Anyone who’s followed my Facebook Author Page in recent weeks is aware that I’ve been working really hard to finish A Bone to Pick, the second novel in the XK9 “Bones” Trilogy. I went on a writing retreat August 23-26, and made huge strides–but I still haven’t quite finished yet. My goal was to finish by September 1, and I’m so close! But still working. 

The new book starts right after What’s Bred in the Bone ends. Rex, Shady, and the Pack are back, along with all their friends and allies. But the new book also focuses on Rex’s partner Charlie’s struggles–and the answer to the question, “What is Charlie’s role?”

I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that Charlie received traumatic injuries in a space dock accident, directly followed by the “explosive micro-deconstruction” of the spaceship Izgubil, near the beginning of  What’s Bred in the BoneHe was out of the picture, in the hospital, during most of Rex’s adventures in the first book.

There's no room for Rex's hospitalized partner in this excursion to the "Five-Ten" for Rex and Shiv in "What's Bred in the Bone."
Rex’s normal partner, Charlie Morgan, couldn’t play much of a role in What’s Bred in the Bone. He was gravely injured, and in the hospital. Occasionally, by necessity, Rex teamed up with Lead Special Agent Shiva “Shiv” Shimon,  as seen in this detail from the cover art, © 2019 by Jody A. Lee

Although some reviewers have been puzzled or annoyed that he wasn’t a big factor in the first book, his absence was the catalyst for a lot of Rex’s growth. Rex couldn’t stand back and let Charlie handle things, because Charlie wasn’t there. Rex had to step up and handle things on his own.

But now Charlie’s out of re-gen, awake, and recovering. What is Charlie’s role? Has Rex moved on? Is Charlie now irrelevant? Bringing Charlie’s story into the ongoing mystery has given me a chance to explore issues such as post-traumatic stressdepression, and the healing power of having animals (including sapient ones) and supportive humans in one’s life. These are issues that are not only relevant to Charlie and the story–they’re relevant to many contemporary lives.

What is Charlie's role? Now that he's on the mend, does Rex's partner have a role in his life?
An early concept image of Charlie and Rex, by artist Jeff Porter.

Originally conceived as a single book, the Izgubil mystery won’t fully unfold until the end of the third XK9 “Bones” book, Bone of Contention. But I hope readers will discover a full story arc and an interesting tale in A Bone to Pick. Publication date is scheduled for next May, from Weird Sisters Publishing LLC.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Jody A. Lee, my cover artist for What’s Bred in the Boneand to Jeff Porter (better known for his game illustrations), for the developmental image of Rex and Charlie. You both have been a pleasure to work with!