The Orgo Runners series and the dissent RENEGADES saga take place during a future ice age- what was the most challenging part of creating this future world?
In short, I guess the answer is avoiding plot holes. Both the “dissent saga” and “Orgo Runners” are set in the same world. That world is our world, but after an ice age has wiped out much of the human species in the future. Yet, “dissent” and “Orgo Runners” have different timelines and characters—mostly. For example, the “Orgo Runners” adventures start four years before the first “dissent” book (RENEGADES). Likewise, “Orgo Runners” focuses on different main characters. That said, there are some characters that crossover throughout all these books. I’d even say that some of those characters are more obvious than others. And, as both these series are based in a place called Port Harmony to begin with, the plot crosses over too. Then, to make things even more complicated, I released a companion novella to the “dissent saga”. That book focusses on one of the characters from the first “dissent” book (RENEGADES). The character and the novella are called “Morrigan”, and the book takes us through her life events leading up to RENEGADES. As such, most of Morrigan’s story covers the “Orgo Runners” timeline. Phew—it makes me twitch a little now that I think about it.
Needless to say, I sometimes check that I have remembered things. It’s a bit like someone asking you what you were doing on 16th August last year. Unless that date is particularly significant (like a birthday or anniversary), it’s hard to remember. Most of us would need to check things like diaries, or photos etc. In fact, sometimes we have social media remind us of what we were doing. But, when I come to write a part of a story that crosses over with one of my others, I don’t have those easy reminders. So, although I usually remember what everyone was doing, and where they were, I do check—just in case I’ve forgotten something.
With these books, I’ve also discovered that I’ve created a world where there are so many stories to tell. So much has gone on, and there is so much history. Whilst I know that I have twelve ‘Orgo Runners’ stories to tell, the “dissent” saga will include many separate storylines. I could be writing these books for quite some time until it feels finished.
What inspired you to write such an imaginative world?
I’ve had an enormous love for imaginary worlds forever. Some of my favourites include Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Transformers, to name a few. I’ve always adored comic books too, and I still have graphic novels mixed into my reading pile. I always will.
With this world, I wanted to create something that people could believe in. But I also wanted to include an element of magic and fantasy. On top of that, I wanted to tell a story that was set in our world—in the future. Years ago, I watched a movie called The Day After Tomorrow. In short, that film is about a natural disaster, where global warming causes our climate to crash (for want of a better phrase). The result of this catastrophe is a superstorm that freezes our planet over. When that storm hits, it buries everywhere with ice and snow. So, with our world frozen over at the end of that movie, I started to wonder what would happen next. Few people would survive a storm like that. How would our species carry on?
From the start, I also wanted these stories to tackle problems that people can identify with. Things that are happening right now, that many of us care so deeply about. At the same time, I needed to place those issues in this new frozen version of our world. So, I considered things that break my heart, and that I wish I could change. Would these issues be any different in the future? Oppression and inequality were at the top of my list of considerations. I wanted to include a group that would be oppressed due to a lack of acceptance for them. Slavery too—how does that even still exist in our world today? Yet somehow—it does. This also made me think about the dangers of propaganda. In my opinion, the role of propaganda in creating and worsening our present-day challenges can never be underestimated. I needed to portray that in these stories.
There are quite a few strong female protagonists in dissent RENEGADES (yay!)- which one of these characters did you have the most fun writing about?
I laughed out loud when I read this question. My initial thoughts were…
You can’t ask me that! It’s like asking me to pick a favourite child.
And having given it some thought, I am still struggling to pick one. The reason for this, is that I love aspects of all the protagonists, and even some of the antagonists too. Although my reasons for loving some of the antagonists, are possibly not that clear in the stories yet.
When I wrote “dissent: RENEGADES”, I did develop a soft spot for Morrigan. There was something about Morrigan’s vulnerability, mixed with her determination to protect her friends. That was the reason I wrote her story so fast after releasing “RENEGADES”. Having said that, there will be more novellas that focus on the backstory of some of the “dissent” characters. One will be about Ditto, but there will also be a book devoted to Rada (the main antagonist). Likewise, I am very drawn to a character called Nolan, and I do want to tell parts of her story (that won’t be covered in the main “dissent” saga).
If I was to focus on the ‘fun’ part of this question, I would have to say Haylee and Ellie in equal measure. They are our two main protagonists. Both of those characters were so much fun to develop. That’s because they’re both great at getting themselves into precarious situations. Ellie and Haylee tend to dive in ‘over their heads’, so to speak. That was a lot of fun to write, even though they wouldn’t agree it was fun themselves.
