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About the author:
L. Salt is a multi-genre author from the United Kingdom. She studied History of World Culture and earned her Master’s Degree in Art Expertise at the St. Petersburg University of Culture and Arts. Born in Belarus, she lived for many years in Ukraine and Russia and, eventually, settled in the North of England, where she currently lives with her husband. Salt’s interest in writing dates back to her teenage years. Apart from creative writing, she has a passion for traveling, arts, history, and foreign languages.
Her debut novella, His Personal Reich was released in April 2018 by Crazy Ink Publishing. It will also be featured in the boxed set Chills and Thrills in May 2019. Her second novella, a thriller/mystery story Legacy of the Iron Eagle, released in February 2019. She is the author of the Off the Ways Series including The Ways We Follow (Book One) and Angels of Zion (Book Two). Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including the Crazy Ink Publishing anthologies Royal Scoundrels and Beyond Wonderland, as well as magazines, both online, and in print.
What inspired you to write your book?
Angels of Zion is a sci-fi/romantic suspense story. It’s a second book of Off The Ways duology. Its prequel, The Ways We Follow, was published in June, and Angels of Zion follows it.
The Ways We Follow is a romantic suspense/urban drama with the plot set in the near future in St. Petersburg (Russia). It is inspired by my life in Russian second largest city. Although the story is 100% fictional and its plot set in the future, I want to show how real Russia looks like, destroying all clishes some people associate with this country. The Ways We Follow is a story of Laura Danco, a young talented designer and her best friends who are searching for their ways of life, love, and freedom in the hash reality of the totalitarian society.
Angels of Zion, with the plot set in St. Petersburg and Israel, follows Laura Danco and her friends’ adventures. This time, Laura’s best friends, Dr. Isaac Ridenberg and Miri Shtelman, are in the centre of the story. Isaac is in charge of the top secret project Angels of Zion. The main purpose being to create an army of ultimate soldiers—the kainomorphs—the clones whose physical abilities and strength exceeds humans.
When the whole project goes out of control, Isaac and Miri need to go back to St. Petersburg to find the rogue kainomorph and to save their friends.
My inspiration behind Angels of Zion is my interest in Judaism and culture of Israel. I was always fascinated by the Holy Land and its long and dramatic history. I’ve been learning Hebrew for a short period of six months before I moved to the UK. I want to visit this amazing country one day.
Here is a short sample from the book:
‘How did your visit go?’ Isaac was quick to find out what happened as soon as everybody had gathered in the living room.
‘The house is massive, the garden is a dreamscape, Denis’s new boyfriend looks like an angel from an ancient Byzantine icon,’ Chris started sarcastically. ‘Laura has been absolutely mesmerized.’ She nodded to her friend. ‘Haven’t you, darling?’
‘I’m very happy for Mr. Osipov, but it’s not what I want to hear.’ Isaac grimaced. ‘At least, my long prologue may justify Laura’s actions.’ With that said, she turned to Laura who almost choked on her tea. Isaac shot her an anxious look, but Miri touched his sleeve, preventing a new wave of aggression. Laura bowed her head and told them everything that had happened. ‘I don’t want to believe death is the only option,’ she added at the end. ‘Besides, Denis wouldn’t have agreed to help us if we hadn’t given him an option for survival.’ ‘I’ve provided you with the spy program; I’ve done everything I could. I thought you would be more inventive and make him help us without involving me.’ Isaac only frowned. ‘There are about one hundred members of the scheme. Most likely, all of them take Kainolirium,’ Laura protested. ‘There must be something that could save them.’ ‘Even if we could treat Kainolirium side effects, it may take years. I don’t know how much time these people have. I don’t have enough information, enough resources, here in St. Petersburg. All these patients should go to Israel, only there could we potentially treat them.’
A call on Laura’s Surface interrupted his explanations.
‘Oh, it’s Andreas,’ she mumbled. ‘Sorry, guys. I really need to take this call.’ The next moment, she disappeared behind the glass door of Daniel’s study. ‘Who’s Andreas?’ Isaac asked. ‘Andreas Polanskiy is Daniel’s older brother.’ Chris shrugged, as if it should’ve been a well-known fact. ‘He lives in Moscow but, according to Laura, the two brothers are very close.’ ‘What else do you know about him?’ Miri swallowed her drink nervously. ‘Nothing much. He’s much older than Daniel and has no kids, so I think he’s a bit worried now why Daniel hasn’t contacted him for so long. He’s a bit overprotective. Or I’ve been told so by Laura. By the way, why don’t you want to ask her yourself?’ ‘It seems we don’t need to,’ Isaac replied instead. ‘Miri, it looks like we’ve found our client.’ ‘A client?’ ‘Of course.’ Miri nodded. ‘Sibling love is sacrificial. They wouldn’t hesitate to break the law to save each other. They wouldn’t hesitate to break everybody. Would they, Chris?’
A taxi dropped Miri at the entrance of a sushi-bar, where a group of her former colleagues had been waiting for her. She had been promising them a night out for three days; it felt a bit impolite to postpone it any longer. She offered Isaac to come with her, but he refused. He left in the car alone, one on one with a gloomy driver and his own even gloomier thoughts.
