Welcome to our Grand Finale celebrations for the amazing and talented
In our final post, we'll talk about Dark Space and Darker Space, plus see Lisa's answers to our many questions. Of course, all the way at the bottom will be another chance to win!
First up, Dark Space
Brady Garrett needs to go home. He’s a conscripted recruit on Defender Three, one of a network of stations designed to protect the Earth from alien attack. He's also angry, homesick, and afraid. If he doesn’t get home he’ll lose his family, but there’s no way back except in a body bag.
Cameron Rushton needs a heartbeat. Four years ago Cam was taken by the Faceless — the alien race that almost destroyed Earth. Now he’s back, and when the doctors make a mess of getting him out of stasis, Brady becomes his temporary human pacemaker. Except they’re sharing more than a heartbeat: they’re sharing thoughts, memories, and some very vivid dreams.
Not that Brady’s got time to worry about his growing attraction to another guy, especially the one guy in the universe who can read his mind. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just biochemistry and electrical impulses. It doesn’t change the truth: Brady’s alone in the universe.
Now the Faceless are coming and there’s nothing anyone can do. You can’t stop your nightmares. Cam says everyone will live, but Cam’s probably a traitor and a liar like the military thinks. But that’s okay. Guys like Brady don’t expect happy endings.
Brady Garrett is a lowly conscripted recruit on a space station. He ends up sharing the thoughts and dreams of Cameron Rushton, a man who’s been a prisoner of a terrifying alien enemy for the past four years.
Rushton stretched. “Garrett?” he murmured. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” I said in the darkness. “Just had a weird dream.”
“Okay,” he murmured and rubbed his hand against my sternum. Not as fucking relaxing as he intended. “You want me to sleep on the window side?”
Like I was a little kid. I flushed. “Okay.”
We jostled against each other as we shifted position. For a moment I was lying underneath him, and I was afraid my body would respond, but then we’d rolled away from each other.
“You really hate space?” he asked, turning his head to look at me in the gloom.
“I really hate it,” I said.
“Why?” He reached out and linked his fingers through mine.
Our heartbeats synchronized.
“Because it’s cold and black, and it’ll fucking suck the air out of you until your lungs burst and your eyeballs pop out,” I said. “Isn’t that enough?”
He smiled. “I guess.”
We lay there for a little while longer. I still couldn’t properly shake that dream. It was still lurking there in the back of my mind. I was afraid that if I went to sleep, I’d fall straight back into it.
“I like the vastness,” Rushton said at last. “I always found it liberating to feel that insignificant. So small, and so privileged to be a part of the wonder of the universe. Time and space and eternity.”
I raised my eyebrows. That’s what my dad would call a five-dollar education. It dressed up any sort of bullshit to sound pretty.
“The universe is vast,” he said.
I made a face. “Mine isn’t.”
Rushton sighed. “When you were a kid, didn’t you ever look up at the stars and let them take your breath away? Didn’t you ever wonder what it would be like to be up there?”
“Now I know,” I said. “And it sucks.”
Rushton didn’t answer, so I relented a bit.
“I like the stars fine from Earth,” I said. “But it’s bad enough being up here on the station, where a single machine breaks down, and you can’t breathe. Or an air lock blows, and you’re all fucked. It stuffs me why you’d want to jump in a Hawk and put even less protection between yourself and a vacuum that will rip your body apart from the inside out.”
All Hawk pilots were crazy, Hooper said. And he knew crazy.
“It’s beautiful out there,” Rushton said and turned his face to the window. “Chasing starlight.”
His sense of wonder settled over me like a soft breath, and I pushed it away.
“Bad shit comes from space. Shit that will kill us all.” I stared at the ceiling and drew a shaky breath. And there was the dream again, at the back of my mind: hanging in the darkness and cold, waiting for that thing to strike. “I like dirt on my feet and sunlight on my back and all the air in the world.”
He squeezed my hand. “Sunlight is just starlight. You’re chasing it as well.”
“I’m not chasing anything,” I said. “I just want to do my time and go home.”
We lay silently for a while, and then Rushton turned toward me and slid his hand up under my T-shirt.
“What the hell!” I tried to wrench away.
He pressed his palm against my sternum. “Just close your eyes for a second, Garrett. Don’t freak out.”
Don’t freak out? Was he serious?
“Just close your eyes,” he said, and I heard the smile in his voice. I didn’t know if I trusted it. “I’m not going to jump you.”
