William C. Tracy has a new Queer/MMF sci fi/fantasy/steampunk tale out, book two in the Dissolution Cycle: "Facets of the Nether."
The Dissolution approaches.
Sam has saved the Assembly of Species, but at a terrible cost. Locked in his apartment, his memories gone and his best friend abducted, he is once again crippled with anxiety. Meanwhile, Enos struggles to free her brother from imprisonment, alone for the first time in her life. Her true species has been revealed, and there are hints the deadliest of her kind survived an ancient war.
But the Nether contains more secrets. A musical chime disrupts daily life, signaling changes to its very fabric. To solve this mystery, Sam must face his anxiety and confront truths about his memories and unique abilities. Only then can he save his friends from the machinations of the Life Coalition, by understanding the reality behind the Facets of the Nether.
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- The appearance of a new house of the maji is not to be as surprising as its origin. My apprentice, who firmly appeared to be of the House of Communication, is the one who is showing me these new things, at my age. Truly, the Nether is changing.
Journal of Origon Cyrysi, Kirian majus of the Houses of Communication and Power
A chime erupted through the Imperium, as if all the crystal plates in the world rang and shattered at once. Samuel van Oen held his ears and, through the window of his mentor’s apartment, watched a flight of alien birds split and scatter at the noise.
“What was that?” Sam dropped his hands from his ears as the sound stabilized into a deep, clear tone he felt in his gut. It was loud, but not as unbearable as it had been. Deep in the back of his mind, the Grand Symphony responded to the noise like a tuning fork against a plate of metal. The different rhythms fractured and multiplied at the chime, like the whole world was vibrating.
No one answered his question, as Majus Cyrysi was out again. The Kirian had spent more time in the libraries of the Spire than in teaching Sam, not that he was ever particularly good at teaching.
The tower of the House of Communication vibrated beneath Sam’s feet as the sound lessened to a background hum. The music normally playing in its halls had ceased during the explosion of sound, but now picked up fitfully, warring with the chime’s resonance. The flock of birds—with crests of orange, and three scaly wings down each side of their body—swooped in an irregular pattern, disrupted by the noise.
Sam went to the window and looked down. To one side, dust fell from the strange stone bridge that ran from the middle height of the House of Communication to the immense wall of the Nether. He’d been out on it before, as it was a curiosity of this House, and maji occasionally used it to take in the view. There were a few maji on it now—a tall Etanela and two Methiemum—looking up at the immense wall of the Nether, bathed in blues and purples like a titanic sheet of ice.
On the ground far below, people milled around in confusion. Sam guessed the bell-like sound wasn’t normal, but he’d only been in this place a little under two months. Before that, things became blurred and hazy in his mind. The presence that had rooted through his head took many of his memories. He remembered Earth, and that he had stayed with his aunt after something happened to his parents. Their faces refused to come to mind. Thinking about what happened at the Dome of the Assembly made him seek the silence of Majus Cyrysi’s apartment, and he couldn’t stop. He was obsessing about what he could have—should have—done differently. He was slowly spiraling down to a place of solitude and loneliness, and his body wouldn’t obey his deeper wish to break the cycle.
Sam jumped back from the window as someone banged on the door. A spike like an icicle in his gut went through him. Sweat pricked his forehead.
Don’t be someone new.
It could only be one of a few people, but his throat threatened to close at the thought of explaining why he was sitting here alone, staring out a window. How long ago had Majus Cyrysi left?
Sam put one eye to the peephole in the door, then sagged in relief. It was Enos. He could ask her about the sound digging its way into his head.
He opened the door and let his friend in, looking her over. There were bags under her eyes and she hadn’t combed her long black hair.
“You haven’t slept either, have you?” said Enos.
Sam let out a burst of air. It wasn’t quite a laugh. “That’s what I was going to say.” He pulled her into the room by her hand, quickly closing the door. The hall should be familiar, but it didn’t feel like the right day to go outside. Again.
“You hear that too, right? Do you know what—”
Enos shook her head. “No idea. I was about to ask you. People are running around like mad. I don’t think anyone knows.”
Then why would she think I knew? He stared at the closed door.
