INTERLUDE PRESS TOUR: Storm Season by Pene Henson (excerpt and giveaway)

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Storm Season by Pene Henson
I
nterlude Press
Release Date: February 2, 2017

Available for Purchase at

Interlude Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Pene Henson here today.  Welcome, Pene!

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Today Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is very lucky to be interviewing Pene Henson author of Storm Season.

Hi Pene, thanks for stopping by today! Could you tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

I’m Australian, extroverted and hard to ruffle. Also I’m pretty tall, mostly lacking in sporting prowess, and way less funny than I’d like to be. I live with my wife and our two divinely awesome kids in Sydney, along with a ferociously loving cat. Right now it’s summer and the days are long and hot. We spend our weekends in the grassy backyard with friends and champagne, playing whatever sports are currently in season. It’s a good life. Though with work and writing, it’s sometimes busier than I’d like.

I grew up dreaming of being an astronaut or an experimental physicist. I love sciences and mechanics but I’d do a dreadful job of either of those things so fortunately surprised myself by developing a career in law and writing.

I’ve always written poetry and short fiction. I never really dreamed of a novel until I was writing one. It was delightful to build a whole world, the first in Hawaii and on the ocean, and fall in love with my own characters.  

Storm Season is my second novel. It’s set on the Australian East Coast, in land and in cities that I know well. Like my previous novel, it’s essentially a happy queer story. It’s a romance between a bubbly and adorable fashion blogger and a capable park ranger living alone in a remote cabin. As you’d imagine, these women have vastly different experiences. They think they have vastly different priorities. Trapped together by a storm, however, they uncover not just a deep attraction to one another but also all the ways they fit together. And then, of course, the storm breaks and they have to work out what will happen when they return to their ordinary lives. 

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Mostly I want to write stories that focus on queer characters falling in love, over and over. If I can do that, and continue writing stories that are mostly outside, then I’ll be happy. I want readers to be moved by the characters, and to see the beautiful world and new loves through their eyes. It sounds a little boring, I don’t want to move on. But every story is different because every character is different and their character dictates how things move forward and how they love. I just want to write romances that are happy and kind and moving and make one or two people feel less alone.

How many published books do you have? Can you tell us something about them?

So far, there’s only the two.

The first is called Into the Blue. The book’s set in a ramshackle blue beach house on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. Its leads are young men, surfers and best friends, who’ve grown up on the ocean. They love one another as friends and have built a found family with three others in their home on the beach. Early in the book, one of them has the chance to head off on a world pro-surfing tour and the other tags along.

Time in new places, on new beaches, brings these friends to explore a physical relationship. It’s this perfect bubble of time, private hotels and cabins, gorgeous views interspersed by surfing competitions. Things only get real when they have to return home and work out how to be around one another.

The second is this one, Storm Season. In some ways it’s the same story. Two people with a deep connection and chemistry that they explore while away from real life. In this book, that perfect bubble away from the world is Lien and Claudie’s time trapped together in a cabin in a storm. Their connection might be new but they have time to develop it as the rain goes on and on outside. But just like Into the Blue, these women need to return to homes and jobs someday. Once they’re home they can learn what their connection means in real life.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Lien is this sort of sparkling, outgoing bundle of optimism and fashion. She’s kind of ridiculous and adorable. She’s confident of her ability to make people like her. She lives in Sydney and is surrounded by friends, she’s popular on social media, she’s successful as a journalist in her own light way. With all this going on, she keeps her head busy and her heart busy. Underneath that buzz, she’s kind and thoughtful, she apologizes too much, she wants to make the world better, and she cares too much what people think. The story watches her grow into herself a bit, not all the way, and gain confidence in herself without other people. This gives her room to be about more than just a busy social life and fashion blogging. However much she still loves her friends and her social life and fashion blogging!

Claudie is a wilderness ranger living alone in the middle of nowhere NSW. Unsurprisingly, she’s kind of reclusive and pretty cranky. She’s innately capable. She keeps her own company and plays guitars to the wildlife. She has history beyond that, of course. She’s a talented songwriter and full of charisma. She left her career as an up and coming indie rockstar in some pretty awful circumstances and she’s been hiding ever since. Time with Lien wakes her up a bit, shows her that there are possibilities out there that she’d forgotten. 

What are you working on at the moment? What’s it about?

I’ve just started working on a short that I hope to have published by late in the year. It’s an f/f romance about a pro-basketballer coming home to Montana, to wide open skies and odd small towns. It’s about remembering who you are, and it’s about falling back in love with an old crush. 

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

In the midst of deadlines I do, I use Pacemaker at pacemaker.press to give myself a chance of having word count goals that vary daily depending on my needs. With two young kids and a more than full time job I need all the help I can get.

