I’m not sure Jenn and I appreciated how messed up Felix would be by the time we got to Skip Trace, the third book in our Chaos Station series. Oh, how naïve of us.
In the first book, Chaos Station, we bring together two scarred and bruised souls. Childhood friends and former lovers, Zander and Felix have not seen each other in nearly nine years. Zed thinks Felix died in the war, and Felix thinks Zed has been swallowed by Black Ops, where he might as well be dead. To say seeing each other again is a shock would be an understatement. Messed up by his experimental training, Zed thinks Felix is a ghost. Felix…well, he’s lost so much to the war, the reality of Zed feels too good to be true.
Together, they work to save another of Zed’s teammates, and if you’ve read the book, you know how well that turns out. Their first fumblings toward restoring their relationship fare a little better. The physical side of things proves much easier than the mental side—maybe because they were friends first, lovers second. The order of priority changed just before the war, however, when they acknowledged feelings that had always been there and vowed to make it work—only to be torn apart by brutal events.
In the second book, Lonely Shore, we do terrible things to both of them. Really, writers are awful people. Sometimes I look at Felix’s character sheet and ask myself, “What were you thinking?” And then I go on to plot… Um, you’ll just have to wait for book four for that one. Anyway, if you’ve read Lonely Shore, you know we, er, let the “fatal effects” of Zed’s experimental training catch up with him. This isn’t as much a spoiler as you think, because the cover copy for Skip Trace begins:
“Zander Anatolius has been revived from the fatal effects of the super-soldier program…”
The important word there is revived. The important fact, however, is that he did die, and Felix suffered yet another loss, and this one… Oh, man.
See, Felix has loved Zed since he was eight years old. In addition to being his best friend, Zed is his hero. He is the man Felix first looked to for salvation. He is the man Felix will always look to for help. Add in the lovely backstory I cooked up for Felix—capture, torture, nearly four years as a prisoner of war, the loss of his home and family, some slightly serious (is that an oxymoron?) substance abuse issues and a slew of emotional problems—and you have a man who is not going to cope well with the death of his…everything. Because Zed is just that, his everything. So while we plotted the first two books as a recovery arc for Zed, we failed to take into account the downward spiral this would mean for Felix.
By the end of Lonely Shore the damage is evident. Felix functions, but only just. His armor—his defensive nature and snark—is brittle, and one tap is going to break him into a million pieces.
Because we’re (evil) writers, we deliver the blow with a hammer.
Skip Trace is the middle of a five chapter story. Necessarily, it’s dark. It’s the turning point, for both Zed and Felix. Zed is cured, but what does that mean? And our super soldier has his own issues—war is not kind, and being a denied asset can’t be fun. Felix is broken, and must struggle to pull the pieces of himself together in order to save Zed, again, so that Zed can turn around and save him.
Both our guys have battles to fight in this book and, for the most part, they go at it alone—and that’s another sad comment on their mental state. Zed and Felix both have been rejected by the institution that f’cked them up, the Allied Earth Forces. War has all but shredded their trust. The point of the story, though, is that they can only do it together, and when they realise that…well, it’s painful and beautiful at the same time.
Where will we go from here? When you’re at the bottom of a well, there really is only one place to go, and that’s up and out. I could rattle off some lovely clichés, but the important thing is that there are two books left in this series, and these guys have got places to go and people to see. We need them on deck and functional. The galaxy needs them, even if they’re not quite convinced of that fact yet.
That doesn’t mean we can’t continue to torture them just a little bit, though. 😉
Book three of Chaos Station
Zander Anatolius has been revived from the fatal effects of the super-soldier program, but now he has to face his estranged family and tell a story few would believe. With his lover and the crew of the Chaos at his side, Zander returns home to a media frenzy, threats from the military and pressure to join the family business.
Felix Ingesson still struggles with the horror of believing Zander dead. And no matter how strong their emotional connection is, Felix feels out of place in the glittery world of Zander’s rich family. His lover would be better off without a broken, low-class ship’s engineer holding him back.
When the crew receives word that another of Zander’s former teammates needs rescue, Felix travels with the Chaos…setting Zander free. But when Zander is arrested for treason, the men realize they need each other as much as ever—not only to survive, but to make their lives worth living.
Jenn and Kelly met in 2009 through a mutual infatuation with a man who wasn’t real. After all but crashing the video game’s forums with daily dissection of their obsession, they started writing together, discovered they really liked writing together and began plotting stories in worlds of their own creation.
The CHAOS STATION series aren’t the first books they’ve written together, and they’re pretty sure they won’t be the last. As long as their so-called smartphones keep making autocorrects that trigger brainstorming sessions, they’ll have enough character ideas and plots to keep them writing for years to come.
Prize: The first two books in the Chaos Station series, Chaos Station and Lonely Shore, and a $10 gift card to your favorite online bookseller.
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Terms: Two prizes. Rafflecopter runs from 12:00 AM EST 10/05/2015 to 12:00 AM EST 10/09/2015. Giveaway is open internationally. Gift card value is US dollars. Winners will be contacted via email. If a winner already has one or both of the books, gift card value will be increased to $15 USD.
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