by Branwen OShea
GENRE: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy
They thought the biggest problem they faced was each other.
After Bleu, Rana, and their new friends narrowly prevent war between the star beings and humans, they hope the upcoming negotiation will secure the peace. Newly emerged from their subterranean haven, the Northern Haven humans are clearly not suited to Earth’s ice age, and require assistance from the enlightened star beings to survive long term on the Surface. But Commander Savas doesn’t trust the suspiciously kind star beings and their unexplainable abilities. When both sides reluctantly negotiate a joint mission to find the other Havens, Bleu must somehow cooperate with the manipulative commander to keep his friends safe.
As their team confronts unexpected dangers, Bleu and his teammates begin to suspect the star beings don’t know as much about the Surface as they claimed, while Rana is torn between remaining true to her nonviolent ways or becoming more human to survive. When an unnatural predator attacks, even the nearly all-knowing Kalakanya can’t explain it. Now the team must pull together or their new discovery will pull them apart, limb by limb.
As the sun descended behind the mountain and darkness crept across the frozen field, a strange dread seeped into Bleu’s bones. It felt like a warning, an alarm that danger lurked nearby.
He had known safety in Rana’s village, and he’d lost the spatial anxiety caused by the wide-open spaces of the Surface that differed so much from the cozy walls and tunnels of home. No, this unease wasn’t spatial anxiety to the openness of the sky and horizon.
This was different, and perhaps a bit similar to what Kahali feared. Bleu had never faced the possibility of other humans with guns. His team sat out in the open, exposed. The meager light from the cooking fire did nothing against the shroud of blackness surrounding them. No safe walls protected them from physical attacks or bullets. And then, there were the unknown predators of the region.
His earlier excitement of finding the footprints evaporated, leaving behind a gnawing awareness of their vulnerability. The darkness beyond the campfire could be punctured any moment by monstrous claws or gunfire. Childhood tales of the evil Undescended crowded his mind with images so ludicrously terrible that he wanted to laugh at himself.
Instead, he checked that they were all armed and sent Savas and Neviah to make sure the helicopters were locked. Animal calls and crunching footsteps drifted down the mountains as if something were encircling them. Even the confident star beings kept glancing out into the night. They should be comfortable in such wilderness, right?
World-building a Future Ice Age
I’m much more of a pantser than a plotter, which means that I write by the seat of my pants rather than plotting everything out. That said, I knew I was writing sci-fi, and wanted the world-building to make sense. I started out researching what we know of past ice ages, especially changes to flora and fauna.
I learned that even in ice ages there are still some seasonal variations, and that the entire planet doesn’t become like snowball Earth, all under one massive blanket of snow. Also, most animals that “survive” in a familiar form evolve to become much larger versions of themselves. Then there are additionally the entirely new species.
The humans end up meeting several other humanoid species of unknown origins. The mystical star beings have highly developed minds that allow them to see and work with bioenergy and energy of the planets. They use it for shielding, healing, and interstellar transportation. They also meet a predatory species, the Ruined, that are terrifying. Saying anything more about the Ruined would be a spoiler.
Some of the animals I created are larger versions of current animals. Sea bears are basically huge polar bears. White lions are larger versions of the white lions of South Africa, but the ones in my book have evolved to be exceptionally wise and telepathic.
Other animals are completely made up. Peleguins are large migratory birds that fly and return to the same areas every year to have their young. They are the favorite food of the white lions. One of the important star being villages is named after them: Peleguin-Rookery-By-The-Lake. Another species I created is the cave diggers. The adult cave diggers are bear-sized, but shaped more like wolverines with massive claws that dig through ice. Their striped marking resemble those of American badgers, and they are just as ferocious. Cave diggers are integral to the series as they are the only species (other than the humans and Ruined) who don’t live in harmony with the star beings.
The landscapes that the star beings start out the series in are mostly ice fields, glaciers, mountains, frozen lakes, and evergreen forests on the Surface. The humans live in a subterranean haven created as the ice age suddenly started (another possibility I learned about in my research). Creating an underground world was a whole other project, but I had to also make it work with the ice age above. For instance, ice could block or damage any air shafts or passageways between Northern Haven and the Surface above.
One of the interesting parts of writing a series is that there are some things that cannot be revealed until later, so like any world, this future ice age world has its own mysterious components that will get explained over time. I’m super excited to eventually be able to share all those things with readers. Sometimes the hardest part of writing is keeping the story secrets for years.
If you end up reading my series, I’d love to hear what you think of the world-building and anything else. I can be contacted over social media, or you can post your questions below in the comments.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
As a young girl, Branwen wanted to become an ambassador for aliens. Since the aliens never hired her, she now writes about them.
Branwen OShea has a Bachelors in Biology from Colgate University, a Bachelors in Psychology, and a Masters in Social Work. She lives in Connecticut with her family and a menagerie of pets, and enjoys hiking, meditating, and star-gazing. Her published works include Silence of the Song Trees, The Calling, The Cords That Bind, and The Chasm.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/branwenoshea
The Chasm (Book 2) on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09QFPHQVN
The Calling (Book 1) on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1735915998
The Cords That Bind (Book 1.1) on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CSK4813
Branwen OShea will be awarding $30 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.