Please tell us a bit about yourself: Hi, I’m Laurel Richards. I have an active imagination and knew I wanted to be a writer from an early age. I was first published by a small press in 2003 and haven’t stopped writing since, though I’ve used different pen names as I’ve evolved. My taste in genres is eclectic. I love sci-fi romance and paranormal romance, as well as fantasies and cozy mysteries.
Tell us about The Colony: The Colony is a fast-paced sci-fi romance novel about a human colony on another planet that is mysteriously wiped out in a single night. Dr. Elisa Everett is the only one left when Alexander Valerian and his security team arrive, and Alex can’t be sure if Elisa is hallucinating due to exposure to some alien element or if she really did see predators ripping the colony apart. As he and Elisa search for answers, they find evidence that they might not have been the first colonists on the planet.
What inspired you to write this particular story?: If we can find dinosaur bones and other incredible fossils here on Earth, imagine what we might discover on other planets. This was the idea that got me started on The Colony. The heroine is a paleontologist at a human colony on the planet of Jangala. She makes a huge discovery on this jungle planet, but soon after, the colonists suffer a terrible attack that leaves her the only survivor. Who or what really attacked them?
Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
Elisa got a firsthand look at the aftermath of what she’d witnessed onscreen: furniture upended, broken panels, and dark spatters on the walls. There was an added ingredient now, though. Here and there were dark, sticky pools of blood, standing like puddles after a hard rain. Even she could smell the brassy tang in the air. It was already beginning to sour, or maybe that was only her stomach.
She didn’t have time to be sick. The sound of heavy breathing emanated from one of the side passages up ahead, followed by the deep, rhythmic thud of footsteps. Judging by the sound, it had to be a big, heavy man, or else someone who was weighed down. Elisa envisioned somebody lugging a dead body, but she couldn’t actually see anything through the gloom.
More footsteps—these moving much faster—reached her ear, and she tensed when she realized they were coming directly toward her and Bria. A residential door gaped open to their right, so she and her sister jumped inside. They wound up in a woman’s bedroom. The small space was unoccupied and had clearly been ransacked. Bria grabbed the door to tug it closed, but one of the hinges was mangled. The door groaned and remained jammed open about fifteen centimeters.
Elisa’s heel slid on the debris littering the floor, but she caught her balance against a metal wall unit. The racing footsteps outside came closer. Fear, combined with the scent of shattered perfume, made Elisa’s lungs burn and ache. She had a death grip on the stunner, and both she and Bria aimed for the doorway when the steps slowed.
There was a pause, as if maybe their ears were playing tricks. Then a denser shadow coalesced on the other side, and Elisa half depressed the trigger before Bria cried out, “Donaldson!”
The battered man gasped and jumped back. He turned and sprinted several meters away before Bria darted into the hallway and said his name again. He stopped and finally looked at them.
“Everett?” he asked tremulously. “Is that you?”
“Yes.” Bria stepped closer to him. “I’m here with my sister. We’re on our way to the telecommunications office. We have to get out a distress call. Is the way clear?”
“Clear?” He wiped his face with his palm, and Elisa could see his left temple and cheek were discolored. “No, the way is not friggin’ clear! Those things are crawling all over the place. They’ve already killed most of the colonists and hauled them out. It’s Malterra all over again.”
“What?” Bria demanded. “What things? What do you mean things are crawling around killing people?”
Officer Donaldson trembled so hard his teeth chattered. “Animals. Predators. Claws and teeth and ripping people to shreds. They’re hunting us. Eating everyone.”
“Indigenous?” Elisa asked, though she knew of no such predators on Jangala.
“Maybe biological weapons,” her sister said. “The terrorists might have brought some kind of attack animals. Maybe they’re using this colony as a test site.”
“Terrorists?” Donaldson parroted. He shook his head. “Look, you’ll never make it to telecommunications. We’ve got to go back and get the others.”
“Others?” Now Bria was the one repeating things.
Elisa kept a close eye on the surrounding passageway and waited for the two officers to pull it together. She hoped they’d hurry, because she wanted to keep moving.
“There’s nobody down that way,” Bria explained. “When this started, everyone was coming off shift and heading to the cafeteria or their rooms. You and Commander Walsh left and answered the first call.”
Donaldson keened under his breath. “There’s no one? There has to be. Where the hell is the rest of our security team?”
“I don’t know,” Bria hissed. “Night shift was supposed to have come on, but no one had reported in yet. It’s up to us. We’ve got to get out a message.”
Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?: I would have to say the personality comes to me first. The name is always last, and I often try several different character names before I finally settle on something.
Any tips for aspiring authors?: Keep reading, keep writing, and remember there’s always more to learn about this craft and industry.
Questions for fun:
If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?: There are lots of little things I would change but nothing major. I’ve always tried to make the best decisions I could with the information I had at the time. Of course, I now have more information thanks to hindsight, so I do sometimes say, “I wish I’d known then.”
What super-power would you choose?: It’s a tie between clairvoyance and shape-shifting.
If you could have three wishes, what would they be?: Excellent health for all my friends and family, more book sales, and good fortune.
Coffee, tea or wine?: Tea if I’m looking for caffeine. Wine if I’m looking to relax.
What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!): You’re making me choose?! I don’t have just one favorite, but I really loved Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh.
Favourite genre and why?: Sci-Fi Romance rarely disappoints me. If anything, I complain that the SFR authors make their works too short, only because I want to keep reading more.
Favourite colour?: Turquoise.
Upcoming news and plans for the future?: I have a fantasy novel, The Great Road, tentatively scheduled to come out in April 2017. I also have another sci-fi romance, Fate’s Mission, that I hope to release later in the year.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!
Not everyone will make it out alive.
Responding to a distress call, Officer Alexander Valerian and the rest of his security team arrive at the human colony on the planet of Jangala to find blood and gore all over the walls. All the colonists are dead or missing except for Dr. Elisa Everett, a pretty paleontologist he finds injured and nearly suffocated in a ventilation shaft. Now Alex has to figure out how sixty-nine colonists were wiped out in a single night, but Elisa’s account of killer monsters just raises more questions. Has the colony really been attacked by bloodthirsty beasts, or did everyone succumb to a powerful hallucinogen that made them turn on one another? He had better find out fast, because Elisa’s life is in his hands.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N5LWHRC
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N5LWHRC
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01N5LWHRC
Where to find Laurel:
Manic Readers: http://www.manicreaders.com/laurelrichards/