(The Undergrounders Series, #1)
Publication date: December 16th 2015
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult
The earth’s core overheats. The sovereign leader vanishes. A young girl is the survivors’ only hope …
What little land is habitable is patrolled by cutthroat gangs of escaped subversives, but that’s not the greatest threat facing sixteen-year-old Derry Connelly, her brother Owen, and a ragged band of Preppers holed up in a bunker in the Sawtooth Mountains. Mysterious hoverships operated by clones are targeting adolescents for extraction.
Owen, is one of the first to disappear. To save him, Derry must strike a deal with the murderous subversives, and risk a daring raid to infiltrate the heart of the extraction operation.
But will the rookie leader falter when forced to choose between her brother and a clone who ignites something inside her she didn’t know was possible?
Someone gives a feeble clap. “Magnificent! A most rousing speech to rally the heathens, Mason!”
My feet fuse to the floor at the raspy voice that wafts into the room. Tucker strains at his collar. I yank him back, my heart pounding.
A shrunken man with an unnatural stoop steps into view. My skin crawls with a new level of fear. My gun’s in the Crematauto, along with the rest of the weapons. I fumble around in my pocket and latch onto my switchblade. A trickle of sweat runs down behind my ears. The man standing in the entry looks freakishly old and frail. Tucker could take him down in a heartbeat, but my brain sounds an inner caution. He probably didn’t come alone.
Before I even finish my thought, the doorway darkens and four armed men in black fatigues troop through. Big-shouldered, faces set like flint on necks thick as tree stumps. Schutz Clones! I tighten my grip on Tucker and command him to stay. One false move and he’ll end up another carcass waiting to be incinerated. He minds me, but tension radiates through his collar.
“Welcome to the Craniopolis,” the old man says. “My apologies for the modest welcoming committee, but your timing is most unfortunate. Everyone is at the unveiling of our new Hovermedes prototype.” His body shakes out a shallow breath, as he shuffles toward me. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Dr. Lyong.”
I slide my gaze in Mason’s direction. His face registers confusion. Then a flicker of recognition.
“What … happened to you?” he asks, in a half-whisper.
Dr. Lyong jerks to a stop in front of me and lets out a long, trembling sigh. It’s all I can do not to gag. His breath smells of decaying compost.
“Restructuring DNA proved more complex than I had hoped.” Dr. Lyong runs a finger under his beaked nose and waves it dismissively in Mason’s direction. The skin is stretched so tight over his hand I can see the grape-colored veins forking out beneath it. He barely looks human.
I can’t repress a shudder.
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Q&A with the Author
What is the hardest part about being a writer?
Treating it like a real job where you have to show up at a certain time and put in your hours on a daily basis. It’s all too easy to throw in a load of laundry, start answering emails and jump on Facebook, and before you know it half the morning has been swallowed up with trivial pursuits. Once you commit to the discipline of treating your writing time as sacred, you can make real progress in terms of the quality of your craft, and the quantity of writing you produce.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been fascinated by regimes and resistance movements, and the heroes who emerge from atrocities. I grew up reading every concentration camp escape story I could get my hands on. As an author, I find it intriguing to place characters in dystopian, post-apocalyptic or sci-fi settings and watch what unfurls inside them as they go head to head with staggering odds. After spending several summers in Idaho, and learning more about Preppers and survivalists, the idea to plant Derry Connolly in a bunker community of homesteaders and mountain men took seed and The Undergrounders Series was born.
How many hours per day do you spend writing?
I aim for about three hours of writing time, five days a week. I sometimes do some editing later in the day if I have extra time, but with three kids heading in different directions most days, it gets frantic!
Have you always enjoyed writing?
I grew up among rich storytelling traditions in my native Ireland and it was a natural transition for me to try my hand at writing. Irish legends are full of action, adventure, impossible missions, and unlikely heroes, and to this day nothing captivates me more than an epic story. Anything along the lines of The Hunger Games or The Divergent Series is always a must read for me, only because I’m endlessly fascinated by the capacity of heroic individuals to rise above tyranny and change the course of history. As a child, I was always reading or scribbling something, and I have a stack of poems, stories and half-finished projects that document some of the big picture ideas I was wrestling with even back then.
How did you choose the title?
There are three books in the series and the titles track the internal growth of the main protagonist Derry Connolly. Immurement is the state of being entombed or confined in an enclosed space. At the outset of book one Derry is trapped in her own self-doubt and insecurity. The bunker symbolizes the prison she yearns to break out of in order to find her place and calling in a world with no rule book.
Embattlement is the state of being engaged in battle or conflict. As well as describing the obvious physical struggle against the Sweepers, the title symbolizes the “civil war” of sorts that wages inside Derry as she rises up against everything that has held her back.
Adjudegment is the act of imposing judgement. Derry discovers a lot of harsh truths about leadership during her journey, not the least of which is that every great leader must discern when to seek reconciliation and when to pursue retribution. Internally, Derry must evaluate her own moral imperfections and the darkness lurking in her own heart.
Best piece of advice for writers trying to break in?
If you are certain writing is where your passion and strengths intersect, don’t take your eyes off the goal. Put your shoulder to the wheel and throw your whole heart into mastering the craft, and taking incremental steps toward publication. Dogged persistence will get you there in the end, and the talent you have honed along the way will be your staying power.
Any more books planned for the series?
For now, it remains a trilogy, but if my readers clamor for more, I might just hear their cry above the din of new characters in my head begging to catapult onto the page!
About the Author
Norma Hinkens grew up among vibrant storytelling traditions in her native Ireland. A Celtic bard at heart, she wields her wordsmithing sword with as much wit and eloquence as a bard can muster. She’s a legend-loving author who takes a fiendish delight in pushing reluctant characters over cliffs to find out what they’re made of. Epic odds, seemingly impossible missions, pasts that haunt, intrigue and misadventure. She’s happiest when wrangling provocative big picture ideas that are never black and white when you turn them inside out. It’s all about the tension in the journey. She lived and worked in Germany for several years, and currently resides in California with her husband, three children and Chihuahua extraordinaire. She is the author of The Undergrounders Series, Immurement, Embattlement and Adjudgement, a Young Adult post-apocalyptic, sci-fi adventure trilogy.
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