Happy Release Day to Cynthia Kimball! Release days are fun, and scary, and nerve-wracking… and for me as a reader they’re dead exciting. Especially if the book is a story that tickles my imagination. Cynthia Kimball’s story does this on various levels. Going to live on a different planet is probably something most of us have wished for at one time or another even with the threat of not fitting in and being “different” hanging over us. Fan the Embers plays with that idea, but Cynthia Kimball doesn’t stop there, and the world she invents thoroughly intrigues me. If you love sci-fi, why not check it out?
In April 2015, I started to dream about a teenage boy from Earth moving to another planet. Most specifically, similar scenes kept coming to mind. Of him having to go to school, sit amongst his ‘peers’ and find they had no gender. Then how he reacted to it and how it changed him.
That scene kept coming to me over and over again until I sat down one day intent on writing it. I did. But the scene, once written down, began to morph, to change, to become more intense. New words, a new language pecked at the edge of my brain and characters from that planet began to intrude on my every waking- and sometimes sleeping –moment. The concept began and I wrote the 1st draft for Fan the Embers in less than a month.
However, I was writing by the seat of my pants at the time and there were several problems with it. So I set it aside until after I’d taught myself how to plot. That was early 2016. Once I got plotting down, I completely rewrote Fan the Embers. I will freely admit I rewrote this book – not edited it, rewrote it – over a dozen times. Until I got it right.
If an author can fall in love with a storyline, this one definitely did it for me. (Even if the Figorian pronoun became a bit of an editing PITA, I love it and have, at times, accidentally used it in other books I write. And would prefer to use it for myself, though that is an entirely different story.) I’m halfway through writing book two which I love even more, if that’s possible.
Spend time at the sciatedak with Hugh and Trend. Drink chelle and stay awake for three days straight. Visit the kazdak where the Empeer lives. Awake from stasis in a CyboPod. Meet the Figorians who are willing to accept Hugh and those who refuse.
Fall in love with Figor and its people, just like Hugh does. Just like I did.
Fan the Embers
This book is not available on Amazon. If you have a kindle, you can purchase a mobi from the A Thia Thing Store or Smashwords.
It’s 2096, Earth is relatively new to the intragalactic game, and 18-year-old Earthen Hugh MacGivens thinks he’s going to spend a few months on a distant world with his ambassador parents. Instead, he steps onto the planet to find he’s Earth’s selection for solidifying an alliance with the genderless people of Figor—by mating with a local.
Trend a’Bahn is ready for xys life to begin. Xe wants to gain an apprenticeship to a master builder and find xys mate in claiming season. Never would xe have expected an attraction to an offworlder.
While the two navigate claiming season, an undercurrent in Figor emerges. They don’t like anything non-Figorian and they hate what Hugh represents. As peaceful as Figorians are, a fire has been lit. If their beloved Empeer won’t stop such a mating from occurring, they will take care of it themselves.
Hugh came to Figor for a few months and possibly the rest of his life. If they have their say, his life ends now.
Excerpt from Fan the Embers by Cynthia Kimball
(Thought I would give you a snippet from when Hugh and Trend first meet. Hugh doesn’t understand Figorians quite yet.)
There was a small hallway that opened up onto a massive space. He figured it was probably as large as a football field. A domed ceiling above them made it seem even bigger. In groups of five or six, Figorians clustered around the space. As expected, he was the tallest of the bunch. By a large margin. Plus, while his mother had been right that Figorians had long hair, theirs was straight whereas his was curly. Well, no doubt as to who the Earthen was. He offered what he hoped was a kind smile. It was hard to tell with how fast his heart beat and how much he wanted to make a good impression.
While he was nervous about being one of the allied, his pride insisted he do his best.
Hugh turned at his name and saw one of the sciates smiling at him. Xe was about four inches shorter than Hugh, but xe wore a pleasant expression. Hugh couldn’t tell whether xe was male or female. That was odd. It was like some other Earthens he had met whose gender was androgynous.
“Yes. I’m Hugh,” he finally said when he realized he was staring.
“My name is Trend. The Empeer asked me to show you around. If that is suitable to you?” Xys Earthen was halting, but xe pronounced everything well.