“Whatever,” I muttered, wishing my heart wasn’t thumping so fast against his palm.
“Close your eyes,” he repeated.
I squeezed my eyes shut unwillingly and told myself I could throw him off if I really had to. If I really wanted to. Shit.
He spread his fingers out, and my skin prickled. My breath hitched in my throat, and my cock stirred. Shit. Shit, shit, shit. A thousand times shit.
“Don’t freak out,” Rushton said again, his breath hot against my ear. “Just feel.”
I swallowed. He wasn’t holding me down with any real force, so why wasn’t I moving? What the hell was wrong with me? I swiped my tongue against my dry lips and wished I hadn’t. What if he took it as an invitation? Would he kiss me? Did I want him to kiss me?
“Just feel.” His voice was low.
I drew a deep breath and held it for a moment. When I let it out, I felt all my resistance go with it.
I was in a dark place, but this time I wasn’t scared. I turned and blinked, and light caught in my lashes. Starlight.
I pressed against the window, my fingers splayed.
It was beautiful. I stared into the big black, and it revealed itself to me. Layers upon layers peeled away. Midnight blue and purple and orange and white. It was a kaleidoscope, except I was the one turning inside it. Slowly spinning in the middle of eternity. So much color. So much beauty. It was a revelation.
I pressed forward, and the window yielded under my touch. Like skin.
I was in the pod. I was floating in space in the Faceless pod. Surrounded by that weird milky fluid, filling my lungs with it. And I wasn’t afraid. Why wasn’t I afraid?
“Do you feel it?” It seemed as though his voice came from far away.
“Yeah.” I sighed, turning my head to see the colors. I was so small, less than a speck of dust in the vast writhing cauldron of space. And I wasn’t afraid, because I was a part of it. Whatever happened, I wouldn’t be afraid.
I drifted, listening to my heartbeat, with eyes wide open.
“Okay, Garrett,” Rushton murmured in my ear. “It’s okay. You can come back now.”
It was like waking very slowly from a dream.
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Secondly, there's Darker Space
Brady Garrett is back on Earth. He’s living with his partner Cam and they’re raising his sister Lucy together. Life is better than some feral reffo from Kopa has any right to hope, and Brady knows it. He’s even grateful for it, most of the time. He loves Cam, even though he’s afraid that he’s not good enough for him, and he’s still having nightmares about the alien Faceless.
Cameron Rushton loved being a pilot once, and he still feels the pull of the starlight. He’s building a life with Brady now, and with Lucy. Life is good, even if it’s not without its complications. Both Brady and Cam are dealing with the endless cycle of interviews, tests, and questions that the military hierarchy hopes will reveal the secrets of the aliens who could very easily destroy humanity. They have each other though, and together they’re making it work.
But from out in the black, Kai-Ren is still watching and everything Brady and Cam think they’ve won, they stand to lose all over again.
Excerpt:Brady is back on Earth and having all his usual problems dealing with authority. This time they’ve landed him in the stockade.
“Crewman Garrett,” Stockade Sam said when the MPs dumped me in his custody again. “Your usual room?”
“Can’t I get an ocean view this time?”
Sam grinned at me as I emptied my pockets on his desk. “Insubordination?”
“You’d think they’d have hardened the fuck up by now.”
“You’d think,” Sam agreed.
He let me keep my cigarettes. Sam liked a bit of insubordination himself. He was an older guy. He had a prosthetic leg, but more fool any dickhead who thought he was a useless cripple. Sam was tough as nails.
We played cards through the bars of my cell and talked shit about the officers for a while. Then, a few hours into my latest enforced visit to the stockade, I got a visitor. Sam stood up to check the monitor.
“It’s your better half, Garrett.”
“Bullshit. What if I’m his better half?”
Sam snorted. “Kid, he’s had head lice that are a better half than you.”
“Asshole.” But I smiled too because, unlike every officer in the world, Sam was only kidding.
He headed out to the reception store to let my better half in.
“We have to stop meeting like this,” Cam said when he made his way out to the cells.
I grinned at him from behind the bars. “I know, right?”
“They’re giving you a week this time,” he said. “So I guess you won’t be getting ice cream with Lucy and me for a bit.”
My grin faded. “Tell her I’ll be home soon.”
