J C Steel


Award-winning sci-fi author, intermittent martial artist, smart-ass. You're not here to read about me, you're here to read my books.

Smashwords Interview

Why do you write?
My favourite facetious answer to this one is that writing is what my subconscious does when my conscious life bores its pants off. Truthfully, I’ve told myself stories pretty much as long as I can remember. Even books I liked and read until the covers fell off always lacked a little something, so I would retell parts of them to myself. Eventually, I found that my own stories filled all those gaps, and by that time it was far too late to stop writing.
What's your main character like?
My main character is a unit commander in a mercenary cult. She’s survived the attentions of the worst her society has to offer, including her own commanders. She’s had portions of her memory blocked, and she doesn’t know why, or what she may have lost. She has allies, and enemies, in places that neither her command nor her commanders know about, and she trusts no one absolutely, including herself.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find J C Steel online

Where to buy in print


The Cortii are mercenaries, for hire to anyone who can afford their services. Every government uses them; no single government can destroy them.
Through the Hostage
Price: $2.99 USD.
Fighting Shadows
Price: $2.99 USD.
Elemental Affinity
Price: $2.99 USD.
Elemental Conflict
Price: $2.99 USD.


Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 28,730. Language: British English. Published: March 30, 2019 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Irin Seviki, breeder of exotic pets for the rich, couldn't care less about genetic identity politics. However, when his influential father makes contact with him, he's forced to make some decisions...
Death is for the Living
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 82,800. Language: British English. Published: December 26, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Urban, Fiction » Horror » Undead
Most people think that vampires are a curse of the Old World, but before modern borders divided the lands around it, the Caribbean Sea was better known as the Spanish Main...and only a small group of vampire hunters keeps the occasional disappearance from becoming an epidemic.
Elemental Conflict
Series: Cortii. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 88,460. Language: English. Published: December 2, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
After a decade in the Cortii, her independence is one of the few things mercenary commander Khyria Ilan still values, but when she finds herself caught in the coils of an alien prophecy, independence is only one of the stakes in the game.
Elemental Affinity
Series: Cortii. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 89,410. Language: British English. Published: September 10, 2016 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
The Cortii are mercenaries, for hire to anyone who can afford their services. Every government uses them; no single government can destroy them. A newly discovered world. An opportunity for the Cortiian rebels. And a mission for Wildcat Cortia...
Fighting Shadows
Series: Cortii. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 96,040. Language: British English. Published: July 1, 2016 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
(4.00 from 1 review)
The Cortii are mercenaries, for hire to anyone who can afford their services. From their beginnings in humanoid pre-history, they have grown and colonised to span every galaxy. Every government uses them; no single government can destroy them.
Through the Hostage
Series: Cortii. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 98,700. Language: British English. Published: April 2, 2016 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
(3.00 from 1 review)
The Cortii are mercenaries, for hire to anyone who can afford their services. From their beginnings in humanoid pre-history, they have grown and colonised to span every galaxy. Every government uses them; no single government can destroy them.

Smashwords book reviews by J C Steel

  • The Watch on Feb. 06, 2016

    The Watch, by Amanda Witt, is set in a closed community under constant surveillance, where walls provide protection from the things that are rumoured to haunt the surrounding woods. Red, so-called for her flaming red hair, is the maverick in a society of martinets, the only child born during the time of the ashes, the only person on the island with that distinctive shade of hair, and she is both watched and shunned because of it. Red’s existence is precarious, and her penchant for breaking rules with her charismatic friend Meritt makes it more so. It isn’t until a dangerous brush with the Wardens that Red becomes increasingly aware that it isn’t just her existence that’s precarious... Amada Witt offers an action-packed story in The Watch, fast-paced and with rags and tags of buried history drawn unexpectedly from dark corners as the plot progresses, building a fascinating dual picture of a highly-regimented society underlaid by foundations that are crumbling into the abyss at an ever-increasing rate. Red, the wild card, is a strong protagonist, the unknowns in her background drawing the reader on page by page in the quest to discover more. This book offers a wealth of adventure, mystery, and plot twists that will draw you in and surprise you right through to the final paragraph.
  • TROJAN: Nefra Contact on Feb. 28, 2016

