QSFer and DSPP author Susan Laine has a new horror/sci fi book out:
Twenty winters have passed since the Cataclysm brought down society and robbed people of their memories. Humanity, vastly reduced in numbers since the initial chaos, has started anew in Canal City with the aid of library books and steam technology. The Scout and Ranger Corps was established to search for possible survivors and to replenish dwindling resources.
Dev is the captain of the scout airship Smoke Sparrow, and Shay is the scholar of their newest expedition. Their destination is Innsmouth, Massachusetts, a small fishing town that is mentioned in obscure books but shows up on no maps. Might its secrets offer answers? But within the fog-covered, ruined hillside town by the bay lurk unspeakable dangers and horrors beyond imagining. The expedition team soon learns that Innsmouth is one town that should have been left forgotten.
THE LANTERNS and gaslights flickered in the rough, cold winds, casting lively tricks of light and shadow all around. Dev hugged his wool cloak tighter around his neck. He despised deck duty on bleak evenings like this, when the cold bit like winter—though in reality it was still autumn. But no one was exempt from a shift at the helm, not even Dev, for all he was the captain of this scout airship. He couldn’t wait for Stork to relieve him so he could retire to his bunk for the night and dream of… impossible things.
The two-story airship was small enough to enable him to peek at the earth below while manning the wheel. The sun had set moments ago. The horizon still blazed orange, but the land beneath was pitch-black. No lights anywhere.
Dev harrumphed. No people anywhere. Not since the Cataclysm.
The door to the cabin opened at Dev’s back, and someone stepped out, audibly protesting the chill. Dev knew whom to expect without looking.
“Good evening, Shay,” Dev said, a half smile curling his lips.
The young man grunted. “What’s so great about it, Captain Endeavor?” In that moment, Shay sounded nothing like the shining sunbird that had given him his chosen nickname. In fact, his current disposition was the opposite of sunny and shiny.
Dev shrugged, mostly to aggravate the young scholar he liked to tease. “Beautiful sunset, cool winds, smooth sailing. What’s not to love?”
Shay inched closer to the railing, back to Dev, trembling under his thick but far too small cloak.
He was slender and short, with shoulder-length wavy blond hair, a few strands of which had escaped the ribbon he had used to tie back his tresses. Tresses? Dev briefly considered choosing another word, even in thought. Could one call a man’s hair tresses? Well, one word fit as well as the next—for a man with a limited vocabulary.
Dev mentally compared himself to Shay, imagining what the two of them looked like side by side. Where Shay was small, Dev was big, robust, muscular, and hairy, dressed in coarse clothes that barely fit his massive size. He kept his wild black mane cut short, hating when it obstructed his sight and tickled the sides of his face, and his beard neatly trimmed to keep his chin warm without irritating him.
Shay wore simple but elegant clothes. His father must have been wealthy back in the day, for Shay had grown up on a sprawling estate with access to food and clothes sufficient to provide for him in a newly inhospitable world.
Dev had not been as fortunate. He’d grown up in a shelter with dozens of other children like him, lost souls who had not been reunited with their families. But he had never allowed his misfortune to overwhelm him. Whatever strengths and virtues his parents had bestowed upon him, Dev had utilized them all to become the man he was today—an airship captain in his own right.
Shay peered at the countryside below, his brow furrowed. “Anything?”
“Nothing.” Dev shook his head even though Shay faced away from him. “What did you expect? Candlelight vigils? Burning cities?”
Shay seemed unwilling to rise to the bait. As he leaned cautiously over the railing, his expression remained glum, almost yearning. “Both. Neither. I don’t know. Something. Anything. Proof we were here once.”
Dev heard what Shay left unsaid. Here before the Cataclysm. “It’s been twenty-three winters. If there was anyone else still alive, the scouts would have found them by now.”
“I don’t know,” Shay said slowly. “It’s a big world out there. Earth, I mean.”
That, at least, was true. Dev scanned the darkening horizon with no small amount of anxiety. From maps made before the Cataclysm, it was clear the world had grown small in those days, every nook and cranny discovered and occupied. But now it was all unknown again.
Susan Laine, an award-winning, multi-published author of LGBTQ erotic romance and a Finnish native, was raised by the best mother in the world, who told her daughter time and again that she could be whatever she wanted to be. The spark for serious writing and publishing kindled when Susan discovered the gay erotic romance genre. Her book, Monsters Under the Bed, won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Paranormal Romance.
Anthropology is Susan’s formal education, and she could have been happy as an eternal student, but she’s written stories since she was a kid, and her long-term goal is to become a full-time writer. Susan enjoys hanging out with her sister, two nieces, and friends in movie theaters, libraries, bookstores, and parks. Her favorite pastimes include pop music, action flicks, eating chocolate, and doing the dishes, while a few of her dislikes are sweating, hot and too-bright summer days, tobacco smoke, and purposeful prejudice.