“I will.” He looked tired all of a sudden. “Brady, you’ve just got to… Shit. You’ve got to shut your mouth and stop letting them get to you. This is the military. The whole system is designed so the guys at the bottom don’t get a say.”
“Yeah.” My throat ached a little. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was in here for a week, or because Cam was talking to me like I was too stupid to know what I did to get here. “You don’t need to explain it to me like I’m a dumb kid.”
Cam huffed out a breath. “Then stop acting like one, Brady! Stop giving them an excuse to throw you in here!”
I tried to swallow down my hurt. Tried to shrug it off with another grin. “You know me. I never saw a brick wall I didn’t want to bang my head against.”
“Yeah, I know you.” He didn’t smile.
I held on to the bars. “Pisses me off,” I muttered. “The way those assholes look down on me, and look down on you for being with me.”
“Who cares what they think?” Cam’s expression softened, and he curled his fingers around mine. “I thought Brady Garrett didn’t give a fuck.”
“I don’t!” My guts twisted. “I just— It’s like they don’t get why you’re with me, and so maybe I don’t either!”
“Don’t buy into their bullshit.” Cam shook his head. “You never did before. I’m with you because I want to be.”
“Why do you?” I whispered. I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat. “Not fishing for compliments, LT. Just wondering.”
Cam sighed. He shifted closer to the bars. He let go of my hand and reached around the back of my neck. Tugged me closer so our foreheads met. “I love you because you’re you, Brady, and I don’t care if they get it or not. You’re the only one who has to get it.”
“Okay,” I said, squeezing my eyes shut.
But I didn’t. I didn’t get it. Not when I’d seen the way he looked at the stars and his whole expression shifted, opened, like he was seeing something beautiful, something wondrous. And something heartbreaking, because they’d never let him have that again.
“I love you,” he said, and I wondered which one of us he was trying to convince. “You’re like a secret nobody else has heard yet, and the selfish part of me is glad that other people don’t know you the way I do, because if they saw how perfect you are, every one of them would try to steal you away from me.”
“Bullshit,” I whispered, because how could I compete with the starlight?
He rubbed his palm over my hair.
“And fuck you, because if I cry in the stockade, I’ll be a joke,” I said, pulling away to scrub at my face.
“Lucky you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks.”
“Lucky,” I agreed, frowning at him.
“Anyway.” Cam pressed his palm to the side of my face. “I don’t think Sam will tell anyone.”
I glanced up at the camera pointing down into my cell. Right. Sam. And whoever the hell else was watching the feed. I stepped back and shoved my hands in my pockets. “Okay. I’ll see you in a week.”
Cam got that worried look on his face. That one where a tiny line appeared between his eyebrows, at the top of his nose. Sometimes I liked to rub that spot with my thumb and tease him about getting wrinkles.
“Wrinkles, huh? Pretty sure that one’s your fault.”
“You blaming me ’cos you’re not pretty anymore, LT?”
“You are such a bad liar. I’ll always be pretty.”
He probably fucking would be too, but I hadn’t told him that. The planet’s poster boy didn’t need his ego stroked by me. Not when there were other parts I’d rather stroke.
“Okay,” he said quietly, the soft skin at the corners of his eyes wrinkling with concern. “Take care, okay? I’ll miss you.”
“Yeah,” I said, shuffling my boots on the floor. “Okay.”
Cam opened his mouth like he wanted to say something else, but he didn’t. He just kind of smiled, then jerked his head in a nod and left. When he was gone, I sat down on my cot and stared up at the camera.
Wondered if some asshole was watching the Brady Garrett show.
Showed the camera my middle finger just in case.
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Our Q&A with Lisa:
1. What inspires you? What gets you writing?
I really enjoy writing. It doesn’t take much to inspire me to start at all. Actually sticking to it and getting it finished? That’s a whole other story! I am way too easily distracted by new plot bunnies, as the gazillions of half-started documents on my computer show. Sometimes something as simple as an overheard comment, or a few seconds from a music video, or a newspaper headline can just make something click in the back of your mind, and before you know it there’s an entire story waiting there. That’s the best part about writing to me. Inspiration can be found literally anywhere.
2. What's your writing process? Seat of your pants, lots of sticky notes, complex spreadsheets?
I am a seat of the pants writer all the way! This is something I’ve actively tried to change over the years, but now I just go with it, since it works. I usually start with a vague idea for a set up, a complication to throw in the way, and an idea of where I want things to end. And then I dive in. Which isn’t to say that it always goes smoothly —I think pantsers end up doing all the heavy lifting in the edits stage, while plotters have an easier time of it there.