Ah, the fridge must be completely empty. Neon billboards of endless restaurants and cafes dragged him back to reality. He asked the driver to stop a couple of blocks away from the flat, at a Czech restaurant. He decided the taste of thick goulash with fulfilling dumplings and soft Czech beer might comfort, if not his mind, at least his belly in this damp night. When he entered the spacious hall of Zlata Praha1, there were almost no guests. The staff had already started to clean tables and remove cutlery. He realized it was too late for a proper dinner, and decided to order take-away instead. He nodded to a bartender, asking for a drink, and took a seat at a table in the far corner. He was looking through an electronic menu, making an order, when he noticed a lonely figure in the opposite corner, next to the bar. Tiny bohemian-style glass lampshades on the tables provided not enough light, but the man’s features seemed familiar to Isaac. He had definitely seen this long face and massive aquiline nose somewhere. Maybe he would’ve recognized the stranger, if he’d turned his full face to him, but he could see only half of it. His goulash, dumplings, and sausages had been ready surprisingly quickly, so he hurried to finish his pint and turned to the exit ready to leave, when somebody’s heavy hand tapped his shoulder. He turned around. ‘Good evening, Isaac.’ The stranger held out his hand for a handshake. ‘Do you recognize me?’ he spoke in perfect Hebrew. ‘God! Of course, Alexander Metzler.’ Isaac slapped his forehead. He had touched his palm slightly, but Alexander squeezed it so fiercely that
Isaac flinched. ‘Maybe you prefer to be called Eyal?’ Isaac squinted, lowering his voice. ‘You can call me whatever you wish.’ Eyal grinned. Isaac had never met the agent in person, but he saw him on numerous 3-D holograms with Chris. He remembered him being much skinnier and less muscular, though. ‘I can’t believe they’ve sent you here. I thought the agency would’ve hid you for another few years somewhere under a new name,’ he continued hesitantly. ‘I asked for this appointment myself.’ ‘Ah, I see.’ Isaac chuckled. ‘Have decided to kill two birds with one stone, have you? I can’t interfere in your and Chris’s business, but I think you played unfair. You’re a highly-skilled agent who’s performed your duties for years. Your bitter experience with your wife hasn’t taught you anything. I can’t believe you were so naïve, thinking the agency would’ve allowed you to hibernate in Paris for long enough to build a long-lasting relationship. You’ve framed this girl up.’ ‘I will talk to Chris. She will understand,’ Eyal interrupted him. ‘I’m not here only due to her, but…’ He leaned over the table and whispered. ‘I tracked him all over the Middle East, I followed him here, and I know where he is now.’ Isaac swallowed his emotions back and kept silent.
‘I arrived here to persuade you to return to Israel as soon as possible and to not interfere in this business anymore,’ the agent continued. ‘I have no idea who you’re talking about. I’m on vacation. I came to visit Miri’s mom, other relatives, and our mutual friends before our wedding,’ Isaac tried to sound as natural as possible. ‘The agency advises you to be extremely careful. With the summit being only a few days away, they’re concerned about all Israeli citizens
who live here in general, and such a highly-profiled specialist in particular.’ ‘How does my presence in the city connect to the summit and its security?’ ‘Well, if you watch or read the news from time to time, you probably know about a growing confrontation between the New Regime’s Leader and the city’s Imam. He called to sabotage the referendum, voted against the Regime, openly helped the Department’s troops during street riots, was very vocal in criticizing Lady Mayor, he accused her of receiving money for her campaign from the Jews, showed his disapproval of building new synagogues, and done much more. He has become suspiciously quiet just before our kainomorph arrived here.’ ‘I don’t believe that א 2-19 is so advanced. I mean…come on, man! The kainomorphs are too thick for revenge. Even if it’s true and he hides somewhere as far as St. Petersburg…’ Isaac realized it was too little, too late to deny his awareness about the case, but made an attempt to save the situation. ‘I think that somebody very advanced helps our א 2-19 . The current Imam is from Chechnya, and there are lots of the West Bank Allies sympathizers there. The agency doesn’t want to put both you and the summit in jeopardy.’ ‘Do Russians know about Imam’s connections to the West Bank Allies?’ ‘They may suspect something, but haven’t got enough evidence. We will draw their attention to it, if required. However, the kainomorph and your safety are my priorities.’ Isaac wanted to ask something else, but the mix of anxiety and confusion made him numb.
‘Your dinner is getting cold.’ Eyal smiled his crooked smile. ‘Let’s go. I’ll see you off home.’
Isaac turned to the doors slowly, and Eyal followed him, tapping his shoulder. Again this unbearable heaviness… He couldn’t be mistaken. Isaac lingered on a doorstep. ‘What’s up? Have you forgotten something?’ Eyal had to stop as well. ‘Ah, I’ve been here a couple of times, but noticed only today.’ Isaac nodded to a massive exquisite mural above the heavy wooden doors. ‘A nice copy of Gustav Klimt, isn’t it?’ ‘Oh, yeah. Very impressive.’ The agent nodded absently, staring at a lady in a white tunic and a richly decorated floral crown, a copy of the world famous “Spring” by Alphonse Mucha. Isaac’s heart dropped. He shot a look around—nobody. They were the last visitors in the restaurant. Even the bartender had disappeared somewhere in the kitchen. ‘Wait a second, mate.’ He turned to Eyal. ‘It seems like Czech beer insists on coming out. I’d rather do it here.’ Without waiting for a reply, he handed him a bag with his still hot take-away and hurried to the toilet. He came to a narrow window and opened it. Of course, the rear of the building led right out to the Neva River but he had no choice. He dialled Miri’s number— no answer. Heavy steps echoed from the floor’s tiles behind the toilet’s door. With his hands still shaking, Isaac managed to send Miri a short text. She’s a clever girl, she will understand. He calmed himself down, stepping on a wide windowsill ready to make a jump in the iced darkness of the river.
The next second, the toilet doors opened. Eyal moved like a cobra, dragging Isaac down from the windowsill to the floor. He fell down. He opened his mouth in a weak attempt to shout for help, but the agent’s palm silenced him. ‘I admire your intellect, Creator,’ the clone hissed in Isaac’s ear, pressing him harder. ‘But this time, your creations outshone you. Fire is