"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
October 2001 Issue
of This World Romance
NEW! PNR Poll: We Want More............Interstellar Romance!
Update: Catherine Spangler
Catherine Spangler fell in love with romance from the moment her parents began reading to her. She teethed on fairy tales, then moved on to Nancy Drew, Louisa May Alcott, O. Henry, Sherlock Holmes, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, then on to romance greats such as Kathleen Woodwiss and Joanna Lindsey.
also discovered fantasy and science fiction. Her interest in SF romance
was probably sparked by her family's deep involvement with the space
program. She grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, and her father worked for
NASA, on Redstone Arsenal, where Werner Von Braun headed up the space
PNR last spoke with Catherine Spangler in December 2000, just as her second Shielder series novel SHADOWER hit the shelves. It proved to be every bit as popular as the first, SHIELDER, winning Ms. Spangler a PEARL Honorable Mention (Best Futuristic Romance) for the second year in a row. Book three, SHAMARA, released this month, is sure to be just as pleasing and comes with a special gift from Catherine, a free short story! See THE SHIELDERS......LEGEND OF DESTINY (The Significance of Pink).
PNR: Shamara is the third book in your popular Shielder series and is the much requested story of Jarek san Ranul. We've met Jarek as the brother of Nessa who was the heroine of SHIELDER. There we learned of his status and of his character. He was the heir to the head council of Liron Colony, and had used his influence to keep his sister alive, when her infirmities would have called for her to be "put to sleep". His father has since died?
Catherine S: Yes. Shamara opens shortly after Jarek and Nessa's father, Ranul san Mars, has died. Jarek has now assumed leadership of the Liron colony, and feels totally helpless in the face of the overwhelming problems the Shielders face.
PNR: The plight of the Shielders is even more desperate than it had been in the previous novels. The Shielders are on the brink of annihilation. For the new reader, can you tell us why they are being persecuted and executed?
Catherine S: The quadrant in which the Shielders live is ruled by the Controllers, an evil race who use mind domination, terror, and brute force to maintain their rule. But Shielders have an innate mind shield (a special chemistry) that makes them immune to the Controllers' psionic mind waves. They cannot be indoctrinated or dominated, and thus present a threat-one that must be eradicated. Over the years, the Controllers have murdered masses of Shielders and driven those remaining to the edges of the quadrant, where they live in secret colonies on small moons and barren planets. Their resources are virtually diminished, and their situation dire.
PNR: The heroine of the story is Eirene Kane. Eirene has been faced with, what she has determined to be, a rather unpalatable future. Women in her world are considered goods. What is to be her fate and how does she escape?
Catherine S: Eirene is a member of a male-dominated society, where women are merely possessions. Her legal guardian, her uncle, decides to offer her as a bride to a fierce Leor warlord, in return for a profitable trade route. Eirene is terrified of being married off to a Leor, but worse is the fear that the mind-probing Leors will determine her dangerous secret. More on that in my next answer.
PNR: Eirene has an ability which has long ago been considered to be extinct. Jarek is convinced that if he can just find one of her kind, it could be the salvation of his people. What is his plan? How do the Shens fit into it?
Catherine S: Eirene is an Enhancer, carrying the genes of a race believed to be extinct. She can direct and manipulate energy, whether artificial or natural, and is also empathic. Jarek has been studying the stories about the now-extinct Enhancers because it is believed they once traveled routinely through a portal from this quadrant into another part of the galaxy. Jarek wants to find that portal and lead his people through it, in search of shamara, which is a Shen word for sanctuary. He needs special equipment to navigate the portal (which is actually a wormhole), and learns the Shens have possession of equipment supposedly used by the Enhancers to travel through the portal. He also believes only an Enhancer can operate this special equipment, thus the need to find such a person.
PNR: Jarek is convinced that he must do something so desperate?
