Thanks for having me on the blog today. So lovely to come back to visit Here Be Magic as a guest! I’m happy to talk about my story for this year’s Pets In Space 3: Embrace the Passion anthology!
I love going back to revisit my interstellar cruise liner, the Nebula Zephyr, for these Pets In Space stories, as the ship cruises through the futuristic human civilization known as The Sectors. This is our third year of doing the anthology. I’ve written a number of books and novellas centered on events aboard the cruise ship now and find the whole cruise setup lends itself to telling a good scifi romance adventure tale. Readers new to my world don’t need to know a lot of backstory to enjoy the events, and for those who have read others in the series, it’s a nice return to see some favorite characters (I hope!).
I usually start with the concept of the pet when I’m figuring out my annual Pets in Space story because that’s the key here. (We're talking pet stories like Lassie but in space!) I have to develop a story that can involve the animal in a meaningful way, not just a throw away line like “And the cat purred!” So the pet must be able to drive at least part of the plot, for me to feel I’ve succeeded. I also want to have a science fiction-y element to the pet itself. While I was pondering the 2018 story, I saw a really distinctive photo of a Siamese cat and I thought that would be fairly easy and interesting animal for our talented artist Nyssa Juneau to turn into an alien feline for me, with the addition of a third eye and a few other alterations.
But I’ve done a cat and a catlike alien before, for PISA1, although Midorri, the alien pet there actually is kind of a cross between a red panda and a tribble who acts like a cat. So I wanted something very different, to push the envelope a little more this time and I started thinking about what if the cat wasn’t actually a real animal at all? I ended up making F’rrh a ‘jenfellini’, which is something like a genie or perhaps a mischievous spirit, living in a beautiful lacquered box when not out and about making mischief.
And of course since Moby and Midorri from the PISA1 novella Star Cruise: Stowaway live on board the Nebula Zephyr these days, we do get a few quick glimpses of them in this year's tale.
Pets in Space™ is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity. Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans. Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space™ 3 today!
STAR CRUISE: MYSTERY DANCER blurb: Tassia Megg is a woman on the run after the death of her elderly guardian. Her search to get off the planet in a hurry comes when chance directs her to an open dance audition for the luxury cruise liner Nebula Zephyr’s resident troupe. If there is one thing Tassia can do, it is dance!
Security Officer Liam Austin is suspicious of the newest performer to join the Comettes. She shows all the signs of being a woman on the run and seems to fit the Sectors-wide broadcast description of a missing thief, accused of stealing priceless artifacts. As he gets to know Tassia during the cruise, he starts to wonder if she’s something more – a long vanished princess in hiding from deadly political enemies of her family perhaps? And what’s the story with the three-eyed feline companion other crew members swear Tassia brought aboard the ship? Does the animal even exist?
As the ship approaches its next port of call, all the issues come to a boil and Liam must decide if he’ll step in to help Tassia or betray her. Life is about to get very interesting aboard the Nebula Zephyr as Liam tries to uncover the truth. Could F’rrh, the peculiar alien cat he has been hearing about, be the key to the mystery and Tassia’s fate?
The excerpt - Tassia is safely aboard the ship and calls F’rrh forth:
From the clock in the bulkhead, she knew she’d slept several hours by the time she woke up with a start. Dressing in an oversize T shirt and shorts, she wandered into the kitchenette and found the promised welcome basket. These people try very hard to be kind. Munching on a ration bar, holding a cup of synthcaff, she went into the living area and sat on the couch built into the wall, running through meditation exercises in an attempt to regain her inner calm. The danger wasn’t over, but she had a temporary respite.
Finally, she returned to the bedroom and opened the backpack, carefully removing the few items Xandrina had swept into the bag at the last minute. Tassia arranged the small boxes and miniature statues on the top of the empty bureau with care, trying to appreciate what she still had, not to remember the vast collection in her bedroom at home on Ruatsar Ten, or the beloved relatives who’d given her each of the beautiful items. Soon enough she’d probably have to sell the remaining trinkets, if not on this ship, then later.
“I need to save every credit in salary I can.” She spoke out loud just to hear a voice. Trinkets weren’t important for anything other than the memories attached to them, most of which were now too poignant to revisit.
Picking up the final item, the black lacquer box Liam had been so fascinated by, she set it in the exact center of the bureau, put her hands together and made a formal bow, then rubbed one hand over the drawing and opened the lid.
Golden motes drifted upward from the interior of the container, twirling in the air as if happy to be set free. As Tassia watched, the sparks came together in the outline of a catlike being. There was a flash of purple and F’rrh sat regally next to the box. Her third eye was closed but, tail curled over her paws, she watched Tassia intently from the other two.
“It is well?” F’rrh asked in the old tongue of Ruatsar, voice raspy as if she was meowing and speaking simultaneously.
“Yes, Knowing One. Your vision was clear, and I pursued it to fruition. Thank you for the gift.”
“We will miss Madame Xandrina,” the cat said. “Yet it was her time to join the goddess and enjoy peace. Our time to continue onward.”
“Do you have any further guidance for me?” Tassia enjoyed using the language of her birth, the syllables falling from her tongue so lyrically. She held her breath as the cat’s third eyelid opened the slightest bit and then shut.
“Not at this time.” F’rrh stretched and reverted into golden flickers of light which flowed into the box as if sucked into the heart of a black hole. For all she knew the box might contain such a thing. Tassia smiled at the whimsical concept.
For more about the anthology, the authors involved and Hero-Dogs, Inc., our charity, visit https://www.petsinspaceantho.com/
Author Bio and Links:
USA Today Best Selling Author
“SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog
Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!
She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”