Sandpaper Kiss is a novel by Angel Wedge, a science fiction/fantasy tale about animal-human hybrids, government conspiracies, romance, and searching for the truth.
Mark Jenner is a journalist, working for a small, unnamed magazine company. When enlisted by his politician brother to investigate the case of a world-renowned scientist, Professor Conrad Faulkner, allegedly kidnapping his now-dead daughter and disappearing, Mark discovers a lab hidden deep in the jungle, where strange hybrid creatures are being created and experimented on. Meanwhile, one of the hybrids seems to have some connection to Faulkner's daughter...
The book was originally available through a crowdfunder, but is now on Amazon. http://hyperurl.co/sandpaperkiss .
Sandpaper Kiss contains examples of:
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Sante Benedicté is not a real city, and it's never mentioned which part of the world it's in, though given the dense jungle and presence of natives and tribesmen, and their customs and beliefs, a likely candidate would be Central or South America.
- Big Bad: Though most of the characters in this story are just as "good" or "evil" as normal people are, Barishkov is probably the likeliest candidate for this trope. Until it turns out he's actually The Dragon to Paul Jenner.
- Bilingual Bonus: Lucy's Mandarin Chinese is often untranslated in direct speech, though it's usually explained or implied in context what she's saying. Nurse Chǎ also inserts random Mandarin words into her speech, such as calling Lucy 'kitten' before we know she's the catgirl.
- Bullet Time: Happens when Mark gets shot at, though it's actually just his perspective rather than something that's actually happening.
- Cat Girl: Lucy. The whole story is basically a deconstruction of the Cat Girl trope, as Lucy was created in an illegal hybridisation experiment, and is a hybrid of a human girl and a white tiger. As a result, she suffers from disabilities thanks to her awkward, cat/human anatomy, such as not being able to speak English properly (her lips aren't as flexible and can't produce the right sounds).
- Cloning Gambit: Invoked when Lucretia considers Lucy to be her successor/replacement.
- Conlang: Two - the tribal language, and the Benedictean language spoken by the natives. Random terms from either language are inserted here and there into the story, usually (but not always) with a description of what they mean (though there is a glossary included at the back).
- Deadpan Snarker: Mark has shades of this, both in dialogue and in narration.
- Foreshadowing: Mark's narration in chapter 1 has him saying "While I dont know if my future family would involve babies or kittens crawling around our feet, thats all in the hands of genetics, and you cant fight nature." He ends up with Cat Girl Lucy by the end of the story.
- Chapter 1 also has him narrating "One false move, just upsetting the wrong natives, and this jungle could rain spears or bullets, neither of which would be significantly slowed by a veritable wall of foliage." He later ends up getting shot at, with a tree getting in between him and the bullet - though, as he foreshadowed, it didn't help much.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Nurse Chǎ, who taught Lucy to speak Chinese, often inserts random Chinese words into her otherwise-English dialogue.
- Guinea Pig Family: Dr Faulkner experimented on both his wife and daughter. His unfortunate death resisting arrest gives the press ample opportunity to demonise him for this. If they'd been able to ask why, there could have been a happy ending before the book started.
- Husky Russkie: Though Barishkov apparently comes from Arstotzka, he is mentioned as speaking with a heavy Russian accent.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Paul, Mark's brother, pronounces his last name (Jenner) in a very distinctive way. When a foreign solder greets Mark with the correct pronunciation of his last name, it tips him off that his brother is involved with the country's military in some way.
- Marcos pronounces his name like "Mars-sauce", rather than "Mar-kohs" as one might expect.
- The Man Behind the Man: Paul Jenner.
- Noodle Incident: Mark mentions his first visit to Tehran in chapter 5, but nothing is mentioned about it besides the fact that it was "a farce" and apparently something really bad happened to him there.
- One Steve Limit: Mark teams up with a native called Marcos, whose name is basically a Spanish-esque version of Mark. Mark even mentions this in his narration, though the pronunciation is somewhat different.
- Scary Black Man: Uvi probably comes closest to this trope.
- Stealth Pun: When Mark gets hit by a stray bullet, everything seems to go into super-slow-motion. In other words, Bullet Time.
- Title Drop: "'Kitty,' I whispered one day as she tended my injuries with her gentle sandpaper kiss."
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A recurring debate in the story, and something Mark himself constantly battles with. It's often mentioned that public opinion on the hybrids is divided between "these are intelligent creatures and should have the same basic rights as humans" and "these are monsters and should be killed" (and others besides).
- What You Are in the Dark: Mark catches himself referring to the creatures as "monsters" while cornered by one in the jungle, despite expressing the belief that they should be treated like humans.
- Whole Plot Reference: To The Island of Doctor Moreau.