Monday, March 24, 2014 | By: Angela Brown

Houses of Common blog tour

Let's welcome Derick William Dalton, author of sci-fi thriller Houses of Common, to Publishness-land. Here's a little something about the book:

About Houses of Common: In the 22nd century, pilgrims leave Earth for the nearby planets that terraformers have crafted to meet their needs. Ranyk is a smart-mouthed alien, the best of the world-builders employed by the US government--and he always completes his risky assignments solo, pushing to the deep recesses of space for the good of colonists and to avoid his growing fame.

Until he's handed an on-planet assignment in Ireland, of all places, as an undercover international student of aquaponics. His real plan? To pull scientists and their families out of a country careening toward civil war--and off earth to a world of their own before marital-law lockdown ends their ground-breaking discoveries.

Risking his life is no novelty for Ranyk. He's been battered by asteroids, nearly incinerated in volcanoes, and has out-piloted pirates. But political espionage on Earth is more dangerous that anything he's encountered before, and he's completely ill-equipped for such delicate matters. Now he must figure out who to trust and who to eliminate, or it will mean his freedom, the safety of forty thousand desperate colonists, and the lives of his friends.

Buy link: Amazon

***And Derick has more to share. Take it away, Derick :-) ***

I’m one of those people who hangs on to certain holidays, sometimes beyond what’s fashionable. As that includes St. Patrick’s Day, I’m wishing you all the Luck of the Irish! Which, after studying history, seems more an insult than a well-wishing. Nothing against the Irish, of course. It’s a stab at the weather and a certain fungal species. And at England. My Irish luck is better than average, as I had ancestors leave there for America. That’s not slightly unusual, except they did so five years before the potato famine. I once had a chance to go there, to see what they gave up, and I was captured by the beauty of Ireland. I tried to recreate my emotions in a scene from my novel, Houses of Common. The main character is helping Irish scientists with last-minute preparations before they leave for a newly terraformed planet.
   Ranyk watched the hundred or so Irish scatter like leaves on a river. Several were on bikes and motorcycles, two buses left several minutes apart, and a half dozen cars rattled over the bumpy dirt road. It looked no different than the satellite views when everyone went home for the day. A casual observer wouldn’t guess none were ever coming back to work.
   The old and cracked asphalt cleared of people, but not of the moss growing wherever untrodden. Dry leaves stirred over the damp, moldering piles from autumns past, resisting the stiff breeze off the ocean in the lee of the curbs. The Irish air smelled of spring and reminded him of the holos and history he’d devoured on the flight over. It all summed to a sense of melancholic beauty, of star- and creed-crossed love. Of mortal loss and of fortune sought and gained but never brought back from over the sea. He imagined it smelled of well-rosined bow and the varnish of a fiddle, of sweat laced with alcohol from dancers who for a moment had beaten back the dreary darkness of a long and hungry winter.
There. My reason. I may not always get humans, but I empathize with Éire. Torn between cultures. Intellectual offspring my opiate, solitude from my own people my foreign oppressor. If I live to be old I’ll not see a more achingly beautiful, morosely serene place than this.
   Ranyk hoped Meagher would be slow to return, or perhaps wouldn’t at all. For a moment, Ranyk thought he might stand and absorb the surroundings, so much more potent firsthand than through all he’d studied. Sweet to recollection like the sound of Uilleann pipes played on a hill beyond view. Sweet with the bitter aftertaste of absence.

 Yeah, I miss that place.
So did one of those ancestors of mine. Mostly because his fiancé was still there. He came to the United States to get a job and a place to live, then worked until he could get passage to go back for her. My sister nearly swoons over that story, and I have to admit I’m a fan of a good romance like that, too. I’ve never had to give up so much or work so hard for anyone as Great-Ancestor Dalton did, and that’s why his love story is more fantastic than mine. The frigid North Atlantic Ocean and two nineteenth century versions of the TSA couldn’t keep him from his girl.
Besides the victory of coming together in a good romance, the hot and steamy stuff is another powerful draw. Unless it’s like that episode of Friends. One of their moms wanted to be a romance writer, and visited the apartment to get everyone’s feedback on her manuscript. As they read, she warned them about her poor typing skills. Warned them just before they asked what exactly the male character writes about with his throbbing pens. And where does the woman house her heaving beasts?

If I had to pick between writing an adversity-overcoming romance and erotica, I’d prefer to write the first. Primarily, I want my kids to read what I write by age 14 without me squirming from discomfort. As importantly, it’s also about how the brain works. Erotica cuts through the higher brain functions of the frontal cortex and goes straight for the reward pathway. Of all literature, it blazes the shortest trail between words on a page and dopamine release in the brain. Fun for the reader, but that isn’t my goal. I want to create a romance between the reader and my characters, and the long-term relationship kind. The intellectual connection of a good friendship. One where victories feel meaningful to the reader, and a sudden Joss Whedon-style death of a character really hurts and makes the reader hate me just a little. I want the frontal cortex tied up and stuck on imaginary people.
Two of my characters share a past that will remain a secret until book three, but here’s a peek at them in Houses of Common.

