A little over two years ago (“New Feminist Science Fiction Series Appeals to Readers of All Ages,” 25 Aug 2016), I had the pleasure of spotlighting author J.D. Lakey’s re-release of the first three books in her Black Bead Chronicles. Today, I’m happy to welcome her back for the release of her sixth and final installment in this important work of feminist science fiction, Warrior Witch, which is now available for pre-order on Amazon.
Warrior-Witch, by J.D. Lakey
In this much-anticipated final installment, Blackwind Pack is reunited and on the run, pursued by every group vying for control of the planet and the bloodstones. But Cheobawn and her Pack stay one step ahead as they navigate the River Liff, strengthening their bonds and playing Pirate to survive.
Fans of the series, who laud its intricate world-building and fresh, creative storylines, were thrilled to find out there would be one more book after the fifth book left many wanting more. In the series, the reader follows a group of five children from the moment they form a Pack, through their struggles against the elders and the power systems that try to control them. Even though the story takes place in the future on a distant planet, it is at heart a coming-of-age story. In this, the final book, Cheobawn has finally come into her power and must find the thread of the future where everyone she loves survives and her people can live in peace.
“This story is an allegory for the human condition, and I knew when I wrote this last book in the series that it would be a challenge to resolve the storylines, especially given the dark times we live in,” says J.D. Lakey. “On Cheobawn’s planet, all beings are connected on a psionic level. What’s different on her world is that children’s psi abilities are nurtured from birth. There are forces from the outside that want to harness that energy, and that is how the characters find themselves having to navigate a quagmire of conflicting influences while staying connected to their source. It is my hope that the final conflict and resolution will provide some peace and hope for my readers in the now.”
About the Author
J.D. Lakey is at heart a sci-fi geek, comic book fan, and occasional mystic. For most of her life she was a short story writer, but recently became a novelist. Her love of science fiction stemmed from growing up on a cattle ranch and farm under the endless star-filled Montana skies as far from civilization as anyone in the twentieth century could get. She currently lives in San Diego.
Eager to Learn More?
I am so pleased to tell you that Ms. Lakey was kind enough to sit for an interview with us!
MED: J.D., thanks for taking the time from your busy promotion schedule to answer a few questions for my readers, I really appreciate it. Please tell us, where are you from?
Where was I born? Chester, Montana. Where do I live now? San Diego. How many states have I called home? Montana, Virginia, Florida, Washington, Idaho, California. Where would I like to retire to? You can never take the Montana out of your heart, but all my family is in San Diego right now. That could change at any moment.
MED: How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
I have 13 brothers and sisters and dozens and dozens of cousins. Some I still talk to. Some I do not. Politics and religion are the great divide in my family. We all grew up on a ranch in Montana where we were allowed to run wild. Sort of like Lord of the Flies if half the kids were girls. As long as we showed up for meals, we could do anything, limited only by our imagination. It was kid heaven most of the time. I hated first grade. They made me wear shoes and learn to read.
MED: Oddly enough, that sounds a lot like my upbringing in the mountains of New Jersey (minus all the many siblings and cousins). Shoes. Discipline. I never really understood school either.
Please, tell us a little more about yourself, your education, and your family life?
I have an Associate of Arts from the University of Montana but most of my education was learned at the knee of some really smart people. I absorb information and skills like a sponge. I have two children and four grandchildren who know to leave me alone when I am creating something. All of my huge extended family are scientists, teachers, and engineers, so dinner conversations can range from the nature of black holes to dark matter to quantum entanglement. Never bring up politics. Everyone will just roll their eyes.
MED: My grandmother taught us there were two things not to be discussed at the dinner table: religion and politics. Words to live by, in my opinion. But I’d love to have a seat at the table for black holes, dark matter, and quantum entanglement.
Along that line, if you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
JD: From Warrior Witch, book Six, I want Cheobawn’s ability to step from place to place through time and space.
MED: Ok, so if a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
I am a witch. I already have that crystal ball. The future is ten thousand timelines stretching out before you. Why obsess over them? Stay in the moment. The moment is everything and bliss is the act of stepping into the next place.
MED: Speaking of Cheobawn and The Black Bead Chronicles, what inspired you to write your first book?
JD: Back in 2009 when the economy went belly-up, I got laid off. After a year of trying to find another job I just gave up, locked myself in my room, and shuffled through the mountains of short stories I had written over the years, trying to decide which one I wanted to devote more time to. I was living with my son and his family at the time and my granddaughter had become my muse. Cheobawn has grown up alongside her.
MED: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
JD: Not all gifts are apparent and if you trust yourself you will do amazing things when the time comes.
MED: Please, will you share a little of your current work with us?
Neither Kirr nor Kander sat. They stood before their chairs and eyed the male members of Blackwind Pack.
“Ignore them,” Che said.
“I would be more comfortable if they took their hands off their weapons,” Kirr purred. It was a threat. His own hand was hidden in his kimono, surely resting on something deadly.
Che smiled. “They are practicing being empty until the time when they are not. Do not give them reason and they will stay as you see them.”
“Empty?” Kander Hess repeated.
“The paradox of emptiness is that you are always full of the things you need to know most,” Che said. “Kirr understands this.”
Kander looked over at his friend. “Do you?”
Kirr’s whiskers twitched. He sat down.
MED: Damn. Now I want to read more… Guess I’ll have to pre-order and wait like everyone else. In the meantime, please, tell us more about yourself. Is there anything that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? If so, why haven’t you done it?
JD: I dream of making a living at writing. I just need to sell a few more books.
MED: Being an author is a hard row to hoe, I agree. Do you have any advice for other writers?
JD: Listen to the voices inside your head. They, better than any outside advice, know what you want to write.
MED: That reminds me of Madeleine L’Engle’s famous advice: “Write the story that wants to be written.” And your work in general has a very L’Engle-esque quality, in my opinion. What book are you reading now?
JD: My own. I am in the middle of writing the second book of the Throne at the End of Time series so I am rereading Taurok’s Vengeance – book one – to remind myself what the main character’s voice sounds like in my head. She does this transition throughout the book as she remembers the things she has forgotten and becomes a different person.
MED: Memory and remembering play an important role in writing. If I may ask, what’s your own most treasured memory?
The fun I had with my kids on our vacations to the shore after my divorce.
MED: Children are a treasure, to be sure. Thank you again very much for taking the time for this interview. Before we go, do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Let go of any preconceived ideas about what scifi should be. Nothing I do is ordinary and most of what I write is impossible to pigeon-hole. If you are open to new ideas, things will unfold as you read.
MED: Good advice, your work certainly pushes the boundaries of the genre, it’s a real pleasure to read. How can we follow your career?
The best way is to subscribe to my very infrequent newsletter, which I send out whenever I climb out of my writing hole. There, you’d get updated when new books are about to come out. As a perk, when you sign up for my newsletter, you can download a free story from the Black Bead universe.
MED: Brilliant! Thanks again for your time, and best of luck with Warrior Witch and this next piece you’re working on now in the Throne at the End of Time series! I look forward to reading more from you!