Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Marjorie Liu’s Lyssa from Within the Flames.
A pyrokinetic and former car thief, Eddie cannot refuse an assignment to cross the continent in order to rescue an extraordinary woman in peril…even though he fears losing control of the destructive power of flame at his fingertips. The last of her shape-shifting kind, Lyssa hides in the abandoned tunnels beneath Manhattan. Like Eddie, fire is her weapon, her destiny…and her curse. For beneath Lyssa’s extraordinary beauty are dangerous secrets…and even darker, nearly irresistible urges…
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away three copies of Within the Flames.
I never imagined that I would write eleven books in the Dirk & Steele series — certainly not at the beginning, before I’d even sold that first novel, Tiger Eye. But here we are, six years later, and I’m finally telling the story of one young man who has been present in almost each of those novels.
Eddie, who can control fire with his mind. And who is, probably, one of my favorite characters in the Dirk & Steele series. Sweet, damaged, earnest, thoughtful – and now the hero of Within the Flames, which takes him from San Francisco to New York City in search of a young woman who is being hunted by witches.
This young woman is the reason I waited so long to write Eddie’s book. I needed to find her — and for years her character remained elusive. I knew I wanted her to have a destructive affinity for fire, but what else? Who was she?
Well, for starters, she’s an outcast. And not just because she can shift her shape into a dragon.
Below you’ll find an exclusive excerpt to Within the Flames, which introduces the heroine, Lyssa, and hints at the mystery surrounding her life. Fortunately, she’s got a hero waiting in the wings – a young man who will prove himself to be her best friend, and soul mate.
When Jimmy screamed, Lyssa was holding a warm teacup in her gloved right hand, and shading watercolors with her left: ungloved, her skin pale and oh-so-human. A mild headache had been brewing all morning. Not enough sleep. Too little sunlight and fresh air. Bad premonitions.
Lyssa jumped when she heard the boy’s voice, jumped right to the edge of her battered folding chair, knocking her knees on the plastic table. Everything slid sideways. Tea sloshed over her wrist, onto the painting – and the brush tumbled from her hand, hitting the concrete floor. Cold sweat broke against her back, followed by a wave of heat that made all the burning candles flare with a massive, crackling hiss.
They found me, thought Lyssa, and all her careful planning went out the window. She sat, paralyzed, even when the boy cried out again. Her body just wouldn’t move.
Until, suddenly, it did.
And she ran.
It was black as a cave outside her nest, which was at the farthest end of the unfinished subway tunnel, at the spot where construction had stopped, many years ago. Nothing there but the old worker’s station she’d moved into, built inside a massive concrete wall. Outside – scattered, shoveled up against the damp walls – was loose rock, unused iron rails, and old electric cables that draped in snake-like piles. In some spots, garbage still remained from the previous resident: plastic cups and rotting clothes, a hollowed-out mattress that was home to rats.
Desolation, in the dark. Her apocalyptic garden.
The cool air was heavy with the scent of rust and cement, and stagnant water; and the ground was uneven beneath Lyssa’s boots: dirt and gravel, and the old train tracks that hadn’t ever been used. She raced over them with sure footing. No flashlight, no lamp burning in her hand. Her eyes were good in the dark.
Lyssa tried to stay calm – to think — but when Jimmy cried out again, his young voice echoing against the cavernous walls, power poured into her muscles and her entire body prickled with heat. Sight faded into a golden haze. Her teeth sharpened. Lyssa slapped her gloved hand over her mouth, breathing hard through her nose.
No, she told herself, running faster. Not now.
Lyssa rounded a curve in the tunnel, passing tents and lean-tos: small makeshift rooms with no roofs, and walls made from standing sheets of cardboard and plywood; surrounded with folding chairs and other boxes; piles of nameless, unidentifiable stuff that had probably served some purpose, once upon a time. Clothes, toys, magazines, broken Styrofoam, metal scrap: rotting in the dark, filthy, smelling vaguely like shit and piss. Or maybe that was the fact that there was shit and piss everywhere, at the edges of the tunnel. Years of it.
She hated this place.
Ahead of her, light glinted: cook-fires burning in old stainless steel pots; and deep pits dug in the ground. Lyssa smelled onions, hot dogs, and whiskey; and the air sizzled, smoke rising around the face of a familiar man: Albert, who crouched over the food with a pair of chopsticks held in his trembling grip.
His watery gaze was focused on the boy. On the man holding the boy.
Jimmy. Twelve years old, so skinny he was practically swimming in loose jeans and a zip-up sweatshirt. His hair was brown and floppy, his cheeks ruddy. His brown-eyed gaze, usually so cocky, was lost behind an expression of real fear. He was trying to free himself from the old man standing rigid in front of him.
It was Mack. Which was good and bad.
Bad, because he was nuts. Good, because he was only human.
He held the boy’s skinny arm with his right hand — the other raised high, gripping an empty can of SPAM.
“You little fuck! ” he roared, shaking Jimmy so hard, the boy lost his footing. “Where’s your fucking dog, you worthless piece of shit?”
Stay calm, Lyssa told herself, jaw clamped tight. Calm.
But she wasn’t feeling calm when she grabbed Mack’s left wrist with her strong right hand. She held on so tight her claws almost punctured her glove. Her sweater sleeve slid down. Reptilian scales glimmered into view. Just a hint of them, covering her arm.
It was dark. No one was close enough to notice that her skin wasn’t human.
Meet Marjorie Liu!
I was born around Philadelphia, spent my formative years in Seattle, and now reside in the Midwest. I went to Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, for my undergraduate studies, majoring in East Asian Languages and Cultures, with a minor in Biomedical Ethics. I then attended law school at the University of Wisconsin, graduated in May 2003, and was admitted to the bar a couple weeks after. I loved law school. Did not like being a lawyer. Which is why I decided to become a writer.
I’ve studied and traveled extensively through Asia, and spent some time working at the US Embassy in Beijing. I love to read, I love to write, but what I love best of all is proving to myself that dreams do come true.
Oh, and I like poodles. And cats.
Want to purchase Marjorie’s novel?
Dirk & Steele
- Tiger Eye at Amazon | Book Depository
- Shadow Touch at Amazon | Book Depository
- The Red Heart of Jade at Amazon | Book Depository
- Eye of Heaven at Amazon | Book Depository
- Soul Song at Amazon | Book Depository
- The Last Twilight at Amazon | Book Depository
- The Wild Road at Amazon | Book Depository
- The Fire King at Amazon | Book Depository
- In the Dark of Dreams at Amazon | Book Depository
- Within the Flames at Amazon | Book Depository
- The Iron Hunt at Amazon | Book Depository
- Darkness Calls at Amazon | Book Depository
- A Wild Light at Amazon | Book Depository
- The Mortal Bone at Amazon | Book Depository
Molly Beacon Mystery
Thank you Marjorie for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!
Contest Time! Marjorie is giving away 3 copies of Within the Flames. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What would be on your shopping list to get a fire starter and/or a dragon shifter? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have. Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.