Tag Archive | Bite Back threads

Long Island Athanate – second last installment

This post was supposed to get the story to the end, but this scene jus’ growed and growed. So, okay, this is the second last installment of the Long Island Athanate. To come, there’s the scene that you’d expect from the last sentences of this chapter, then there’s an epilogue.

I have had some feedback in the comments, but not as many people comment as actually visit these posts…

So… some prompts. Please comment in response:
Are you enjoying the story?
Has any of it caught you by surprise?
Do you like the present tense mode of telling a story?
Do you like the split point of view, switching between Julius and Elodie?
What is the story lacking?

Or ask any questions brought up by this installment / the whole story.

I’ll post a link to a downloadable word document in the comments if you prefer to read that way.


< * * * >

Thank you for visiting one of the posts from Change in Regime. This novella is now available on Amazon, and to also make it available on Kindle Unlimited, I have to remove these posts from my blog.

Anyway, here is the cover copy and link:

Like an electric current, arcing from ear to ear through the New York underworld, the word comes; he’s here. The city has a new Master of vampires, House Altau, and the existing, unaffiliated community is now facing a sentence of death.

The storm builds, and one of the leaders of that community, Livia or Julius, must chose to be the lightning conductor to save the rest from destruction. But will that be an acceptable sacrifice to Altau?

And if so, which one of them will it be?


Julius and Livia – two more scenes

A continuation of my weekend scribbling, taking the story of Father Julius and Livia in New York from the end of the last post


Work on Bian’s Tale was slow this week as I came down with a head cold. Should be back on track next week, but I also have the annotations for Angel Stakes to be translated into German, and the checking of the audio for Angels Stakes, which is due.

While suffering like a man from my cold, I did have some great ideas for scenes in Bite Back 6, which *might* be called Inner Game.

I also have had some messages asking what the hell is the ‘Afro-centric steampunk’ I mentioned recently, so I’ll give teasers from that as well.

Julius and Livia seem popular enough for a novella, but I’m not sure there’s enough from just them alone. I have a second thread which I sketched out when I was staying in Brooklyn last year, which might work. Stay tuned.

<< *** >>

Thank you for visiting one of the posts from Change in Regime. This novella is now available on Amazon, and to also make it available on Kindle Unlimited, I have to remove these posts from my blog.

Anyway, here is the cover copy and link:

Like an electric current, arcing from ear to ear through the New York underworld, the word comes; he’s here. The city has a new Master of vampires, House Altau, and the existing, unaffiliated community is now facing a sentence of death.

The storm builds, and one of the leaders of that community, Livia or Julius, must chose to be the lightning conductor to save the rest from destruction. But will that be an acceptable sacrifice to Altau?

And if so, which one of them will it be?


Book 5, Angel Stakes, delayed

There’s a delay on publishing Angel Stakes.

Last week was looking so good. I had everything except the last chapter with my editor, I’d been able to boost my writing rates while still managing to publish the German version of Wild Card and sign off on the audio version as well.

This week…

The whole year has been disrupted with building works, inside and outside our house. We were getting to the end of the list, and I was all for packing up for the season. Some of that was pure cowardice: parts of this house date back to the 1880s, and our living room (next on the list for work) was once a shed in a builder’s yard!

Well, long story shortened: we are now in the process of tearing out the damp, rotten supports we found underneath the old floor covering. This wood has the consistency of wet cardboard, so it’s a miracle it hadn’t already collapsed.

Where does that leave me and the writing process? The living room will become an empty shell this week, and all the furniture has had to be moved out. That has encroached on my work spaces (some of which were already storage areas during the renovation work). And that will remain while concrete sets and floors get replaced. I will be involved in some of the donkey work as a digger and concrete spreader! 🙂

At the same time, the pre-Christmas window of opportunity with Lauren, my editor, is closing.

I will keep you updated, but I’m looking at February now.


Very quick update

Progress with projects

I have the audio for Wild Card. Once I’ve listened to it all the way through (nearly done), and any errors are fixed, I click buttons on ACX/Audible and it disappears into their process. It probably won’t be available until January.

