Release Party ~ Hidden Gem World Building

September 26, 2014

In between crafting this new book and the still half-finished Dominion 5 I took a little break from adult m/m romance writing to write a couple m/m ya books under the pen name Sam Kadence: Evolution and On the Right Track. Sequels for both are due out later this year. The Hidden Gem took longer because the world was more intense, deeper, darker, and more painful. Evolution is full of angst and paranormal critters, but it’s based in an alternate version of today. Hidden Gem is speculation of the future—a not so bright future.

Crafting the world came in pieces. Characters first, then situation, then backstory. I probably write a little backwards from most people. Often I don’t know the ending of the book until I get there. Sure I have a general sort of idea. Like maybe I want this to happen, but often that happens instead. With this story it kept pulling surprises out of the most unexpected places. For example, I expected shapeshifters, but not the unusual sort that appears in the end of the book—no spoilers here, sorry.

Just like the Dominion series where I have unusual shifters like lynx, bears, and dolphins—oh my!—Hidden Gem features some shifters outside the norm. Instead of magic for an explanation of the change, I use science. In fact it all starts with this little thing called World War III. Writing the book was a battle, a war in my own head. Had to break down some walls and thought putting that war in the book and how it changed everything would make for a more intense story.

The War begins with a race between countries to create the greatest weapons and super soldier unearths a deadly discovery—a virus that wipes out more than a third of the population. Those who survive being exposed to the virus mutate and the entire human race has begun to change, some developing supernatural powers for which society shuns them:

Sometimes Aki wondered if the stench would ever fade. It lingered, days after a pit of the dead had been set on fire. A new batch of bodies had to have been burned that night. The air and soot covered everything, 


and the smell made him retch. How long had Aki sat there, staring into the fire as it consumed corpse after mangled corpse? Just like his own body, ragged people, sick with malnourishment, some missing limbs or scarred from some horrible experiment gone wrong. All with the strange pale pupils in their eyes, the mark of the psi. Punishment for something done a half century ago in another country a world away.

Most of the faces were Asian, though almost none had ever set foot on another continent. Genetic experiments altering the human code to plant a psi ability that was then used in the Third World War turned any who was psi into a villain. Fifty years later, most of the original psis were dead, their children suffered, and the gene flourished, taking root in the most random of children and no longer constrained to foreign soil and faces.

Only a handful could have passed for Caucasian in the camp, other than the guards, of course. Were it not for the shape of his eyes and the color, would Aki ever have been taken? His stomach hurt too much to think about it for long anyway. When was the last time he’d eaten? Days? Maybe a week ago?

Hyeon dragged him to bed sometime after the wailing had died down. The sky was still dark, like the promise of rain that would never come, everyone huddled together on the cold floor for warmth. The building had been some sort of warehouse before the war. Now it was falling down, holes in the roof, birds roosting in the rafters, rats scurrying through the walls, and them.

One of the guards stepped inside, eyes searching the masses, for what, Aki could only fear. But then the detainees weren’t much different than the rats, just another form of pest to be exterminated.

Aki should have slept when Hyeon had laid his dark head next to his, but all he could see was the flame devouring the mutilated bodies of people he’d come to know and see every day. When had he begun to think of them as something more than “them”? In the beginning it had simply been them and him. As long as it happened to them, it was okay.

Until they’d taken a pretty little girl named GuEal away. She’d been seven. Aki had watched what was left of her burn up in the pit. Dry heaved for a while since he hadn’t eaten in days, and prayed to whatever might have more power than soldiers and guards of the containment camp that no more would die, or at least, if he had to, it would be fast.

“H78420, on your feet,” a guard was shouting. It took a minute for the words to seep through the exhaustion and hunger to realize he was talking to Aki. “H78420, now.” The man pulled out a stick and jabbed him with it, delivering a heavy jolt of electricity that had Aki’s spine bowing in pain. “H78420, get up.”

Hyeon dragged him to his feet. “Just do what they say, Aki. Please. Whatever they ask you to do, just do it.”

Aki glanced back at Hyeon’s pretty black eyes, his pupils a pale brown that he’d come to think of as comforting, and wanted to cry. The guard zapped him again, dropping him to his knees.

thebeyond“Stop, stop, please. He’s coming. Please.” Hyeon pulled Aki up again just as a handful of guards joined the first. They ripped him away from Hyeon, dragging him toward the door. Everything seemed to narrow down to that final trip across the dirty floor toward the dark portal leading to only Goddess knew where. Maybe they’d just throw him in the pit and light him on fire too. At least then it would all be over.

