I watch inaugurations, state funerals, televised inquisitions, and contentious parliamentary proceedings with predatory interest. They are grist for the mills of my imagination.
My novels deal with self-styled gods, double-dealing World leaders, back stabbing, political intrigue, assassination plots, disastrous matings, and more. In Forced Mate, an heir to the throne of an intergalactic superpower abducts a virtuous young woman whom he hopes will be a suitable breeding mate. Her true-hearted fiancé goes to great lengths to rescue her… and so two Kings race to be the first to make a pawn into their Queen.
Of course, Djinni-vera (meaning "true-jinn") is nobody's pawn.
Insufficient Mating Material took up the story, with forced identity-changing surgery on the loser of the climactic duel between the two "Kings" (speaking in chess metaphors) at the end of Forced Mate, and a shotgun Royal wedding intended to saddle the loser with a political liability wife who would make him forever unelectable.
I'm an incorrigible champion of the underdog, so my sympathies were with the liability wife, especially after she was shot down in her ballgown and marooned on a deserted tropical island with an arrogant and angry survivalist.
My first draft of Knight's Fork began with a state funeral… I had "Four weddings and a funeral" in mind as a theme for my series, which concluded with Knight's Fork.
Four? Yes! There was the prequel, Mating Net, only available as an e-book, but which I will shortly be recording as an audio download. An ambitious princess throws out lures and uses underhand tactics to make sure that the Prince of her dreams goes through with an arranged marriage to her, but she is caught in an Emperor's "mating net".
My editor didn't feel that the State Funeral was sufficiently romantic, so I wound the clock back to the scene of a royal murder. The corpse is still awaiting burial… may never be buried! but it is on ice. As is some very dangerous semen. I like to leave a few explosive ingredients lying around, not because I want to tease my readers, but because a writer –like a lawyer—needs a few loopholes.
A great piece of advice I was given was always to start a story at the moment that life changes for either the hero, heroine, or villain. Most funerals aren't life changing events! Being a party to murder probably is.
An Inauguration might be, but arguably, the real life changer is winning the election. I shall have to think about that, because I do have a hero who might achieve high elected office one day.
This excerpt from Knight's Fork was the result of a burst of research which took me from the protocol for State Visits to the White House (with a few excursions into jokes about Presidents with a common touch, Royal guests, and horse drawn carriages) to the workings of the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace, including the Palace's situations vacant advertisements, and job descriptions for the various open positions.
I love research! I also love clever bad guys with insidious tactics.
The Orb Constellation
The Volnoth State Peacemaker
Grand Gala Floor
"First, we are not under attack," the Master of the King's Household told his audience. "We have entered Tigron Imperial space with Crown Prince Tarrant-Arragon's permission. Therefore, whether we see them or not, we are being shadowed and observed by two Imperial war-stars.
"We have received word from His Potency that we must react with appropriate humility, owing to an unfortunate misunderstanding in the An'Koori dodecahedron with one of our expeditionary fleets, which is now missing. Therefore, if Imperial fighting craft ping our Bridge screens or viewports, every individual will turn a grayish shade of pink, retract genitalia, face the viewports, and hold up their palms—so!"
He demonstrated the position that displayed the bareness of hands, and hid flat nipples. "Bodies will then be bent from the midsection. Thus.
"Secondly, the Royal Barges have not yet been sighted, but will both be coming from the direction of the Eurydycean dodecahedron. Either or both of Their Potencies may join us at any time.
"We have just over six orbits of spacetime before His Potency, the King, and Her Imperial Highness, the Queen, are scheduled to convene for an extraordinary mating. As you know, we have not hosted an Orgy of State in non-Volnoth space before. Our solemnities have attracted some unwelcome curiosity and interest."
In view of the high visibility and extreme importance of the mating, he had chosen not to say "less than seven orbits." Negativity might encourage panic and frenzy, rather than the desired sense of calm urgency.
"Crown Prince Tarrant-Arragon has threatened to send an observer."
Just behind the Master, with his skin covered in somber hues and subdued starry effects, stood the Continuum Marshal of Stars, Astronomer Royal. To his side, similarly patterned, were the King's astrologer and the Queen's astrologer.
The more pageantry and rigid, unquestioning adherence to The Way It Is Done, the greater likelihood there was of ridicule and rational skepticism in All The Communicating Worlds, if the mating did not go well.
"As the Astronomer Royal has explained," the Master resumed, in case his audience of pages, ushers, grooms, and bed makers had not paid sufficient attention, "the Astrologer to the King and the Astrologer to the Queen, in consultation with the Apothecary to the Queen, have revealed that the Constellation of Orb has the most propitious cosmic influences for fecundity."
He inclined his upper body respectfully to the star-seers.
"The Apothecary in attendance on Her Imperial Highness, the Queen, has reported that, with absolute correctitude, the Queen will conceive."
With absolute correctitude was a caveat. Even jumble-mumble had to have a back door. Three hundred documented informal matings had not worked. Five Orgies of State had not achieved "absolute correctitude." Thus, Their Majesties' advisors had decided that fertility was a question of "location, location, location."
Either that, or Her free-roving Highness, the Queen, couldn't get back to Volnoth in time—and therefore, the Court, representative Members of the government, the gentlepersons of the news media, His Potency the King, and the Household were obliged to put a very good face on meeting her halfway.
Courtiers would not put a good face on being extraordinarily inconvenienced for very much longer. Fond as His Potency the King was of his Queen, sooner or later he would have to see that an accident to the Queen's Barge would be a relief.
The Master of the Household felt a warm glow of pleasure-coloration begin to spread across the vertical folds of his throat. The concept of an Orgy of State was calculated to put pressure on the King.
"An extra refinement has been added to the performance," he warned, so the courtiers would have plenty of time to get over their shock and disgust before either the King's Stargoer or the Queen's Barge docked with the ponderous Peacemaker of State. "The female orgasm artists will wear false hairy pieces on their heads, so the Queen is better able to identify with them. They have also been selected for their ability to voluntarily color-darken their groins with streaks and swirls to mimic the Queen's alien appearance.
"Questions?" he asked, anticipating none. "No? Excellent!"
He ignored the one young thing who had not yet learned to subdue her signals of dissent and go with the tidalflow. It suited the Queen's enemies to stress her alienness. Fortunately, no one of importance had the poor taste to admit that they'd noticed the Queen's groin recently.
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