If you could choose to live in one of the three human colonies you created (Scorr Tanta, Eklips, and Port Harmony), which one would you live in and why?
I would undoubtedly live in Port Harmony. When Rada became ruler of Scorr Tanta, and exiled a group known as the elrupe, I would have been one of the people wanting to play my part in helping them. Also, I love the ocean. Both Port Harmony and Eklips are situated on the coast. But if I lived in Eklips, I’d end up becoming a slave (knowing my luck).
Where did the idea of an orgo come from?
When I created this world, one huge thing for me was to evolve certain creatures to make new ones. I’ve always been a lover of imaginary beasts. However, one of my sons (Lewis) isn’t much of a fantasy enthusiast, and I wanted to create something that connected his excitement with my own. I wanted something in this world for him too—which seemed to be a challenge at first. Lewis is obsessed with cars, and stories about racing. So, how was I going to include that? It was at that point, that I realized I needed an animal that people could race around on. With this world being quite primitive, that seemed to be the obvious answer. But, I wasn’t convinced horses would have survived the ice-age, and so…
The orgo were born.
Some of the orgo’s features grew from things that spark my imagination too. Firstly, in some ways they’re similar dinosaurs in appearance. Yet, I also wanted the orgo to be a large ice-age type mammal. On top of that, I’ve always been enchanted by eggs. Bird eggs, reptile eggs, and of course, dinosaur eggs. The velociraptor that hatched in Jurassic Park was magical for me. So, the orgo had to be egg-laying mammals too.
Since publishing these stories, the orgo have taken on a life of their own. Both children and adult readers embrace them, and love them, the way they would with their own pets.
As for Lewis…
Whilst the orgo aren’t machines, they have now inspired him to learn horse-riding. It’s the closest he can get to riding orgo for the next few thousand years.
Do you plot your stories, or do you allow the characters to drive them?
The short answer is BOTH! I’ve read loads of interviews with authors, and approaches to writing can vary in many ways. Whilst my approach is structured and plotted in detail, characters do tend to come alive. They drive their stories in different ways. To be fair, if they didn’t, I’d be worried.
So, when I’m developing story ideas, I first begin by creating outlines of characters, places and things I want to include in the story. This generally includes every detail I can think of. You’d be surprised how much I consider—like eye and hair colour for people, and who is related to who etc. At this stage, I also consider how people get around, what animals they keep, and anything else that creates their lifestyle.
From there, I create a one sentence summary of my story. Then, I add more detail and increase the summary to about a paragraph. It is somewhere around this stage that I decide I have enough to play around with, and I begin plotting. I tend to dissect my stories into ‘acts’ first and add detail as I go. Finally, I break it down into chapters. This is where those naughty and unpredictable characters tend to speak out.
Once I have my chapters all worked out, I begin to write them, and that’s where the fun begins. As each character travels through their own story, things often change. Whilst the fundamental basics of the story remain intact, people will decide for themselves how they are going to react to certain things. So, there are many occasions where I add, remove or change the chapters, as the story progresses.
Do you have any favorite / go-to authors when you sit down to read?
Again, I find this tough to answer. I do have authors that I love to read and re-read, but there are a fair few. C.S. Lewis is one, and I don’t want to sound like everyone else, but J.K. Rowling is another. I love J.K. Rowling’s writing style. To be honest, I much prefer the Harry Potter books to the movies for that very reason. Sorry not sorry. And then, there is A.A. Milne. I adore the Winnie The Pooh stories. Being a parent has given me many new opportunities to explore A.A. Milne’s writing, again and again.
Recently, I’ve also started reading P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins books. I’m a huge fan of the Mary Poppins movie, and have been my whole life. Yet, for some reason, I’ve never read the books. I have to say, I absolutely love the books too. As you can see, I tend to re-read my childhood favourites—a lot!
Over time, I have gone through phases of falling in love with different genres too. I often find myself re-living these phases from time to time. There was a time that I couldn’t get enough of Stephen King, James Herbert and other authors in their genre. I must admit, I do fancy re-reading some of their books again soon.
However, the authors who tend to dominate my bookshelves now, are either Indie Authors (like me), or authors of young adult books. Examples include; Sarah J. Maas, Bella Forrest, Jane Washington, Jaymin Eve, Leigh Bardugo and L.L. McNeil.
In the last couple of weeks, I have also become an enormous fan of ‘The 100’ T.V. Show, which I’m catching up on with Amazon’s help. You won’t be surprised to discover that ‘The !00’ books are my current read! The show and the books are incredible, even though the plot can vary a lot between them.
What are two random and interesting facts about you?
