Tessa Elwood is a Midwestern web-designer obsessed with stories, coffee, and running shoes. She writes YA sci-fi and is particularly fascinated by messy lives and complicated loyalties. INHERIT THE STARS, her debut, was an Indie Next Pick for December 2015.
SPLIT THE SUN
Published: 12/06/2016 | Running Press | ISBN: 9780762458479
The Ruling Lord of the House of Galton is dead and the nation is divided. Kit Franks, a nobody escalated to infamy since her mother bombed the House capitol city, wishes she were dead, too. Then Mom-the-terrorist starts showing up on feeds and causing planet-wide blackouts and Kit becomes a target.
Kit’s inundated with half-truths, betrayals, and the coded subtext in Mom’s universal feed messages meant for her alone. Everyone from family to government enforcers seems to have a vision for Kit’s future. The question is, does Kit have a vision for herself?
“Kit Franks is a fierce firestorm of desperation and raw nerve. With a nail-biter plot, only one thing will race faster than Kit’s mind—the reader’s heart.”
–Anne Boles Levy, author of the Temple of Doubt series
“Snappy, fierce, and gritty with artfully brisk prose, Split The Sun will surprise and thrill to the last page. Kit is an unapologetic heroine whose compassion shines through from beneath her tough exterior, even when faced with unpalatable choices. Split The Sun left me wanting more of this universe!”
–Amalie Howard, bestselling IndieNext author of Alpha Goddess and The Aquarathi series
“This sequel to Inherit the Stars (2015) offers plenty of action, and readers will be swept away, guessing along with Kit as she hurtles towards that uncertain future. Fans of the Hunger Games series and even Orwell’s 1984 will look forward to the next installment in this series.”
INHERIT THE STARS
Published: 12/08/2015 | Running Press | ISBN: 9780762458400
LOVE AND LOYALTY. As the youngest daughter of the House of Fane, Asa lives every day of her life in honor of both, for herself and her people. But as her kingdom’s food and energy crisis peaks, Asa must find more to fuel Fane’s survival.
Taking the place of her older sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the prosperous House of Westlet, seems like a straightforward solution. Forging an unforeseen bond, however, leads to an unavoidable division of loyalties. One simple truth lies at the heart of the matter, and only Asa can decide which one to tell.
Romance, politics, and space adventure intersect in this first book of Tessa Elwood’s addictive debut duology.
• Winter 2015-2016 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview, 11/09/15
• Shelf Awareness Pro, IndieBound Favorites, 12/17/15
“Elwood’s solid debut ably presents a complex society in shambles due to political corruption, environmental destruction, and widespread poverty.”
“First and foremost, this is an exquisitely written love story. The characters live and breathe, floating off the pages to haunt readers’ dreams… This book will find a wide range of fans, even those who usually spurn science fiction.”
“With characters who are believable and a female lead who is compelling, Elwood has penned a captivating debut. The House of Fane is in trouble, but Asa, the youngest daughter of the House, thinks she knows how to save it. She just has to marry Eagle, the heir apparent to the throne. There’s only one problem–he is her sister’s fiancé. I can’t wait for the next book in this new series!”
–Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, Wash.
Sample Selection: opening scene from SPLIT THE SUN
My sandal’s intent on destruction. It slides off my foot and drops eighteen stories. Maybe it longs to be lethal, kill a pedestrian. Add another death to the family tally. Nine instead of ten.
Rack ’em up.
The museum’s roof is ringed in stone, a high wall for leaning against. Or standing upon. It’s warm underfoot, wide and sturdy. Too sturdy. Too safe.
I lean into the dark.
Below, the city pulses. It has a heartbeat. Groaning hoverbuses, sporadic horns, skytower ad-screens blitzing neon. The Galton House capital in all its glory. A planet of city, continents of steel. It’s long after midnight, or one, or even two, but the air still sweats—beads my neck, my shoulders—thick as the haze that swallows the sky.
Yonni, my gran, used to talk about stars. How she’d lie in the grass on some backwash planet, and count the glow-dotted infinity. She’d lose her place after a solid thousand or two.
Ain’t nothin’ like ’em, Kit. You can see God up there.
Here, there’s only smog.
