Wednesday Writers has the privilege of hosting Yvonne Anderson today. Yvonne writes Christian Science Fiction. I’ve read the first book in her Gateway to Gannah series and loved it. I’m currently reading Ransom in the Rock. If you like Star Trek type characters and a twist on the faith elements, you will like this series.
Yvonne will be giving a lucky commenter the opportunity to choose any of the three books in the series currently available. She can offer print or e-book in the US, but e-book only for those who live elsewhere.
Please leave a comment with your email so I know how to get in touch with you. The drawing for the book will be on Monday July 21, so be sure to spread the word to your friends who might be interested.
So, without any further ado, I’d like to welcome, Yvonne. Please tell the readers about the book that is being showcased today.
Ransom in the Rock is the third title in the science fiction series “Gateway to Gannah.” Although they all work together to tell one story, I’ve tried to make each book self-contained enough that you won’t be lost if you haven’t read the earlier ones.
In the second book, Words in the Wind, Lileela sustained a spinal cord injury at the age of five and was sent to her father’s native planet, Karkar, for treatment. Now, in Ransom in the Rock, she’s a teenager, and she’s coming home to Gannah. But she’s not happy about it. Is already looking for a way to leave.
She soon discovers, however, that being dragged to this backwoods little settlement is the least of her problems. Generations before, Gannah had attacked Karkar, and Karkar has nurtured a deep resentment ever since. Now they can taste revenge, and they don’t care who gets hurt when they take what they feel is their due.
Lileela’s family paid for her medical bills and the cost of transporting her home by giving to Karkar a considerable amount of precious ores—that’s the “ransom” the title refers to. However, it also reflects the theme that weaves throughout the story: the steep ransom Christ paid for each one of us.
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
Once upon a time, I read a little nonfiction book called The Gospel in the Stars, which put forth the theory that when God created the heavens and the earth, He organized the stars into constellations that pictured the gospel story for early man to “read.” That concept inspired me to write a story in which the characters discover this “story in the stars.” But once I got started writing, it kind of got out of control.
Y’see, I’m a pantser. I started what I thought was going to be a short story, and I had an end in mind for it. Problem is, too much had to happen before we could get there, so the short story turned into a novel. But it kept going on and on, and I had to find a stopping place even though I wasn’t at the end I’d envisioned. So I had to write another one. That was fun, but, unless I wanted to end up with a thousand-page behemoth, I had to end that one, too, before I was ready. This book, the third in the series, was my next attempt to get to the end of the original story. I didn’t make it this time, either.
LOL. See what happens to us when those stories and characters get a hold on us. Do you have a release date for the next book in this series
I’ve completed the fourth in the series, and I plan to release it in October of this year. And finally, it ends at the point I originally envisioned. Hooray!
What next after that?
Meanwhile, I’m working on a short nonfiction piece that describes how to process a North American whitetail deer from the field to the table. The title is A Deer in the Dining Room: A Hillbilly’s Guide to DIY Bambi Butchering. I’ll include several recipes, along with a number of general gluten-free suggestions. No release date on that one yet.
Oh, my. That’s quite a title! Some writers like quiet when they write, others want music. Which one are you?
I can’t concentrate with music in the background, because I tend to focus attention on what I’m hearing and forget to think about what I’m writing. Same thing with voices, whether on radio, TV, or live conversation. However, I have no trouble tuning out the sort of noise that doesn’t convey meaning, like machinery or traffic. I used to do a lot of writing while sitting on the front porch. We lived on a busy county road, but the cars, trucks, and tractors passing by the house were much less distracting than sounds of the family and the TV inside.
I know exactly what you mean. I need quiet, too. So, when you write are you a panster or a plotter? Linear or non-linear writer?
As indicated earlier, I’m mostly a pantser. I start with a beginning and an end in mind, as well as a couple of major events that will occur along the way. I am, however, well acquainted with my major characters before I start, because I spend a lot of time with them in my mind. (You play with imaginary friends too, don’t you?) I don’t do any outlining, character sketches, or any other sort of pre-writing, but I live in my story world mentally for quite some time before I put down a word.
I’m definitely a linear writer — probably because I don’t usually know what’s going to happen until it does.
Reviews are important to most writers. What review have you received that you most like, and why?
My all-time favorite to date is a one-star review on Goodreads of the first in the series, The Story in the Stars. The reader didn’t like the book one little bit, but she “got” it completely – more so, it seems, than some of the readers who gave it five stars. I love it when people enjoy my books, but I find it far more satisfying when their comments show that the story conveyed exactly what I intended.