Here are the first two things that popped in my head…
First, I’m not sure whether many people know that I’m a stay-at-home parent. We have three children at home, who have a collection of mild disabilities between them. In many ways, this has made it difficult to find employment that I can sustain. With so many hospital/clinic appointments to attend, not to mention meetings at school (and similar), it means that a parent needs to be available throughout the week for our children. That includes whilst they’re in school. Whilst my wife (Emma) is the person who brings a wage into our household, I’m the one who often attends those appointments and meetings. On top of that, there’s the regular parenting stuff to do too, of course. But I have to say, I love spending most of my time doing this. Our family is amazing (yes, I am biased).
The other thing that came to mind, is that I have become a massive ‘pop vinyl’ enthusiast. These collectibles never inspired me much to begin with. But now, I can’t stop looking for them! I collect the Star Wars range, but there’s always a threat that my interests will explode into other themes.
What’s coming up next for you?
That would be telling! Only kidding. Right now, I’m in the middle of releasing the fourth “Orgo Runners” book. I also have a few “dissent” and “Orgo Runners” surprises planned for over summer. Overall, I won’t get much writing done over the summer holidays (break). As such, I will be busy talking about the current books. BUT THEN…
After summer, I will continue working on a completely new project. Whilst “dissent” and “Orgo Runners” are nowhere near finished, I think its time for something fresh. At this stage, all I can say, is that this new story is a serialized, young adult novel. I plan to release the first part of the story in December, and there will be six parts in total, released monthly. Prepare yourselves for my take on an urban fantasy story. A story that includes dragons, mermaids and fairies—but probably not like the ones you’ve ever seen before.
Great!! Thank you for sharing your imaginative world with us!
"That girl isn't just trouble of the not-a-team-player, not-a-reliable-runner variety. She's trouble of the devious, manipulative, too-f***ing-hot-for-her-own good variety. She's the kind of girl who causes trouble merely by existing, and then makes sure to cause more. And the last thing I need right now is more trouble."
A failing farm.His father’s debt.And a struggling college track team. Will Langstrom has too many responsibilities, and the last thing he needs is Olivia Finnegan, a beautiful but troubled new transfer student.
A smart mouth. A strong right hook.And a secret that could destroy her. Olivia is her own worst enemy, with a past she can’t seem to escape, and the last person she wants help from is a cocky track coach she can never seem to please.Refusing to be pushed away, Will is determined to save her. And determined to resist an attraction that could destroy them both.
Waking Olivia is a romance novel written by author Elizabeth O’Rourke. The story follows Olivia Finnegan, a college track star who transfers to a new school and joins a team led by a handsome, enigmatic coach- Will Langstrom. While Olivia struggles with past trauma, nightly runs she can’t remember, and her burgeoning and unwanted feelings towards Will, Will battles his own interest in Olivia all while trying to juggle his familial responsibilities and future. Olivia, despite all the lengths she goes to keep people at arm’s length, finds herself the recipient of Will’s determination to push her, challenge her, and help her reach past her demons to grasp her own potential. This turbulent, heated, and forbidden tale follows these two characters down a passionate, dark, and compelling story that you won’t soon forget.
I have always been a character-driven, as opposed to plot-driven, reader (that’s not to say I don’t enjoy a compelling plot). If a story manages to capture both aspects, however, I find myself plowing through the story into the wee hours of the morning. This is what I found myself doing with Waking Olivia. Olivia’s character was intriguing- her past was so horrific and heart-breaking- her desire to keep others at an emotional distance was definitely understandable. As Will began to see past her sharp tongue and cold indifference, he began to champion her. His support, while still maintaining his cocky and endearing attitude, made him the ideal romantic hero. He was literally perfect for Olivia. Their chemistry was spot on and keenly felt with every scene.
The added bonus to this story? The spine-tingling plot twists and revelations that are unexpectedly, though strategically, strewn throughout the story. I found myself eager to piece together the clues from Olivia’s past, and felt nearly as heart-broken when things were discovered that made you want to weep. This is the first novel by Elizabeth O’Rourke I have read, and already I can’t wait to read her next one! If you’re looking for a dark, beautiful, and passionate forbidden love story that is tinged with mystery and spine-tingling plot twists, then Waking Olivia is just right for you!
John Douglas may be a well-trained political assassin, but he has met his match in the woman he once called a friend. When his childhood playmate reenters his life, she's not looking to rekindle their friendship... she's out for blood.
With a vendetta to settle, Charlotte Cornewalle isn't stopping until she finds the man who killed her father. All signs point to Robert Douglas, the leader of the opposing faction of assassins... and John's father. To get her revenge, no one will stand in her way... not even the boy she once adored.