   Qi opened her mouth, but the words of explanation she’d rehearsed seemed ill suited now. She wiped a tear off each cheek, one of humiliation, the other of anger at herself. More would come, and they were for Sean. Knowing this would hurt him, she had decided to change the plan and get rid of the storage cylinder. She had only needed to explain, and it would have gone well. But that chance had been stolen.
   No, not all these tears are for Sean. How many years of fertility do I have? Is there enough time for him get over his issues? Is there enough of his own lifetime for that?
   She turned to speak to him. “Sean . . .”
   “Qi,” he replied, cutting her off with a calm voice as he rounded a concrete barrier in the parking garage. “I am really angry and I don’t want to say anything hurtful. Can you give me ten minutes?”
   The sadness and hope for forgiveness in Qi crumbled. “No, Sean. I have needed to say this for two years, and you’re going to listen without interrupting.”
   “Hold on,” Sean retorted, his eyebrows furrowing.
   “Shut up, Kolyenko. I brought the cylinder so I could give it to you and apologize. Until you, I’d never met anyone who tired of the chalky red soot of Mars as much as I did. I never met someone willing to say ‘Screw you, complacent social mores. I’m going to make this world a better place.’ I’d never met anyone who could wield genius and deviousness like an artist’s paintbrush.”
   Qi paused for a breath and Sean started to speak, but he wasn’t quick enough.
   “I don’t know if it’s from mainland China or a tradition of the China Mars Republic, but men there tiptoe around courtship and marriage and the bedroom and their children like they’re afraid of the smallest error. I wanted a real man. Why do you think I was the only single person of all my friends? I wanted an intellectual equal. I wanted a man who was both cocky and sexy and knew it. I wanted to spend my life with someone who would make me feel sexy, even when he knew I was too sick or tired for him to get any. And when I was up for more, who’d do better than a quick and selfish bang. I wanted a man who was willing to be domesticated, wanted to be, and could do it without losing his masculinity.”
   This time Qi paused long enough, and Sean took his eyes off the road to give her a slightly self-conscious smirk. “You wanted a fully brilliant, mildly arrogant son of the Black Sea, the heartthrob of every Ukrainian girl in the neighborhood.”
   “You are so poetic when you talk about yourself,” she said sarcastically.
   “Narcissism is only a problem when someone complains. Then it’s their problem.”
   Qi tugged at her seatbelt and turned to face him more fully. “Sean, your aversion to starting a family is a failure that’s ruining your success everywhere else.”
   “Can we discuss this when I’m not driving as fast as I dare because a crazy health care worker filled me with death-threat paranoia?”
   “No. Now. Partly because of a crazy health care worker’s story.”
   “Qi! Who in their right mind would think I should be a father?”
   “Me. Because you can.”
   “So you decided,” he said, his voice more annoyed than angry now, “to take matters into your own hands.” He took a breath, and looked at her apologetically. Then at the cylinder. “I never had a clue. How long were you setting me up to steal a sample, Qi?”
   “Two years. I lied about your contraceptive pill being a turnoff. Then I made up the mood swings about my pill. Your condoms never actually bothered me.”
   “I should have known,” Sean said. “Female condoms are great specimen bags, and no one actually likes them.”
   “So, do you still need ten minutes of cooling off?”
   “No. I’m just surprised. It’s not like you to avoid discussing things, but apparently I destroyed your other options. I’m angry I didn’t notice what you were doing.”
   “How would you?” Qi replied. “I was naked.”
   “Yes. Yes, you were,” Sean said with happy nostalgia on his face.
   “Focus, Sean,” she said through unmoving lips.
   Sean took an exit from the freeway at the last minute, just in case someone was following them. The tires squealed and a car honked behind him, but Sean was still smiling. “Then stop reminding me of your candlelit curves. Especially the one where—”
   “Having a child together,” she interrupted, straightening in her seat after the jostling, “is the deepest expression of love we can have. And the most frustrating and rewarding. I’m not ruining that by dragging you unwillingly along or by doing it to hurt you. So here.” She shoved the cylinder into his chest. “I may never forgive you if I die childless, but it’s better than you never forgiving me and resenting our son or daughter.”
Hopefully this St. Patrick’s Day the only cylinders people shoved at you were mugs of green beverages, followed by offers to drive you home.

Mr. Dalton is a professional student who has taken an occasional hiatus for such frivolities as teaching high school science, residential construction, and treating patients as a physician assistant. When not speaking of himself in the third person, he hangs out with his wife and kids and a smart-mouth turtle. He's also planning a mountain biking trip on the moon.

Social Media Links:
Author on Goodreads:
Zazzle (t-shirts)


Derick William Dalton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Derick William Dalton said...

Thanks for the spot on your site, Angela!
Here's the link to HOUSES OF COMMON on Amazon:


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I couldn't do the erotica either, Derick. More fun to do than to write.

Marlene Dotterer said...

You know I can't resist Ireland! Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Best of luck to Derrick...the book sounds intriguing.

LOVE the new look. It's post it notes!!! How very special :)

Cecilia Robert said...

I really enjoyed reading the excerpt, thanks for sharing Derick and Angel. The story sounds really GOOD!

Angela, I LOVE LOVE this new layout. :D wow!

mshatch said...

Cool. I love scifi :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Fun premise. Professional student who takes time off to reach nice. Congrats on the release.

Leigh Covington said...

Nice to meet you Derick! The book sounds great! I'm starting to get into more sci-fi stuff so I will have to check this out!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like a great book. Congrats to Derrick!

Christine Rains said...

Great post! I like the premise. Good luck to Derrick!

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