Guest Post & Giveaway – Sandra Bard: Into the Divide

First of all, thank you for having me on the blog. This is the second time I’ve been here and I really enjoyed the first time. But I am ashamed to say I forgot about this until the last moment and then had to scramble to fine tune this post.

I have been busy.

In addition to my normal five day a week, full time job, I have taken up teaching extra classes for kids during the weekends. The setting is dismal and we really lack a lot of amenities but the kids are fun and I have found out, much to my surprise, I enjoy teaching kids. I took up the job because I needed more money because my regular job is not as lucrative as my former and it has surprised me in certain ways.

Since I have no experience teaching kids I searched the web and came up with an ice breaker lesson where students get to talk about objects that mean something to them. As an example, I decided to share with them about an object that means a lot of me, my earring made out of two coins.

Once, in a different life time, I was a university academic until the university pulled the rug out from under me, cancelled my research grant and kicked me out on my ass. I lost my job, my apartment and my working visa and hence had to crawl back home. Before I left, I went to the bank to shut down my account and the final two cents they gave me, I transformed into earrings. I wore those earrings as a reminder that things have gone really, really bad but I have survived.

But as I was talking to my students about it, I realized

  1. They were too young to realize the bitterness associated with that object I wore constantly and
  2. I no longer felt as bitter about it as before. I spoke to the children about my time abroad, the friends and the other pleasant memories associated with those two coins and knew I was recovering.

I work at a different university now, lower pay, lower status but it gives me time to write so … perhaps not all bad.

Did I think I’d ever be teaching kids or for that matter teach at all … no.

Did I think I’d ever be writing m/m books … no.

But am I enjoying myself … yes.

And I think in the end, that’s all that matters.

When I booked this blog post, it was to promote my new book, Into the Divide which was released on the 3rd of this month. It is my favorite work up till now, because it came to me so easily and I was able to write it really fast. It’s not perfect but I don’t know what a perfect story is because stories, in my opinion, stories are organic. They grow and change and appeal to different people in different ways.

My main character, Tarn, is a former criminal. He’s part of a rehabilitation unit that gives people like him second chances. While I was writing the story, I struggled to show that he had reformed but hadn’t lost his sharp edge, the ruthlessness that needed to get the job done, because a part of his job was to kill things. It was in part finding the perfect niche for his talents, about fitting in to a hostile environment and belonging there.

I wish there was an easy google search for that but sometimes there isn’t. But finding things out on my own, figuring out the intricacies of the character I want, I truly enjoyed it and am happy with the outcome. So when I say it was easy to write, I knew what the plot was going to be like when I started, right down to the twist at the end, but shaping people, characters, Tarn’s interactions with Calvin … those were much harder.

Calvin is a geek, a little clumsy and awkward with a lot of bad experiences behind him but able to come through when he’s need the most.

This is the first in the Divide universe series and there will be a lot more to come. Less Than Three press has been kind enough to accept the next two books in the series as well, and I am working on some more books and short stories as well.

And even more surprisingly, Less Than Three press agreed to have this book in print though it is only 35,000 words because all the other books in the series are going to be in print. This universe is interesting because I have so my ideas of where it’s going, so many characters to explore and so my mysteries to unravel.

I hope everyone has fun reading this, because I had fun writing it.

Print

TH2014Blurb

Nullands: Sections of a series of planets sealed off by an energy barrier, called the Divide, filled with danger, where technology does not work.

Tarn is part of the Death Squad, a criminal given a second chance by agreeing to risk his life over and over again in the Nullands. His latest mission is the kind he usually avoids: babysit an inexperienced lab tech while they hunt down the dangerous creature that escaped a research lab.

Calvin is the lab tech given the unenviable task of hunting down the creature that escaped his lab, after it killed his friend and five others. An assignment he mostly landed for refusing to sleep with his boss, he knows damn good and well he’s being sent to die. What he doesn’t expect is Tarn, or how far he’s willing to go to survive.

Purchase Links

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Tumblr | Less Than Three PressDreamspinner Press

TH2014Giveaway

Sandra will be giving away an eBook copy of Into the Divide to one lucky winner. To enter simply leave a comment below.  Giveaway ends Friday, Sept 19th at midnight (Eastern time).

Do you have an object that means something  important to you? 

Guest Author Sandra Bard – On Writing and Home

PrintI don’t write sad fics. I don’t like giving my characters unhappy endings, but sometimes in the middle, they do go through a good deal of angst. They go through problems (I’ve created for them) to emerge stronger and hopefully a little happy.

