Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Author Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway - After the Garden by Michelle Browne

After the Garden

by Michelle Browne 



Memories of another life and lover guide her, but are they even hers? She is a Bearer—keeper of past lifetimes and gifted with strange talents. Ember must find her answers away from safe Longquan Village, snared instead in the sensuality and dangers of The City. Hidden among spider farmers and slaves, prostitutes and weavers, a nest of people like her are waiting. 

A powerful man outside The City raises his forces, determined to hunt down the ‘demons’ who could taint his followers. Threatened from without and within, can the Bearers even trust each other? 

Powers will rise and alliances will be forged in a dark new world. The Memory Bearers are coming. 

**This book includes violent and mature content. Reader discretion is advised.**




The soles of her leather shoes were silent as she crossed the playground field and headed towards a farmer’s territory. Nearly out of town, now; home free if she could find some food. Glancing at the sun, Ember saw that it was getting near nightfall, and she would have to make a kill before the sun fell. Her empty stomach was eloquent, and she shifted, embarrassed by its rumbling.  

From the corner of her eye, she noticed movement. Ember withdrew and notched the arrow. The game, a mere ten feet away, sat on its hind legs, whiskers and nose twitching. Closing one eye momentarily to train the weapon on a rabbit, she felt the strength of the wood as it protested, aching to be loosened. Ember exhaled sharply and let the arrow fly; it struck the bull’s eye and she heard the crack of a skull. Pleased, she trotted over to retrieve it.  

“Hey! This is our land! What’s that you’ve caught?”  

Ember froze and then straightened, holding the rabbit up innocently. The man walking briskly towards her was armed with a quiver of arrows, but a leather holster bounced against his hip. A beaten plasteel gun’s handgrip protruded, and his hand coiled around its shape. The gait of the man was even and fluid, but held a peculiar military stiffness, probably from an old injury. His weathered face, sun-bleached hair, and roughness skin matched his oft-mended clothing. Ember thought he was likely a farmer; in any case, she smiled politely and lowered her hands, spreading them wide so he could watch her movements easily.  

“Who are you?” Now that she was in sight, he was less aggressive.  

“Someone,” she said quietly. “I hope I’m not stealing your property. I didn’t know I was on your land, and I’m hungry. If it’s yours, I apologize for killing it.” After all, there was the possibility that this was one of his farm animals, not a wild specimen, as she’d first thought.  

“Nah, that’s all right. Don’t worry about the rabbit. It’s just that we’ve been having a lot of vandals and looters round here of late. You don’t look like trouble to me,” said the man, and his smile was quite kind this time. 

“Is there any way I can earn a meal and a night’s rest here?” asked Ember hopefully. “If you have any children, I’d be happy to mind them, and I can certainly—” 

The man smiled at her again, much more deeply, and interrupted. “No, no, my youngest daughter’s away and married, and my eldest already has three children. Ain’t no kids running around no more. I think we can afford to let you stay for one night, anyway. Follow me.” He turned, and she followed him through the field.  

The house they soon reached was decent enough, well-cared for despite its plainness. Already Ember could see a woman within it, her visage distorted by the cheap glass of the window.  

“Come in,” said the man. “By the way, I go by Dave.” He waited for her to reply with a name.  

“Call me Ember,” she said.  

“Ain’t got a family name?” 

She smiled and said nothing.  

“If you don’t want to tell me, that’s your business. Still, you’re welcome to stay for a night or two,” he reminded her, opening the door. Ember felt his thoughts pawing at her. Too skinny, said his mind, but she would do. Ember made a note to give him plenty of space that night. Her small knife was still in a sheath around her neck, and she had another at her hip. She touched it meaningfully as she felt his eyes on her ass.  

Ember stepped into the kitchen. The house was a comfortable sort of place inside, too, with few luxuries and decorations. A plump woman with grey hair and muscular arms stood before the cast-iron stove. 

“This is Diya,” said Dave, gesturing to his wife. “Diya, we’ve got company tonight.” 

The woman finally looked up from her oven, from which she was removing pork and root vegetables. Ember’s mouth watered at the scent.  

“I’m sorry to intrude,” said Ember. She tried not to sway under the power of the rich, delicious smells of the cooked meat. “I didn’t mean to interrupt—this must be a special occasion. It’s just that I shot a rabbit on your land.” She produced the rabbit from her satchel.  

The woman squinted at her. “Now, that’s all right. Ain’t ours—didn’t you check, you old fool?” She glared at her husband for a moment. “Ain’t got the notch. “Anyway, young miss, tell you what. Give me that rabbit and I’ll give you some salted meat for it in trade. That sound fair?” 

“Very,” said Ember, smiling with relief. “What can I do in exchange?” 

The woman paused. “Eat first, we’ll negotiate later.”  

Ember set her bag down inside the door and trotted over to the sink, where she gave her hands a brief rinse.  

Diya opened the cupboard and retrieved three earthenware plates. She piled them with boiled potatoes, green beans, turnips, and yams, then loaded on slices of the simmered pork. Ember praised the food and savoured it, forcing herself not to gobble it too quickly. She almost fainted as she took a small bite of the meat.  

“This is really, really wonderful,” said Ember. “The flavours are just mouth-watering.” She decided it wasn’t cheating too much to stir feelings of warmth and happiness in their minds. Sure enough, their smiles loosened and Diya’s shoulders relaxed.  

“Your children were very lucky,” Ember said, taking another small bite.  

