my guest today is Josh Tremino. Josh has a short blog post of his own, and then he's answering some questions for me. Take it away, Josh.
Love and the Ultimate Sacrifice
Last week, I saw Tangled for the first time. This was a great little movie complete with a blond princess, amusing animals, and a clever romance. But after I left the theatre, one moment in particular keeps resonating in my chest. This movie illustrated my favorite part of romance, the most profound and meaningful part of any relationship: sacrifice.
Spoilers: I’m about to give away the ending to this movie.
At the end of this movie, Flynn Rider is about to die. As he clutches his fatal wound, he listens to Repunzel as she tries to get her captor to let her heal him. If she does, she will lose her freedom. After a few tense moments, Repunzel is allowed to go to him. She will give up everything for him. She will spend her life in captivity to save this boy.
I find this moment intense and fascinating. So much of romance is about sacrifice. In the smallest sense, it’s letting the guy or girl you love pick where you’ll go to dinner. Or maybe it’s about taking on an extra shift so you can get her something nice for her birthday.
If you want to go more epic, sacrifice is the moment when one character will give up what she wants most to save the a loved one. In Tangled, our princess hero craves her freedom, but she’ll give it up for the boy she loves. She goes to him, ready to sacrifice everything until he slashes away her hair, removing her magic and condemning him to death.
She will give up everything for him; he’ll give up everything for her. It’s beautiful, it’s wonderful, and it’s painful because this is love.
In our culture and life in general, love gets messed up with a bunch of other concepts. Love might get confused with friendship or sex. Love might be about meeting someone else’s expectations. But throw in some sacrifice, and it gets simple pretty quickly.
Are you willing to suffer or die? This combination simplifies the questions of romantic love. These people care about one another in a meaningful, fundamental, and nearly primordial way.
The same question of sacrifice arises in both of my upcoming novels. In Poisoned Star, Treya ultimately has to choose between her life and the boy she’s come to love. She knows that defying her masters will result in her death. For her, there is no question. There is no hope, so her decision nearly impossible.
Nick, the main character from Angels in Disguise, puts himself in the position where he will die for the woman he loves. He is part-demon and an angel’s light will kill him, but he exposes himself anyway because he must if he wants to save Jenny.
Love and the ultimate sacrifice, together they simplify a lot of questions whether it’s in one of my paranormal romances or an awesome Disney movie like Tangled.
Oh, my goodness! I love it. Now let's get to that interview.
1.Can you tell us five things about you that nobody would ever guess?
1. My favorite song is Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”.
2. I still watch Degrassi.
3. Nicholas Sparks is one of favorite writers.
4. I really liked the Twilight series.
5. I love romance and believe in true love.
2.What do you think makes a book a page turner?
For me, a book is compelling and pulls me in when I get to see how characters’ relationships develop. A good point is all about learning how people interact with one another. Maybe it’s a romantic subplot or watching two brothers learn to interact, but all good stories come down to people. Yes, explosions and combat and bombs can be very exciting, but if people aren’t involved, then those things don’t mean anything. That’s probably why I wasn’t a big fan of Transformers.
3.Which genre of books appeals least to you? Why?
As an English teacher, I can read pretty much anything, but mysteries are probably my least favorite genre. I’ve only read a couple, so I probably shouldn’t judge the entire genre, but their characters always seem too bland. Yes, someone died and that can be pretty exciting, but the person is dead, so I don’t have a lot of investment. I watch shows like Castle and Bones, but those shows attract me more for the interpersonal subplots.
5.On the average, how long does it take you to write a book.
It takes me anywhere between three and five months to write a book on my own. First I’ll jot down a bunch of ideas in a notebook, then I’ll type up a formal outline, and finally I’ll sit down and write it. From there, I edit it alone, submit it to a publisher, and work through the final kinks with an editor. Once the publisher’s editor comes in, things slow down a lot as we start to negotiate points of style, language, and plot.
6.Would you share your links with us?
Be sure to friend me on Facebook for more updates, cool links, and other fun tidbits.
7.We’d love to read an excerpt. Be sure to give us a buy link.
If you’re interested in a new twist on the vampire novel, check out Infinite. You can purchase it at:
Here’s an excerpt of Poisoned Star (tentatively scheduled for release in July, 2011).
Kayla, if you’re out there, if you read this,
The satellites recorded everything. The explosions. The people, all running and terrified. Since the attack, I have seen it all. Even the military records. They couldn’t keep those from me either. I have been a digital witness to the destruction of our home and our families.
It took four minutes and thirty six seconds. Long range missiles fired from a million miles away destroyed the defense satellites. Alien fighters descended through the atmosphere and bombed our grounded ships. Nothing made it to the air. Alarms barely went off before the entire grid blackened to static.
They left the surveillance grid online. Each of the satellites circled overhead. They recorded the alien ship. They watched its cannons grow from the hull and pummel our world from the safety of space. Hundreds of cameras and sensors took in thousands of hours of data. And I’ve worked through it all. Everyone else is accounted for.
