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It’s Duff Roman’s eighteenth birthday, but no one is lighting candles.
Turning eighteen in the orphanage on Kalecca means starvation for those who aren’t hired into a Family. Outside the Family compounds lies the jungle. And in the jungle lies death. And Relics—the only real currency on Planet Kalecca.
The orphans are Duff’s family, and he’s sacrificed everything to keep the orphanage running, even his chance to move on. Now, at eighteen, he has no choice but to leave. Without him to bring in extra money, the orphans will starve under the Company’s control. Duff's only chance to save them is to find a spot on an independent crew and hopefully find a Relic to sell.
A seemingly chance encounter with Z, leader of the most feared independent crew, offers Duff his opportunity to score a Relic. And offers Z a chance to relieve the guilt he feels over his past.
But a company assassin has plans to lay waste to Duff's future, and the orphanage as well.
Z from Chapter 10
Z took a small sip of the best whiskey they had at the Inn. It burned the back of his throat. He stood as if he didn’t care that he was the only freelancer in the place. He stood as if he’d only come here to enjoy some whiskey. It was good. It left a sweet smoky taste in his mouth. But he was here to gather information and to sort out a few things before going back into the jungle.
He’d gotten good at watching a room without seeming to. The Families had finally calmed down enough to resume the conversations that had stopped when he’d walked in.
They all recognized him as an ex-company man. The first time he’d come in here, there’d been bets on how long before he ended up dead. No one knew that he had something over Ravenne, which made him harder for her to kill. Not impossible, just harder.
He took another sip of the whiskey and closed his eyes as if he was just enjoying a drink. That allowed him to focus his senses on the conversations. No one was talking about the orphanage or Duff. They’d been long forgotten. There seemed to be a general unease in the room. Too many high ranked Family men were here. Odds were good they would meet in secret later. There was definitely something going on.
He’d also noticed that there seemed to be less Relics in the normal spots and that the company was paying a bit less. That would be a troublesome trend.
What would we find under your bed?
Dust bunnies? Maybe a whole pile of lost socks? I'm a little afraid to look now.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
I am afraid of low-heights. It may actually be a fear of falling, because airplanes, hot air balloons, and mountain views are fine. The top of a counter or standing on a rock freaks me out.
I once did a rope obstacle course. Have you seen one of them? They securely connect you with a harness and they have 4-6 configurations of ropes that you have to cross and then you use a zipline to get to the bottom.
I climbed a ladder up to the first platform. The first section was a tight-rope. So picture a single rope strung between platforms twenty feet up in the air. The only thing you could hold on to were two ropes at hip height.
That first step was by far one of the scariest things I had ever done. For the record, the zip-line at the end was one of the funnest.
Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?
Not usually. I tend to sing along which distracts me. I've tried just instrumental or white noise, but I just seem to like the quiet. Or as quiet as it gets in a house with a 8 and 10 year old.
What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I want the full Relic trilogy and the prequel out. I have two more series that hopefully will also go out into the wild.
How long did it take you to write this book?
About a year. I work on more than one project at a time. I have three going right now at various stages and probably six waiting in line that are either partially written or an extension of something I've already written.
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Claudia Blood’s early introduction to Dungeons and Dragons, combined with her training as a scientist and a side trip into the world of IT set her up to become an award-winning author of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
For her latest release, visit her at www.ClaudiaBlood.com
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