Today I am interviewing J.D. Lakey, author of the science fiction series, Black Bead Chronicles.
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DJ: Hey J.D.! (Oh boy, this could get confusing with my name) XD Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
JD: I am at heart a sci-fi geek, comic book fan, and occasional mystic. I started to write volumes about myself, most of which I immediately deleted (to protect the innocent.) In this current incarnation of myself, I am a short story writer turned novelist intent on writing (righting?) the wrongs done to women in literature starting with Ophelia and moving on to Kilgore Trout. Once a wife, now just a mother and a grandmother, I was born and raised in Montana, and if you know anything about Montana women, that should speak volumes. Went to the University of Montana and studied Forestry. I have been, on and off, a restaurant cook, a land surveyor, a civil engineering tech, a witch, a printer, and a forest fire fighter. I once had a short story published in a local paper, and wrote a monthly column for a spiritual newspaper under the nom-de-plum Maggie Lightbody. Of all of them, the tech job paid the best.
DJ: What is the Black Bead Chronicles about?
JD: That is a very complicated question. On the surface they are just simple adventure stories that take place in the distant future on a planet that is not Earth. But underneath the surface roils all sorts of subjects. Human evolution. Civilization. Social order. Utopia. Environmentalism. Eugenics. Population control. Empathic connection. Hive mind thinking. The world building is based on a simple “what if”: what if predators evolved brains so intricate they could psychically influence the minds around them? And what if two kinds of humans settled on this planet: those who wanted to eradicate the aliens, and those who wanted to live – well, not in harmony – but with as small a footprint as possible.
DJ: What were some of your influences for the series?
JD: They say write what you know. I grew up a wild child in the great open spaces of Montana and had a very large extended family. That is where this book starts. That I have read thousands of sci-fi/fantasy books from some of the best authors out there is pretty obvious as you read more of my stuff. I like to think I stand on the shoulders of giants.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about Cheobawn? Does she have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with her?
JD: If anyone has ever felt like an outcast, like nobody really understands them, then you can relate to Cheobawn. She is six years old at the beginning of book one, and has been marked with the black bead by her tribe at a young age, which means she is bad luck. This is a mark of shame which she must wear for all to see. As the story progresses, she becomes more confident as she understands who she really is.
Let’s just say she has mommy issues and it makes her seem angry. And in a dome where every elder is called Mother, that is saying a lot. There is an assumption that she is too young to do what she is doing and that leaves her in an information vacuum which forces her to solve her problems on her own, sometimes with disastrous consequences. She is fierce and fearless and impatient and maybe too smart for her own good.
She has been genetically engineered to suit her truemother’s need, but what those needs are remain a mystery until later in the series.
DJ: What is the place and environment like in the world of the Black Bead Chronicles?
JD: The planet is called Occonomara. The area where Cheobawn’s tribe lives is called the Highreaches. Humans live inside domes to protect themselves from the large, vicious predators that inhabit the planet. The dome people occupy the land between the snow-covered peaks and the impassable cliffs called the Escarpment. They have, on purpose, left the habitat untouched, and all the prey and predators roam freely outside the protection of the domes. Children must venture out of the dome to forage and hunt at a young age with their chosen pack. If they survive, they prove themselves worthy to live.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing the Black Bead Chronicles? What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish the first three books?
JD: I never know how it will end when I start writing. It is like archeology. You start digging up bones without really knowing what the animal is that you have found. For a while it seems like you have an unsolvable puzzle, but finally things just click together into an ending that always makes me smile. It’s like magic.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t want readers to talk about the books. I want the ideas to sit in the back of their minds and ferment. And then, as they walk through their day, some little bit bubbles up, all yeasty and digested, and they smile like a baby after it burps. hahahaha. I have no idea. The comments I get are about the characters. The guys love Tam, the alpha male in the pack. The girls love Connor. Everyone wants to hate Cheobawn’s mother Mora, but … no, that’s book four spoilers.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from the Black Bead Chronicles that you can share with us?
JD: The thing stank of unnamed yearnings, unfulfilled wishes, and a hunger so deep it made her feel hollow inside. – Black Bead.
“You are one weird little kid, did you know that?” Connor said sleepily from behind closed eyelids. “I am glad we are Packmates.”
Cheobawn turned her head and stared at his relaxed profile. What did one say to a person who had just taken a lead weight off her heart and set her free?
“Thank you,” she said softy. – Black Bead
Telling lies must surely be the worst offense ever. How would anyone know what was real? – Cheobawn, Bhotta’s Tears.
“The bringer of war, the hand of death, this thing was broken on my innocence.” – Cheobawn, Bhotta’s Tears.
DJ: Have you been reading anything good lately?
