Sixteen-year-old Rags is the most feared Rustler in the world, and for good reason. When she’s not raiding the post-Yellowstone Kingdom’s established settlements for supplies to keep her frontier, Rondo, alive another day, she’s fending off witch hunt-happy villagers who want her rare blue eyes in an unmarked grave.
But when the Kingdom strikes back, kills Rags’s best friend, and sends its second-in-command to destroy Rondo in four days, Rags must make a choice: seek revenge, or save her loved ones who are trapped in a town bound for slaughter broadcast Kingdom-wide. With little more than a stolen dream to guide her, and a growing attraction to a sly Kingdom informant, Rags is about to give the Kingdom four days it’ll never forget—if the bounty on her head doesn’t get her killed first.
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It’s the one place no rustler ever wants to end up.
Having survived Rondo’s destruction, sixteen-year-old Rags has been taken captive by the Kingdom and sentenced to ‘rehabilitation’ at the Kingdom’s Threshing Floor, a notorious prison camp for hardened criminals. Those who refuse to serve the Kingdom go in…no one comes out.
Faced with this nightmarish reality, Rags is forced to use everything she knows as a rustler to survive against starvation, a cruel ward master, and torture at the hands of the Kingdom’s ruler, Hyperion. Given only two options—death, or conformation to the Kingdom’s ways—she’s forced to play the Kingdom’s twisted game.
With the help of the Kingdom’s second-in-command, Henrick Oreson, and its charismatic luresman, Colton Caelan Fieldson, Rags must find a way to play a convincingly false role she was never meant to play and show the Kingdom she can be ‘rehabilitated’ to its standards. But with the deciding evaluation rigged in the Kingdom’s favor, failure is imminent…unless she can find a way to turn lies into truth and achieve the impossible: actually, escape the Threshing Floor.
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What gave you the idea to write The Bone Roses?
I’ve always been a fan of futuristic “what if” stories which led to my love of wanting to write one of my own. I tend to favor underdogs and rebels in most of my works and wanted to put myself in the shoes of a young outlaw who might be struggling in a grim future where the law has gotten out of hand to the point where every day is a test of survival. I also have a love affair with the Yellowstone supervolcano, which lead me to base the story on the “what if” aftermath of such an eruption should one ever take place. I grew up with fantasy stories and in a small town and have always loved westerns so I decided to combine elements of them to create a dark world reflective of that. What I ended up with was The Bone Roses.
Who is your favorite character in The Bone Roses?
Even though I adore writing the stories from Rags’s perspective and I have so many favorites in the story, if I have to pick one, it would have to be Henny. Henny is such a versatile character to write and he’s got a lot of secrets to explore. He has two sides to him, the soldier capable of commanding the Kingdom Corps, and a much softer, rarely seen human side to him. He has a lot of personality for a young man who plays a mostly villain role in The Bone Roses, but as the series unfolds, you see a different side to his motives for being the way he is. He’s also just fun to write, especially his interactions with Rags and Colton.
Did you always know The Bone Roses would be a series?
No. Originally The Bone Roses was supposed to be a stand-alone story with a very different ending than the one it currently has. As I sat down to actually write it though, things just sort of got out of hand and the characters wouldn’t cooperate so it sort of took on a life of its own and became a series. In a way I’m glad that it worked out that way as I adore these characters, but it was unexpected at the time.
Do you outline before you write or just go for it?
A little bit of both actually. I’ll start with a reasonably long, fairly detailed outline, but that usually ends up getting away from me because of my characters doing what they want to do in the story. I do keep an outline of the entire series overview to stick to as much as possible so I know where I am at any given point and how to get to the next arc in the story, giving it some structure, but when it comes to each individual book, it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen since some parts I just go for and they work.
Garden of Ashes, the sequel to The Bone Roses is about to release, do you have a favorite between the two?
Between the two of them, I prefer Garden of Ashes. Not that The Bone Roses isn’t a good book, because it is in its own right, but when it comes to character development, a few key characters take the spotlight in Garden of Ashes and we get a more in-depth view into their personal lives. Henny and Colton are good examples of this and the stakes are considerably higher in Garden of Ashes than they were in The Bone Roses. It changes the perspective of how Rags views them from how they were portrayed in The Bone Roses. We also see Rags mature quite a bit in Garden of Ashes.
Do you have any other hobbies besides writing?
I have a few. I tend a small hobby farm with a goat, donkey, border collie, and four cats. I also enjoy gardening, especially with my rose bushes. When I’m not doing that, on my limited free time, I can be found playing video games.
What’s your favorite color?
I have quite a few favorite colors (lavender purple, sage green, cyan blue, and silver) but if I have to pick one, I love the color cyan blue. It’s just one of those cool colors that I’ve always liked.
What other upcoming books do you have planned?
There are two more books in the Snow Spark Saga planned. They are Stars Over Zephyr and Count the Rain. I also have another super-secret, special project I’m ultra-excited about and have been working on called Phirestag. It’s a higher level of steampunk fantasy and the first in a series known as the TimeFeather Chronicles that I’m hoping to share with the world relatively soon. Beyond that, there are a few other projects in the works, but right now my focus is on the Snow Spark Saga and TimeFeather Chronicles.
If you could re-read one book forever, which one would it be?
Quite honestly, this was a tough one because I haven’t really found that one special book yet that I’d want to re-read forever. One of these days I’ll find it but for now, I’m just enjoying the wide variety of amazing works that many amazing writers are putting out there into the world.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Practice your craft as much as you can and don’t let the bad parts about it discourage you from writing. It’s tough out there in the publishing world and not everyone is going to like your work, accept it, want to read it, etc. Many people will love it of course, so don’t think it’s all doom and gloom because it isn’t but writing is not for the faint of heart. You will have days where you feel like giving up, aren’t good enough, and so on. Just remember during those times that you’re writing, you’re creating something amazing, and it’s all being done by you. Enjoy the journey. Learn to dance with the words you’re writing. Embrace your craft and realize that no matter what, you’re a writer and one way or another, you’re going to make it. You have something only you can write to share with the world and that makes it all the more special.
Kathryn Lee Martin, known as ‘Ryn’ by friends and colleagues, spends her days saddling up the literary horse and hitting the “what if” trails on a quest to tell the outlaws’ and underdogs’ stories. Not one to shy away from the darker side of stories for the older young adult audience, her works often explore impossible odds and dire futures, falling into a fusion of post-apocalyptic science fiction meets the gritty lawlessness of the old west with a dash of fantasy and steampunk. Putting her unfortunate characters in situations where faith and fighting often go hand in hand, she’s not afraid to make things difficult for them and when she’s not corrupting society on paper, she’s usually leading the rebellion to save it.
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