Hi, I’m Kim Fielding and I am a research geek. As an academic, I do a lot of research for a living. But that’s not enough for me, and when I’m writing fiction I enjoy the research parts very much. I’m especially a sucker for history. So even though my first novel, Stasis, was a fantasy set in an alternate universe, I did a lot of real-life digging around to back it up.
The background of my Stasis world isn’t necessarily all that important to the tale, so I didn’t include a lot of details in the novel itself. But those details are very alive in my head, where I know that the story is set in a world in which magic exists, and in which the Romans made their way to the Americas. The action takes place in the city-state of Praesidium—geographically, it’s our San Francisco—and the time setting is late gold rush.
The fun thing about this time period is that some of our more modern technologies were beginning to appear, such as indoor plumbing and railroads. But travel was still a great adventure and the Golden Age of Sail was at its peak.
In preparation for this book (and its sequels, Flux and Equipoise) I spent a lot of happy hours poking around San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, where visitors can climb aboard the Balclutha and other old ships. I hope that the books have created a world that accurately represents life in the latter half of the 19th century—if the people had spoken bastardized Latin, if tyrants ruled, and if there were wizards about.
But although the magic and history are great fun, I wanted the story to resonate with modern readers of our own world. What is it like to be faced with very difficult choices and a repressive government? Can love conquer all, even when the love is forbidden and the erstwhile lovers face internal and external demons? How can we meet challenges—even deadly ones—and come out stronger instead of being destroyed? Those are the themes that Stasis explores—and to me, the history is icing on the cake.
PS—Stasis is only 99 cents for Kindle and I donate all my royalties from this trilogy to Doctors Without Borders.
Praesidium is the most prosperous city-state in the world, due not only to its location at the mouth of a great bay, but also to its strict laws, stringently enforced. Ordinary criminals become bond-slaves, but the Wizard places traitors in Stasis, a dreamless frozen state. Ennek is the Chief’s younger son. He has grown up without much of a purpose, a man who cannot fulfill his true desires and who skates on the edge of the law. But he is also haunted by the plight of one man, a prisoner for whom Stasis appears to be a truly horrible fate. If Ennek is to save that prisoner, he must explore Praesidium’s deepest secrets as well as his own.
The next cell was the one he’d been searching for. He recognized the man at once, even though the memories of him had been buried for so long. Ennek realized with a slight start that the prisoner, who’d seemed infinitely old when Ennek was twelve, was had probably been in his mid-twenties when he was put in Stasis. He looked a few years younger than Ennek himself. He looked exactly the same as he had before.
Ennek stood very close to the man and hesitantly stroked one of the ropes that held him. It was silky, like human hair, and he drew his fingers away in distaste. The man wasn’t moving at all. He was every bit as lifeless as a person in Stasis ought to be, and Ennek began to wonder if he’d imagined the whole thing, all those years ago. Boys are excitable and could easily spook themselves, and he’d been overtired and jumpy in any case. Maybe Gory had jostled the man a little. They’d both been standing very near him, and the rope web wasn’t completely stable.
This prisoner was a traitor. Long before Ennek was born—perhaps very long before—he had committed some perfidious act against one of Ennek’s forebears. Against the polis itself. His punishment was just and humane, considering the nature of his crime. Had he been in another polis, he would certainly just be dust in an unmarked grave now. He was—
The man opened his eyes.
They were as sea-colored as Ennek recalled, and deeply tortured. They focused straight on Ennek’s face, and the prisoner’s legs spasmed as if he were trying kick his way free. His mouth opened and a thin, dry croak emerged from his lungs. He hitched in another breath and twitched around the shoulders. Then his eyes rolled back in his head and his lids fell shut, and he was once again motionless.
Ennek had been frozen in place, his mouth hanging open, and only now did it occur to him to try talking to the man. “I don’t know if you can hear me,” he said. Despite the eternally pounding waves, his voice sounded very loud. “I’m…. I was here before, once. A long time ago. My name is Ennek.”
The prisoner didn’t respond.
Ennek set his hand on the cold, smooth skin of the man’s shoulder, wondering if somehow the prisoner could sense the heat of his body, and if so, if it comforted him. “If you’re…aware…that’s not right. It’s not supposed to be like that.” And then he did something very foolish—he made a promise. “I’m going to look into it. I’ll help.”
What kind of answer did he expect? Tears of gratitude? Singing angels? The furious fire of retribution? None of those happened, of course. In fact, nothing happened at all, except that his own heart counted away another few seconds of his life.
Stasis and the sequels will also be available in audiobook versions some time in the next year: http://www.cherryhillpublishing.com/index.htm
Kim Fielding is the author of novels and short stories featuring fantasy, paranormal, and gay romance. Her blog is http://kfieldingwrites.blogspot.com or she can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites