Series: Cassiel Winters #1
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
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A secret she must never share. A secret that two warring species are determined to control. A universe's future at stake. Twenty-year-old Cassiel Winters joins Earth's new space academy in hopes of finding her brother, one of Command's top pilots and her only family, who's been reported MIA. But she quickly realizes she may not be cut out for life in space, where female cadets are outnumbered, competition's fierce, and she's already failed her hand-to-hand combat test once. Even the station's most respected officer, Lt. Damian King, probably can't help Cassiel pass the second time around-so why is he so interested in her progress? If only one of her freaky deja vu visions would offer an answer instead of mysterious messages like hide. When Cassiel's manipulated into a perilous mission, she encounters a warrior species bred to protect the universe from an even greater threat. And she learns that her secret visions are at the heart of it all. Now Cassiel must fight to control her own destiny and race to save her brother-even if it means pretending to be the pawn of Prime Or'ic, the cold-as-steel Thell'eon leader. Even if it means risking her life, facing hard truths, and making the ultimate sacrifice.
See at the end of this post for your chance to win a copy of the book or $50 Amazon Gift Card.
Interview with Author Lesley Young
Can you talk a little about what the Cassiel Winters Series is about?
At the start of Book One, Sky’s End, Cassiel Winters has just joined Earth’s fledgling space academy, hoping to find out what happened to her brother, a pilot who has gone missing in action. She quickly becomes tangled up in a battle between alien species, with nothing less than the fate of the universe(s) at stake.
The fast-paced series chronicles Cassiel’s journey as she grapples with a pretty surprising mystery behind her rare ability. Along the way, she discovers what she’s made of.
The story is cross-genre — action, mystery and romance. And because it is set in space, some dub it a ‘space opera.’ The main scientific premise of the series is based on multi-verse theory (if I say more, I will spoil the fun of Book One).
Where did you get the idea for the book?
I loved Star Trek: The Next Generation growing up. And astronomy is a hobby of mine. When I sat down to try to write fiction for the first time, I thought, ‘Where do I want to set this?’ Ping. A space academy. In my first draft of Sky’s End, chapter one starts with her in class (no longer the case).
I never knew how badly I clearly wanted to read about a kick-ass heroine in a sci-fi setting.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
That you can disappoint yourself, and find a way to love who you are. But mostly, I just want to give readers a thrill, an experience they will never forget.
How long did it take to write the book?
I write part-time, since I still work full-time to pay the bills (fiction writing is an expensive hobby!). So nine months. Wow, just like being pregnant! Sky’s End is my first book baby. Ha!
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
No surprise: Sky’s End protagonist, Cassiel Winters. I adore her. I love tripping over her flaws, being frustrated at her decisions, and admiring her when she has an opportunity to grow, and she takes it.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
I write chapter by chapter, perfecting the first one before moving onto the second. As for ‘bigger picture’ plot, I wrote the middle section of Sky’s End wildly unplanned, and had to go back and edit it way down before finishing the last section. Writing the sequel, Sky’s Surrender, I did do a very rough plot outline. Then, as events unfold (many in unexpected ways), I adjust plot accordingly thus saving time.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
Hmm, tough question. Honestly, not much. I mean it’s not perfect, in fact, it’s far from perfect, but it really seems to resonate with readers. I listen to what they have to say. And I did the best I could. So I don’t think I could make it any better.
How did you come up with the cover?
Well, the first cover I saw was terrible. Very cheesy: photos of a scantily clad couple and stars in the background. Sky’s End is NOT formula sci-fi romance in any way and I wanted the cover to reflect its uniqueness.
So, desperately, I brainstormed, and finally suggested a silhouette of a woman against a space sky. With that direction, my publisher’s cover artist produced the cover you see today. When this version opened on my computer screen, I clapped. No literally. I stood up and clapped. It went from ‘extremely terrible’ to ‘extremely fabulous’.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Well I went to school for journalism, so back in my early 20s. I always thought I’d write a nonfiction book, and then at some point in my 30s, I stopped taking myself so seriously. I loved reading genre, and thought, ‘Why not try writing something you actually want to write?’ Sky’s End is my first stab at fiction and I wrote it in 2011.
What are you favorite books and authors?
Charles Portis, True Grit, best book ever. In genre, I read Karen Marie Moning, Kresley Kole, Charlaine Harris, the usual suspects. It changes all the time.
What are you working on next?
The sequel, Sky’s Surrender. I’m about half-way done, and instead of waiting, I’ll write the third book in the series right away while it is all fresh. Then I want to start something new before tackling another one in the series. I have some neat ideas, some sci-fi, some not.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
If your writing makes you laugh, makes you cry, gives you goosebumps, as you write, if the story keeps you up at night, brings true joy into your life, when you think about it waiting for you on your computer, don’t give up. Your story will entertain others.
Any last words?
If you like Sky’s End, please ‘like’ Facebook.com/CassielWintersSeries and you’ll stay in the loop for updates and other fun postings. Or, subscribe to my new release list at LesleyYoungBooks.com. I love to hear from readers! Thanks so much for the opportunity to share.
“You would understand us,” Prime Or’ic beseeches me, hands out. He places them on the downcore, searching the room, until he spots what he’s looking for. He returns with a stool and sits on it, making him eye level with me. A first. “Our beliefs,” he starts and stops. I’ve never seen him this . . . uncertain. “Kirs spend a lifetime training and fighting Aeon. We strive to achieve a perfect Horde, knowing the likelihood is incredibly small. And still we prevail. To get the chance to have, to fight with a sift,” he corrects himself, “with you, is . . . sacred. Once given, it is understood to be a right that is earned.”
“So you think I was, what, given to you?”
He rolls his eyes, frustrated. Ah, that’s more familiar. When he focuses back on me, his eyes are different. Earnest, I think.
“Think of how you ‘fell’ into our path. ESE sent you to our ship! You! When you took my beacon portal, then I knew for certain. It was our destiny to have a sift. You belong to us!”
His vehemence scares me more than the simple deduction. Those things all happened, but not so that I could be his sift. Not even so I could help ESE get the sift (isn’t that ironic?). But so that I could save my brother Daz! I’m certain of this. Being their sift is not my destiny. And even if I believed in that crap, I would never belong to them. Or anyone.
“I’m a human being, Or’ic!”
“I know, I know,” he says, touching my hand with his.
I pull away. I don’t like they way he’s looking at me. Not at all. He doesn’t understand that I wasn’t speaking literally. I meant to say that I’m not an object. But he continues, oblivious to his mistake
Lesley will be awarding print copies of “Sky’s End” to ten randomly drawn winners and a $50 Amazon Gift card to one randomly drawn winner.