Those are the most rewarding reviews. Of course, it’s nice when the “get it” and give you higher star. Speaking of reading, how have your reading tastes evolved over the years? Do you still read the same genre of books you did as a teenager?
When I was in elementary school, I used to read mostly mysteries. Somewhere along the line I graduated to classics. I’m pretty much of a generalist in my tastes nowadays and read a variety of things, but I generally avoid romances and anything involving the supernatural. After realizing I was a sci-fi writer (which came as a complete surprise to me), I’ve been reading more in that genre to learn more about it. I like nonfiction, too. In fact, the last two books I read were nonfiction. One of them was Leaving the Wire: An Infantryman’s Iraq by David Ervin. Definitely not a Christian book, but very well worth the read.
What’s the first book you ever remember reading as a child?
I was a voracious reader as a child, back in the days when I had the time for it. I can’t say what was the first book I read, but I well remember the first time I ever read a book that absorbed me so much I hated to see it end. I was probably in 2nd grade. I’d been home sick from school for a few days and had already read everything in the house that was on my level. Bored nearly to tears, I picked up a chapter book that had a boring cover and no pictures. It didn’t really interest me, but I was desperate for something to read. It was Pierre, the Young Watchmaker by Jean Horton Berg. Once I started reading, I was sucked in in a way that had never happened before. I read and read, eager to see what happened next. But when I finished it, I cried, because I didn’t want it to be over.
Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?
I’m the secretary for Welsh Memorial Baptist Church in Frostburg, Maryland. Fortunately this is not a full-time job, so I have time for writing. And other things. But I love the job.
Even if you don’t write to music, what’s in your CD player right now?
Nothing. I don’t have a CD player. Well, I guess there’s one in my car, but I don’t know that I’ve ever used it. I have some music loaded onto my computer, but I don’t often listen to music. Because the world is such a noisy place, I prefer quiet when I can get it.
Tell us a little bit about your hobbies outside of writing?
I don’t know if you’d call it a hobby, but I like everything having to do with food–beginning with growing it. At one time, my husband and I raised almost all our own food – meat, milk, and eggs included. There were a few exceptions (flour, sugar, orange juice, and Jell-o come to mind), but what we had to buy, we paid for by selling things we raised. For the space of a couple of years, we ate for free. It was a lot of work, but it was immensely satisfying. We don’t do it on that scale anymore, but I do still love my veggie garden.
Oh my goodness those are huge veggies! That’s what I’d call a TEXAS Potato!
After all that garden time, what do you do for relaxation?
Read. Sleep. I enjoy both very much, but don’t do as much of either as I’d like.
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy?
Oh, wow, that’s a hard one. Hmmm… let me think about this for a little bit….. Okay. I wouldn’t say this is the theme of my whole life, but it’s where I am at present, beautifully articulated in a snippet of an old hymn: “I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small. Child of weakness, watch and pray. Find in Me your all in all.”
I love that old hymn, and I’ve loved having you here today. Yvonne has a blurb and except of Ransom on the Rock. Thanks for visiting!
Ransom in the Rock
How much is a life worth? And who will pay the price?
Fifteen-year-old Lileela returns from the planet Karkar, frothing with bitterness over what she perceives as abandonment by her parents. Why do they want her back now? And why does Karkar demand such a huge payment for delivering her? Neither she nor her family suspects that Karkar’s true motive is revenge. The tiny New Gannahan settlement has no hope of repelling an invasion – no hope, that is, except for One the Karkar can’t see.
Her chest tight with dread, Lileela opened the closet.
She could only bring one outfit. One outfit? How insane was
that? No way in Karkar could she narrow her wardrobe to one item. It was almost enough to make a girl scream. But, tempting though it may be, fifteen was a little old to be throwing a tantrum like a toddler.
She chewed her lip, trying to think.
It should be a multi-piece ensemble. Though technically one outfit, she could wear separate parts on different occasions, making it seem like more. But then, she’d have to coordinate it with something Gannahan, which would putrefy the entire look.
She’d never survive this.
Swallowing a sob, she climbed the stepstool to reach the control that activated the display. One by one, each item in her closet appeared on the screen then faded away to reveal the next.
This was going to be a tough decision.
Great. Aunt Skiskii was here already.
“We need to get to the shuttle bay.”