“You’re kind,” Diya said, and snorted. “They appreciated it enough, I guess. Leastaways, they still come by for dinners most end-a-weeks.” She mentioned a little more about the children, their extended family. Ember hid her pangs of longing at that.  

“…And our youngest gone and become a Betweener. He—Xe,” Dave corrected as Diya elbowed him, “lives with the rest of xem and trades. Ain’t heard from xer since xe joined ‘em, but I reckon xe’s busy. Not that we get many traders here of any sort—Betweeners, The Nation, or other folk. Most of the trade wagons just go right on up the ancient road to the city. Stop through sometimes to sell slaves for labour, though.”  

“Hm,” said Ember noncommittally. She slid into their minds again. Mercifully, they weren’t the sort to bind a guest and sell them to the traders—even if times had been hard. Others in the satellite towns and cities were often less generous. She deliberated and decided to offer a soft compliment, to keep things sweet. “The town seems very safe. Is everyone as kind as you here?”  

For some reason, her innocent questions brought taut looks to their faces. Diya stood and left. She returned with a little brandy, and poured a round of mint tea from a dented, heavy kettle into dense ceramic cups.  

“Well…” Dave drank his tea in a powerful swig, then re-poured it, adding more brandy this time. “I think you’ll be safe enough around here...”  

His wife automatically began to nod in agreement, but hesitated. “Thing is, pretty young girl like you could still get some trouble from The Order of Ezeriah,” said Diya, picking up the plates from the table and taking them to the sink. “Horde of lunatics in a cult over this way. Keep talking on about the demons, a bunch of people who were born after The Crash with strange powers. Nonsense—there ain’t no such thing, and they’re a bunch of wackos, if you ask me.

Round here, we call them the Purifiers. Lotsa strange hang-ups, they have, but they got influence enough—you don’t wanna get on the bad side of the Purifiers.”  

She was dismissive, but Ember felt her throat stick. “Really,” she said slowly. “So, what kind of things do they say?”  

“Oh, they blather on about magic and the end of the world and the rebirth of demons after the apocalypse. Don’t you mind them, young lady; but I hear their leader likes…well, likes things that decent folk...” Diya trailed off, shaking her head and pursing her lips.  

“I’ll stay on my guard,” Ember promised them. 


Talking with author Michelle Browne!

What is your writing environment? 

At my desk or on the couch, surrounded by yarn, tea, candles, and sometimes, by my cat.

Who is your perfect hero/heroine and why?

I don’t really have one, though I’ve got a huge crush on Olivia Pope right now because I’ve just discovered Scandal. I’ve got a soft spot for Claire Underwood as well, but I think my favorite hero and heroine of all time (right now, anyway) would have to be Chriton and Aeryn from Farscape. They’re smart, they don’t play by gender roles, they’re broken, and they’re rich and complicated. That’s what I love in a character—layers and complications and damage.  

What authors have caught your interest lately and why?

Chuck Wendig is always a favorite. Just recently, I had a chance to read Octavia Butler’s “Kindred”. That was very, very brutal. Brilliant, though. I definitely plan to read more by her. I also finished Douglas Coupland’s “Life After God”—that was unusual and beautiful and much more quiet and thoughtful than I expected.

What type of book have you always wanted to write?

I’d love to tackle some more urban fantasy. I’ve got a few projects in the works. As it is, though, I’m still loving post-apocalyptic wonderland fiction.  

Top 3 things on your bucket list?

I really want to improve my upper body strength and learn to pick locks—and part of the reason for those two things even being on my bucket list is that I desperately want to go on an urban exploration run. I love abandoned buildings and ruins, and I want to see a few for myself.

How did you get the idea for this particular novel?

I was driving and walking around Calgary in my teens, and I couldn’t stop imagining the bustling, vibrant city if it were ruined and half-abandoned. Those mental images inspired me, and I had to capture and share them.

What is your favorite scene in your new release?

Oooh, tough question. I can’t really tell you without spoilers, but I do love writing the quiet little love scenes. Also, anything where characters are fighting and yelling at each other is perversely fun to work on.  

What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be available?

Within the Tempest, book 2 of The Memory Bearers Saga, will be out very soon! Grab After the Garden and stay tuned! 

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Knit, drink tea, drink more tea, collect jewelry, make jewelry, sew, go on walks, and definitely not break into abandoned buildings. That would be illegal. Of course.  

What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t know?

I have an absolutely enormous collection of scarves. It’s pretty unreasonable. Also, amazing. Also, I keep an emergency kit in my purse at all times—it contains a sewing kit, screwdriver, shoelaces, soap, tick tweezers, bike lube, matches, and a tampon, as well as a tiny lens cleaner and a lighter. Always be prepared.
About the Author: 

Michelle Browne is a sci fi/fantasy writer from Calgary, AB. She has a cat and a partner-in-crime. Her days revolve around freelance editing, jewelry, phuquerie, and nightmares. She is currently working on the next books in her series, other people's manuscripts, and drinking as much tea as humanly possible. 

She is all over the internet, far too often for anyone’s sanity, and can be found in various places.  


Other books by Michelle Browne: 

(Book 1 of The Nightmare Cycle)

(Includes The Underlighters and many other short stories) 

(Book 2 of The Meaning Wars) 

(Book 1 of The Meaning Wars)

Coming soon: 

The Meaning Wars
(Book 3 of The Meaning Wars) 

Monsters and Fools
(Book 2 of The Nightmare Cycle) 

Within the Tempest
(Book 2 of The Memory Bearers Saga)
Michelle Browne will be awarding an autographed paperback copy to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  Follow the tour HERE

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