Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement gives way to shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll escape the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.
Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?
The two may need to forget their rules and training if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.
Buy the book:
Amazon – Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R6U32CA
Amazon – Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/H-L-F-Deep-Beneath-1/dp/1505524725
Natalie spends her time writing, reading, gaming, geeking out over nerd culture and cool science, hanging out on social media, and meeting readers and fans at festivals and comic cons throughout the western United States. She likes to walk in the desert, snorkel in warm waters, travel, and share excellent food and conversation with awesome people. Natalie supports the rights of both humans and non-humans to live a life free of suffering caused by people. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise.
Okay, let's get started.
1. What made you decide to become a writer?
Hmm, that’s actually a hard question. When I was a young child, I said, “ want to be a writer when I grow up.” Then I grew up and found that making money was sort of important in life ;-) So I went to law school.
Fortunately, I came to my senses and began writing in my spare time back in 2008. I quickly found that I felt so much better when I wrote than when I didn’t. So I kept writing. At first, not in the hopes of having other people read my work. I just wrote because my soul needed it.
I retired in the summer of 2013 and now devote my working hours to writing and my author career. I spend my days with teenagers caught up in things bigger than themselves, alien-human hybrids, and the people behind the largest government conspiracy the world has never heard about.
And I don’t miss the courtroom even a tiny little bit! ;-)
2. What inspired your latest book?
H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath was inspired by a song called “Cowboys & Aliens” by Gram Rabbit. I was in my car, running errands on a hot day, and the song was playing. There was something about the heat, the song, and the cactus (I live in the desert) that came together and a plot popped into my head. When I got home, I wrote out a brief outline of the plot and *only* four years later, H.A.L.F. was born!
3. Do you have any more books planned?
The H.A.L.F. series will be five books total, so yes, I have a LOT more planned ;-)
I’m also doing research for an epic fantasy novel that I’ve been kicking around in my mind for a few years now. And I have a future dystopian novel in the works as well. I have no shortage of ideas - just time to write them!
4. 3. Where do you get your ideas?
I’m frequently inspired by things I read, such as news stories or scientific discoveries. I also get inspiration from music and from the world around me. I can find inspiration in anything that makes me ask, “What if?”
5. Who is your favourite author?
Wow, I can’t choose just one. It depends on what I’m reading at the time. How about a list of authors that inspire me instead?
I’ve been inspired by J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins. I frequently pull one of their books and read a few pages to inspire me.
I’m also a huge fan of George R.R. Martin. I wouldn’t consider myself a high fantasy reader, but I like GRRM’s work. I had written a first draft of H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath then read The Game of Thrones. Immediately after I chucked the entire first draft! GRRM inspired me to write a more complex story and to explore the interrelationships between the characters. I also just love the way GRRM writes. He has, at times, an incredibly poetic way of describing things juxtaposed with visceral language and description.
6. Do you have a favourite book?
Just one? No. I could never choose just one. I think The Fault in Our Stars is my all-time favorite young adult book, but I cried so hard during and after reading it, that I’ll likely never read it again! I also love some old school stories. Hamlet, though technically a play, is one of my favorite stories (maybe the first YA story with all the teen existential angst and young person coming-of-age-realizing-my-parents-are-freaks that we expect from the genre). And I love A Tale of Two Cities. While I typically read less heavy books that these, the stories that ask big questions are often my favorites.
Thank you for your thoughts Natalie. I know exactly what you mean about books that you can never read again, even though they are awesome.
click 'read more' for excerpts.
2015, Arizona, U.S.A.
Erika pulled back the throttle and urged her dusty machine to go faster. Her long, dark hair flew behind her, twisting and twirling in the hot wind. It would be ratty by the end of the ride, but knots in her hair were a small price to pay for the feeling of freedom.
She slowed only slightly to round the wide curve in the center of Ajo and kicked it into a higher gear as soon as the road straightened. Erika enjoyed savored the feel of the motor’s vibration beneath her. She shifted gears only when the whine of the engine threatened to pierce her eardrum. It was nearly sundown, but still the road was like liquid tar, shimmering like black glass from the day’s heat. As she rode, Erika imagined following the straight line of the asphalt east. She’d ride until the road gave way to the ocean. Erika had spent her life landlocked in the desert. She yearned for wet sand instead of sunbaked dirt. Thoughts of her future always included tide and waves. She yearned for wet sand instead of sunbaked dirt.
But Ian expected her, so she steered her bike to his small, slump-block house, passing boarded-up businesses and at least a dozen empty houses on her way. The gravel crunched beneath her tires as she pulled into the semicircular driveway. Erika stayed put on her bike and honked her horn. The tinny sound still hung in the air when the screen door opened.
Ian allowed the door to slam shut behind him. His short, dark hair was wet and his deeply tanned and rippled torso glistened with water. Whether it was sweat or water from a shower, Erika couldn’t tell. While most of the girls at school openly drooled over Ian, Erika was not the least bit attracted to him. She preferred a guy less concerned with his own looks. And even if Ian had appealed to her, he was more interested in the players on the opposing football team than in girls.
Ian pulled a heathered blue T-shirt over his wet head as he walked toward her. “Ah, my fair lady has come to rescue me from doing more manual labor for my dad.”
Erika smiled and thrust a helmet into Ian’s hands. “Yeah. I’m your knight in shining armor.”
Excerpt from Chapter 2, H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath:H.A.L.F. 9 took his first ever inhalation of desert air. The arid breath filled his lungs and burned. He had become accustomed to the dank, humid recycled air of A.H.D.N.A.’s underground lab. A chill ran through him, but it was not from the coolness of the night. His senses, dulled by the humid conditions he had been kept in, were coming fully alive for the first time in his seventeen years.
Though capable of emotion, he had lived a sedated life and had not experienced the full gamut of feelings one typically experiences by their late teen years. He had learned to strain his facial muscles into a smile when he knew a smile was expected. But the smile that came to his face now was natural and easy, not forced. He was overcome with the joy of the freedom he had longed for all his life.
He was alone and nearly naked save for the A.H.D.N.A. standard-issue light blue cotton elastic-waistband pants and rubber flip-flops. The night was young but already dark, only a few stars dotted the inky sky. But the darkness was no matter for him. His large eyes allowed him to see clearly without light.
H.A.L.F. 9 stretched his arms over his head, bent and touched his toes, then ran. He didn’t care that rocks poked his tender feet through the thin rubber of his flip-flops, or that desert shrubs scratched his legs. He knew only that he was compelled to put distance between himself and the abandoned mine shaft from whence he came. Commander Sturgis probably already knew he was missing. They would soon come for him.