(Julia Motyka already has the copy of Cool Hand and will start recording in December)

I have the German version of Wild Card. I just need to put a cover on it and submit it to Amazon. Next week.

Angel Stakes: Chapters 1-50, second draft, are with the editor, Lauren Sweet. I should add up to chapter 65 today or tomorrow. There are a couple more chapters after that and an epilogue which are nearly there, but haven’t got to final first draft yet. Why an epilogue? It’s simply that there is a section which is strongly related to the inner theme of this book, but only weakly related to the outer theme. It’ll be easier for you to understand when you read it than when I try and explain it! How long till publication? Err.. Soon. Note to self: must get cover designed.


Many of you will know that Sleight of Hand was chosen as the November Book of the Month for the Urban Fantasy Series reading group on Goodreads. The group is … well, what it says on the tin. Join in!



October end-of-month roundup

As ever, toward the end of writing a book, other things get pushed aside. Not everything can be treated like that!


Angel Stakes

The main beta panelists have received about 70% of the book. My sister, who is always first stop, has received about 75%. Lauren Sweet, my editor has received 70% + a reasonably full synopsis to the end. I have written more than 90% of the book.

Providing the book in chunks to the beta panel has been a very positive experience for me, and the feedback has been good. Each chunk has been reasonably self-contained and tended to end on cliff-hangers. Each chunk was only the new chapters, so there’s been no requirement for the beta readers to re-read from the start each time. And that methodology, I was starting to suspect last month, had obscured a problem with the book regarding the overall structure.

Lauren agreed after reading through the 70% and the synopsis to the end, although we came to the same sort of conclusion from different angles. Mainly, that the book doesn’t get going on the main plot early enough or strongly enough.

That probably sounds worse than it is. Certainly, I had a panic when I realized it. However, after a long Skype with Lauren, what it seems to come down to is about half a dozen extra scenes, an expansion of three existing scenes, a dash more relationship, a reworking of a sub-plot and … gosh, that sounds bad as well. What it really comes down to is I intend to have the book to Lauren needing only copy-editing work by the end of November.

So…prediction…Angel Stakes will be published in December.

Wild Card audiobook

Julia Motyka is hard at work at her studio in New York. I’ve heard the opening chapter, and we’ve had a long and hilarious Skype conversation where she nailed all the voices and accents required in the longest book of the series so far. Julia is amazingly versatile – have a look back through on the Bite Back Facebook page and listen to the Hidden Trump sample I posted. She gets the fussy Judicator Remy (think Hercule Poirot) alongside the slightly other-worldly, slightly Greek sound of Diana and the snarky, Mid-Western sound of Amber.

Anyway, Wild Card in audio will also be published in December.

Wild Card in German / auf Deutsch

Also due soon, very possibly at the same time as Angel Stakes and the audiobook. The name in German is Entfesselter Wandel, which sort-of translates as an ‘unbridled change’. Kinky! I just couldn’t find a title that had the flavor of Wild Card without using the word ‘Joker’.

Und so, dieses Buch wird im Dezember veröffentlicht werden. (Ich hoffe).

Book covers

I know, I know, I’m due to rework the covers, going back to the old format with new photos. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, the last photo session with Maria didn’t produce what I needed. I obviously need to arrange another for Angel Stakes anyway.

I’ll keep you posted.

Anything else:


Most of you on this page and on Facebook have already provided me reviews, and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you. I read every single one (even the negatives), and almost always take something valuable from them.

If there are friends you know who’ve read the books but haven’t reviewed, I would appreciate you giving them a nudge. I mean that whether they liked them or not. Amazon’s rankings of authors is based on not only sales and reviews but how recent those reviews are, and my new  reviews have slowed down quite a bit.

To be completely clear; I’m not asking for 4 or 5 stars or positive reviews, I’m genuinely wanting to know what people thought of the books, including what might have made them better.

Also, this isn’t just about Amazon. Goodreads is a great book-reading community (even if it has some strange nooks and crannies!) and many people look to their reviews and recommendations.

Plagiarism and Copyright Theft

You probably know my opinion, and you’ll certainly know my opinion if you have a look at my personal Facebook page or the Bite Back page.

