We’re celebrating the launch of CROOKED V.2 by spotlighting the authors who have contributed stories!
C. E. Clayton is an award-winning author born and raised in the greater Los Angeles area. After going the traditional career route and becoming restless, she went back to her first love—writing—and hasn’t stopped. She is the author of the young adult fantasy series “The Monster of Selkirk”, the creator of the cyberpunk Eerden Novels, and her horror short stories have appeared in anthologies across the country.
When she’s not writing you can find her treating her fur-babies like humans, constantly drinking tea, and trying to convince her husband to go to more concerts. And reading. She does read quite a bit.
More about C.E. Clayton, including her blog, book reviews, social media presence, and newsletter can be found on her website https://www.ceclayton.com/. C.E. is currently working on her Paradigm Flux novella.
Tell us a bit about your story and the story world.
“Renegade Havoc” is the story of Pema and Talin as they come to realize that the power dynamic in the illegal smuggling organization they are a part of has shifted, and shifted in a dangerous way. In a way, it’s a story of self discovery and recognizing that sometimes change is not always good, and that you have to look out for yourself first and foremost. The story is told only through Pema’s eyes, as she has the most to come to terms with compared to her girlfriend, Talin, but this is still very much the story of both these incredible women. Without giving too much away, this story has a little bit of mystery, a fair amount of action, and some big “ah ha!” moments sprinkled throughout. It may be a short story, but it’s a fun ride from start to finish.
The world this story occupies is the same one as my Ellinor series (Resistor is book 1) that combines both traditional science fiction hi-tech and elemental magic like you’d find in most fantasies into something called magitech. Magitech is highly regulated in their world, and so there is a lucrative black market for the more … deadly types of magitech. That’s where Pema and Talin’s boss comes in. He specializes in using his own magical abilities to create and sell devastating pieces of magitech, which Pema and Talin then move across the city to different buyers for him. It’s very much a cyberpunk-esque world with massive high rise buildings, full of neon and sprawling slums on the lower levels. Which, let me tell you, is an amazing setting for the kind of illicit activities the main characters in this world get up to! It’s both dark and colorful, fantastic and grounded all at once. Creating the world of Eerden is one of the most fun experiences I’ve had when it comes to world building in a very long time!
What was the inspiration behind this story?
The main character in my Ellinor series has so many friends and former crew mates that have full lives with their own struggles and goals which are all separate from the main characters and their accompanying novels. There was (and is) a huge breadth of topics and characters that have stories to tell, both big and small. Talin and Pema are such characters, living with the fallout of Ellinor’s choices and trying to figure out what space they truly occupy in the criminal smuggling operation they are a member of. Given the role they play in the upcoming third book in my Ellinor series (Symbiotech), I really wanted to take more time and explore what these badass babes were up to and how they went from where things left off in the first book, to their reappearance in the third. Thankfully, you don’t need to read any of the Ellinor books to appreciate and understand what’s happening in this short story, but the events of the first book were a big part of the inspiration behind “Renegade Havoc”. I just had to showcase these formidable women and the lives they led when their former friend and crew leader was out of the picture.
What are some of your favorite sci-fi crime books or stories?
I am such a sucker for the Murderbot Diaries! I guess that would be more of a sci-fi mystery series, but Murderbot does solve crimes so I think it counts. But I love Murberbot as a character and how it goes about helping its human friends while insisting that it does not actually care about humans. It’s a really fun space opera, and the writing is so smart, that I really cannot recommend these novellas enough!
What authors have inspired your writing?
Anne McCaffery and Terry Pratchett were the biggest influences for both this story and the Ellinor series as a whole. I love how Anne McCafferey wrote science fantasy that was both very smart with her use of science, but also had these incredible dragons that humans got to bond with. Her “Dragonriders of Pern” series started my love affair of combining science fiction with more traditional fantasy tropes, which is why the Ellinor series uses both hi-tech more common in science fiction, but also incredible elemental magic like you get in fantasy. I also love the way that Terry Pratchett wrote his “Discworld” series and the humor he used as well as how he created this whole world that you could pop in and out of with different stories and character arcs, which is why my Eerden books are set up the way they are. So even though there are moments of violence and serious topics in the Ellinor books, there’s also a lot of humor to balance it out. The Azer centric prologues are especially inspired by the “Discworld” books in particular, just saying.
What are you working on next?
I’m finishing up final edits now for the third book in the Ellinor series (Symbiotech), and then I’ll be heads down on finishing a sci-fi crime and mystery duology that focuses on two detectives and will be part of the Eerden family of novels. So while some characters from the Ellinor series may be familiar, these books will have new main characters and focus entirely on solving murder mysteries in new parts of the city. After that? I may go back to the romantic fantasy I’ve been dabbling with, or maybe even a novella set back in Eerden… Really, I have too many stories to write, and not enough time to write them all!