In UNCHARTED STARS, a stand-alone YA science fiction, complete at 91,000 words, the all-girl crew of Natalie Parker’s SEAFIRE meets the far-flung exploration and team dynamics of MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA in an Indiana Jones-in-space adventure.

Eighteen-year-old Iris Moreno is one of the slickest grifters in the Drake Cluster. Following her mother’s assassination years ago, she left her affluent upbringing to put her social graces toward more illicit ends as a con artist and treasure hunter. When the company behind her mother’s murder discovers an artifact from a long-lost explorer she’s always admired, Iris goes undercover for her next big heist.

But her plan falls apart. The artifact she steals is a fake, her messy getaway becomes headline news overnight, and Liam—the annoyingly-handsome company heir she’s been conning—is determined to catch her. She knows from experience the company will stop at nothing to protect its bloody secrets. And Liam isn’t alone, with law enforcement and her former gang hunting her across the cluster. Only one thing matters to Iris: finding the explorer’s lost trail of beacons before Liam does. She won’t let her mother’s killers win again.

As Iris’s bounty increases and century-old clues come to light, she and her crew chase the explorer’s trail deep into uncharted space. With Liam only a step behind and desperate to stop her, she can’t outrun him or the secrets from her past that could shatter her crew’s trust. Saving the explorer’s legacy and the final golden world means putting her crew’s lives on the line, but Iris has never been able to turn down a dangerous gamble.

I’m a graduate of UBC’s Creative Writing program, was a co-organizer of the SCBWI Agents’ Party pitch event in London from 2014 to 2016, and am an active member of SCBWI CanWest and the Canadian Authors Association.

 

UNCHARTED STARS

Iris thrived on the surge of adrenaline whenever a plan came together.

The sparkling wine in her glass fizzed away untouched. She was electric enough without taking a sip. On a job as big as this, the familiar artifice of the gala couldn’t sour her anticipation, and her simpering performance was easier to bear while her date showed her off to his social inferiors.

Liam Hawkins, third in line to the wealthiest company in the star-cluster, had no idea she was about to rob him.

A flash of motion caught her eye and Liam hesitated beside her, his assistant beckoning him from the gilded double-doors.

Thank the stars.

“Duty calls?” Iris slipped her hand off his arm before he could pull her closer.

Liam’s lips twitched, undecided between a smile and a frown. Such a shame those good looks were wasted on a Hawkins. “I could have pretended not to see him.”

“And yet, I’m not sorry.” Her teasing smile hit the mark. His arched eyebrow and bit lip promised he wouldn’t soon forget her betrayal. Adorable. If only he knew. She coyly waved her fingers as he walked away.

With Liam distracted, Iris could finally make her move. Everything had to be in place when the guests were called to the reception hall for speeches.

She drifted through the crowd, ever closer to the display case in the center of the room, like a satellite in decaying orbit. When she stopped to admire the statuette within, the competing conversations faded. She’d dreamed of seeing another Sharpe Beacon for years.

Iris had admired Hazel Sharpe since she was a kid dreaming of escape. A hundred years ago, Sharpe carried four beacons across the cluster to mark habitable colony worlds. One beacon was found, one was stolen—and here was the third, right under her fingers. It didn’t look like much to the untrained eye, but who was Iris to judge? She was more than she appeared to be, too.

Not long now until it was hers.

Iris tamed the hungry smile reflecting in the glass. She was too close to revenge to let a careless mistake expose her.

The comm in her ear whispered, “Incoming.”

Iris’s gaze flicked past the beacon to Hadley, standing watch across the room in military formals. As usual on grifts like this, her friend looked like she wanted to be anywhere else, but partygoers tended to forgive a scowl if the person in uniform could break their arm in three places.

Hadley stood near the woman of the hour, Lauretta Hawkins. The old hag had run the most powerful mining corporation for sixty years and didn’t look like she’d give up control until death took it from her. She didn’t seem impressed by the gala to show off her company’s new outpost. Seeing her in person, Iris didn’t doubt she was ruthless enough to order the assassination of a Marshall.

She probably had people killed so often she’d long forgotten the hit on Iris’s mother.