Echoes of War

a space station partially obscuring the surface of the planet it orbits

Debts linger, waiting to be paid.

When Colonel Niall Pierce is kidnapped, Jani Kilian is ordered to stay out of it. Niall may be her best friend, but he is also an officer in the Commonwealth Service and a full human while she is the half-idomeni head of the hybrid enclave of Thalassa—to attempt his rescue would not only call his loyalty into question and endanger his life but increase tensions between the Commonwealth and the alien idomeni.

Jani is also facing her own problems. Outside forces and inner turmoil are menacing Thalassa, and the behavioral changes wrought by her hybridization leave her shaken and concerned about what she is becoming. But when a threat from her own past compels her to join the search for Niall, she comes to believe that an adversary she thought vanquished has returned. As she and her enigmatic partner Lucien Pascal dodge pursuers and build shaky alliances, she realizes her past and present are one and the same, and dangers she once faced could return to claim her and everything—and everyone—she loves.

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Fans of Tanya Huff’s Torin (Valour Series) and Martha Well’s Murderbot, rejoice!!!! Ex-soldier, half-human, all kick-ass heroine with a heart Jani Kilian is back in Kristine Smith’s brilliant Echoes of War! The stakes are high as ever when Jani’s past rises up to threaten the safety of those in her care. She’ll need her friends, her memories, and all she’s become to save the day. Very highly recommended. – Julie E. Czerneda author of To Each This World

Q. But I thought Endgame was the last book in the series.  What else is there to write?

(Warning: writer ramble ahead, including more than you probably want to know about my writing process)

When I finished Endgame back in 2007, I felt Jani’s story was complete. She had put Knevçet Shèràa behind her, secured as well as possible Thalassa’s future, and reached an accommodation with Lucien. Past tied up with a big, red bow. Time to move on to a new story.

Which I did. I wrote Gideon and Jericho under the name Alex Gordon—new genre (supernatural suspense), so new name. Gideon received some fantastic reviews, but sales for it and Jericho weren’t where they needed to be, so the publisher declined a third book. For the first time since 1998, I didn’t have a contract. I wasn’t sure what to do next. I needed a jump-start.

I thought back to 2005 and the World Fantasy Convention in Madison WI. I was flailing. I hadn’t written anything since my father passed away in 2003, and I only attended WFC because it was within easy driving distance and I would have the chance to meet up with folks I hadn’t seen in a while. While I was there, I was approached by Eric Flint, who was looking for SF writers to contribute to his new magazine, Baen’s Universe. I agreed to write something, and in 2006 turned in Incident on a Small Colony. Set during Jani’s fugitive life prior to Code of Conduct, it was focused on a single plot line and contained more action than the novels. It was well-received, and gave me the emotional boost I needed to  finish Endgame.

Fast forward to 2017/2018. I thought another Jani novella with a focus on action would be just the thing to kick me back into gear. Incident redux. Jani Fights Crime. What could go wrong?


Soon after I started, the story stalled. Every time I tried to move forward, I hit snags. This wasn’t the Jani of Incident, whose only concerns were avoiding capture and living another day. This was post-Endgame Jani. The political entity. The first hybrid. If she took steps outside Commonwealth or worldskein law, she would have to understand the risks she was taking, and the crime she investigated needed to be worth those risks.

(I will add that I’m compressing several years into a few sentences. A lot went on life-wise and otherwise in the late teens/early ’20s, and there were times when I didn’t write for months, when I felt like closing the door on my writing life and moving on. But I had gotten the rights back to the first four Jani books and re-released them through Book View Café and I was working on getting back the rights to Endgame, and all that helped keep me going.)

Anyway, progress on Echoes proceeded in fits and starts. One step forward, stall, swear, think. During this time, I reread the previous five books in order to do some light editing—so many !!!!!!!!—and to reacquaint myself with details written years before. Those rereads helped immensely. They also drove home the realization that while Jani was alive at the end of Endgame, she wasn’t in a good place. She was walking wounded, traumatized physically and mentally. She deserved a chance at a better ending.

So the plan is to write a few more books so she gets that chance.