Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn't be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go...UP THE TOWER.
themes I return to again and again in my stories
One theme that is pretty consistent in my work so far is family. I find family absolutely fascinating because it basically decides everything you're going to be from a very young age.
For myself, I think I would have turned out as a much different, much worse sort of person if I hadn’t grown up in a loving, supporting environment. I think there are tons of people who don’t need that kind of environment to be awesome, but I am decidedly not one of them. By nature, I just have this huge list of flaws that can make me a pain: I’ve got a hell of a temper, I’m prone to resentment, I’m argumentative, and I’m stubborn. And let’s just say those are all things I can pretty reasonably trace down the genealogy line. But, because of my family, I also know how to apologize; I know my problems are my problems and not something to foist upon other people; I know how to see other people’s viewpoints; and, I know how to admit when I’m wrong.
So a lot of my characters are sort of spin-offs of myself with just different family backgrounds. Ward in DUST BOWL is a pretty accurate summation of what I would have been like without a family to back me. He’s lonely and feels abandoned, and is completely alcoholic, and with a loss for anywhere to turn, he joins an apocalyptic cult. Clay from THE RED COUNTRY TRILOGY is sort of what I imagine myself becoming if I ever went back to drinking and grew up another twenty years or so. Basically decent and very intelligent, but flawed all the way through and unable to cope with the presence of other people’s needs in his life.
But not all my characters come from that place. In my latest book, UP THE TOWER, it’s still very family-oriented in terms of theme, but not really any of the characters have much to do with me. I felt like a lot of my fiction was becoming about moving away from family, and so I wanted to write something where people were trying to drift back toward it. So the main thrust of Ore’s quest in the book is to find her boy-genius brother, Samson.
Samson’s main thrust for his whole life, pretty much, was to enhance the safety of the man who became his father figure. Unfortunately, his father figure is a gang lord, and so by doing this, Samson has created this immensely powerful bad person, which is sort of an allegory for the ways in which we can give the father figures in our lives too much power over ourselves.
Victor is a really interesting character in this vein because he’s a clone, and has never had any family. The nature of his clone-dom is that he's been killed and brought back to life a lot of times, so his brain isn't firing in all the ways it's supposed to be. When he's presented with the presence of Ana, who reminds him of his mother, he goes sort of crazy even though he's been designed to be this ultra-smooth secret operative.
All told, I think family is a great source for looking at what makes us tick.
An Excerpt from the Book
Samson ignored the jeer, focusing carefully on opening the box. He was twelve years old and he did not want to screw this up; being twelve was important, and people took the things you did seriously so long as you did them well.
“Smellson, hey!” The Crowboy banged his crowbar on the dusty ruins of the factory line where they had set up the six crates from their haul that morning. “Don’t blow us up, okay? I don’t want to die with your stench clogging me up, yeah?”
Again, Samson ignored the other boy, trying to concentrate as he eased his longtool through the gap in the crate before him. He very well could blow himself up; he could blow them all up. Inside the GuaranTech crate he tinkered with was a copbot.
Copbots blew up all the time. If their main processors or power source were damaged, they blew up. If they were being captured, they blew up. If they ran out of ammo and couldn’t refill within about ten minutes, they blew up. When they blew up, they incinerated everything in about a hundred foot radius. The warehouse was not big enough for the Crowboys to keep their distance and still work in the role of protection as they had been hired. So they were in the blast zone as well as Samson.
The copbots, deactivated, were precious and valuable. Strangely, they were valuable precisely because they were so hard to deactivate. A copbot was made almost entirely out of self-healing nanotech, and with enough time, it could repair from almost any wound to its metal shell. So, to keep this sort of power out of the hands of the gangster conglomerate that ran Junktown, the Five Faces, and any other sort of competitor, the copbots had a very liberal self-destruct mechanism.
This is what Samson worked against.
The author will be awarding a backlist ebook copy to a randomly drawn winner at every stop during the tour and a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour.
Angela Shelley, herself.
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