Catherine S: It's certainly a desperate act. Jarek has no solid evidence that there's actually a wormhole leading to another world; nor does he know for sure if the stories about the Enhancers are true. There's no guarantee the equipment that the Shens have will open a wormhole and allow ships to travel safely through it. Basically, Jarek is placing all his hopes on a wild, unproven idea that could fail miserably. But the plight of the Shielders is desperate; they're on the verge of extinction. Jarek doesn't see any choice but to have faith and take a chance on his wild hunch.
PNR: Jarek and Eirene meet in the Pleasure Dome on Saron. Both are rather uncertain about their role there. What kind of impression do they make on each other?
S: Jarek has never
purchased physical pleasure or visited a Pleasure Dome; Eirene has never
been intimate with a man. Pretending to be an experienced courtesan,
she acquires a position at the Pleasure Dome, with the goal of losing
her virginity, and thus her value to the Leors (Leors insist that their
brides be virgins). When Jarek is assigned to her as her first client,
she begins to panic because she knows nothing about mating. He's nervous
as well, because he's never paid for sex. Although quite anxious, Eirene
can't help but notice that Jarek is very different from the overweight,
dissipated males of her home colony. He's handsome, virile and leanly
muscled, and he treats her with respect. Jarek is very taken with Eirene,
with her beauty and her surprising modesty. He's even more surprised
to discover she's a virgin <g>.
Catherine S: A masked intruder bursts into Eirene's chamber and shoots Jarek, wounding him mortally. As his life force is draining from him, Eirene lays her hands over him and directs healing energies into his body. Since he's almost unconscious from loss of blood, she doesn't expect him to remember what she did. When Jarek is out of danger, she flees, thinking her secret is safe. However, Jarek is able to put together the pieces of his vague impressions, and realizes Eirene must be an Enhancer.
PNR: Eirene's advisor in the Pleasure Dome, Lani, is quite the character. She has a greater role in this story?
Catherine S: Lani really is a character, and she was great fun to write. She first appeared in a cameo role in SHADOWER, in all her blue-feathered glory. Lani is definitely a "blue" girl-blue hair, blue lipstick, blue nail polish, and of course blue clothing, adorned in blue feathers. She appears scatterbrained, but she's really very intelligent, and much stronger than her petite size would indicate. Strong enough to take down a certain big, mean Leor commander <g>. Yes, Lani definitely has a greater role in SHAMARA.
PNR: Though Eirene had no wish to marry a Leor, through Lani's eyes we come to see them as extremely sexy. What makes them distinctive, and will we be seeing more of them in the future? Perhaps in the role of a hero?
Catherine S: I find the Leors utterly fascinating, and sexy as well. They are a unique race resulting from the blending of humans and a reptilian species. They look human, although they have no body hair anywhere (men or women). They generally have dark penetrating eyes, which along with their bald heads, gives them a striking appearance (think Yul Brenner in the King And I, only more massive, with a deep, guttural voice). They have the reptilian difficulty of regulating body heat, thus prefer extremely warm climates and wear very little clothing, so they can absorb the heat from their surroundings. They are fierce, warlike, and utterly ruthless, but they live by a strict code of honor. They are also highly disciplined about physical training and control and have some unusual ideas about sex. In the fifth book of the series, a Leor hero will be paired with a Shielder heroine. Read the special story in the "Think Pink" section of my web page.
PNR: Lani and her Leor provide a great deal of comic relief. Do you feel that is important to balance the serious issues faced by the hero and heroine?
Catherine S: Absolutely. That was the biggest reason I included the subplot with Lani and Gunnar. The main story in SHAMARA is a little dark and pretty intense. Jarek is in a race against time to save his people, and Eirene is grappling with issues of her own-guilt over her mentor's death, fear of her powers, and eluding her vengeful uncle and the Leor commander determined to possess her. The stakes keep rising, especially when Eirene discovers that Jarek killed her father six seasons back (that story is in SHADOWER). She must come to terms with all her demons before she can help Jarek, and then she faces the realization that she will probably die when she attempts to operate the equipment for him. There are definitely some heavy elements in SHAMARA, and Lani and Gunnar provide breathing room and a chance to laugh (out loud, in some cases).