Rant Mode ON

I can’t understand those authors who shrug off copyright theft and simply say “oh, it’s like promotion for me”. It’s a disease. Type the name of any of your favorite authors or books into Google with a tag ‘free’ or something like that, and I’m guaranteeing that within a screen or two, you will find links to download a copy of their books without payment. Some of these downloads are viruses, and frankly, I’m sometimes tempted to start doing that. Some of them you get free downloads in exchange for a monthly fee. In a huge number of cases, these are plain theft, and the author gets nothing.

Strangely, those authors who shrug off this kind of theft get more upset when their books are plagiarized. I have seen books for sale on Amazon, where the only effort the ‘author’ has put in has been to do a search&replace on the names of the principles, and slap a new cover on.

The cost of fighting plagiarism, even if it’s a slam-dunk case? Over $50,000 and the thief simply says “can’t pay” and walks away. Ask for links if you want a specific case.

Rant Mode OFF

I restrict myself to half a day a month to get upset over this, because even working tirelessly 24/7 as an internet masked avenger, I could not stem the tide. I have recently managed to alert an Aussie author to plagiarism and get the thief thrown off Amazon, and I have to take comfort from such small victories.

Next up

Once Angel Stakes is published, I have a long-standing commitment to make my late mother’s unpublished book available. It’s a colonial-era murder mystery set in the remotest bush station of Northern Rhodesia, and it’s a cracker. It only requires editing and formatting, so this won’t be a huge effort.

After that, Bian’s Tale book 1 and another short story/novella to weave Biting Cold’s Amanda and Scott into the Bite Back series.

Then Bite Back 6!

April update

A no-writing weekend! I managed to make it to a lunch re-union of my Arvon writing course from 2011 on Saturday in London, got back home and went to bed, where I still am, snorting, sniveling and hacking.

Apologies that this is a bit late.

Nothing extraordinary to report. Sleight of Hand in all formats is just shy of 24,000 sales. I’m happy to see that Wild Card has been selling well again. The appearance of Cool Hand seems to have reminded some readers about the series.

Well, the new covers are not failing – books continue to sell, but I expected a little boost from simply changing covers, regardless of the actual covers themselves, and that didn’t happen. I also tried a weekend with SoH at $0.99, and the reaction was much smaller than when I did that for the old covers.

I’m having a photoshoot with Maria this week to get better stock for marketing, and at the same time I will re-do photos for SoH and HT. Once that’s done, I’ll sit down and have a look at everything.

Writing Progress
Bite Back 5 is coming along slowly. I’ve been a bit distracted by the covers, getting a new audio narrator and work being done on the house. We’re having some repair & replacement of windows and the conservatory.

I always say before I start that the next book will be simpler and shorter. I’m always wrong. Bite Back 5 has the standard interleaving of threads and looks at this early stage to be around about the same length as Hidden Trump.

I’ve actually written more scenes from later in the book. The first quarter of the book has been difficult to write.

Why? Because Amber has to heal. I don’t give spoilers, but those of you that have read Cool Hand know that she’s due some down time! And part of that repair has to be to face all the horrors she’s managed to contain in her ‘strongbox’, the mental image she has of how she deals with these events on her past.

In dealing with them, I have to explore them, and these are not easy matters to write about. Fictional character or not, they are upsetting to write.

There’s also purely technical difficulties. A lot of this healing has to happen inside Amber’s head. This leads to descriptive difficulties in the narrative. In the everyday world I can say “she fell over on her butt – it hurt” and everyone can picture what’s going on and feel for her. But things happening inside Amber’s head need more explanation, especially as some of them have paranormal origins (or complications). All making it more difficult to communicate it clearly and concisely.

And if it isn’t concise, the plot will feel as if it’s not progressing. However, if it doesn’t set the scene for what happened, it will lose coherence and emotional impact.

I’ve ended this post with small part of chapter 2 to give you a flavor. Because this is Amber re-living events, I’ve put it in present tense, like the dream sequences in the rest of the series…

What else can I tell you about BB5 without spoilers

As mentioned before, it takes place largely in LA.

