Cathy Pegau and Breaking Rules Sci-Fi Style

Liv Braxton's Felon Rule #1: Don't get emotionally involved.

Smash-and-grab thieving doesn't lend itself to getting chummy with the victims, and Liv hasn't met anyone on the mining colony of Nevarro worth knowing, anyway. So it's easy to follow her Rules.

Until her ex, Tonio, shows up with an invitation to join him on the job of a lifetime.

Until Zia Talbot, the woman she's supposed to deceive, turns Liv's expectations upside down in a way no woman ever has.

Until corporate secrets turn deadly.

But to make things work with Zia, Liv has to do more than break her Rules, and the stakes are higher than just a broken heart…

Please welcome Carina press author Cathy Pegau! I had a chance to read Rulebreaker and found it fast-paced, funny, and poignant. Even better, I've been lucky enough to get to know the author and pick her brain :) So let's hit it!

What made you want to write sci-fi? 

I've always loved the genre and have been reading it since high school, at least ( a long, long time ago). Zooming off to different worlds or having something amazing happen here on Earth is a great way to escape reality.

Favorite sci-fi authors?

Oh, there are so many. David Weber, Alan Dean Foster, Connie Willis, Catherine Asaro, Timothy Zahn, and Nicola Griffith, among others. I like a bit of variety, even within SF : )
What's the difference between sci-fi and speculative fiction (if any)?
I consider sci-fi as a subset of speculative fiction. To me, anything that isn't "normal," from vampires and shapeshifters to magic and beyond what we use tech (including steampunk), fall under the spec fic umbrella.

I was impressed with the depth of world-building about mining--how did you come up with that?

Wow, thanks for that. World-building is a big thing in any writing, but especially for the stories that take place out of the ordinary. I came up with the mining of keracite as the basis of life on Nevarro as an "oh really?" response to several "clean coal" ads I'd seen on TV. No fuel source is 100% clean. In my story, the fuel burns cleaner but there are other things going on that make it, shall we say, less so : )

Rulebreaker strikes me as part industrial thriller, part buddy heist and part romance. How in the heck did that all come together?

Hopefully with success : )  I tried to make the plot and the characters as interesting and relatable as possible. As I wrote the basic storyline--the industrial extortion and romance--I kept coming up with conflicts to make things difficult for Liv. Can't have things too easy, can we? The hard part was getting those threads to mesh. It was both fun and frustrating. 

What is your next writing project?

A second book set on Nevarro is at my agent's office, waiting to go on submission. It's a m/f with Sterling, from Rulebreaker, and a former drug addict. Though it's the same world and a secondary character, the book is stand alone. I recently started book three, another f/f. Can't reveal much about it yet, other than there's another "bad girl" involved ; )

Thanks for being here, Cathy!

Thanks so much for having me, Bella!

Read an excerpt from Rulebreaker 

   Liv and her bank robbing partner, Cal, are at the sheriff’s office after their hit is thwarted by another gang. A gang that included her ex. Here, Liv is being interviewed as a witness.

   “Here’s your water, Miss Braxton.” Sheriff Nathan Sterling set the heavy glass tumbler in front of me and resumed his seat on the other side of the table. He wasn’t particularly tall, only a dozen centis over my 167. But his dark uniform with its shiny badge, his broad shoulders and erect posture made him seem bigger.
   “Thank you,” I said and took a sip of tepid water.
   We sat in the windowless, overheated interview room of the Milchner sheriff’s station. Like most of Milchner—and Nevarro, for that matter—the room and the station had seen better days. Peeling paint and rickety furniture proclaimed the sheriff department’s lack of budget.
   Sterling shuffled through a few sheets of synth paper on the table. Paper. I swallowed a chuckle with another sip. No handhelds in sight, and the bulky System Interface terminals in the main office were about a decade behind the rest of civilization. How did they chase down criminals? With a posse on horseback? Just as long as they didn’t go in for lynching, I’d be fine.
   A thin scar running across his forehead blended with frown lines as he read my statement. “You went into the bank to withdraw some cash.” His blue eyes met mine. “Your ID says you’re from Pembroke. What’s your business in our little burg?”
   Cal and I had worked out details well beforehand. “My friend and I were taking a weekend trip. We needed a room.”
   That was a lie, but the fleabag hotel we’d scoped out only took hard money, not credit vouchers or weepy promises. Though the guy behind the desk was scary enough that he probably would’ve taken a kidney or small child as payment. The trade in both was rampant on some worlds.
Sterling quirked a dark blond brow at me. “You were gonna stay at the Milchner Arms?”
   I gave him a weary smile. “It’s the only hotel in town. We’re tired and poor.”
This part was true, hence our plan to rob the bank.
He held my gaze for a moment. As he stared, his right eye drifted, shifting its focus to the wall. Artificial organ. And a cheap one at that, if it couldn’t hold position. If the Milchner constabulary couldn’t afford decent furniture, why was I surprised its sheriff received second-rate eye replacement?
   The sheriff rubbed the corner of his eye, setting it back into place before nodding. “All right. Tell me what happened.”
   Despite the fact he had my full statement right in front of his baby blues—at least the colors matched—the lawman wanted to see if there were any discrepancies in my story. To see if I’d left out any details of the robbery, which I hadn’t. Or was lying about anything, which I was, but he’d never know it. Lawmen were suspicious types; “trust no one” was their mantra. I could relate.
   I cleared my throat. “Cal and I had come in to get some cash. It was getting late, and the bank was about to close.” Classic time for a hit. The robbers knew it. Sterling probably knew it. But I sure as hell wasn’t going to admit I knew it.      “Before we got up to the teller’s cage, these three guys in black burst in, hit the guard and pointed guns at us. They told us to lay on the floor, and we did.”
   My hands clenched on the table. Sterling probably thought it was a reaction to the frightening situation I’d been through. Actually it was from being torqued that our plans had been thwarted. Again. The idea of switching careers had crossed my mind more than once since this afternoon.
   “What about the teller and the manager?” he asked.
   “One of the men yelled to them to come out from behind the cage. I guess they did. I couldn’t see them, but I heard movement when the gunman told them to hurry up.”
   The reason the robbers needed both people still niggled at the back of my brain.
   He tapped on the table and rested his other hand against his face, two fingers pressed against the corner of his right eye. “One of the other witnesses says you were approached by a gunman. Want to tell me about that?”
   I shifted on the wooden chair. “It’s in my statement.” Mostly.
   “If you don’t mind, I’d like to hear it out loud, Miss Braxton.”
   Like the distraught victim I was supposed to be, I dropped my gaze to my hands encircling the tumbler and waited for him to prompt me again. I didn’t have to wait long.
   “I realize this is difficult for you,” he said in the lawman tone of sympathetic interrogation, “but we need your help if we’re gonna catch these guys.”
   That brought my eyes up to his. “Do you think you will?”
   I hoped I sounded more like a justice-seeking victim than a vengeful ex. But oh, to have Tonio and his new little gang tossed into a Colonial Correctional Mine for a dozen or so years would make my year. Teach the bastards for messing up my hit.

Get your copy of Rulebreaker here!

  Get to know Cathy better here!


  1. Oooh - Alan Dean Foster! I've got a number of his books - so much fun. Best of luck with book 2 (although I'm sure you've got it in the bag).

  2. Yeah, I love Foster. He can freak me out AND make me laugh : ) Thanks, KC, I hope book #2 gets some good news soon : )

  3. Looking forward to reading Book #2. Great interview!


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