hear a moist squelch as a face presses up against the driver’s side window. I find myself staring directly into two fleshy, eyeless pits. The Feral—a male—snarls at me through the glass, his breath fogging the window before my face. I draw back instinctively, crying out in spite of myself. I glance into the backseat of the car, searching aimlessly for a weapon.

I know I will find nothing. The car was searched prior to leaving the Inner Compound, just as protocol requires. There is no violence in the Inner Compound, just as there are no Ferals in the Outer Compound. The need for weapons is—should be—nil.

And yet here I am.

There is another noise behind me and I glance over my shoulder to see the female Feral pressing up against the passenger side window. Her mouth is twisted into a dreamy half smile as she runs her sallow fingers down the glass.

They can’t see me, I remind myself, trying uselessly to regain some semblance of calm. I just need to stay quiet. Stay quiet and they’ll go away.

            And then what? I’m stuck miles away from the Inner Compound with a broken down car and a missing instructor. Owen left with the kit bag and the radio. I have nothing.

I stare back into the dark hollows of the female’s face, watching as her hand traces aimless lines across the door. It takes a moment for me to realize what she is doing. My stomach lines with dread as I watch her crooked middle finger bump into the handle. Her palm grips the door and I hear a gentle click as she gives it a tug.

The lock holds, of course, but I feel myself shiver in fright all the same.

Her dreamy smile widens and for a moment I am certain she can see me, her prey, cowering in fear just inches away from her reach. She lets out a clicking snarl. The sound is muffled through the glass.

There is a jarring thud and I turn just in time to see the male smash his skull hard against the glass. White spittle mottles the window, shivering beneath the sunlight. He brings his head back, smashing his skull a second time against the pane. This time, a thin white fissure crackles outward from the base of his forehead, splintering across the glass.

“No,” I whisper. My voice is hoarse. I scramble over the armrest, falling into the back of the van. He lifts his head again, bringing it down hard. The female lets out a throaty crow of pleasure. I scoot on my butt—staying low, although I know they can’t see me—dragging myself back towards the trunk of the van. For a moment I deliberate throwing open the trunk and running for it.

But where? And for what purpose?

I am still unfamiliar with this terrain. Even if I knew what I was doing, there is nothing useful in the surrounding shops—everything has been long since raided for supplies. Even if I run for the Inner Compound, there is no telling how long I’ll be able to outrun them.

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Concept Art

Even if Owen managed to escape the others—even if he radios for help—aid from the Inner Compound will arrive long after I am dead. Still, I can’t stay here. If I stay here I die in minutes. At least if I run I have a chance. At least if I run, I’ll die trying.

I swallow, making up my mind. I stare at the male, watching as he lifts his forehead back from the window a fourth time. Shards of glass protrude from his brow, allowing rivulets of blood to pool in the hollows of his face. This time when he brings his face hard against the window I unlatch the trunk, slipping out between the narrow opening.

I crouch at the back of the van for a moment—silent, petrified. My legs feel like Jell-O beneath my leather trousers. I can hear the satisfied hiss of the female from the front of the car as fragments of the glass window shatters across the street.

I run.

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