During the day, traveling on the road is usually safe enough, but at night…too many things lurk in the dark.
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I’d like to offer a huge welcome Alec Nortan, author of the YA dystopian novel, The Gaia Protocol. Read the excerpt, the guest post about how Alec developed this story idea, and be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ebook of your choice from Nine Star Press.
Title: The Gaia Protocol
Author: Alec Nortan
Publisher: NineStar Press – SunFire Imprint
Release Date: February 6th
Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Genre: Romance, Young Adult, Dystopian future; enemies to lovers; gods; mythical creatures
Long ago, the Gods came back to earth and banished all science from Earth. When Prome finds an amulet in the ruins of an ancient city, he doesn’t expect it to take him and his friend Malia on a quest to discover the long forgotten secret of the Technologists, to meet someone who awakens feelings of love in him, nor to defy the Gods themselves.
The Gaia Protocol
Alec Nortan © 2017
All Rights Reserved
I’m crouching behind the wall of a half-collapsed building. I usually don’t taunt the Fates like this, but my hiding place seems safer than the arrows of my pursuers.
I hear footsteps outside. I take a peek, just long enough to see a dozen hoplites marching down the street, their bows at the ready. They’re scanning, surrounding, searching. As they come nearer, my heart beats faster. I flatten myself on the ground. If I could sink into it, I would, but the only thing sinking is a painfully sharp stone into my ribs.
The Goddess Tyche has blessed me with her luck: I hear them move away at a brisk pace.
When I’m sure they’re far enough away, I sit, propping myself against the wall in a more comfortable position. I massage my ribs to ease the pain. Only then do I muster the courage to look at my leg. It’s still shuddering from the electric arrow, but luckily, the arrow missed, only grazing the flesh. Had the arrow really hit me, I would already be dead. I know how it works. I’ve seen it before.
A few years ago, during a search, a Technologist hiding in our village tried to run away. The hoplite shot him in the arm. The man jerked but kept running. He snatched the arrow out of his limp arm. The hoplite then shot several arrows as fast as he could without even aiming. The arrows flew, veering toward the Technologist midflight. None missed.
Though the arrow missed me, it still hurts like hell, from both the wound and the aftereffects of the jolt. I take off my neckerchief and improvise a bandage to stop the bleeding.
Why did the legion attack me? Scavenging in the old city isn’t forbidden.
I used to come here as a child and climb inside the deserted skyscrapers, looking for objects to trade on the market. Today, I’ve found some kind of amulet. It’s a small, flat, metallic rectangle with geometric signs on it. It’s probably not worth a bowl of soup, but it looks nice. I’ve put a leather string through a small hole and kept it around my neck to offer to Malia. She’ll like it.
I look at the sky. The sun is already halfway down the horizon. I have to move if I want to make it home before nightfall. My leg doesn’t feel much better. I take a tentative step and wince at the pain. I won’t be able to run, but I can walk.
Walking back should usually take me a couple of hours, but not today. I have to move carefully between the buildings, hiding at suspect sounds, checking for movement in every direction before crossing a road. Two hours walking only brings me to the outskirts of what used to be a great city. Here, the last remnants of houses are swallowed by the first trees of the forest.
“Fuck!” My outburst sends a few scared birds flying away. It has taken me far too long. The sun is already sinking behind the highest ruins. Now I really have to hurry, despite my leg.
I scrutinize the nearby trees. I don’t see anything moving. I walk to them and find a broken bough to use as a crutch. I come back swiftly to the safety of the road.
During the day, traveling on the road is usually safe enough. But the forest… Only parties of adults enter it. Sometimes, one goes in alone. And sometimes, they don’t come back.
During the night, forest or road, no one goes out. Too many things lurk in the dark.
☆ Purchase Links
NineStar Press: http://ninestarpress.com/product/the-gaia-protocol/
☆ Exclusive Guest Post
Quite often, a single word or object triggers an idea. For instance, I’m talking with someone about DIY activities, the person says something about a twisted nail, and for no reason, I think of a story based on a magical twisted nail. I immediately have the general outline of the story or at least enough elements to start a new story. Don’t ask me how I do that, I have no idea. Perhaps two loose screws in my mind touching at the right time?
For the Gaia Protocol, it was a bit different, though. I had been thinking about writing a Y.A. dystopian story for a while, but had no real idea for a story. It took me months, thinking about it every now and then, and analyzing what I needed: dystopian meant something had gone wrong. No technology. That’s a start. Why is there no more technologies? There I used the old church vs science cliché which gave me a good answer, but one I had to un-cliché. I’ve always loved Greek mythology, so I decided to use them. At least I already knew enough about them to start writing without having to do long research.
From then on, details kept coming over the following weeks. What if the Gods were real and had come back—physically I mean—to oppress humanity? The rough outline of the story began taking shape. Once I got a precise enough idea of what the story was going to be, I began writing.
The first problem I met was “when do I start the story?” Should I start before the Gods come back? When they come back? When my hero arrives? I tested several possibilities and kept the one that felt more natural to me. I started when Prome first gets into trouble. I would always have time to give more background info in the book, especially as some aspects still weren’t definite. As I kept writing, details naturally came into the story that made me understand the world better. For instance, almost at the beginning, Prome is pursued by a soldier in the forest (which I had already decided was a dangerous place) when a giant boar attacks them. Prome is the only one to survive the fight. No biggie, except that the boar never attacked Prome directly. Later on, he and Malia, fleeing their city meet a harpy. This time, Prome gets attacked. They meet several other monsters, and suddenly I notice something. Some monsters attack them, others don’t. This wasn’t something I had planned; it kind of appeared on its own. Instead of re-writing whole parts of the story, I just asked myself why is that?
I thought long about that question, until I found the answer. Hence came the difference between beasts that are more or less existing animals, and monsters which are nothing you’d find visiting a zoo. With that new fact, the world became more detailed. I slightly changed a few scenes to fit this new element better, to ad explanations or introduce a new subplot.
This is how I’ve built the world, discovering new details at the same time my heroes did.
When I write, I also introduce details that seem to be, when I write them, unimportant, but that I later used for the plot or to describe the way everything works.
As for the CERN, the idea to include it into my story comes from the end-of-the-world stories that we heard a few months ago. I’ve had the opportunity a few years ago to visit it (I was even lucky enough to see the inside of the collider). Let me tell you, it really is impressive. I also had all the scientific explanations by one of the technicians working there who explained everything in understandable words. To make it very simple, a particle goes around a huge circle one way, accelerating to a speed close to that of light, and another one does the same the other way. When both speeds are high enough, they collide, exploding into particles that are detected by a zillion captors. Scientists then analyze the results to try to discover new particles. The pictures rendering the collisions are quite nice, though the only thing I could ever make of them is look at the pretty shapes and colors. But unlike what we read on the internet, or what we see in some films, there is no way a black hole or a catastrophic explosion can happen.
For the sake of my story, I had to take a few liberties with the real thing. I had to create one in the USA where there is none. I also had to make the “pipe” of the collider smaller, and it had to open. As for the results, they are completely imaginary. But this is fiction after all, and what science will be able to achieve in the future?
☆ Meet the Author
Alec Nortan is a French social services worker. Though he learned English at school, he chooses this language to write in. His works are gay-related fictions, varying from young adult, science fiction or fantasy adventure, to romance.
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