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About Storm Season

The great outdoors isn’t so great for Sydney It-Girl Lien Hong. It’s too dark, too quiet, and there are spiders in the toilet of the cabin she is sharing with friends on the way to a New South Wales music festival. To make matters worse, she’s been separated from her companions and taken a bad fall. With a storm approaching, her rescue comes in the form of a striking wilderness ranger named Claudia Sokolov, whose isolated cabin, soulful voice and collection of guitars bely a complicated history. While they wait out the weather, the women find an undeniable connection—one that puts them both on new trajectories that last long after the storm has cleared.

 

Excerpt from Storm Season

 

Two weeks ago, Lien had to resign herself to coming up north in the first place. Now she’s resigning herself to going home to Sydney. Of course, not everything will be terrible. She’s pretty sure a shower with no line outside the door will change her life. She’ll have her local restaurants back, rather than dealing with her friends’ inconsistent cooking. She can’t wait for clean sheets and clean clothes and a full length mirror so she can feel like herself again. Also, there’ll be way fewer flies.

But Sydney also means she has no chance to bump into a gorgeous park ranger while grabbing groceries or walking to the train. Somehow Claudie’s had no last minute change of heart. Not that Lien was holding out hope but—damn it, Lien was completely holding out hope.

* * *

Lien’s focus is on Claudie. “You’re being unfair. I never thought of you as a cause,” she says. Her voice is choked.

“I only meant that you want to build my band for me. I need to do it for myself.”

“I never wanted that. I wanted to help. You could definitely use help.” Lien’s eyes glitter in the streetlight. She lifts her chin. “But more than that, I wanted to spend time with you, Claudie. Look, I had this whole plan to ask you to go on a date with me.” She swallows. “I didn’t want a cause. I was kind of hoping for a girlfriend.” Car headlights arc behind them. Lien goes on. “What I said up at the cabin? That I thought we could be something? Nothing changed for me. I still think we could work. But you don’t. You push me away if I come close. So I’m done. I’m not going to trail around after you trying to prove that I’m a different person from the one you made up in your head. I can’t make you believe this would work when you’ve already made up your mind that it won’t.”

She whirls around and strides away. She’s across the road in a break in the traffic before Claudie has time to think. Lien’s white dress reflects the green and red and white of the city lights. Her hair flies out behind her.

Claudie can’t breathe. The rest of the world keeps moving. Wind spirals in the trees that line the street. A few clouds tumble across the sky and block the moon. A siren wails in the distance.

Lien’s the opposite of what Claudie needs. She’s hectic. She’s interfering. She’ll move on. It’s taken months for Claudie to realize that none of that matters.

* * *

“Come out here,” calls Claudie from the deck.

Claudie’s leaning on the railing looking over the vast expanse of nothing. “Come and stand at the edge here,” she says. “It’s like the edge of the universe.”

It’s dark; there’s nothing out there. The world smells rich and wet. Lien holds herself still and looks out with the cabin lights behind her.

“Wait a sec,” says Claudie.

She steps back toward the house and reaches inside the cabin door. Everything goes dark.

“Hey—” Lien can’t see a thing. They haven’t had lights in days, and now Claudie’s turning them off. The blackness seems complete.

“You’re okay,” says Claudie. “It’ll take a moment for your eyes to adjust. I figured—It’s been raining so much. You haven’t had a clear night up here. I wanted to show you.” She moves beside Lien against the railing.

And as Lien’s eyes accustom themselves to the dark, the sky opens up above them. The Milky Way sweeps a path of light across the great black bowl. Around that the night extends from one clear horizon to the other, lit by a thousand layers of stars on stars, dazzling bright in the dark.

The universe goes on forever. It’s huge, and Lien’s tiny and breathless in front of it.

In that moment nothing is worth thinking about beyond that sky, nothing but the huge universe and Claudie’s hand, steady and close beside Lien’s on the railing, Claudie’s warm body so near. Lien twines her pinkie around Claudie’s. They stand under the stars, still and silent.

When Lien turns, Claudie’s cheekbones are traced in blue-white and her eyes reflect a thousand pinprick lights. She’s beautiful. She’s from a whole other world.

* * *

Storm Season will be published by Interlude Press on February 2, 2017. Connect with author Pene Henson at PeneHenson.com; on Facebook at facebook.com/penewrites and on Twitter at @penehenson.

About the Author

Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the city’s LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time enjoying the outdoors and gazing at the ocean with her gorgeous wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. Into the Blue, her first novel, was published by Interlude Press in 2016 and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Storm Season will be published by Interlude Press on February 2, 2017. Connect with author Pene Henson at PeneHenson.com; on Facebook at facebook.com/penewrites and on Twitter at @penehenson.

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