But can those bonds hold when the blood itself carries a devastating secret?
Fenlee’s opal necklace had always radiated a certain warmth since her mother’s death. But now, at sixteen, her world begins to unravel as the stone sparks to life, revealing itself to be an otherworldly artifact of untold power.
Between her mechatronics studies at the academy and scavenging expeditions beneath the sprawling city of New Cascadia, Fenlee and her adopted brother, Elliot, try to decipher the mysteries of her necklace and its link to events in Fenlee’s past.
But they’re not alone in their search.
Strange undercity dwellers offer cryptic warnings, drones track their movements, and deadly corporate agents lurk in the shadows. When tragedy rips Fenlee’s family apart, she must learn to use the artifact’s power to save those who are deeply precious to her. But nothing can prepare her for the dark truths that she will uncover on that journey…
“Lee,” Elliot mumbled. “I’m not who you think I am.”
Matty Roberts began their career in journalism where they earned an Emmy and had the privilege of working on several other award-winning projects. They hold an MS from Johns Hopkins University and are now an engineer in renewable energy in Denver, Colorado where they live with their wonderful partner, two extraordinary kids, and the best doggie ever. In addition to writing, engineering, and parenting, Matty is a vegan enby nerd who is in love with this world and will forever be doing all they can to make it a better place. And they may be known to occasionally play in a punk band here or there.
Do you have a profession outside of writing?
Yes, I work as a software/data engineer in renewable energy. I’m very passionate about making the world a better place, and it’s an industry I’m proud to be a part of. Though I started my career as a journalist a while back, that didn’t last long once the Great Recession hit and I found myself (and all my coworkers) laid off. Still feeling as though I’d just finished college, I found myself back once again pursuing additional education so I could find gainful employment. I loved journalism, but for someone so young and inexperienced as myself, there were just no opportunities at the time.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing forever, though very little of it shall ever see the light of day. I’m talking everything from awkward fanfiction to overly verbose LiveJournal posts that served as a dumping ground for my angsty opinionated thoughts.
I’ve written a number of partial novels and short stories, but Child of Etherclaw is the first one that I feel confident enough in to release.
What do you find to be the most important element of a great book?
For me, the most important element of any book is character development. A rich character arc is critical to keep me engaged. I enjoy sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genres, but without a well-developed character that I can identify, the best plot out there will lose me. And the characters need to be a little mushy, you know? Sure, “strong” characters are great, but often times too much strength can flatten a character out. I want a character who gets embarrassed, who has anxieties about seemingly trivial things, and who struggles with inner conflicts and self-doubt. I need a character who can cry—whether they do so on-page or not.
Do you have any great book recommendations?
Absolutely! Some of the more enjoyable books I’ve recently read include:
SAWKILL GIRLS by Clare Legrand
The LIFEL1K3 series by Jay Kristoff
The WANT series by Cindy Pon
And I’m currently reading ENTANGELMENT by Alina Leonova. It’s got a fantastic dystopian society with cyberpunk vibes and a wonderfully unique cast of characters. I’m not quite through with it yet, but would recommend it without hesitation.
What advice do you have for people writing their first novel?
It’s quite an endeavor just getting through the first draft of a novel. There are times when you feel as though the words come faster than you can type, and other times when you feel your creativity buried under a few tons of rapidly setting cement.
Among all the advice out there and the endless how-to guides, I think the most important thing that bears repeating over and over is to celebrate yourself. You wrote 200 words today? Cheers! That’s awesome! You cut out a scene that just wasn’t working and actually had a net loss of 1,000 words? A round of applause! It’s hard to let go of your own writing, but you recognized the need to and you should feel accomplished! Set goals that are small, realistic, and achievable. And when you reach them, celebrate yourself. You deserve it.