JD: I have a half dozen books by C.J. Cherryh on my nightstand that I read just because I love how she writes. I would say she is my biggest influence. Then I switch it out with Ender’s Game or Ursula Le Guin or Patricia McKillip or Anne Bishop.
DJ: Now that the first three books of the Black Bead Chronicles have been released in new revised editions, what is next for you?
JD: Well, book four has been done for some time. I am 56,000 words into book five. That will be the end, … maybe. Then I can move on to expanding some of my short stories.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/J.D.-Lakey/e/B004XMKYSE/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
DJ: Where can readers get a copy of your books?
JD: Right now I am running a 3-day promotion for Black Bead on Amazon Kindle, so readers can download it for free until January 31st, 2016. Black Bead and Bhotta’s Tears are both available to purchase as paperback books through Amazon as well. Book 3 – Spider Wars – is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be coming out in April of 2016. Book 4 will be released in the Fall of 2016, and Book 5, the final book, will be released in 2017.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
JD: You’re welcome, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for providing such a fantastic blog for and for featuring me today. Looking forward to connecting with more readers!
*** You can download Black Bead, book 1 of the Black Bead Chronicles, for FREE on Amazon Kindle until January 31!!!! ***
About the Book:
On a savage, outlying planet an enclave of psionically-trained humans have built a utopian, matriarchal society that lives in harmony with all life. Leaving behind the polluted and corrupt world in which they lived, they colonized a new home far from the eyes of the galactic empire. Shielded from the rest of the galaxy by the dangerous beasts that inhabit their lush, forested world, the village lives a simple life under their Home Dome. But their goal was more than just to live in peace – they wanted to create the perfect human who could bring peace to the galaxy. Rather than merely cloning themselves, they began to manipulate genes in order to create a race of mutants with enhanced telepathic powers.
Under the direction of the ruling witch coven, each child of the Windfall Dome is tested at a young age to asses their abilities – a test which can plot the course for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, Cheobawn – the daughter of the ruling First Mother to the dome – is marked with the Black Bead on her Choosing Day, a symbol of bad luck and shame. It seems the child the mothers had placed so much hope in would not be the future ruler they had hoped for. Yet there is something powerful about her that the elders don’t understand.
Finally of age, Cheobawn is chosen to join a pack to act as the psychic Ear on a foraging mission outside the dome. She knows this is her chance to prove herself. But something sinister stalks them and each member of the pack must draw on their unique strengths and a lifetime of training if they want to survive to see another day.
In her visionary new series The Black Bead Chronicles, author J.D. Lakey invites you to journey along with Cheobawn, Megan, Tam, Connor, and Alain as they use their wits and their Luck to unravel the mysteries of the deceptively bucolic life beneath the dome in this coming of age metaphysical science fiction adventure.
About the Book:
Life under the dome is simple. Work hard, follow the rules, be safe, do what is expected of you and you will be rewarded. Easy. But the Blackwind Pack has two problems: Tam – the alpha – aspires to greatness, and Cheobawn – his Black Bead Ear – is profoundly gifted, with a psi ability so advanced the elders of the village have yet to understand it.
Following their nearly disastrous first foray together outside the dome, the newly-formed Blackwind pack is just getting used to their new lives together, and their bonds continue to strengthen. But Cheobawn can feel something ominous about to happen, something that will put her entire village and everyone she loves in mortal danger. A creature has climbed the Escarpment and now wanders in the southern forests. She knows she must find it before the elders get wind of its presence and go hunting it with deadly intent.
But her pack would never let her go alone. Together, they set out on a dangerous race toward an unknown enemy, hoping Cheobawn can find a way to save not only their way of life, but their very existence on the lush, savage planet they call home.
The epic adventure that began with Black Bead continues in Bhotta’s Tears. Journey along as Cheobawn unravels the mysteries embedded in the deceptively bucolic life of her village under the dome.
About the Book:
Winter is a time of quiet industry under the domes. At least it should be. Calamity is stalking the tribes of the high forests. The storms have killed too many of them, man and animal alike and now the bennelk warn of a new threat coming at them from out of the Wastes. Follow Blackwind Pack on their third adventure as Cheobawn and Connor use their wits and their Luck as they explore the wild world in which they live.
J.D. Lakey was born and raised on the high plains of Montana under an endless sky and as far from civilization as anyone in the twentieth century could get. There she explored the finer nuances of silence and the endless possibilities of the imagination. The stories were always there. The shifting of fortunes finally granted her the time to gather all the stories and give them flesh.
An avid reader of science fiction and comics, she currently lives in San Diego, California where she divides her time between her writing, commuting on the I-5, and spending time with her delightful grandchildren.