“Quite,” Hugh answered in Figorian. “I’m trying to become fluent in your language. So please, feel free to speak it with me.”
Trend smiled, a more natural and somewhat shy, smile. “Of course. Shall we get something to drink and wait for the welcoming to begin?” Xe waved at a table filled with food and cups of something. Hugh followed xem over.
Once he got over to the food table, Hugh was able to see more of the room. On the far side were several picnic-like tables set up, and close to where he was, a small dais stood. On the table were several containers of liquid he didn’t recognize and tons of different types of food. The only one Hugh recognized was the stylar. When Trend picked up a plate and used a pair of tong-like utensils to pick up different types of food, he followed suit.
“That,” Trend said, pointing to what looked like watered-down coffee, “is chelle. It is bitter and in its full strength form can keep one going for days. As we are just beginning to accustom ourselves to it, it is only at about ten percent strength.” Xe pointed to the next, a smooth, silky drink that was unfortunately bright pink. “This is equivalent to tea on your planet. Ambassador MacGivens is said to drink it at every luncheon xe attends.” Amused, Hugh nodded. His father was addicted to tea. Next to the tea were drinks that fizzed. “Those three are refreshing, but if you are not used to them, can be quite invigorating. I would suggest against them for now. That is water.”
With a smile he couldn’t stop, Hugh grabbed a cup of water and followed Trend to stand in the middle of the room. With both hands filled, he had no way of eating. When he glanced over at Trend to see how xe dealt with it, several other sciates walked over and began to fill plates. Just like on Earth. Everyone waited for one brave soul to make the first move.
“Greetings.” He looked up at a Figorian who stood on the dais. Thinning gray hair clung to xys scalp and xe wore a deep gold outfit. It seemed Figorians all wore the same type of clothing. The only difference was the color. Hugh would have to look up and see what they designated. He was sure the information would be in those scrolls in his father’s library.
“My name is Cameo. Welcome to your claiming season. We know you are excited and nervous to begin this time in your lives. But never fear. Everyone on Figor has been through it before you. It is perfectly harmless.” Those around Hugh laughed, amusing him further. “Some of you will meet the one you will claim and know it almost instantly. Others it will take weeks or months of getting to know one another. Both are acceptable. And both will ensure that you end up with the ska you will be happy with for the rest of your life.”
Hugh leaned in toward Trend and whispered, “Ska?”
Trend cocked xys head for a moment and then whispered back in Earthen. “Mate.”
It boggled his mind that they were spending only a few months to look for their spouse. They fully expected to spend their entire lives with that one person. It was so different than what he was used to. Duh, idiot. They are also not sexual. Get out of your head and observe.
“For the next month, you will spend your time getting to know each and every individual here. You will get to see them in several different venues. Most of your activities will be here, but after the first month there will also be dinners and some evening entertainments where you will be able to observe them. You will meet here three days per week as many of you are starting your apprenticeships. We wish you well on your search. We know it will be one of the best experiences of your life.
“Now,” xe said while rubbing his palms together in what appeared to be anticipation. “Find a seat at one of the tables and get to know the people around you. Every day you are here, we suggest sitting with a different group. It is in your best interest to meet everyone. Also, as you know, we have a unique situation this year. The Empeer has invited an Earthen to claiming season.” Murmurs wafted through the room. “I know. It is a bit scary to have an offworlder here. But the Empeer and the Earthen ambassador have assured us that Hugh is a fine individual and will be an asset. We ask that you give xem the same respect you would give any of your fellow sciates.”
Xe stepped away from the dais, thus abruptly ending xys speech.
“Come,” Trend said. “Let us find a seat.”
Pleased to have somewhere to put his plate and cup, Hugh followed xem to the tables and sat down. Slowly the others followed. He was interested to note that while they had congregated in groups before, those groups separated and sat at different tables. Obviously they took their leader’s words seriously. “Get to know everyone.”
About Cynthia Kimball
Cynthia Kimball is the eclectic writing side of Thianna Durston. She writes sci-fi, fantasy, metaphysics, and whatever bumps into her in the middle of the night. Fairies only if they’re nice and show her their wings.