It will start to link in Manda and Scott from The Biting Cold short story, but it looks more like they will actually appear on the page in BB6.

Helicopters. Motorbikes. The underbelly of Tinseltown.

And sex. Well, Amber manages (only just) not to have sex in Cool Hand. But in BB5 she’s back with Jen and Alex and working to move that relationship on, even as tangled as it gets with her healing. There are three sex scenes currently in the outline for BB5. The one at the end might get moved to start BB6 with a bang, so to speak.

This was a difficult decision process, following Kimberly’s withdrawal from the Hidden Trump project. It was easy to take the list of possible narrators down to 6. Not so hard even to take it down to 2. But that last decision! In the end, I went with a lady who just sounds a little more like the voices in my head!

I have received a verbal agreement (well, email) from Julia Motyka to narrate the remainder of the series. Here she is narrating the Accidental Alchemist…
We’re just working through the formal legal agreements with ACX, the audio company.
Part of Chapter 2, Bite Back 5

“No, man, he’s got to go out big. This is it. This is the grand exit.”
The guy they’re talking about is John Elway. This January, he’d led the Broncos to their second successive Superbowl, rifling the ball through the Falcons’ defenses and running for a touchdown himself. He’s a football god, but he’s a thirty-eight year-old football god, and the fevered rumor mill at South High in the spring of 1999 says he’s going.
Back-to-back Superbowls, oldest MVP ever, more wins than any other starting quarterback.
Way to go.
But the boys aren’t asking my opinion.
Eerie, how a remembered sentence opens a door. The smells and sounds come rushing back, dragging faces and colors and tastes and more words behind them.
The locker room at South High. That institutional smell that no janitor can get rid of. And the sickly-sweet aroma of my emergency stash of sugar-rush candy. The corridor is shouty and echoey, full of just-before-class energy being burned off. And zombies on auto-pilot waiting for the caffeine to kick in.
I’m holding my locker open. That gives me half a place to hide. A moment to gather myself and shift mental gears for the school day. I need to think about class. Need to concentrate on schoolwork.
For all the talk, it’s not as if Elway and the Superbowl are the biggest things.
There’s a war in Kosovo. NATO have bombed the Serbians. Clinton said firm action but no troops on the ground. But they lied to us before. And, well, Clinton.
And bigger than that in my world, looming like a wall in front of me, there’s the Final Ruling just days away. My life might start over.
Will start over.
Think positive.
My locker door slams shut.
“Prom,” Cassie Quinn says, leaning against the closed door. Her mouth is set in a hard line. I’ve ducked this one too many times.
“It’s a month away.”
Cassie is the only reason I have any social life left, but that doesn’t mean she’s not irritating as a bug.
“It’s two weeks.”
“I’m sorry, Cassie. I can’t think about it right now. I promise, after—”
“By then it’ll be too late. Look, Amber, the insurance will come good. Dad says you’ve got a cast-iron case.”
The Final Ruling. The end of the legal battle over my dad’s huge medical bills that’s taken three years and pushed us further and further into debt.
“And his qualifications to make that assessment?” I ask.
Cassie’s parents have been a great support for Mom, but her dad’s got a tendency to say what makes Mom feel good at the time.
No way does that justify my pettiness.
But Cassie takes it all in her stride and keeps coming back. She just smiles crookedly, so I’ve got nothing to fight against, even if I want to lash out sometimes.
“I hate you,” I mutter, because she understands. She knows what I mean and doesn’t pay too much attention to what I say.
“Likewise.” Then her eyes look over my shoulder and go all wide and soft. “Oh, my God,” she says.

Game of Threads


A fan of the series, Gallandro, posted a list of questions as a comment underneath the recent Clippings post. This has been hugely useful to me to hear which threads a reader has at the ‘front of mind’.

I thought it would be better to make a separate post about the list to answer. It’s turned into a huge post, my apologies. But I’m delighted to field these questions and it keeps my mind straight on the world building!

