Spotlight: A Pride of Lions by Mark Iles

Today on Out of Control Characters, we welcome fellow Solstice Publishing author, Mark Iles. He's talking about his latest release, A Pride of Lions, and how you can get it free.

Mark works for Southampton University, and also as a freelance writer. His short stories have been published in Back Brain Recluse, DreamNew Moon, Auguries, HauntsKalkion, Screaming Dreams, and the anthologies Right To Fight, Escape Velocity and Monk Punk. With an 8th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo he’s also written non-fiction for Combat, Taekwondo & Korean Martial Arts, Fighters, Junk, Martial Arts Illustrated, and

His first full length work was ‘Kwak’s Competition Taekwondo’, and he also has a short story collection entitled ‘Distant Shores’. ‘A Pride of Lions’ is the first in ‘The Darkening Stars’ series. Having written features and fiction for over 30 years Mark applied to do an MA in Professional Writing. ‘Pride’ had been bouncing around in his head for some time, and he seized the opportunity of the MA to produce this first novel as part of the course. Mark says it’s without doubt the best choice he’s ever made, as it really focused him, and that getting this novel accepted is the perfect conclusion to a wonderful experience. He’s now focusing on the second book in this series, ‘The Cull of Lions’.

A Pride of Lions will be offered free on Amazon Saturday, August 31, 2013 and Sunday September 1, 2013.

Get your copy of A Pride of Lions here:

When Selena Dillon is caught in an assassination attempt on her planets ruler, she finds herself sentenced to 25 years servitude in mankind’s most feared military force, the Penal Regiments. Much to her surprise she enjoys the harsh military life and is quickly selected for officer training.
But something’s wrong, worlds are falling silent. There’s no cry for help and no warning, just a sudden eerie silence. When a flotilla of ships is despatched to investigate they exit hyperspace to find themselves facing a massive alien armada. Outnumbered and outgunned the flotilla fight a rearguard action, allowing one of their number to slip away and warn mankind.
As worlds fall in battle, and man’s fleets are decimated, Selena is selected to lead a team of the Penal Regiments most battle-hardened veterans, in a last ditch attempt to destroy the aliens’ home world. If she fails then mankind is doomed. But little does Selena know what fate has in store for her, that one of her crew is a psychopathic killer and a second the husband of one of his victims.
Can she hold her team together, get them to their target and succeed in the attack? Selena knows that if she fails then there will be nothing at all left to go home to.

Mornings and late afternoons found them on strenuous physical training; which consisted of constant grid-sprints in the drill square with press-ups, sit-ups, burpees and V-sits. The trainees were made to run carrying other team members on their backs, huge wooden poles, or even stretchers with people or weights on them. They shimmied over canyons on single ropes and were taught to roll off the ropes and hang there by their hands, swinging back and forth, until they were told to regain their places and continue on. Once a troublesome recruit, too exhausted to get back on the ropes, simply hung there by his finger tips. The instructors took bets on how long he’d last and stood watching, laughing to themselves, until he could hold on no longer and disappeared with a long echoing scream into the shadowy depths of the canyon. Some days, they were fitted with harnesses and long ropes, that were then attached to vehicles which they had to drag until they couldn’t go on any further and collapsed into the dust while someone else took up their burdens and they were kicked to one side.
The corporals constantly screamed and shouted at them, running back and forth between their ranks and reporting to the short and stocky, bulldog-like sergeant, who paced back and forth, eying them as though they were his next meal.
Sometimes they just ran for what seemed like the hell of it, the distances gradually increasing, with Grunty and Bones driving them mercilessly and beating them with their batons if they slowed. They leapt over frightening drops to paths on the other side, over raging torrents that splashed constantly, making the places they landed slippery and treacherous, but to Selena’s surprise no one came to grief there.
After lunch they usually had weapon handling, unarmed combat or basic infantry theory and tactics. Each day invariably ended on one of the numerous assault courses followed by a long-distance run, more often than not with fully loaded backpacks and weapons. They were beasted and shouted at, driven mercilessly, until they no longer thought about what they did but simply did it like automatons. They got slimmer, fitter, quicker at all they did and found their disappearing fat turning to muscle.
After the first week, six had dropped out and had taken advantage of the alleged free tickets on offer to the mineral mines. There was much discussion on whether they actually got there or not, or whether they were simply spaced. But there was no evidence of this, it was simply rumour and they all knew better than to ask. One of their troop died of a heart attack. The instructors could have saved him but instead they just left him there to die in the frosted roadside. After all, Grunty said, what was the point? He might have been lucky enough to be sent to the mines, but it was unlikely he’d be any good there either – so it was more likely the death chamber for him. Whichever way you looked at it, he’d had it, and it was less hassle for everyone this way. He was dead, gone and forgotten. Another trainee had been left where he fell during a run, unconscious on the cold ice-covered ground. When they finished and gathered what little remaining strength they had, they went back for him, but his still and ice-dusted body said it all. Between them they carried their dead to the citadel’s furnace and threw them in without a word, slamming the heavy doors and watching through viewports as their friends were consumed by the flames. It was like looking into the very depths of Hell.

Here’s where you can find Mark on the web:

Want more of Mark Iles' work: Check out these links:

Thanks for stopping by, Mark Iles!