As I'm off to clean the garden furniture, I hand My Place over to Regan.
Cathie, it's a pleasure to be your guest today. This is a terrific blog feature and I'm excited to share 'my place' with your readers. As an author, I focus primarily on crafting action-packed paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels. The Shadows of Justice series (Justice Incarnate, Invasion of Justice, Veil of Justice, Tracking Shadows and Shadows to Light) has a cast of characters that keeps me on my toes with psychic abilities, reincarnation, smugglers, assassins, and some seriously dark villains too.
When I started writing this series and placed it in the year 2096, it set my imagination free to explore all kinds of plots and developments from scientific advancements, to a micro-managing government (they outlawed caffeine!) to correcting a multitude of injustices.
Chicago! This series needed a strong place to be the framework and backdrop for my uniquely talented characters. Setting a story in the future, I wanted readers to have something more familiar as a touchstone during the adventure, so I wanted to use a real place. As one of my favorite cities, Chicago was a natural fit. While I took some liberties with how the city changes by 2096, I've tried to stay true to the heart of Chicago. I love the energy of Chicago with its dynamic history, the abundance of museums ranging from art to science, and let's not forget the pizza!
Using Chicago as the focal point of the world building for this series meant I could create scenes in landmark places like the Field museum, the Navy Pier, the Water Tower, and even the elevated trains.
As the series progresses, I continue to dig deeper, researching more of Chicago's colorful past to help me flesh out certain character backgrounds or to make the setting more 'real' for readers. For example, the Levee, the notorious vice district of the late 19th century, was full of fascinating tidbits I used to build the coffee smuggler's family tree. I want readers to get a sense of place that enhances the adventure or challenges the characters on their journey to the ultimate goal - whatever it might be.
Series overview: Set in the near future of 2096, each book in the Shadows of Justice series stars kick-butt alpha female heroines and swoon-worthy heroes. In a Chicago plagued by urban decay offset by pockets of gleaming wealth, characters with special gifts like healing with a touch or genetic enhancements such as telekinesis, journey through fast-paced adventures that will keep you turning pages long past your bedtime.
Blurb for Shadows to Light (book 5):
A supernatural healer, Mira escapes a trial of her peers only to be sent on an impossible mission: Rescue her scientist father from a madman who’s using him to create bio-weapons. Part of a covert task force searching for a missing government scientist, Jameson is tasked with staring at a laboratory building day in and day out.
The boredom is overwhelming until Mira, a woman he cannot forget, shows up in a place she should never be. Forced together by circumstance, Mira and Jameson enter an adventure that will push them to their limits – and quite possibly beyond.
The following excerpt is from Mira's trial at the opening of Shadows to Light:
"You assisted a fugitive." The man in somber black robes tapped a finger. Once. Twice. The robed figures flanking him nodded like so many agreeable ravens. "Your assistance enabled an escape."
Mira Luther stared at the center-most judge and refused to fidget. She wanted to scream that she'd assisted a Guardian, but that detail was in the report. As the judge seemed intent on reciting the entire account aloud, with excruciating deliberation over every sentence, it seemed best not to interrupt him and prolong the torture.
Her feet ached and her perfect posture was on the brink of collapse, but she would not be cowed. The formal inquiry chamber was cold, most likely to keep her elders on the bench from molding. The Five were probably quite comfortable in their long black robes. As the accused, her comfort was of no consequence to them. So she stood in the required uniform that resembled generic operating room scrubs and felt like a shiny curiosity at the mercy of a murder of crows.
While the judge continued his pattern of a slow sentence and a long look, Mira tried to focus on any sort of experience other than the one she was living.
"You over-extended. Took an unnecessary risk."
Mira met the cold gaze. This was true and the primary charge against her. Healing the guardian had been no problem. It was the taxing effort of healing a prisoner's ruptured appendix that had landed her here.
Running hadn't helped. Leaving had, in fact, been the wrong thing to do. The order's enforcers had tracked her down and hauled her in as she'd left a central Chicago hospital after a shift.
"Explain your decision."
Startled, Mira swallowed. "My decision?" Which one? Everything they needed to know was there in the report.
"To risk our order. To expose what you are to the world at large."
Ah, that decision. She cleared her throat. "After the guardian escaped, another patient turned critical."
"Were there not protocols? No others who could treat this prisoner?"
Mira barely resisted the urge to flex her hands. Any show of tension or frustration would only reduce her chances of surviving the inquiry.
"The prison was in lockdown due to an apparent escape attempt. A surgeon would not have been admitted in time. I chose to proceed within the primary directive of our order."
"The diagnosis was appendicitis. There was no harm in letting the prescribed medicines work. Even if they failed." This cold proclamation came from one of the two women assigned to Mira's inquiry. "The safe path was to stabilize and request assistance."
"We do not deal in miracles, child," The lead judge added with a look that could pierce armor.
Of course that would be the crux of their problem with her. She was a throwback to an earlier era and she'd been warned to hide the depth of her talent or be held to an impossible standard.
Miracles were for an age of humanity the governing council of healers felt had long since passed.
"Why did you not simply stabilize your patient?"
She could never confess everything to the Five. She could hardly permit herself to think about it. Searching for the lesser of two evils, she silently begged for forgiveness and told the white lie.
"The patient had become a person." The Five gasped. "He showed kindness, despite his pain and circumstances. I'd thought the uproar caused by the guardian disturbed him, but when I checked I realized the truth. Prolonging his pain, risking his life felt unfair. I acted based on the emotional connection."
Their disdain for her hit a new high. The intensity rolling off them was as oppressing as a stack of bricks on her chest. "And the witness? How did you explain?"
Mira sneered to cover her true feelings. "The witness was merely a guard." The biggest lie of her life rolled too easily off her tongue. Convicting her heart. Jameson had proved himself well beyond 'merely'. The betrayal felt dirty, not that he'd ever know. "I told him what he expected to hear."
"You played it off as feminine weakness."
On some silent cue, the Five rose as one. "We will deliberate."