Gallandro is in favor of some slower scenes which will allow me to wrap up (or move on) some of the many threads I have in the text. This is an important point. Once a thread is up and running, it usually needs a section of dialogue or exposition to move it forward. There’s nothing wrong with that, but my editor is not so keen on scenes that slow the story down unless they’re relevant to the arc of the novel where they occur. All of the threads which are unresolved are, by definition, arc threads rather than novel threads.

Now, many of these threads are significant to the plot of the series or the next book or two, so much of what I’m going to be saying is in the realm of ‘teaser’ rather than ‘spoiler’ for the books going forward.

1. Did Amber’s recent eukori mingling with her kin allow her to re-center on “good” feeding?

Yes, sort of, but that isn’t the end of the issue by a mile.

Even long established Panethus Athanate can slip, and it’s so easy to fall down that slope. Amber’s problem here is complex. What kind of Athanate infused her and how much influence will that have on how she turns out? She spent two years completely outside of Athanate supervision and fighting the infusion, will that have a positive or negative effect? She’s inadvertently fed on Jen’s fear and despair. (That wasn’t strictly a feeding, but close enough that a senior Adept, Ken Weaver, thought it was). Will that influence her? And Panethus Athanate behavior is all about control, while Were is all about instinct – the wolf enjoys being a predator. Will her Were side nudge her the wrong way?

And while the use of eukori heightens the sensations, and allows you to experience another’s emotions, it does not necessarily influence you positively. For instance, the worst of Basilikos use eukori to enjoy the fear and despair of their Blood slaves.

Lots more in Cool Hand.

2. Is Diana going to come back into the picture and help Amber soon?

Amber’s instinct (and the advice from Alice Emerson, Adept to the former Warders) is to trust only Diana to help with her finely balanced crusis and mental state. But Diana’s disappeared.

Cool Hand progresses this.

3. Will the Athanate nature continue to force Amber into relationships of both sexes or was it something particular to Jen that she focused on? I can’t imagine that it is easy to write in any more kin relationships but is this set in stone or will her changing nature continue to ask for more kin?

I could write a whole book on relationships and reasons!

The prevailing theory in Panethus is that an Athanate requires about three or four kin for a stable, healthy, long term relationship. That’s based on pure pragmatism. Kin benefit from the Athanate relationship with enormously improved health, but their bodies still need time to recover from providing Blood. Having four partners for an Athanate spreads the load. The theory also suggests that the kin group should be grown slowly, and the relationship between a Mentor and an Aspirant is designed partly to ensure this. The benefit of growing the kin group slowly comes when one of them eventually dies, the others are alive and able to provide support to their surviving kin and their Athanate.

However… Amber can barely get her head around Jen and Alex being kin. She’s certainly not looking for any more. (And yes, there are underlying reasons for the attractions and the speed of them, both Alex and Jen).

On the general point… gender is irrelevant to the process of providing Blood, and yet hugely relevant to Aspirants because of the pleasure involved. With everything else going on during crusis, Mentors do not want Aspirants stressing about how their sexuality might be affected by becoming Athanate. A good Mentor will not challenge an Aspirant’s sexuality during crusis. And yet, as Athanate develop, they begin to feel a sense of isolation and dislocation from human society and mores, and they begin to feel more identification with Athanate society, where gender is largely irrelevant. There’s no sense that Athanate are forced into relationships with both sexes, and no particular pattern to how they end up, other than older Athanate from Western societies are more likely to have kin-couples of mixed sex. This is partly because those couples would have looked more ordinary to the human society they lived in, and partly because new kin would usually have felt more comfortable in this configuration.

Now Amber is unusual in all sorts of ways. She’s short-circuited the main crusis process and as of the end of Wild Card she would be termed ‘anomalous late crusis’. Athanate theory is that Alex can’t provide Blood for Amber, so she really only has Jen when the Blood thirst hits (in Cool Hand). However, she’s also House Farrell, which nominally entitles her to the Blood of any kin within her House. She’s specifically asked Pia to create a Charter for the House which removes that entitlement, but…

Could she get enough emotional sustenance from Alex and Jen, and enough Blood from Jen and the rest of her House? We will have to wait and see…

4. Melissa’s death has yet to really be dealt with. How will it affect everyone? Will we ever know just how Dr. Nobel lured her out and did he imitate someone to frame them in any way? Will the pack need to make any recompense to Amber for her loss?