Except we haven’t found your body.
You’re supposed to be dead. I get it. Lots of people would say I’m chasing a ghost, but they’re wrong. I don’t care what they say. I know you’re still out there, and I’m going to get back to you. Nothing else matters. It’s you and it’s me.
In a better world, I’d be gone too. We should have shared the same fate. But the universe isn’t logical. Our best scientists make guesses and fill out their equations, yet it’s so uncertain. Everyone said I would make a difference for our species. That’s why they pulled me out of school, put me through those special tests. They wanted to see what I could do.
Gone, off world, I didn’t see it, not until the flames died. Only charred bodies and broken buildings. Back on Earth, they held the memorials. Politicians swore revenge, and they sent ships out. None have come back. But now they have a new weapon.
This time will be different.
That’s the promise anyway.
In a couple hours we’ll jump back to the Caderis system, and I’m pretty sure I know what’ll happen. And if I’m as smart as the tests say, if the rumors are true and I’ve put all of the puzzle pieces together just right, then I’ll get to see you again.
But if I’m wrong, if I don’t get to see you again, I hope you find this. I pray you’re alive and you know someone came for you. I didn’t forget.
--From the grid posts of Carson Winters
Chapter One: Invasion
Three, two, one, Treya counted as she watched the piercer missiles zoom at the first Terran patrol ship. Zero, she finished and a pair of explosions blossomed across space. More than ten thousand kilometers away, Treya watched the destruction safely on the bridge of her warship. She commanded this ship, a Poisoned Star. It was one of the universe’s most powerful weapons.
Nothing could match a Poisoned Star’s destructive power. The patrol ship filled with humans proved it. Moments ago, it was worth billions of credits. After one thought and a couple missiles, it burned into drifting slag.
Treya tilted her head as she assessed the damage. The human ship had looked like a boxy behemoth. Steel gray, its designers equipped it with missiles and a few cannons. Little kids could have stared up at it, excited about how something so big and powerful could belong to their people. Those same children might have cried at their great ship now. It only took two missiles to twist their monument into burning wreckage. The Terrans wielded nothing next to the might of a Poisoned Star.
Every one of the patrol’s compartments lost pressure as puffs of oxygen puffed out into space. Treya didn’t feel the flicker of power from any environmental suits. Every member of the crew perished. Her master would be pleased.
One ship remained, this one larger and better equipped. The cruiser hovered in space, braced as if its crew understood what they faced. This ship was their colony’s last line of defense. It should have been imposing as well, but Treya imagined that she could almost feel the humans’ fear. They’d saw an alien warship, and they had to know they could never win.
Data from her ship’s sensors streamed through her mind, fed by the relay at the base of her neck. The hull contained thousands of sensors, preceptors, scanners, and different kinds of technology Treya couldn’t even name. She used it by instinct and intuition.
Two direct hits, Treya heard along with a healthy dose of satisfaction. Always cautious, Leandra was the first half of the warship’s artificial intelligence. She always wanted the first strike to devastate before they got any closer. Missiles two and three are armed as well. Those numbers sounded tiny when their ship could launch hundreds of piercer missiles at a time.
Treya didn’t even need to say anything. She sent the thought and watched another pair of missiles streak across her perceptions. Her eyes told her that she was looking at a curved blank wall, but Treya saw more than that. Overlaid against her sight were different squares of information, everything she needed to pilot Leandra, manage the fighter squadrons docked throughout her hull, and ensure the completion of any mission the Foundation gave her. Without moving, she could control the full force of her Poisoned Star.
Two, one, Treya counted again, finishing with the third and fourth explosions. Reaching out with Leandra’s sensors, Treya watched the second cruiser’s lights blink out. Its thrusters went cold and dead. There were a few emergency lights, red pinpricks against the steel-gray hull, but Treya knew the ship wouldn’t fight back. In seconds, the shuttle bay exploded open and three little ships flew out while dozens of escape pods shot away from the dying cruiser.
The target is neutralized, Leandra sent directly into Treya’s mind. The implant at the base of her skull connected their minds.
Not yet, Treya answered, firing up the Poisoned Star’s thrusters. The distance between Leandra and the broken cruisers shrank in seconds. They were probably scared, Treya understood, but there was no sympathy in the thought.
She focused on the shuttle commanders trying who pretended her warship couldn’t destroy them. They must have been trained, probably gone through countless meetings and strategy sessions.
And none of it would mean anything against the power of this ship. Their engines roared to life as they tried to scream away, but they couldn’t escape. None of their ships had the speed, armor, or weapons to threaten a Poisoned Star.
A single Poisoned Star could leave the entire Directorate burnt ash, but Treya didn’t do that because the Foundation never gave her the command.
One thousand kilometers, six hundred, three hundred, and Treya watched the little squares. Each one could hold ten or twenty humans, soldiers of the United Terran Directorate, enemies of the Foundation. Heretics.