    Brian Henry Dingle’s Trojan: Nefra Contact is a first contact story with a twist, between a pair of Nefra convicts and a UNSA team exploring a very new moon that appeared out of nowhere in Jupiter orbit. Mer, a Nefra whose intellect and desire to learn are in direct conflict with the worker class he was born into, has been imprisoned and sentenced to death by hard labour along with his friend Elper, far from the planet of his origin, for having exhibited the ability to read. Major James Edward Garth, of the UNSA, is about to have an unusual experience with the Law of Gravity, and these events will completely alter both their lives. Trojan: Nefra Contact is a well-conceived science-fiction / adventure story, featuring some unique characters and strong plot twists. In some areas, the author’s depth of research on the scientific aspects has a tendency to take over the storyline, but overall, the story holds together despite the point of view slips into the omniscient. The suspense and action are well-paced, and the interaction between the characters offers welcome leavening to the book, along with well-set descriptions of space and the basic mechanics of moving and working in a space suit. Definitely a good read for readers of science-fiction or adventure.
  • Trojan: Hollow Moon of Jupiter on May 15, 2016

    Trojan: Hollow Moon of Jupiter follows chronologically from Trojan: Nefra Contact. Humanity has colonised Trojan to ensure that the Nefra can never use it as a beach head to invade Earth. Despite the social unease, and the myriad incorrect theories flying about the Nefra, there are a number of Nefra living among the colonists, mostly working in the armed forces and law enforcement. However, something is mysteriously killing street people, a fact that doesn’t attract much attention until one of the victims doesn’t end up dead – and turns out to be the brother of one of Trojan’s most notorious crime bosses. Brian Dingle’s characters form the strong point of this book, from the seminarian-turned-crook to the sunny-natured Nefra policewoman who helps to break the string of murders, and the world-building is detailed and convincing. The main points of philosophy are told, rather than shown, which is a shame as they’re good points, but the overall story will gain the reader’s sympathy despite that, with good action scenes and dialogue. The science behind Trojan is also refreshingly well integrated into the plot, placing the story firmly as a science-fiction crime thriller, rather than a crime thriller where the characters happen to have spaceships rather than taxis. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys sci-fi.
  • How to Get Arrested (The Starsboro Chronicles Book One) on June 17, 2016

    Zurik D’Vordi, monster slayer, is the hero of The Starsboro Chronicles: How to Get Arrested. Grandson of the richest man in the state of North Carolina, Zurik’s ancestry makes him uniquely qualified to hunt and kill the creatures that would otherwise prey on humanity – ghouls, fey, and anything else that goes bump in the night. Rooting out a fey nest preying on young women in the small town of Starsboro, however, gets unexpectedly complicated when Morgan Benson, the only woman in the local PD, turns out to have no idea what ‘back off’ means, and an even shakier grasp of self-preservation. How to Get Arrested is a light read, entertaining and fast-moving, its dialogue flecked with idiomatic American dialect that lends it an air of authenticity. Zurik and Morgan make an entertaining partnership, his arrogance striking sparks from her professional suspicions of him at every turn. Overall, I felt this novella would have benefited from a thorough copy-edit, as the technical issues were omnipresent enough to call my attention out of the story on a frequent basis, but the plot and the characters were sound enough to net it three stars despite that. I’ll definitely be watching for more Cameron J Quinn books – this was a good urban fantasy story, well worth the read. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • Capering on Glass Bridges (The Hawk of Stone Duology, Book 1) on July 04, 2016

    Capering on Glass Bridges is a heartwarming YA fantasy, told from the point of view of Kaia, the middle daughter of the respectable Stone family. Kaia’s strict father and loving but flaky mother create a solidly familiar framework for the reader, allowing the author to build her fantasy from a base her audience will immediately recognise. It also provides a good contrast with Kaia’s uniqueness; alone of her family, she hasn’t paired with a canonipom, the physical alter ego that all her people have. I found that the underlying plot for the book was well-conceived, but the clues in the story line are in places introduced from nowhere (for example, we find out why Kaia is so different a good third of the way into the book, more or less completely unheralded, and it’s a doozy). Also, the book’s overwhelming focus on character emotions did occasionally detract from the adventure for me, and while the secondary characters play to friendly and familiar themes, some of them would have benefited from some quirk or oddity to help them avoid being easily stereotyped. All that said, the world-building is highly imaginative, and the fantasy elements are unique and well done, especially the various races that feature in the story, leading me to say it definitely earned its three stars. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • Apophis on Aug. 10, 2016