Fate forces them together as they fight to prove their innocence and right the wrongs they have suffered. Sparks fly from more than just their swords, but will they be able to put the past behind them? Will they be able to find the truth before it destroys them both?
Review of In the Assassin’s Arms
In the Assassin’s Arms is the first novel in the Dagger of Desire series by author Katherine Hastings. The story follows childhood friends, Charlotte Cornewall and John Douglas. The tragic death of Charlotte’s father sends her spiraling into a troubled, orphaned childhood. Charlotte later learns that she is part of a secret society of assassins and spies called the Liberta- a society she throws herself into in order to learn all the deadly skills she needs to avenge her father. John Douglas also learns that he is part of a competing society of assassins- the same faction that Charlotte is convinced was behind the murder of her father. When Charlotte confronts John, the childhood friends turned enemies embark on an epic and humorous journey (despite the gravity of the matter) to discover the truth of her father’s death, and the many secrets that surround them.
The story was definitely character-driven. Charlotte (also referred to as Charlie) is a strong, independent, and fiery young woman who demonstrates remarkable skill with sharp, pointy objects and the spy version of hide-and-seek. I found myself applauding a lot of her antics throughout the story- especially when she bests John- who is a formidable man himself. John’s character surprised me. Despite being trained as a spy and assassin and being taught to be distrustful of others, he still finds it within himself early on to trust his childhood friend and partner with her to figure out the mystery of her father’s death. His sense of loyalty and chivalry were appealing- and I have to say, he had me laughing along with Charlie! When I initially started reading the story, I had this idea that he would be broody and intense…that is not like him at all! John is light-hearted, witty, and charming. I found the dialogue between Charlie and John to be engaging. The witty banter often had me grinning. I had to re-read a few passages because of how entertaining it was.
Despite the serious plot- murder, secrets, assassinations, betrayal, and spine-tingling plot twists- the author manages to weave in a considerable amount of humor and light-hearted dialogue. As for the chemistry between the characters (my favorite part of romance- and something that can either make or break a story)…well, John and Charlie had it all!! It didn’t matter if they were hiding from each other, drugging one another, or finding some clever way to outsmart the other, both characters brought the heat with equal fervor and I practically had to pat the flames out that were scorching those pages. John and Charlie are probably one of my favorite couples right now.
In the Assassin’s Arms was a witty, adventurous, action-filled, romance filled with a considerable amount of heat, plot twists, and epic fight scenes to leave a reader feverishly absorbed in the tale.
Five stars for In the Assassin’s Arms!
April had the amazing opportunity to interview Katherine Hastings and you can check that out here!
I had the opportunity to ask some questions with Katherine Hastings, the author of recently released novel In the Assassin’s Arms.
Please tell us a little about your upcoming novel In the Assassin’s Arms:
In the Assassin’s Arms is a historical romance novel that centers around two assassins from opposing factions, John and Charlotte (“Charlie”). Though they were once childhood playmates, as adults they have found themselves on the opposite end of each other’s sword. She thinks his father murdered hers. He thinks she killed his friend. Even though they distrust each other, they end up on the run together before they are next on the list. It’s an action adventure romance that follows these two assassins while they fight to clear their names… and the attraction they have that’s causing sparks to fly from more than just their swords!
How did the idea for In the Assassin’s Arms form?
In a dream, actually! I woke up and had little snippets of their story. I hurried to write the ideas down and then drew out a plot based on my dream. From there the story just took off on its own and I wrote it down as fast as I could!
Were there parts of the story that went differently than you had originally planned?
I’m a planner, so I knew the basic storyline before I ever started writing. However, Viktor’s character was what really surprised me. He wasn’t supposed to be anything other than a brief cameo, but he waltzed into my novel and became one of my favorite characters. I liked him so much, in fact, he’s starring in his own book, “Beneath the Assassin’s Touch”, the second book in the Daggers of Desire Series.
What can you tell us about Charlotte Cornewalle’s character?
You’ll find no damsel in distress when it comes to Charlotte! She’s a smart, capable, and lethal woman who can hold her own against anyone. The thing that is difficult for Charlotte, however, is trusting people. John has his work cut out for him chipping away at her walls and trying to reconnect with the girl he once knew.
John Douglas…a political assassin…he sounds intriguing! What inspired you to write his character?
After dreaming about John and Charlotte, when I started writing them, he really took on a personality of his own. With this book, I felt like I was standing in a room watching everything happening and just scurrying to write it all down. I knew his internal drives focused on honor, loyalty, and humor. The rest of him just evolved on the page, sometimes surprising even me!
