I am really excited about what’s coming up next for me! After so many years writing fantasy, I needed a bit of a departure, and I’ve been really keen on the Dystopian scene, so that’s where I decided to depart to. My next series is a YA/NA Dystopian trilogy titled The Breeder Cycle, and book one, BREEDER, comes out later this year. It was a bit of a challenge for me to see if I could write Dystopian at all, especially as I’ve written it in an entirely different voice and perspective than The Gateway Chronicles, but if my editors and beta readers are any judges at all, I think I have transitioned successfully.
I got the inspiration to write BREEDER from a series of articles I read concerning radical population control methods being proposed today ⎯ things along the lines of how Nazi Germany used to operate. The very notion of modern scientists even considering these vile practices for use on the human race repulsed me so much that I was able to quickly conceive of a fictional futuristic society in which these practices had been put into place, and I knew I had to write the story about it, or it would eat me up inside until I did. But because the primary function of fiction is entertainment, obviously I had a lot of story elements to flesh out to make such weighty material palatable to a young audience, and that’s what I spent the last couple years planning. With a little science fiction flare, plenty of action and romance, and a mystery intended to keep the readers guessing, I think I’ve written a story that is both entertaining and instructive.
The Breeder Cycle will be told in three installments, and the first book focuses largely on an 18-year-old girl named Pria who is, at the start of the story, a part of the breeding program on which her society rests. She is ignorant of the dark underbelly of her world, however, and it takes a rogue Enforcer named Pax to rescue her from the darkness she didn’t even know existed. BREEDER follows Pax and Pria as they seek the truth in a world gone mad, and it plumbs the depths of Pria’s strength in the face of great adversity.
Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from BREEDER:
I careen around the corner of the first branching, Pax’s words echoing in my brain. Why would they kill me? They wouldn’t kill me. I’m a Breeder!
Pax is running behind me, his slapping footsteps urging me forward. I can’t think like this. I have to stop.
I plant my feet and skid to a halt. Pax lets out an exhalation of surprise as he slams into me. I stumble forward, but years of dance and exercise pay off as I nimbly stay on my feet and swing around to face him. “Tell me what’s going on,” I say. “Why did you say they were going to kill me?”
“Because they were. I’ve been tailing them all day, and I heard their orders come through clear as day. ‘Terminate B-Seventeen. She’s asking too many questions.’ I followed them when they came back with you. I just saved your life.”
I ask too many questions? I know curiosity is frowned upon, but would they really kill me for it? This doesn’t make sense. “Who gave the order?” I ask in a whisper, narrowing my eyes.
“Who do you think?”
Mother. I close my eyes. “No. She wouldn’t. I don’t believe you.”
I think of the conversation I just had with her. Of her cool assessment of the death of the girl. Of her assurances of our place in the animal kingdom. But Mother loves me! Doesn’t she? I clench my jaw and hold back tears, giving Pax a blazing look. Why must he plant these doubts?
“If she wants me dead,” I say, “why hasn’t she given the order before now?”
“Because they hoped they could get you under control. Breeders are valuable commodities, after all—difficult to replace. But now . . .” He shakes his head, and I could almost scream with the frustration of not being able to read his expression.
“Now you know what they are capable of.” He lowers his head and his voice. “Your response was exactly what they were looking for, exactly what they can’t allow.”
“What . . . with the girl?” I swallow hard, trying to push the images away. I close my eyes. “They didn’t have anything to do with that. As Mother said, it was already too late.”
Pax steps closer, his visor hovering just in front of my face. “But would she have done anything about it, even if she could have?” he whispers.
I study his visor, my stomach sinking because I know the answer. “No,” I say.
He steps back and holds out his hand to me. “Then why are you still here? You know in your heart it’s wrong, and that’s what separates you from the others.”
“But I don’t get it. This is a place of life.”
“It is a place of death, and you’ll never know the truth if you don’t come with me now.”
I ball my fists and look away, becoming slowly aware of a muffled pounding that can be coming only from the Protectors locked in the meditation chamber down the hall.
Pax gives an exasperated sigh and asks, “Do you need proof?” He reaches toward my head and I flinch, thinking he’s going to strike me, but instead he grabs a tablet from a slot beside the door I’m leaning against. He keys it on and taps in something that makes it come to life. I don’t have time to wonder how he knows the access codes before he turns the screen toward me and points to a line of glowing green script. “There. Read it for yourself.”
I look at it for only a moment. “I can’t read,” I say.
For the first time, Pax falters. He tilts his head in a jerky motion, clearly surprised, and says, “What?”
The pounding at the end of the hall grows louder, and I can now hear muffled voices. Pax looks over his shoulder. “Fine, here . . .” He taps rapidly, and then says, “Computer, play back last transmission, volume low.”
As clear as day, Mother’s automated voice comes through the tablet. “Terminate B-Seventeen. She’s asking too many questions.”
My breath leaves me in a rush, and I slump against the door at my back. “It . . . can’t . . .” I press my hands to my mouth and take deep, bracing breaths. I will not cry. I will not cry.
Pax replaces the tablet in its holder and says in a low voice, “Do you believe me now?”
I nod. How could I not? “But I don’t want to leave Sanctuary,” I whisper, my voice hitching. “It’s my home.”
“You must leave,” he says.
I shake my head, terror like I’ve never known coursing through me, seizing me and making me clench my chattering teeth.
Pax’s tone drops another notch as he asks, “Don’t you want to be free? Let me save you. Please, Pria.”
My eyes fly wide and I look at him, my heart slamming in my chest. “How do you know that name? Did I tell it to you?”
“I know a lot more than that, but you’ll never know how if you don’t come with me.” He holds out his hand again. “The Program got one thing right—you are very special. Too special to die. Please.”
Slowly, as though my arm weighs fifty pounds, I reach for his outstretched hand. When our fingers touch, he envelops my hand and squeezes it. This touch, this single touch, even though he’s wearing a glove and I cannot feel his skin, is treason to the Unified World Order because I did it on purpose. I am a Breeder, physically set apart for the propagation of a more perfect human race. Touching a man is forbidden to me by law. But until now, I’d never had the opportunity.
Holding his hand marks the end of my life, but somehow, it feels like the beginning.
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