Treya targeted Leandra’s rail guns. Each of the cannons could spout ninety rounds per second. Across the ship, a hundred guns extended themselves from the hull, each armed with thousands of explosive rounds generated in Leandra’s automated foundries. Between thirty-two escape pods and three shuttles, Treya picked her targets. No remorse, she told herself.
They’re trying to call for help.
Let them, Treya said. It doesn’t matter. They were stupid to come into this system. They should know better. Treya didn’t hear the sound of her voice. As a pilot, she only spoke to Leandra and Indigo. They heard her thoughts. Voices were for humans. Trained by the Foundation, Treya became something different long ago.
As much as I like the compliment, you don’t think we could get outnumbered?
I think it doesn’t matter. That was true. Terrans had their cruisers, their carriers, their nukes, and even those hulking fortress ships. Even as one massive fleet, they would never have a chance against Leandra.
Between her hundreds of guns, thousands of missiles, unlimited energies and stocks of supplies, her regenerating hull, and skeletal armor, this living ship was large enough, fast enough, and strong enough to destroy their entire species. That wasn’t a boast, just reality.
You shouldn’t underestimate them.
Quit being such a wimp, chirped the third voice. Treya felt the corner of her mouth rise because that was always Indigo’s attitude. Leandra was the ship’s personality, but the bank of fighters and drones stored throughout her hull had a different mind. Protected between Leandra’s four wings and in dozens of storage bays, Indigo protected the Poisoned Star from enemy fighters and boarding parties.
Technically a swarm, she should have been scattered, insectoid and frightening. Instead, Indigo was one mind with a thousand bodies, always cheerful and eager to dance between stars and planets. We can take them, Indigo promised.
They’re humans. There’s nothing more dangerous than a desperate human. They come up with some really nasty stuff. Plagues, suicide bombers. You should always be careful around them. Leandra studied human history and understood their potential. One day they might come up with some new weapon, something capable of destroying a Poisoned Star.
I’m a human too, Treya said, Do you think I could defeat the Foundation? That idea felt like a paradox. The answer was supposed to be obvious. No. Nothing could defeat the Foundation. That’s what they were always told. Indigo and Leandra were programmed to know the Foundation was invincible. Treya’s handler made sure she’d remember the same fact for the rest of her life.
Nothing could defeat a Poisoned Star, the war machine for a species of scholars, artists, scientists, and philosophers. More importantly, Indigo, Treya, and Leandra all knew that attacking the Foundation would be suicide. No one survived against their might. Humans had been in space for centuries. Despite all of that experience, their weapons were still worthless against the armors and firepower brought by just one of the Foundation’s ships. Defying the Foundation meant death. For anyone.
Don’t even joke about that.
The girl makes a good point, Indigo said, laughing from the hundred and thirty-three fighters which made up her body. Humans don’t have anything. Those little boxes are just metal with a couple fusion generators and some pellet guns. Come on! The Foundation hasn’t used technology like that in centuries. They might as well throw feces at us.
Treya thought these words like a prayer. We are loyal to the Foundation. She had to say them or something bad might happen. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t need to make sense. That might have been another part of her training even if it came a few seconds late. Despite the shiver down her back, Treya added, Disobedience will not be tolerated. Her handler’s words.
Concentrating on the cloud of Terran escape pods, Treya heard the different calls for help. Most of them were coded, nothing but static to Leandra’s receivers. She could have tried to hack the messages but didn’t see the point. Then she heard the calls on standard frequencies too. These weren’t in codes or ciphers, just soldiers who were too scared to remember the procedures that were supposed to keep them alive.
“Contact!” shouted some kid, a young man Treya guessed. “Repeat! The Falcon and The Hunter are down. We’re coming. Repeat, we’re coming! Get ready! The enemy is here! They’re here!” He must’ve been alone, Treya figured. Otherwise, he wouldn’t let so much terror bleed into his cries for help. That’s what she thought as she locked the rail guns onto the pods and gave the thought to fire. She didn’t need to say anything.
Slivers of lights shot from Leandra’s cannons. It could have been a light show, Treya thought, remembering something from her childhood. Probing the memory, she didn’t find any feelings, no longing or regret, simply the images of red and blue circles of light in the night sky.
Bullets from the rail guns were all bright yellow while the pods burst into little spheres of orange. Puffs of flame disappeared into vacuum. Too small to burn for more than a second, the flames collapsed, and Treya didn’t hear any more distress calls.
Onto the planet, she ordered. There were probably scientists somewhere in the universe interested in the Caderis system. Choked with more than twenty planets, a hundred moons, an asteroid belt, and a big ball of some kind of gas, it was as diverse a system as any Treya had ever seen before. But there was just one little blue globe suitable for human habitation.
The Terrans would be there, so that’s where she had to go.
Weapons platforms, several cruisers, two carriers, and there are buildings on the surface, Leandra sent, her voice hushed as she focused on piercing the distance and atmosphere to see what the Terrans brought to this invasion.
Bring us in. Most direct path. She wanted to get this over with.