Ignoring her, Lileela watched the delicious parade of apparel march past her vision. If she took the knee-length brushed yueeed jacket and the Eutarian silk blouse—no, not that silk. The paler one, with the little flecks of—no, maybe the solid would be better.
“What’s this?” Skiskii’s voice could cut through glass.
Lileela limped down from the stool and exited the closet, leaving the display running. “What’s what?”
“These cosmetics in your case. What are they doing here?”
Lileela tipped her head back to look her aunt in the pale yellow eye. “I’m taking them. What else would they be doing there?”
Skiskii’s ears tilted back. “Weren’t we told they don’t wear cosmetics on Gannah? And you’ve scarcely left room for clothes. You said you were bringing one civilized outfit, but I don’t see it.”
“I haven’t packed it yet.” Lileela slipped between Skiskii and the suitcase. “Still trying to decide which one I want.
Skiskii’s exasperated sigh reverberated around the room. “What have you been doing all day, buying every eyeliner on the ship? You’ve got a lifetime supply in there.”
“That’s the plan. If they don’t wear cosmetics on Gannah, that means I can’t buy it there, which means I’ll have to bring my own. Because I’m not about to walk around with a naked face the rest of my miserable life.”
Skiskii’s lips parted as if she was about to shriek again but then her ears tipped outward. “Well. Well. I suppose it can’t do any harm. But we do need to get to the shuttle bay, so let’s grab whatever else you’re bringing.” Two swift, long-legged steps put her in the closet. “Let’s see…” Pressing an icon, she changed the display to one that showed thumbnails of the entire contents.
Row after row of miniscule images filled the wide screen. Lileela was proud of her wardrobe, but it did make choosing difficult.
She watched her auntie—actually, her cousin; Skiskii was her father’s first cousin on his mother’s side—scan the selection. She’d miss the old thing. More than she cared to admit. That was one reason she had such a hard time deciding what to bring. It wasn’t just clothes she’d be leaving behind.
“Here.” Skiskii pressed a selection. “This is perfect.” She chose the very jacket Lileela had been thinking of, along with fashionably snug trousers of the same length and a filmy but triple-layer ruffled blouse, the color of which picked up the mauve of the jacket’s piping. To Lileela’s delight, she added a floor-length skirt besides.
Lileela couldn’t have chosen better herself. “Oh, grab that cream-colored sash, too. And I’ve got the most darling bangles to match the jacket buttons.” She scurried to her jewelry armoire and flung it open.
That was another thing she would sorely miss. What sort of accessories would she find on Gannah? Trying to remember if her mother wore jewelry, all she could recall was a ring. The signet of her authority as toqeph.
The closet rack whirred as it spit out the clothes Skiskii selected. While she removed them from their hangers and folded them, Lileela boxed the earrings and brooch, all connected to one another with a neck chain, wrapping the delicate links around the box’s spindles to keep them from tangling.
Her hands trembled, and she took a slow, deep breath, trying to calm herself. The breath turned into a sob.
Skiskii left her folding and reached for Lileela, pulling her into a long-limbed embrace. The grinding noise in her throat was supposed to be comforting, and to a Karkar child, it might have been. But it only made Lileela’s tears flow more freely. She was no longer a child, though on Skiskii’s planet she was the size of one. And she was only one quarter Karkar, though she could barely remember living anywhere else.
“I don’t want to go, Auntie!”
Skiskii’s dinner-plate-sized, six-fingered hand stroked Lileela’s dark, curly-bobbed head. “I know you don’t, dear one.” She crooned like a Cephargian alley cat yowling in pain. “I know you don’t. But Gannah is your home. You were born there, your family’s there.”
Lileela pulled away. “You’re family, and you’re not there. I don’t remember my parents anymore, and I’ve never even met my younger brothers and sisters. Why do they even want me?”
Skiskii’s ears wobbled. “Your parents love you. They’ve missed you. The family’s not complete without you.”
“That can’t be.” Lileela pulled out a tissue and wiped her eyes. “There’s got to be some other reason.”
Skiskii sat on the vanity bench, but she still had to look down at Lileela. “They do love you. You’ve been gone for so long, and they want you home so they can get to know you again.”
For a moment, Lileela felt her auntie’s sorrow at never having had a child of her own. But that moment was short, fleeing before her greater self-pity.
“Your neurological treatment has been a considerable expense to them, you know.”