Enos followed his gaze, then took his other hand. “It’s been a ten-day since you left Majus Cyrysi’s apartment.” She winced as if she had a headache. Probably that irritating chime. It was like a dull drill, pressing against the back of his head.
Sam frowned. Now wasn’t the time to talk about going out. Couldn’t Enos see he had other things on his mind?
“Before this noise started I was trying to remember…remember—” He bit his lip and focused over her shoulder. It was something about Earth. He’d almost had it.
“Remember what?’ Enos asked, bringing his focus back. “Is it connected with the attack on the Assembly? Or about the new themes you hear in the Symphony? Can they help us find Inas?”
Sam shook his head. He was letting Enos down.
She won’t want to be with me anymore.
He knew it wasn’t true, but the fact beat against the inside of his head. Inas had been the other side of a scale, balancing him. Without him, everything was harder.
1) When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
I started writing when I was a teenager, putting together a narrative diary of a couple trips my family took. From there, I started on a novel—which was terrible—put it down, picked it up again in college, put it down again, and then started seriously writing after I had been working a couple years. For my day job, I’m a mechanical engineer working at a large construction company, so overall, I’m pretty structured. Although I work largely on the science side of things, I always liked the humanities better in school. I try to bring both sides together when I write to create fun stories with a strong backbone of science and solid plotting. I think that’s one of my strongest skills—creating a fully-developed world that I can bring interesting characters into to drive the story forward.
2) What are your favorite parts of publishing?
I’m self-published (mostly), which means you control everything about your book. It also means you have to do everything for your book. It takes a lot of work, but you also keep a lot more of the profit than from a traditional publishing house. After self-publishing seven titles (soon to be eight), I’ve found I know how to go through all the technical parts and it’s really not too much trouble. Being self-published means I can search out the artists I want, and I can get interior illustrations for my books. I’ve always loved opening a novel up and having drawings inside, whether I agree with how the character looks or not. I’ve had one book published through a small press, and I have to say, I felt sort of left out because I didn’t have to go through all the normal setup and distribution when publishing. So my favorite part would be the freedom to “direct” the final form of the book.
3) What are your least favorite parts of publishing?
This is unfortunately a similar answer to the above question. I really hate those last couple slogs through the book, where I’m making small changes to wording and phrases to tighten everything up. I have to force myself not to make any more changes. And then I have to do a last pass with results from my copy editor, looking for any strange words, or line breaks, or if the pages are divided up right. This gets even worse when placing pictures in the text. But, the reward comes when you get to hold the finished book in your hands!
4) What character gave you fits and fought against you? Did that character cause trouble because you weren’t listening and missed something important about them?
So this is an interesting story starting back when I was a teenager and ending only a few years ago. Sam, the main character, is bisexual (or pansexual, more accurately). He sort of made the journey along with me, but I only came out in 2019, where he was out in the first book, The Seeds of Dissolution, which was published in 2017. The way I figured this out was by his love interests, Enos and Inas. They were originally one character, way back in the first draft when I was a teenager, and I kept switching the name around, and how they looked. Then they became two characters, but Sam only was interested in the female. Something about the relationship never quite worked, through all the iterations, until I realized that Sam wanted both of them! This was about the time I was figuring out I was bi (or pan) as well, and once I changed that one dynamic, the relationship between the three really took off. Now it’s the backbone of the whole trilogy, so much that Sam is on the first cover, Enos on the second, and Inas will be on the third.
William C. Tracy is a North Carolina native and a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy. He self-published his Dissolutionverse space opera books and has one epic fantasy published with a small press.
He also has a master’s in mechanical engineering, and has designed and operated heavy construction machinery. He’s trained in Wado-Ryu karate since 2003, and runs his own dojo in Raleigh. He is an avid video and board gamer, a reader, and a writer.
In his spare time, he cosplays with his wife such combinations as Steampunk Agent Carter and Jarvis, Jafar and Maleficent, and Doctor Strange and the Ancient One. They also enjoy putting their pets in handmade costumes and making them cosplay for the annual Christmas card. Get a novelette by signing up for William’s mailing list at http://williamctracy.com, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/wctracy for writing updates, cat pictures, and martial arts.
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