I write all sorts of stories, from contemporary to fantasy and science fiction.  In case anyone is wondering, my fairy tales are published by Less Than Three Press as serials, and my science fiction is a work in progress.

I have a vampire short story coming out from Less Than Three Press called The List. It was particularly enjoyable for me to write since I wanted to create a world where the vampires live out in the open and people treat them with different levels of acceptance.  It’s going to be out on the 2nd of October.

My first contemporary novel, out since May 27th, Bound by Guilt from Dreamspinner, took ages to write since I was doing some very important real life things (which now I realise probably weren’t all that important but ate up my free time like mad). It was a sort of stress reliever. I never intended for it to be published. Having said that, I was happy it was accepted for publication, and it made me feel more confident about what I write, but it also made me realise it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

When I first started Bound by Guilt, I didn’t want to write about dashing heroes, all perfect and good looking, who are nice, charming, and suave. Half the time I wondered if there were people like me in the world, not too good looking, not very social, and prone to messing things up without even trying. In the book, I took it a little further, because I wanted to push my characters to the very edge.

That is how I ended up with Kit, one of the most selfish people I’ve ever put down on paper, and Sasha, who is as anti-social as a person can get. For me, it’s a story of forgiveness (because they do some shitty things to each other), and personal growth—since in the end, they do learn to like someone other than themselves. But it’s a tough ride, and there are places where they both get hurt.

Some have told me the book is rather vague in its setting. I chose San Diego because I’m familiar enough with the place, and it had Comic Con (who could resist that?), but really I do understand what they meant. This book sat in my hard drive for over three years. In that time, I travelled a lot, and all those places merged together.

I grew up all over the world. My father was, and still is, a school teacher. He has worked in schools all over, and for most part, we, as a family went wherever he went.

I was in Nigeria when I was four.  We lived near the Sahara border with the sand storms. I remember the dust, and the daily walk to the water tap with white plastic cans to collect water. One of the first things I learned to say was “ba ruwa” which means no water.

I studied in an all female Catholic convent in the middle of Africa, did my postgraduate studies in Singapore, and travelled even more. I travelled to conferences from the US to Bali, for fun with friends from Korea to Indonesia. There was a time in my life when I was never in one place for long.

But with all the moving, packing, unpacking, there was one place I call home.  No matter where I went, whenever I had a little time to myself, I would buy a ticket, and fly home. My friends would laugh at my obsession of spending so much money just to fly back the following week, but it grounded me, reminded my no matter how bad things got, I would always have a place where I was always welcome.  Home.

My home town:

When people ask where I live, I usually say at the top of a mountain.

This is my home town.

  mntsb

 

View of the mountain facing the one I live on. Excuse the electric wires in the shot. I never was a good photographer.

See the multi-storied, yellow building in the middle? That was my school whenever I was home.

The town is surrounded by a ring of mountains, so early in the morning or late afternoon, it’s possible to see the mist creep in.

I live a two kilometre walk downhill from town (walking up when going back isn’t fun). The best feature about the town is the lake in the middle.

It has its own unique eco system.

And in the end, this is where I do most of my writing. My home.

***

BoundByGuilt_postcard_front_DSPBlurb Bound by Guilt:

Kit Mason works at Eddy’s, a boutique where the clothes are chic, the paycheck’s weak, and Kit has no qualms about snagging rich older men looking to pay for play. When Cory St. James walks in, he checks all Kit’s boxes: he’s middle-aged, the entrepreneur of a pharmaceutical company, and already has a kept boy at home—what’s one more? Kit sets out to seduce Cory and bulldozes through his denials, but when Cory finally gives in, his lover, Sasha, catches them with their pants down.

Sasha isn’t the pampered toy Kit expected. In fact, Kit may have misjudged him. And the consequences that ensue when Sasha catches Kit and Cory together leave him alone. Unwilling to be weighed down by guilt, Kit decides to look after Sasha himself, even if Sasha can’t stand the sight of him and there are a few things about Kit’s past he doesn’t want Sasha to know. But Kit isn’t willing to do all the work when it comes to forcing Sasha to rebuild his life. It’s a slow process of growing trust and learning to stand on their own—and together.

Where to find Sandra:

Tumblrhttp://sandrabard.tumblr.com/
Sandra’s bio at Less Than Three Presshttp://www.lessthanthreepress.com/author-sandra-bard/
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=858

*** Contest ***

For a chance to win an eBook copy of Bound by Guilt, all you have to do is leave a comment and contact email address below. Contest runs from Tues, July 30th until Tues, 6th of Aug.