Did you listen to music while writing In the Assassin’s Arms? If so, what artists and/or songs?
I did actually! Since this book is set in the 1700s, I found a couple stations that played music from that era. I also listened to a lot of movie soundtracks, like Gladiator, when writing the fight scenes. It helped me get in the mindset to write a more powerful action scene.
What are two random and interesting facts about you?
Random fact #1: I kiss my dogs at least 100 times a day. Yes. One hundred plus! Partly because they demand kisses, and partly because I love kissing their cheeks!
Random fact #2: I’m terrified of sharks, but I’m obsessed with watching everything about them. Shark Week, Sharknado, random shark videos… I’m glued to the screen!
What’s coming up next from you?
The next book in this series, “Beneath the Assassin’s Touch”, follows Viktor, a character you’ll meet in this novel. He’s a pirate and an assassin so he made for a really fun character to write! Viktor’s story takes him on quite an adventure, and you’ll see John and Charlotte appear in that book as well.
She’s sworn off love, he’s sworn off sex, but together they’ll score the goal of a lifetime.
When Maxine Nicholls discovers her fiancé is cheating, she turns to fast food and nighttime soap operas, but her sister has a plan—unbridled rebound sex with a stranger.
As one of Toronto’s hottest players, Antony Laurent tallies scores on and off the ice, but when the chiseled defense man hits a slump, rumors of a trade to the minor league send him to ambush a managers meeting at a posh club.
That night a chance encounter ends up as an unforgettable evening of passion. But Maxine and Antony are about to discover a game of casual hook ups can lead to something neither one of them thought they deserved—the right fit.
Daphne Dubois writes contemporary romance and believes the right book at the right time can make all the difference. When she’s not putting her characters in compromising positions (ahem), she works as a registered nurse. A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia, she lives in Eastern Canada, the most romantic place in the world.
You can also find her writing for teens as B.R. Myers.
The Right Fit is a contemporary romance by author Daphne Dubois. The story follows Maxine Nicholls- a young woman who tries to move on after finding out her fiancé was cheating on her. The disastrous end to this relationship, followed by another failed attempt at dating, has deepened Maxine’s insecurities and has her questioning her own desirability. A chance encounter with Antony Laurent, however, begins to turn these feelings around as she starts to see that there was nothing ever wrong with her, but with others and her own misguided perceptions. Antony Laurent- a professional hockey player in Toronto- is instantly attracted to Maxine and pursues her. However, he decides to keep his true identity a secret, a decision that could prove to be detrimental to his pursuit, especially considering Maxine’s trust issues.
Maxine was a very “real” and unique character. She is likened to a vintage pin-up girl, and her style of dress is reflective of this. It was interesting to see the clever names she developed for nail polish (she wishes to own a beauty shop), and how she would use them to match her mood for the day. Her insecurities were prevalent throughout the story, and evident in the way she would approach some of the more heated situations with Antony. Her character grew well throughout the novel as she slowly regained her confidence- there were a couple situations near the end of the story where I silently cheered for her. Her quirkiness also led to some humorous situations that had me laughing out loud and snapping my kindle shut with an, “oh my gosh! I just can’t even right now-“. As for Antony- I adored how patient and understanding he was with Maxine throughout the story. He was an important part of the development of Maxine’s confidence. As she was an important part of his healing from a past tragedy. I did question his judgement a few times and was relieved when he redeemed himself after some of his more questionable decisions. That man is going to keep the florists in Toronto in business! Also, any man who brings you treats or buys you brownies is a keeper. Just sayin’.
The chemistry between Antony and Maxine was palpable and steamy! Their uniqueness and differences made their more heated scenes a delight to read. Antony was charming, witty, and strong- which was a perfect compliment to Maxine’s eagerness to be loved the way she wanted to be loved, and those moments when she stepped slightly out of her comfort zone- operating purely on instinct and buried desires- and was bold in her own pursuit of him. In all, the story was a light-hearted, endearing, and steamy read about a chance encounter between two different people that leads to a sweet and enduring love- a love that was just “the right fit” for them both. Four stars for The Right Fit!
I discovered my love of reading at an early age and spent a great deal of my time devouring books- from mysteries like Nancy Drew, whimsical fantasies like Harry Potter, and eventually the turbulent and passionate stories in the romance genre, I found myself engrossed in a completely different world than this one. I believe it is through my experiences and the books I read, that I have developed a keen interest in a myriad of things. For that reason, The Vagaries of Us represents multiple areas of interest
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