    Faced with an extinction-sized asteroid, code-named Apophis, on a collision course for Earth, the USA has tried missions to divert the rock, and failed. In a last-ditch attempt to save the human race, scientists create two separate genetic groups: one, Group A, intended to tolerate the cryogenic process and be frozen through the decades following impact, and the other, Group B, designed to deal well in low-oxygen environments, who will be sent to colonise Mars. However, the adaptation of Group B, while successful on the physical level, results in sociopathic tendencies that may, eventually, pose as much risk to humanity as the asteroid... Apophis offers an interesting take on the catastrophic-impact scenario, where an impact event actually comes close to wiping out the human species. The psychological contrasts between the two experimental groups offers the reader food for thought, and while this book is clearly leading on to at least one more, the story is well-written and stands on its own merits, although the reaction of the mass population once the news of the inevitable disaster is leaked is surprisingly understated. I found that Caron Rider's characters were the chief strength of this story, their fears, conflicts, and histories adding a lot of depth to the book. Certainly a worth-while read!
  • Fly On The Wall: Fairy Tales From A Misanthropic Universe, Vol. I on Aug. 23, 2016

    Fly on the Wall: Fairy Tales from a Misanthropic Universe is a collection of short stories showcasing the kind of dark twists and bloody morality that evoke Martial's epigrams and the Grimm fairy tales, with sets that often wouldn't look out of place in a Tarantino movie. The writing of the stories pulls in similar dramatic contrasts. While one will read very much like a classic fairy tale, the next can come across as slasher horror, to the point that I found that the author's technical versatility in this aspect was one of the most interesting points of the collection. Alfy Dade's themes, running from a page to several thousand words, range from inevitability to consent, the point often coming from a completely unexpected angle to make the reader think and rethink. While short story is a type of writing I almost never read, I still found several of these made for compelling reading, playing as they do on fatal weaknesses, broken minds, and unifying the book with the realisation that, in the end, everyone's struggles end the same way. The book is starkly depressing, technically brilliant, and certainly worth exploring for anyone looking for food for thought and a no-punches-pulled view of society.
  • Náidin's Song: Blood Bound on Dec. 30, 2016

    Naidin and his twin brother are supposed to be on a supervised journey, making ready for their adulthood. However, a flooded river put paid to that plan, and they found themselves in a human enclave, unescorted and with members of their own people trying to have them exiled – the permanent way. When Naidin’s brother is assassinated, and a pure-blood elf comes into town who he finds entirely too drawn to, Naidin decides to make a break for his people’s settlement, regardless of the risks. J’nae Rae Spano’s Naidin’s Song: Blood Bound is a fast-paced young adult fantasy novella, offering elements of a rich background story and a well-developed main character. This was one of the few novellas I’ve read recently that felt as if it was constrained by the length; some aspects of the plot were introduced a little abruptly, and I felt that the background merited more development in context to support the characters’ interactions, but the basic story was strong and compelling. Some of Ariena’s reactions seemed a little odd for a being out of her own time by a substantial amount, but Naidin’s mourning for his brother was particularly well-written, and the adventure segment, overall, held together nicely and kept my interest throughout. Definitely a story worth the read; short, suspenseful, and with hints of more to come.
  • Playing with Fire on July 06, 2017

    Playing With Fire is an urban fantasy set in the underground world of international crime, where the top operators use magic to augment their more mundane skills. Renée Devereaux is a professional thief, flying about as far under the radar as she can. Sam ‘Stone’ Anders is a hitman for hire. When they meet on a job in Russia, the fact that the job requires both of their diverse skill sets turns out to not even be the strangest thing about it, and it takes all Renee’s magic with stealth and Stone’s destructive Talent with fire for them both to escape with their hides intact. Nearly twenty years later, when a chance to take out the man who set them up in Russia comes their way, they’re both more than ready to accept the challenge... Renée and Stone make for interesting protagonists; they initially come across as the French chick and the all-American hero, but they develop into much stronger, more original presences in the story, adding their own unique quirks. While all the characters are written very much in the present, the interactions are really one of the high points in the book, especially once the secondary characters are introduced. There are plenty of hints of more back story to be uncovered, and as this is the first in a series, it’s not much of a stretch to assume that details will be forthcoming as the series unfolds. Rook, Grace, and Medium make a quality supporting cast. I felt that there were areas where the tension could potentially have been made a little more of; Renée and Stone are written as highly competent, and in places, it made it hard to worry too much about their long-term well-being. The magic structure has some particularly nice touches, realistically written and with enough downsides to make it plausible, and it added an excellent thread of ‘power corrupts’ to the overall plot. The book was also editorially solid, which I always appreciate. Taken all in all, this is a very enjoyable story, a strong series-starter – I look forwards to seeing what authors Cris and Clare Meyers do with the next couple of books.