The End of Ordinary
by Edward Ashton
GENRE: Science Fiction
Drew Bergen is an Engineer. He builds living things, one gene at a time. He's also kind of a doofus. Six years after the Stupid War -- a bloody, inconclusive clash between the Engineered and the UnAltered -- that's a dangerous combination. Hannah is Drew's greatest project, modified in utero to be just a bit better at running than most humans. She’s also his daughter. Her plan for high school is simple: lay low and run fast. Unfortunately for Hannah, her cross-country team has other plans.
Jordan is just an ordinary Homo-Sap. But don’t let that fool you -- he’s also one of the richest kids at Briarwood, and even though there isn’t a single part of him that’s been engineered, someone has it out for him.
Drew thinks he’s working to develop a spiffy new strain of corn, but Hannah and her classmates disagree. They think he's cooking up the end of the world. When one of Drew's team members disappears, he begins to suspect that they might be right. Soon they're all in far over their heads, with corporate goons and government operatives hunting them, and millions of lives in the balance.
“So,” I said when I’d picked the last bit of rind out of my teeth. “What now?”
“Wait for death, I guess.”
“Huh,” I said. “I see where you’re going with that, but I was actually hoping you’d have some kind of last-minute escape plan to present now.”
“Yeah. If this were a vid, this is where you’d suggest a super-complicated scheme to get out of here. I’d say ‘that’s crazy!’ and you’d say ‘do we have a choice?’ and then we’d do it and it would work somehow and you would totally be my hero.”
He stared at me, downed the last of his bathtub water, and stared at me some more.
“So,” I said finally. “Do you, uh… have a plan?”
“No,” he said. “Unless ‘wait for death’ counts as a plan, I do not have one.”
I looked down at the lantern, and found myself wondering if the battery would give out before we did. A shiver ran from the base of my spine to the back of my neck and down again.
“Hannah?” Nathan said. “Are you, uh…”
“Am I what, Nathan?”
“Are you really gonna eat me?”
I stared at him.
He looked away.
“Well, yeah. I don’t mean now. Just… you know… eventually?”
I dropped my head into my hands.
“No, Nathan. I am not going to eat you.”
“Are you sure? I mean, you might have to, right?”
I stood up, and picked up the lantern.
“You are an odd duck, Nathan. I’m going for a run.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Edward Ashton lives with his adorably mopey dog, his inordinately patient wife, and a steadily diminishing number of daughters in Rochester, New York, where he studies new cancer therapies by day, and writes about the awful things his research may lead to by night. He is the author of Three Days in April, as well as several dozen short stories which have appeared in venues ranging from the newsletter of an Italian sausage company to Louisiana Literature and Escape Pod.
You can find him online at edwardashton.com.
Facebook: Edward Ashton Writing
Amazon Buy Link – The End of Ordinary: https://www.amazon.com/End-Ordinary-Novel-Edward-Ashton-ebook/dp/B01N7JTHB6/ref=asap_bc
Amazon Back List: Amazon Buy Link books: https://www.amazon.com/Edward-Ashton/e/B013MMTI1E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1494619770&sr=8-2-ent
Interview with Edward Ashton
1. What is your favorite part of this book and why?
The End of Ordinary was a fun book to write from top to bottom, but there are two scenes that really stand out for me. The first comes a little past the half-way point. Jordan Barnes, who’s basically a good noodle, but is also very much a child of privilege who’s managed to make it to eighteen without ever having had a bad thing happen to him, is trapped inside a burning house with a heavily armed lynch mob outside. Getting inside Jordan’s head as he realizes that his Midas touch has abandoned him was a challenge, and the scene itself has a fun mix of fear and funny that made it really roll off my fingertips. The second scene is closer to the end. I won’t go into it in too much detail to avoid spoilers, but it takes place in a juice bar, and includes both an extended reference to The Lorax and the term “chlamidius maximus.”
2. If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I love all my characters, but if I had to pick one of them to hang with, I think it would be Inchy. He’s an A.I. who enjoys long walks on the beach, classic films (Weekend at Bernie’s is a particular favorite) and re-animating cyborg corpses with friends. He’s handy to have around if you need to break into a secure server or avoid government surveillance, and he has a great (if sometimes cruel) sense of humor. Also, he pretty much saves the world in one of my other books. So, there’s that. As far as what we’d do together, I’d imagine it would involve some combination of cyborg re-animation and transferring massive amounts of cash from an evil trans-national corporation to our personal accounts. Good times.
3. If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Hmmm… that’s a tough question. The obvious choice would be something that sold a trillion copies and enabled me to buy a private island somewhere—but I generally don’t like those kinds of books very much. Also, I sunburn easily. Given that, I think I’ll go with Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut. I always enjoy Vonnegut’s dark humor, and this book is particularly unsparing in its skewering of militarism, upper-class toffs, and the concept of free will. Highly recommended.
4. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I never use real people in my writing whole-cloth, but I don’t think any writer’s characters come entirely from their imagination. In The End of Ordinary, Drew Bergen is a genetic engineer, and a former college runner who’s having some difficulty accepting the fact that his fourteen-year-old daughter is now faster than he is. I’m a cancer researcher, which is at least genetic engineering adjacent. I’m also a former college runner, and my fourteen-year-old daughter is definitely faster than I am. Drew’s wife bears at least a passing resemblance to a woman I knew in grad school, and Micah Jacobs (in my head, at least) looks a lot like one of my former teammates. That said, I totally made up all the villains, so nobody needs to sue me for libel.
5. What made you want to become a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I finished my first novel—written in longhand on two hundred pages of lined notebook paper—when I was twelve years old. The reviews were not great. My dad called it “hackneyed and derivative.” I still have the original manuscript in a lockbox in my closet, though. I submitted my first short story to a professional market when I was fourteen, and, after collecting a massive pile of rejection slips, made my first sale four years later. I haven’t looked back since.
I hope this was interesting. Thanks so much for hosting me. It was a lot of fun.
Edward will be awarding a 14 Ounce Nalgene—filled with candy corn! & 1 VeryFit Smart Band (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.