PNR: We don't want to give away the plot, so lets talk about SHAMARA's cover for a minute. Readers were a bit surprised by it's colors, particularly the pink text. While these stories have a very serious focus, they are also reflections about the tenacity, and resilience of mankind. They give us hope. The color pink has a special significance for Shielders? Where can we find out more about this?
Catherine S: I was a little surprised by the pink lettering myself <g>. But I do think it will help the book sell, because the color is bright and eye catching. As I thought about the pink, I realized I had used that color several times in SHAMARA, especially when Jarek and Eirene visit the Shens, who are highly spiritual. As a matter of fact, the color pink represents peace, healing, and love. The color of the heart chakra is a deep rose pink. It is a spiritual color, and perfect for representing what the Shielders are so desperately searching for: peace and acceptance. So I created a story about the significance of the pink to the Shielders. And from that story came my idea for the fifth book in the series. You can find the story, "The Shielders . . . Legend of Destiny", on my web site under the "Think Pink" link at the bottom of the main page. (www.catherinespangler.com)
PNR: So there will be more Shielder stories in the future? What is next for Catherine Spangler?
Catherine S: Oh, yes. This is a complex world, with fascinating and diverse characters. I think I could go in many different directions and keep finding more stories to tell. Right now, I'm working on a proposal for book four of the series. Tentatively titled Shadow Crossing, it's Celie Cameron's story. Celie is a restless soul, looking for something more in life than routine deliveries. She finds her adventure (or the beginning of it) on the settlement Joba, in the new quadrant to which the Shielders have migrated. There she meets a most interesting man . . . except he's an android . . . or so Celie thinks. She's in for a lot of surprises, both from the android, Rurick, and the dark secrets she discovers in this new quadrant. Book five, tentatively titled Shadow Fires, is the story of Jenna dan Aron, who is introduced in the "Think Pink" story in my site. Jenna will be paired with a Leor male, in a trade deal between the Shielders and the Leors. Books four and five have not been contracted yet, so I don't have publication dates, but I'm hoping I'll have the opportunity to share these stories with the wonderful PNR readers.
SHAMARA - In a universe of darkness and depravity, the Shielders battled to stay one sptep ahead of the vengeful Controllers. Their survival depended upon the quest of one man.
Jarek San Ranul had found evidence of a wormhole, a vortex to another galaxy; escape from those who sought the destruction of his race was at hand. But when his search produced the most intriguing woman he'd ever met, he found he wanted something more than duty and honor.
On the run from a mighty warlord, Eirene Kane had to protect her identity. She was an Enhancer, on of a genetic few with a powerful gift. Then her flight hurled her into the arms of Jarek, a man who both stole her heart and uncovered her perilous secret -- and though she knew she should flee, Eirene found herself yearning for both the man and the one thing he claimed would freee them forever.
Book 4 of The Shielders
COMING IN 2003!
Celie Cameron had spent her youth as a smuggler, skirting the law. But though shed given that up, she missed the adrenaline rush of danger. Then a routine delivery went haywire, throwing her into the arms of a handsome pilotan android, or so she thoughtand Celie suddenly found herself embroiled in a galaxy-spanning intrigue and deception.
Rurick was a miracle creation, with golden eyes, sensuous masculinity, and stunning charisma. But though he attracted her as no human ever had, the secrets the pilot hid threatened everything Celie had ever believed. From a glittering royal palace to a shipwreck on a barren planet, she resisted his allure until ultimately she learned to trust her heart. Then, together, Celie and Rurick swore to challenge the evil that threatened the Verante quadrant. Their love would bring light to the darkest expanse of space known as . . . SHADOW CROSSING.
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