His heart pounded in his chest as two guards remained behind, pushing Hyeon around like he was nothing more than an injured dog to be put down. Aki wanted to beg, anything to free himself and Hyeon from whatever they would do next, but couldn’t find the strength to raise his head or force the words from his parched lips. That had been the last time he’d ever seen Hyeon alive.


A series of medical problems and a couple well-placed documentaries on the Holocaust helped inspire this dark backstory. The book is a look ahead in a world where science is allowed to do whatever they want with only nature as a roadblock. And of course without supervision comes corruption.

Sometimes the darkest stories help us realize that there is light in our lives that make everything so worth every struggle. Without a hard year I probably would never have written this book.

What positive thing came out of a situation you just thought was going to destroy you? Best story wins ebook copy of Hidden Gem. Winner announced at 5 pm CST tonight.



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12 Responses to “Release Party ~ Hidden Gem World Building”

  1. H.B. says:

    That’s awesome news. I’m really looking forward to seeing those sequels released especially the one for Evolution.

    One particular situation that I had my doubts about was moving away from home the first time. I didn’t know if I would have any particular problems being on my own for the first time on my life with no family in sight but it actually turned out pretty well. It took me a bit to adjust but the experience was eye opening and I learned somethings.

  2. Terri Culverwell says:

    When I had my son, he had some issues and had to spend time in NICU I was not well as my temperature spiked during delivery. Instead of the healthy boy that I was expecting to be able to take home after 48 hours, we instead spent four days in the hospital and they wouldn’t even let people see him. But he just turned 18 this week.

  3. Trix says:

    Cool news–I especially loved ON THE RIGHT TRACK!

    My dad getting sick and eventually passing away was really difficult, and I’m still having my issues two years later (bitterness and such). On the other hand, I really got to know him in a way that I wouldn’t have if he’d been well–he spent all his time working, and so I didn’t always get to talk much with him before. I thought we were totally different personality-wise, but we were really similar. It’s also helped me see my mom and brother with new perspective…

  4. *Dreamer* says:

    Loved the excerpt:)
    When I was working in Japan and I lost my passport. I thought I was going to stay there forever and I knew very few words in Japanese. I remember the day I had to go back to my country: “No passport, no flight.” I cried and pleaded but nothing. Suddenly, I yelled to them and someone from my embassy heard me and spoke to me. I cried in his arms. He’s my husband now;)))))

  5. Andrea M says:

    So good to hear we’ll have more Dominion!

    There have been a lot of bad things in my life that have changed me for the good and bad but I guess the worst and best involved meeting my husband. I had a career I loved but got so burned out I couldn’t do it anymore and was flying into a million pieces. I met Will at just the right time in my life and he pulled me back together. To this day, he doesn’t even know it and we’ve been married for 16 years.

  6. BabyBarlow says:

    Loved this post, Lissa:))
    My experience is more about being lucky. I had to take the train in my hometown but I lost it. I cursed, of course. I remember I had to take a taxi to go to work and there, I found out about a train crash: it was the one I lost and I fainted. I woke up feeling so sad and calling my mother I told her that I was really sorry and that I was an idiot for yelling at her. I had lost the train because she had forgot to turn off the car’s headlights and the car’s battery had died that night.
    I never yelled at her again.

  7. tea58 says:

    I’ve been a bullism victim for 3 years and I thought I was going to die because of those people that loved to hurt me emotionally. I was very shy and never tried to answer back and they really enjoyed seeing me crying because of them.
    Now, I fight for all the victims of bullism: I know what they’re feeling and I’m not the weak person I was back then.

  8. Kejara says:

    I lost the love of my life because of car accident: I really wanted to die. He was my sun and my heart.
    I started to isolate myself from my family and my friends and the only place I wanted to stay was his bedroom in his parent’s house.
    Two months had passed before I found out I was pregnant: that day I cried for hours but the next day, I put my big pants on and I started to feel hope inside me.
    My love’s gone but every time I look to my baby girls, I see him in them.

  9. alex says:

    I lost one of my close friends in Afghanistan and my whole world crashed. I was so angry that I started to fight with everyone for silly things. One night, I dreamed about him and I told his father. He smiled and told me that he was his hero and knowing that he died to help the innocent ones, he made him feel proud of his only son. That moment opened my eyes and now I’m a nurse.
    I try to help in my own way.

  10. LissaKasey says:

    Wow! You guys have some amazing stories!

  11. Susan says:

    When I was diagnosed with MS I was in the AF, which does not let people with that disease serve on active duty except under unusual circumstances (and usually a legal battle), so I was left with trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life (I was 30). I decided to get a PhD and become a professor, which turned out to be the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. It was hard work, but worth it in the end.

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