Hey there. Since I messed up and scheduled Sandra to visit during my vacation, I’m putting her Monday Meets blog up now.
Monday Meets Guest: Sandra Bard
Hi, I’m Sandra Bard and I’m really grateful for being allowed on this blog. Or should I say back on this blog since it seems I always do a book post here when I have a new release. Really grateful to Brynn for having me on here.
I’m going to be talking about my new book from Dreamspinner, Finding His Feet and I have so much to talk about it. After much thought, I decided to narrow it down to talk a little about what inspired me to create my characters.
I made a list of things that inspired me or I included in the book since they were a part of my life—trains, travelling, war, hiding and secrets and family. But having written about those in different blog posts, I realised I’d left out a key component that helped me create this book. My point of view on war.
I had to base my book on a lot of things. One of my other blog pieces was about growing up in a war zone. I had always thought that I hate war, that it was evil and it was a waste of good people’s lives, it was a waste of resources and human effort.
In Finding his Feet, Kaden, my main character, is a soldier in a country that has seen over a hundred years of war. He is mentally and physically scarred, exhausted and running out of excuses to keep himself busy. He is a trained soldier with no other skills, with no idea of what life could be outside of the military.
Over all, he is a product of the environment he lives in and it seems very bleak.
But that isn’t all there is to it. Because my opinion about war is conflicted.
Once, one of my students stood in front of the class made an impassioned speech about why we don’t need war. She was the earnest type, a little round faced, wide gray eyes that remained me of the startled look of a cat on one of those funny videos and arms that were in constant motion as she spoke. I listened to her explaining why it was cruel and destructive and why we didn’t need war any more. Her eyes filled with tears and her lower lip trembled as she spoke about how we could live peacefully and be happily, why the world needed arts and music more than fighting… and realised, I didn’t believe that.
War was destructive and needless, but at the same time it helped human advancements. If humans were not threatened by other humans, all the inventions we have today would not be there. The internet, the long range communication and even space travel .
The armor my main character Kaden wear is in a way, a pinnacle of technological advance. It is also something that is used for war, for fighting and it defines who he is to a lot. It is an example of something good that came out of a very destructive situation.
Then, there is also Shun. A product of the war as well, but unlike Kaden, he is a less dependent on anything around him but his skills… his wits. He is also positive and upbeat about life, trying to see the best in everything.
Shun is also a person who wishes for a life without violence but understands the need to step up when needed. He’s not naïve enough to believe that good will alone can change everyone into better people.
My characters are like my divided view of war, with ideals and beliefs of their own working towards very different goals. But they are also people who, when thrown together, strive to work together for a common goals. Their survival.
Their interactions with each other isn’t just romance, or dependency, it is about realising that their view is not the only view in the world and accepting that they are not alone. To be able to see things from another person’s point of view and at least, be able to understand that they might not be wrong.
Shun nodded as if he’d understood something profound. “Ah.” He turned to Kaden. “I suppose you’re going with them as their supervisor.”
“Something like that,” Kaden admitted. He could see that Shun was curious about their mission, but it was not his place to tell him to stop asking questions.
“Well.” Shun settled back and returned his food box to his bag. “I think I’ll catch some sleep now. I was up most of last night working the tables.”
He closed his eyes, and a couple of minutes later, his head listed onto Kaden’s shoulder. When he threatened to fall over because of the swaying of the train, Kaden quickly held him in place. He hadn’t re-covered his fingers with armor, and he could feel the warmth of Shun’s body clearly—he smelled clean, with a hint of warm bread and soap, and Kaden felt a stirring in his lower body from something so simple.
Kaden closed his eyes and slowly drew back the armor from his shoulder and left side so that Shun would not feel the hardness of the metal against his head.
He was surprised by how quickly Shun had integrated himself into their group. He didn’t seem to be in awe of them but had tried hard to talk to them and fit into their midst. Most people fell into three groups: those who worshiped the armored warriors from afar, those who were afraid of them, and the third group, who regarded them as celebrities, real-life superheroes who saved the day and had extra abilities, whom they stalked as much as possible given the military restrictions. They were said to have fan bases, where people fantasized about having sex with armored warriors, not very selective of who it was. Kaden didn’t think most people even realized there were two types of armor in operation.
He toyed with the idea of asking Shun if he was willing to have a quick grope in the bathroom—then remembered his last experience in a train washroom, which hadn’t gone too well. Still, if Shun was amenable to a hookup, there were ways and places. If Shun was even interested in him, or men in general, of course—
Wayland asked, “What do you think—?”
The entire carriage jerked. The brakes screeched loudly, and Kaden balanced himself, flinging out his free arm so Shun wouldn’t go flying off to the other side.
“What was that?” Wayland asked, jumping to her feet.
Kaden continued to sit as Shun stirred on his shoulder. He didn’t remove his arm as Shun sat up groggily and looked around. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sleep on you.”