Melissa was part of House Farrell, though not anyone’s kin and not bitten. The whole House feels her loss. All witnesses to the way Noble lured her out of the house are dead, but we can assume he took the form of Morales. He would not have been able to be convincing up close, but enough to get her out onto the street.

Despite Amber’s adoption of Melissa, Altau would not formally have regarded Melissa as part of House Farrell. It hasn’t occurred to Amber to take it up with the pack. She doesn’t feel it’s explicitly their fault or responsibility. She’s actually more down on herself for not being quicker to solve the case or put in safeguards that would have prevented this.

5. Just what did Tullah’s parents do when Amber ran over there? Was her breakdown helpful/harmful to Hana (wolf spirit guide)? It seems Hana is her Adept spirit guide but then what are Tara and Speaks-to-Wolves?

It was Kaothos who acted, and what she did was actually render Amber unconscious. In the short term, this feels as beneficial as sleep. In the long term, what Amber’s missing out on is the mental activity of sleep. This is where the brain internalizes the events of the day, and also, for Athanate, the progression of becoming Athanate. More in Cool Hand.

Knocking Amber out doesn’t harm Hana, but the channeling of the immense amount of energy to blow up the factory at Longmont certainly did.

Tara and Speaks-to-Wolves are spirits. Or are they? Keep tuned.

6. Is Amber still in good standing with the Denver PD? Will Ops 4-10 be released from military service? How many Nagas remain after the Denver operation and did they all bug out for Matlal/Baliskos? Was Peterson captured and will the superior officer be identified? Was the 4-10 group able to save any documents and will they release these to the FBI or keep them themselves?

Morales is currently on Amber’s side. However, the Captain’s good standing is looking shakier as he seems unable to control the outbreaks of lethal ‘gang violence’ (Mykayla’s apartment, Longmont, Cherry Creek etc. etc.) that have erupted in the city…

The army has disbanded both the Ops 4 groups and the associated Obs team.

Ops 4-10 and Ops 4-16 (the Nagas) were both ‘short’ battalions, of about 500 people each. The majority of the Nagas survive and have left the country. There are warrants for the arrest of many of them and that will increase as the case unfolds.

Remember Noble left a dead-man’s switch of documents with a lawyer exposing what he knew of the Nagas. Between that and the documents that Colonel Laine provides, the operational levels of the Nagas will be exposed.

There is an arrest warrant for Petersen, but he was not captured. The ultimate head of the Nagas within the DoD has not been uncovered.

There are no legal proceedings against the former Ops 4-10 troops. More in Cool Hand.

7. The former Matlal vamps and toru are still in the city but were seen speaking to Gray? Will that be a problem and just how much longer will House Farrell have before she either needs to produce them or kill them?

Cool Hand. Yes, it’s a problem. 🙂

8. I don’t think Amber got back in contact with her Mom was she aware of the allegations of her being crazy?

In Cool Hand. At the end of Wild Card, Stacy was informed that Kath had Amber committed for her own good, but had no idea what that entailed.

9. Did Amber’s sister Kath successfully get her declared mentally incompetent and will that spell trouble for her business/life?

Yes and no. Nothing Kath managed to do has a lasting effect on Amber’s business. The declaration, without Noble’s presence to confirm it, will be thrown out by Jen’s lawyers. The committal to the ‘Max’, the maximum security mental hospital, was in a false name, so there’s nothing to concern us there.

The ongoing effect of Kath’s behavior on Amber’s life…wait and see.

10. Will Amber ever have time to meet with Pia and David to work on Athanate skills and review the House rules/duties?

Pia has been compiling a House Charter and a document which Amber thinks of as “How to be an Athanate 101”, and Amber’s been reading it when she can. She knows quite a lot, but it’s book knowledge, without context. When Pia writes something like “When meeting, Athanate from different associated Houses might as a courtesy offer the Blood of their kin”, you can imagine Amber has more questions.