No, excuse me, a soft, hazy shimmer. This is Low South, heart of the historic district. Lordlings kill to live in the surrounding cloudsuites towers—where air is mountain fresh and pure as spring.
Not that any of them know what mountains look like, or spring, unless they channel their money into off-planet travel—or grew up somewhere else. Yonni had seen mountains. She had a hidden fund for the day when she would show me, too. She promised.
Like she swore she was feeling better a whole hour before she died.
A breeze curls past my ankles to kiss the distant street. Catches a napkin or cup and tumbles it end over end. The walkway is empty of people and bodies. My sandal didn’t kill anyone. The tally stands at nine.
Mom would be so disappointed.
I kick off my other shoe. The ledge is cracked, the stone rough, and I slide my toes over its cragged lip. Close my eyes. There is nothing beyond the pads of my feet, the press of the air. Distant traffic fading out.
You understand why I can’t keep you on, Mr. Remmings said hours ago, after eviscerating me in front of the entire staff. I thought that’d be the end of it, but no, he had to follow me to my locker. Spell it out. The museum cannot be associated with hack-bombers or threats, and your mother—
Kills people. Killed people.
Humidity coats my skin. My arms hang and I let them float apart, lift a little. Except I don’t have wings and I don’t want to fly.
Mom would always pull my hands together when I was small, cup my palms between her big ones. You’ve the whole world right here, she’d say, what will you do with it?
I dunno, give it back?
My hands were empty then. They still are.
Nine is useless as a tally. I hated being nine. By nine, Mom had been gone a year and Dad a month before the landlord figured out I was alone.
Ten is better.
On my tenth birthday, Yonni found me.
I lower my arms. The world shrinks to the crags in my chest and the stone underfoot. Everything is quiet—my heart, the city. The world open, beckoning. Silence. So much space.
I step forward.
A steel arm grabs my waist and yanks me back onto the rooftop. I ram my elbow into a hard chest, someone grunts and the hold breaks.
I sprint fives steps and spin, fists raised and blood pumping backward.
A man stands where I was, pale and old—forty maybe—with thick arms and stubby fingers that catch the light.
“What the hell was that?” he yells. “You trying to get yourself killed?”
My lungs race with my gasping heart, and I don’t say a word.
He shouldn’t be here; no one should be here. The museum’s roof access is locked, and maybe I know how to pop it, but no one else ever has.
Except the man doesn’t wear the green museum uniform, but the near-black stripes of a power technician. The city has been rife with power-outs lately, and we’ve even had to cancel tours. Mr. Remmings probably called him in.
The man steps forward, head high and finger pointing. “This area is off-limits, you can’t—” He pauses, close now, and squints. “Wait, I know you.”
My breath stops.
Of course. Even here, somebody knows me. And it’s not even me, it’s the straight black hair and bony arms, the sharp nose and chin. Chiseled: the girl version.
You used to look more like Ricky, you know, Mom said once, when she took me out for coffee to try mothering on for size. Now we could be sisters.
He’s in my face, taller than me but not by much. “You were on the feeds. You’re the daughter.”
Not whose daughter. Mom bombed the House Archive tower and destroyed half a city block. Quantifiers aren’t needed.
I don’t answer. I don’t look away, either.
His mouth flatlines under grim eyes. He moves back to the ledge and looks down, as if a flightwing waited to catch me. “You meeting her or something? She here?”
“She’s dead,” I say, and he snorts.
Because of course the brilliant Millie Oen—data-technologist, Archivist, and now murderous bomber—couldn’t possibly have died in the explosion she caused. She was too smart for that. The rescue teams couldn’t find her body.
Though with the extent of the explosion, they couldn’t find her lab, her office, or any of the sublevel libraries and record-storage floors, either. They melted into each other. The Archive was our digital core, the central data structure all networks fed into and out of. Reports, power-grids, birth records, histories, and finances from mundane to high clearance, the Archive held it all—and Mom erased it in a night.
Our House is running on backups.
“So what was this?” The power technician asks, waving at the ledge, the street. “Atonement?”
“I didn’t set the bomb,” I say.
“You didn’t stop it,” he says, and there’s no fighting that. I didn’t know doesn’t change anything.
I should have known. I was in her lab that night. I should have known.
I move to the stairwell.
“Where the hell are you going?” the man calls.
“Somewhere less populated,” I say and slam the door.