“It’s fine,” Kaden said shortly as the train gave another lurch and came to a complete stop.
“Which station are we at?” Shun sat up straighter and reached for his bag. “How long was I sleeping?”
“Not long, and we haven’t reached a station yet. Must be something in the middle of the track—” Kaden tried to remember if they were near anything that required the train to stop. “Construction, repairs, or perhaps some military convoy.”
There were always impromptu railway repairs, and the military was prone to secret maneuvers that people on unimportant missions—people such as them—never heard of. He sometimes wondered if the Harians were equally disorganized when it came to their war effort.
Shun didn’t seem convinced. “I hope so,” he said, looking around with a worried expression. “There’s been stories.”
“Of what?” Wayland demanded hurriedly. Her eyes were wide with excitement, and Kaden could see her impatience for something to happen.
“Of train raiders,” Shun told them. “You must have seen it on the news.”
Kaden, who had removed himself from everything since the accident, shook his head. “What about these raiders?”
Bradley nodded knowingly. “They have someone on board who’ll pull the emergency brakes when the train is near an empty area. I guess it’s preplanned and then they board the train, steal everything, and ride out before the authorities come.”
Kaden blinked in surprised. “I really didn’t think such a thing could happen in this—”
Wayland perked up as if she’d thought of something. “Maybe this is just a mechanical fault of some sort.”
“There’s a war going on,” Bradley said, sounding so much like a government announcement that Kaden wondered if she’d done a stint in broadcasting. “They need to realize this isn’t helping anyone, especially not the war effort.”
“Not everyone who robs a train is against the war effort,” Shun said softly. “People need jobs, and there’s restrictions on food and other things.”
Kaden agreed with him silently. There were power cuts and trade restrictions and food shortages, but their country was at war; it was expected. He remembered his mother stealing tomatoes from the neighbor’s garden when there’d been food restrictions—and that had been back when he was a child. They hadn’t been rich enough to buy food on the black market. All those years of war hadn’t helped the country’s economy much.
“I fail to see how being a criminal helps anyone,” Bradley commented dryly. “They’re just a bunch of people who don’t want to find a job or join the Army.”
Shun huffed. “Not really. There are people who are too old or too sick or just not cut out for fighting.” He looked ready to say more.
Kaden’s father hadn’t joined the Army either, an old back injury and his own reluctance kept him from being drafted. While Kaden agreed with Bradley about the train robbers, he could also see Shun had an argument ready, and it wasn’t the time for them to get into a philosophical discussion. “Let’s deal with one problem at a time and figure out why our train stopped.”
Wayland hesitated at that. “What if there really are train raiders?”
Bradley got to her feet. “I’ll go look. You stay here and look after our things.”
“Why don’t you ask Instructor Pace to look after it,” said Wayland, moving the box from her lap to the seat. “I’m coming too.”
Bradley turned to Kaden with a raised eyebrow, as if expecting him to make a comment.
“It’s probably not train raiders,” Kaden said firmly.
Just then, the public announcement system in the train coughed to life and rumbled a barely coherent message, asking everyone to stay seated and informing them the train was surrounded.
All three looked at Kaden, and he shrugged. “I was wrong.”
Cover artist: Stef Masciandaro.
Release date : July 18th
Kaden Pace, a soldier injured while on a mission, hides the extent of his damage by wearing his high-tech armor, desperate to prove his worth to his administrators and make himself useful in order to hold on to his independence. But during a simple assignment to escort two cadets across the country to retrieve the armor of a dead warrior, things start to fall apart.
They meet Shun, a young man with a secret, who steals the armor they were supposed to recover. Chasing Shun brings them to an abandoned beach town, where they encounter even more trouble. Stranded in the deserted city, Kaden finds himself relying more and more on Shun, the person he’d come to capture, while fighting off an invasion from the neighboring country.
But even when he returns to his camp, Kaden’s problems are not over. Now he has to find a way to save Shun, whom he’s growing to care for, and keep his team alive as they make one last-ditch attempt to get back the armor Shun stole. Armor that is now in enemy hands, on an island in the middle of the sea, at ground zero where it all began.
Sandra Bard started writing when she was quite young because there was always a story inside her head, but never thought of writing for an audience until recently. She only decided to try her hand at writing for the sake of being published after a series of events left her with some free time and in between jobs. Now she has three jobs but writing is still her most favorite thing to do. Sandra grew up travelling the world from Africa to Asia and, though she now lectures full time at a university, dreams of having a job that wouldn’t tie her down to one place. She enjoys reading books, watching anime and, occasionally, visiting a fan-fiction site. She also dabbles in tai chi and yoga in the hope they would keep her flexible and help lose weight. She lives with her pets (fish, cats, and dogs) and has been a volunteer for an organization that takes care of stray dogs (there are many, where she lives) for over ten years.
All Romance E-books: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-findinghisfeet-2061351-145.html