I can’t believe how far we're into January already!
How is your new year so far? Did you make any resolutions? Did you break them yet? If not, awesome! Keep it up! You can do it.
Last year I spoke about organising my work so that I could actually take some time off. The plan continues.
December was pretty hard. I’d just finished The Crime Lord’s Fall. I had to launch The Runaway’s Escape, plot and write The Soltul’s Disgrace, it’s a novella so easier to do. Still, it was hard and reminded me why I’m organising my admin and why I’m slowing down. I’m looking forward to writing a book, giving it time to sit, editing and rewriting until I’m happy and then thinking about things like alpha and beta reads. ARC reviews. Launches. I want to be able to go into the stories in depth and tell it properly. A writer is always learning to write. The more you do, the more you understand what you need to do and for me. I’m glad I hit the point where I recognised I needed to slow down at the same time as I realised the skills I need to work on to bring better books to you.
I love writing. I love telling stories. I have so many in my head, it’s ridiculous. But I need to recognise I’m not going to get them all out tomorrow! I wish I could!
The excerpt this week is from Sakura’s point of view.
I love Sakura. She’s a mixture of Japanese reserve, English reserve and South East London bolshy angry woman. It takes a lot for Sakura to blow, but when she does, she blows.
I swear we’re getting to heroines that aren’t as traumatised as some of the latest heroines are. Unfortunately, Sakura has had it worse than any of them. Thankfully she has Adalth coming to save her. Not that he knows it yet.
This is an excerpt from Sakura when she first sees Adalth.
The alien male was bruised almost as severely as Sakura was. Some of his scales had come off in the beating Ostar had given him. He lay on the floor, a Naga from South East Asian myth, staring at her. His eyes were electric blue and set in a sapphire face, with electric blue hair, greasy and unkempt, lying in a puddle around him.
His tail was enormous. The aliens who’d brought it aboard had tried to coil it, but it lay in a somewhat tangled mess in the tiny cell all around him. It was long; it had to be forty feet long and was covered in sapphire scales, which got thicker the further down they went, before thinning once again as they moved down his tail. On the alien humanoid body, his scales were small, comparatively. They reminded Sakura of Salmon scales; though larger, they seemed just as fine on him. This was more the case on his face where the scales were so small and delicate that if Sakura hadn’t studied his face when she was using the loo, she wouldn’t have seen them.
Sakura realised he was watching her at the same time as he spoke.
‘You’re human aren’t you. What’s wrong with you?’
The question brought forth images Sakura didn’t want. Her body hurt; her heart and soul hurt worse. Ostar was not a kind master.
Ostar was a fucking monster.
Sakura lay on the bed and turned away, letting her mind drift away from this place and this time.
It was a safety mechanism. Something traumatised people did to escape their trauma.
Sakura’s twin sister, Harumi, was a psychotherapist. When they were at university, they’d talked about their respective courses constantly. Talking about the things they’d learned. Harumi had gone into trauma therapy. Their mother had a traumatic childhood, and Harumi wanted to help her.
Harumi wanted to help everyone.
Sakura was the Japanese name for the Cherry blossom tree. One meaning for Harumi was ‘Spring Beauty’. They’d been born in London during the blossoming of the trees in early spring after a grim winter. The cherry blossom trees outside the hospital had bloomed overnight while their mother was giving birth. Both parents took this as a good sign that their daughters were meant to have better lives than their hard-working but destitute parents.
Sakura secured a place at Oxford, studying political sciences, and Harumi was accepted into Cambridge. Both achieving great things despite their impoverished upbringing. Their parents celebrated, inviting all of their friends from the tower block where they lived into their flat for a party. They genuinely believed their daughters would have wonderful lives.
Sakura shivered in the cell of a ship, denied clothing and bed cover by a monster who beat and raped her daily. If she could laugh anymore, she would.
Sakura let her mind drift back to the days when she left Oxford. She start working internships for Earth gov and moved to Ceres, one of the biggest asteroids in the asteroid field between Mars and Jupiter. She spent her days talking to miners about their work conditions. She thought that would be the pinnacle of her career.
When she was transferred to Mars for a better-paying job, she took the opportunity to return to Earth. She bought a house in a nice area of London and installed her parents there, her sister and her sending them money every month, even though they both worked full time. Living on Earth was expensive, and their parents had given up everything for them and their futures. This was the very least they could do to thank them.
On the ship to Mars, her berth was next to James Whittaker, the new envoy for Earth. The guy was a high-level diplomat and a full-time creep. But being in the same area of work, they’d gravitated towards one another and talked almost constantly. By the time she got off the ship, he’d offered her a job.
Working for James had been a maze of problems. It was also the fast track to the big leagues. Within months, she’d increased her payments to her parents and bought an apartment in Persephone on Mars.
Life was so good.
Then, the aliens arrived. Dairon Ethallion and Makios Desares flew into Earth space one day, returning kidnapped humans to their families. It was a miracle.
James had made a point of meeting them and took Sakura with them. It was James they spoke to when they revealed that the men taken during the Violation three hundred years before had been genetically altered and were still alive. Their leader, Thanesh, intended to protect Earth and help them join an organisation that would make their kidnap and slavery and, more importantly, the invasion of Earth illegal.
From that moment on, James had one focus, and Sakura signed up.
And now, here she was. The plaything for a sadist.
The main door to the cells opened, and Ostar threw a ration bar into her cell, followed by a water bag. He shut the door just as quickly. He’d already used her that day, so she was safe for now.
Sakura weighed the cost of getting up against the need to take the edge off her hunger and opted for the latter. Besides, she’d only be hungrier later, and Ostar would turn off the lights in a few minutes. Then she wouldn’t be able to find them in the pitch dark.
Ostar kept Sakura hungry, feeding her only enough to keep her body functioning, so she didn’t have the strength to fight back. He also kept her naked and without bed covers because he opposed anything that kept her body from him for a moment. He couldn’t be arsed to pull bedclothes back, so she went without.
Forcing herself to move, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed. She took a deep breath, fortifying herself for the pain to come, and stood, cradling her arm to take the weight. He pulled her arm out of its socket again, and though she’d managed to get it back in, she was in agony. Taking a step, she noted the limp. He broke her leg when he first bought her and refused to spend anything on treating her, leaving it to set badly. It hadn’t stopped him from abusing her, of course.
She limped over to the floor and picked up the bar, threw it on the bed, followed by the water bag, then limped back to the bed.
She glanced at the Naga man as she returned to the cot. He was fast asleep, the drugs having done their job once again.
Using her good arm, she tore the packaging open and devoured the bar. The thing tasted like sawdust and resin, but she’d eat sawdust and resin if it was available. She quickly followed it with the water, gulping it down, then dropped the packets on the floor where Ostar would take them away tomorrow when he was done with her.
When she was finished, Sakura used the toilet quickly, then got back on the bed. A few minutes later, the lights went out.
Sakura stared into the darkness and wondered, would she be free first, or would she die?