I do tend to write ideas down on tiny scraps of paper which I then fold up and shove in my purse. That means that sometimes at the checkout I’ll unzip the coin compartment and it’s suddenly raining plot bunnies.
Depending on how much world building or research is involved, I’ll also have a notebook on hand for each story. Or at least a file saved on my computer where I remember to make notes of the stuff I know I’ll need to refer to later. At the moment I’m working on a fantasy story, and I have this hierarchy of magical users that goes all the way from hedgewitches up to sorcerers. And I knew if I didn’t write that down I’d screw it up somewhere in the actual story.
3. Which character from your books is your favorite, and why?
I’m cheating here. In the books I’ve written on my own it has to be Brady from Dark Space. He’s just so full of anger, and doesn’t know when to shut his mouth. That makes for a fun character to explore, even though getting in his head can be a frustrating experience. In my co-written books it has to be Henry from the Playing the Fools series that I wrote with J.A. Rock. He was just so incredibly delightful to write, because we never knew what he was going to do next, but it was bound to be completely outrageous! Neither did Mac, poor guy.
4. Which character is your least favorite, and why?
I don’t know if I have a least favourite. It’s tempting to pick one of the bad guys, but where would a story be without the bad guys? You need those for the conflict! So actually I’d probably pick Bengal from Mark Cooper versus America. He’s a bad guy, but not necessarily in a way that drives the plot. And he’s just a total dick. I mean, there’s no reason for him to be the bad guy except he’s a rich, privileged white college boy with a massive sense of entitlement. He’s probably also my least favourite of all my bad guys because he’s the one you’re most likely to meet in the real world.
5. If you could go back into one of your books and change one thing, what would that be? And why?
Just one thing? Lol! When I write a book, I am in love with it. That usually lasts all the way up until it’s published, and then I hate everything about it! And then I’m often pleasantly surprised when I go back months later and read it again, and realize that hey, maybe this isn’t terrible! I guess there are always things I’d like to change about every book, but luckily I’ve always worked with great editors who make the story as strong as it can be before we put it out there. Most of the plot decisions I’ve made, I stand by, for better or for worse. But I kind of wish J.A. Rock and I had given Henry a dog. Can you imagine how annoying Henry’s dog would have been? We could have had a lot of fun with that. We should totally give him a dog in the future.
6. What's next for you? What amazing book are you working on?
This month I’m celebrating the release of Adulting 101, from Riptide. I had a lot of silly fun writing it, and I hope readers enjoy it just as much! I’m working on a few different things at the moment, including the fantasy story where a thief is hired by a shady family to kidnap their grandson, who refuses to come home from where he’s been training as a prentice to a hedgewitch. I’m having a lot of fun with the world building in that one. I’m also working on an m/m contemporary version of Sense and Sensibility that I’m really excited about! And J.A. Rock and I have a whole list of books we need to get back to work on!
About Lisa Henry:
Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.
Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn't know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she's too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
Books by Lisa Henry:
The Two Gentleman of Altona (Playing the Fool #1), with J.A. Rock
The Merchant of Death (Playing the Fool #2), with J.A. Rock
Tempest (Playing the Fool #3), with J.A. Rock
Fallout, with M. Caspian
Fall on Your Knees, with J.A Rock – part of the Rated: XXXmas Anthology
Bliss, with Heidi Belleau
Tin Man, with Heidi Belleau.
Another Man's Treasure, with J.A. Rock
When All The World Sleeps, with J.A. Rock
The King of Dublin, with Heidi Belleau
Mark Cooper versus America (Prescott College #1), with J.A. Rock.
Brandon Mills versus the V-Card (Prescott College #2), with J.A. Rock
The Good Boy (The Boy #1), with J.A. Rock
The Naughty Boy (The Boy #1.5), with J.A. Rock
The Boy Who Belonged (The Boy #2), with J.A. Rock
Stealing Innocents, writing as Cari Waites.
The Dreams You Made in the Dirt - a free short.
Falling Away - a free short.
The Last Rebellion - a free short.
Thanks for joining us all month to celebrate this fabulous author. We hope you enjoyed the posts, and found a few new books to add to your TBR.
Until next time, happy reading!!