Lileela pouted, a feat that never failed to impress the blank-faced Karkar. Especially when she managed to produce a few tears in the corners of her eyes, like she did now. “Why should that worry them? They’re rich, they own all of Gannah, but people there don’t use money. It wouldn’t burden them to keep me on Karkar the rest of my life.”
Skiskii’s answer was cut short by an urgent beep followed by a whistle from the speaker above the door. Then an electronic voice intoned in tinny Karkarish, “Lileela Pik. Please report to Shuttle Bay Three immediately. Lileela Pik. Shuttle Bay Three.”
Skiskii hopped up and turned back to the half-packed suitcase. “We’ve got to scoot. We should have been there a quarter hour ago.”
Lileela slammed the jewelry box into the bag. “All right. If you don’t want me any longer, I’ll go down to that awful planet. But—”
“That’s not the case, and you know it.” Skiskii’s ears twitched in irritation. “Stop acting like the spoiled brat I’ve allowed you to become.” She snapped the bag shut.
Lileela let out a shriek. “Wait, I need shoes!” As fast as her labored, deliberate gait allowed, she moved to the closet and up the stepstool. “I know which ones I want, it’ll only take a sec.”
When the shoes she selected emerged, she tossed them to her auntie, who stuffed them into the suitcase and closed it again with swift movements.
Skiskii snatched the case with one hand and ushered Lileela out the door with the other.
Lileela went, but she scowled all the way. “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. Just one decent outfit, one real pair of shoes, and no cosmetics. They’re going to make me dress like a barbarian—”
In the hall outside, Skiskii slid the bag into the rack in the back of the scootercart. “Yes, yes, just get in. I’ll drive.”
“Oh, my tote!” Lileela limped back into her room, grabbed her purse and returned to the scootercart while continuing her rant. “A barbarian, I tell you. They’ll have me dressing in scratchy old sacks and eating with my hands.”
The cart lurched forward, slamming Lileela into the seat. “Eating nasty roots dug out of the filthy, wormy ground, and then picking my teeth with a stick. After all you and Uncle Ogliziizl have gone through to teach me how to be civilized, they’re going to want me to go back to—”
“That’s enough, Miss Lileela.” Skiskii’s stern voice would have sent Lileela cringing to the far side of the scootercart if she hadn’t known her auntie was all bark and no bite.
Skiskii pulled the horn, and people in the hall moved out of her way. “I know you don’t want to go, but we have no choice. The arrangements have been made, and it’s out of our hands.”
Lileela crossed her arms and scowled at her shoes. They were cute shoes, too. She was certain never to find anything like them on Gannah. “So what am I, a commodity to be traded by agreement between planets?”
Skiskii sighed. “We’ve been through this, Lileela, and I won’t explain it again. Your parents have finally come up with the means of paying for your care. And it’s a king’s ransom. You should be touched that they’d—”
“Pay so much for my release? Some release. They’re buying me from Karkar so they can use me for a slave. My father used to beat me, did you know that? He beat me with a rod, then made me sit in a drab, gray room for hours on end, just because he didn’t like the way I was dressed, did I ever tell you that?”
“He did not. Don’t expect me to believe that.”
“He did! And I was little then. How do you think they’ll treat me now? They’re Gannahan, they’ll do terrible things to me!”
Skiskii cornered a little too abruptly, and Lileela had to grab her tote to keep it from flying out of the cart.
“They’re your parents, they love you. The League of Planets has ordered us to turn you over to them now that they’re able to pay off their debt. I have no doubt you’ll be well cared for there.”
“Humph.” Lileela smoothed a curl back from her forehead. “I’ll remember you said that when I’m imprisoned and forced into hard labor.”
Skiskii negotiated another turn, a little more carefully this time, onto the last hall before the shuttle bay elevators. “It will be nothing like that, and you know it.” She patted Lileela’s leg. But her worried ears and tearful eyes belied her comforting words.
The Story in the Stars, the first in the Gateway to Gannah series and her debut novel, was a Carol Award finalist in 2012. The adventure continues with Words in the Windand Ransom in the Rock and concludes with The Last Toqeph, scheduled for release in the fall of 2014.
She lives in Western Maryland with her husband of almost forty years and shares the occasional wise word on her personal site, YsWords. Speaking of blogs, she’s on staff with Novel Rocket, where she’s been the administrator of the Launch Pad Contest for unpubbed writers since its inception in 2010. She also works with The Borrowed Book, and was a formerly regular contributor to Speculative Faith.
Give her a holler here.