Sky’s End (2013)
Sky’s End by Lesley Young
A secret she must never share. A secret that two warring species are determined to control. A universe’s future at stake. Twenty-year-old Cassiel Winters joins Earth’s new space academy in hopes of finding her brother, one of Command’s top pilots and her only family, who’s been reported MIA. But she quickly realizes she may not be cut out for life in space, where female cadets are outnumbered, competition’s fierce, and she’s already failed her hand-to-hand combat test once. Even the station’s most respected officer, Lt. Damian King, probably can’t help Cassiel pass the second time around-so why is he so interested in her progress? If only one of her freaky deja vu visions would offer an answer instead of mysterious messages like hide. When Cassiel’s manipulated into a perilous mission, she encounters a warrior species bred to protect the universe from an even greater threat. And she learns that her secret visions are at the heart of it all. Now Cassiel must fight to control her own destiny and race to save her brother-even if it means pretending to be the pawn of Prime Or’ic, the cold-as-steel Thell’eon leader. Even if it means risking her life, facing hard truths, and making the ultimate sacrifice.
Lesley Young writes edgy, action-packed stories that keep readers guessing. The futuristic setting of her novel Sky’s End was inspired by a life-long love of the trekkie franchise, and a desire to imagine and explore our universe from the unique perspective of a young, female cadet. Cassiel Winters is desperate to find her missing brother, but first she must solve the mystery behind her own unusual ability, and learn how to be human herself, including experiencing love and loss in an epic adventure of first contact with universe altering importance.
Lesley steals time to write novels between researching and writing health and lifestyle features for women’s magazines including Reader’s Digest Canada, Best Health and House & Home.
How music fueled Sky’s End (#1 Cassiel Winters)
As I write this guest post, there is complete silence in my office. The tragedy is that I can’t concentrate on writing when listening to music. Nevertheless, every scene in my debut novel Sky’s End was borne out of a single song.
I’ve been reluctant to examine the magic too closely, how a certain mood created by a husky-voiced, heartbroken rock star droning on in shattered rage transports my imagination to a specific character or setting. How, between the twangs and sudden urgent harmonies, that character assembles, piece by piece, into a real ‘living’ hero, who smells, moves and speaks. How he makes Cassiel (my protagonist) feel, how he makes her want to feel in exact emotional accordance to the mood, or message or subconscious emotional chord that song hits. How dialogue, scenes, plot unfold in the single length of 3.30 minutes of musical genius. What if it stops working?
I recognize that choice in music is wholly personal. What stirs up emotional yearn in one person jars another. But then, I finally decided, what the hell? My novel has connected with a few readers so far in a way I always hoped it would. So here’s hoping a few of these song-reveals take those readers back to some of their favorite moments. And if you are new to Sky’s End, here’s hoping they enhance your read.
First 61 seconds of. . . Kanye West & Pusha T’s ‘Runaway.’
A major motivation for Cassiel Winters is to find her missing brother. It’s why she joins Earth’s Space Academy, and it’s why she puts up with a lot of s…t, and even risks her life on a barely believable, dangerous undercover mission. None of that would have had the emotive resonance it needed were it not for those first few tragic seconds in Runaway. As the song starts, and those high-pitched, desolate piano chords chime, then finally, the heavy beat slides in, and the plea “Who gotcha, who gotcha, who gotcha” all plays, I see Cassiel on her knees, in front of her entire combat class, bloodied, sweaty, covered in Gogol slime, ashamed, defeated, hopeless, lost. And it drives me then, as it does still, to make sure she’s someday redeemed throughout the series.
Song that embodies Prime Or’ic . . . Judith by Perfect Circle.
After Cassiel is kidnapped by the warrior species Thell’eon, she finds herself fighting the physiological draw of the Hordes’ Prime Or’ic. I don’t want to give away too much about his species, but let’s just say they have had to evolve in such a way precisely to attract females, and it works on Cassiel. Only, because Or’ic is intolerably arrogant, plus, he kidnapped her, she does a pretty good job battling her attraction. Only after I created Or’ic did I hear this 1990s song Judith on the radio. Ever since, I thought it embodies the essence of who Or’ic is — his noble if wayward intentions, his resentment over his own helpless attraction, his torment over his inability to understand real affection, his fearless willingness to die in the name of honor, his life sacrifice.
BONUS — Prime Or’ic’s feelings toward to Cassiel after he brands her . . . Fragile Bird by City and Colour. (If you’ve ever heard this song, I need write no more.)
Song that drove Cassiel’s character development (or lack of it) . . .David Usher’s Forest Fire
In order to avoid spoilers, let’s just say Part III reveals some pretty hard truths to Cassiel. Look, she’s flawed. And so she struggles with making the right decisions, with taking risks, and even then, when she does, there’s more let down. But instead of ruining her, her ordeal is an awakening, albeit an ugly one. Like when you realize you actually don’t try to do more kind things for all of the people suffering in this world, and you really wish you did, only you don’t. So what does that make you? I don’t know about you but I can relate to that — accepting you’re kind of an a..hole sometimes. Anyway, David Usher makes that life lesson beautiful, sinewy rich and eminently Cassiel in his aching, bittersweet anthem Forest Fire.
There’s lot of others songs that played a part along the way, but these were the frontrunners. Thanks for letting me share!