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Cassandra Chandler Wants a Parcel

 

Every once in a while, as a writer, I create something that I love so much that I desperately wish it was real. I don’t think I’ve ever felt it as strongly as with a certain little furball in Rate of Return. 

I want a parcel. 

Payback, the parcel from the same Lyrian homeworld as Craig and Barbara, is quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever come up with. Parcels look a lot like sugar gliders with featherlike antennae—and six arms. They’re soft, fluffy, and change color depending on their mood. They’re very expressive in other ways, too, making cute squeaking sounds that sound almost like they’re making conversation. 

Payback’s name really suits his mischievous nature and bold personality. As a bonus, it made the scene where the hero is trying to explain what the adorable, fuzzy creature is an absolute blast to write. Between his species name (a parcel) and his individual name (Payback), I had room to come up with some really fun dialogue between the main characters. Misunderstandings between Earthlings and aliens is one of the cornerstones of The Department of Homeworld Security, and one of my favorite things to write. 

It was an adventure in and of itself to come up with this little dickens and imagine what he’d be like. I gave him six limbs, like the other beings from Lyra that we’ve met so far in the series. All those arms help parcels burrow into their Lyrian owner’s fur—not to stay warm, but to stay close and yet out of the way. They also use their gliding ability to quickly distance themselves from their Lyrians when needed—which is pretty often, given how much Lyrians love to tussle. 

Payback isn’t just a cutie—he’s a pivotal character in the action of Rate of Return, and I can’t wait to see more of him in future books! 

Excerpt:  

cover artMovement from the top of the cabinets was her only warning that the little guy had decided to join them. He spread his limbs—all six of them—stretching the skin that connected them and glided down to land on the wolf’s side. 

The tiny creature was only letting out little squeaks now, so she kept up with the soothing talk. He also started changing color, oscillating between red and yellow. 

“It really is okay,” she said. “I’m only trying to help.” 

The color-changing critter settled into a pale pink color, paws burrowing into the wolf’s pelt. He poked his head up, staring at her with huge, black-and-pink eyes. 

“You are just adorable,” she said. “Which I hope isn’t an insult.” 

She dared to reach out and gently run her fingertip over his head. He blinked a few times, making a quizzical noise, then closed his eyes and started to sort of purr. 

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Perilously yours,

Pauline

 

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