Amber is going to continue to make mistakes and challenge rules in the whole paranormal community. I am getting some feedback from one beta reader that there’s got to be a limit to the perpetual mistakes, despite how convenient it is for writing purposes. 🙂

11. Now that Amber has become a wolf and felt the pack call is there anything else she needs to know about being a were?

Lots. She’s only grasped the core of how the Were and the Athanate work.

12. What happened with the charm bracelet that Tullah had given Amber back in the earlier books and is its design similarities to the necklace significant?

Amber still wears the bracelet, and as hinted, the working is sort of integrating with her senses. She’s more alert (when she’s not asleep on her feet) to threats. She doesn’t particularly trust the bracelet for the sort of reasons she’s mentioned in the text.

Adepts’ ‘workings’ and ‘the energy’ are topics which will be explored much more in Cool Hand.

There are similarities between the bracelet and the necklace (the one purported to have been used by Speaks-to-Wolves in rituals that helped the Were change). Both are more from the shamanic side of Adept capabilities, and visually they are both Arapaho bead jewelry. How they do what they do, and what they do… Cool Hand.

13. Did Olivia’s marque change and will that help her with her first shift at all, like the change in David’s marque allowed him better control of his Athanate side?

David received a massive infusion of Amber’s Blood which abruptly changed his marque curtailed his crusis. I’m not sure, in the short term, it could have been said to allow him better control. In the longer term, he is certainly a well-adjusted Athanate. David and Pia’s marque however, is Amber’s from before she started to become an Athanate-Were hybrid. None of them have any idea how David will react when he and Amber exchange Blood now, and his marque moves to match hers. Will he go through another sort of crusis and become a hybrid like Amber? Skylur and Diana are very old, established Athanate, and their marque will not change from exchanging Blood with Amber. Pia and Bian are a bit in between. They’ve both been Athanate for 100 years and have some control over their marque. Bian will be able to remain Altau should she chose to do so. Pia will want her marque to change to exactly match Amber, but does that mean she’ll become hybrid? Alex is a dominant Were, but will he become hybrid if Amber bites him?

Olivia hasn’t been bitten. Her marque is drifting toward Amber’s. Would it help her werewolf change if Amber bit her? Would she want that?

Cool Hand takes some of these forward. Some of them more than others.

14.The question of Dragon Spirit guides to the Chinese obviously caused a stir but will Skylur pursue questioning of Amber over this issue? The Altau Adepts seemed also interested in this development will they be an issue?

The Empire of Heaven (which includes China) are more than just a little stirred up by Amber’s question. Skylur would like to come and find out what’s going on. Unfortunately, Altau’s position is precarious. Skylur’s formally expanded his domain to include USA and Canada, and has implied obliquely that he will claim Mexico as well. He hasn’t got the numbers of Athanate to secure that size of territory. Skylur’s position as head of Panethus and the Assembly will be hugely damaged if Basilikos can prove he can’t hold his domain, so guess what they’re trying?

Skylur wants a conversation with the Empire of Heaven that will, at the least, create an association between Panethus and the Empire. It is urgent and important, but he has to hold his domain first. In the longer term, given how difficult it is to start any meaningful dialogue with the Empire, he is (sort of) delighted to have an opening topic that the Empire wants to talk to him about.

This is background in Cool Hand and the foreground in book 5, and probably 6 as well.

The Altau Adepts are Alice Emerson and her colleague, former Adepts to the Warders, who appeared first in Hidden Trump at the Assembly. Alice is certainly committed to her new House, Altau. She’s aware of how wrong things can go if the Kaothos situation is mishandled.

15. What happened to the Warder organization in the US? Did the show of the secret brain-washing have any other effects on the security issues? Is this an Athanate ability or something cooked up in conjunction with the Naga’s and similar to the experiments done on Amber.

The Warder organization was effectively disbanded by Skylur. Unfortunately, that puts the basis of the Assembly at risk…

Brainwashing and compulsions. Both the Athanate, who call it compulsion, and the DoD, who call it Neurological Programming, have separately researched these topics. Athanate capabilities vary from House to House, and Vega Martine (Matlal’s former Diakon) has an ability which is exceptional.