Genres: Science Fiction
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If you awoke to find that humankind had been annihilated, could you survive?
John's dreams have crumbled. A global corporation, CRYO, kidnapped him, froze him and sent him to the future, only to fade into history as he slept. Now, John and his podmates are in a new and strange world that's far from anything they've ever known.
With a strange creature having cut their already dwindled numbers, the fight for survival has begun. There's already discontent amongst the small group of survivors. And, as John heads out into the unknown with a small splinter group, there's just one question; what will he find?
Interview With Author Geoffrey Wakeling
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Hi Michael, firstly, thanks for hosting me today! It’s a pleasure to be here.
So, CRYO: A Changed World follows on from the adventures of CRYO: Rise of the Immortals. In the first book, John wins an elusive lotto ticket onto the CRYO program; a corporation funded scheme to cryonically freeze 50 people and send them half a century into the future. Lies are spun, emotions run high and it soon becomes obvious that nothing is as simple as it first seems…even for John, who’s always dreamed of heading into the future and away from his bipolar mother!
In A Changed World, John and his ‘podmates’ start to explore a new Earth, and find it’s dramatically changed. There are enemies both outside and within the small group of humans who are struggling to survive on a planet which is vastly different to how they left it.
What makes your book unique?
Firstly, I wanted to make the cryonic process painful. I don’t know about you, but most people waking up from ‘hypersleep’ or similar seem far too bright and breezy for my liking. The only real case of pain I noted was in The Matrix…but then it wasn’t really a case of waking from cryonics. If every molecule in your body has been frozen for decades, when life’s breathed back into you, I’d imagine it’s excruciating (in my world, anyway).
I think my world building is also pretty unique. Though it’s futuristic, I’ve tried to create a reality which could very well occur. I’m a zoologist by education, so I’ve paid close attention to the environments and creatures I’ve created. I think it not only adds to the story, but allows the novel to flow along more seamlessly. I’ve developed a world that creates imagery in readers heads so they can, hopefully, be enthralled by this new world.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
My first inspiration was when I saw a giant crane demolishing my old block of flats. It looked like a dinosaur, but I had no room to put such a creature into my fantasy series, Inside Evil. Instead, I created an alien animal to place in a new book…which became CRYO. As I mentioned above, I also wanted to include the pain of cryonics. Once I had those ideas, my mind went a little mad!
Is there any message you want readers to get from reading the book?
I’m a conservationist by nature, and an animal nut. I’m the weirdo guy that stops and lifts a worm from the pavement back onto the grassy verge. Certainly in the first book, there’s some care given to suggesting the need to conserve the planet and hold back on too much genetic dabbling.
How long did it take to write the book?
A Changed World took about 3/4 months to get just right. There were a few changes made to the original manuscript to get the novel flowing better, but mostly I was having so much fun with world and alien creation, that it wrote itself.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
I have a soft spot for Kuunya; an alien that John and his comrades come across in the first third of this book. She was never actually conceived until my fingers started tapping, but there must have been a nugget of her in my mind somewhere because over the course of writing, she became a main player. I like her development through the book, and she’s a vital link between John and Earth’s new residents. The character who’s the most fun to write is Agnes, mostly because she’s vile. She’s power hungry, manipulative and sickeningly disloyal – but she’s great fun to write.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
When it comes to writing, I’m a total pantster; that is, I write on the fly. However, that’s normally after a story’s been ruminating in my mind for at least several weeks, and normally a couple of months. There were several unexpected directions, the creation of Kuunya for one. The diplomatic struggle between species also took me by surprise, but it’s really added to the story and made the whole world far richer as a result.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
I’d spend more time with Agnes. In the first novel, the band of humans was a lot larger and Agnes played a bigger role. Here, she was only a side character. However, as long as she lives, she’ll be a thorn in John’s side so there’s more to enjoy from her!
How did you come up with the cover?
I had a general idea, but it was largely up to my cover artist, Keith Draws. He drew together all the elements I wanted. I try not to be too specific, particularly with faces, as I like readers to create their own character images rather than take what’s given to them on a cover.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written, though I didn’t always know I wanted to actually a writer. Before that, it was a farmer, zookeeper and/or vet. I’d quite like to still be all of those, actually! But writing is something I CAN do (the others might have to wait, for now….).
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
It was some terrible story about our family’s guinea pigs – but I was 7 or 8, so I can be let off. My first foray in publishing was with my Inside Evil series and the first book, Inside Evil.
What is your favorite genre, and why?
It has to be science fiction. I’ve grown up with it, with my folks watching Star Trek and Dr Who. I love scifi films and television to a point of utter geekism. Writing in the genre is extremely fun, though I try and put my own spin on things so I’m not simply regurgitating the same story in a different format.
Are there any books you are absolutely inspired by?
I LOVED and still love the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley-Robinson. The detail is incredible, almost as if you’re reading a historical novel – yet it’s in the future. It’s like reading back about the colonisation of Mars after it happened. I try not to read too much in my own genres because I’m worried of subconsciously taking ideas.
What are you working on next?
At the moment I’m writing the fifth and final book of the Inside Evil series. Then it’s back to CRYO with book three and some short stories about the main podmates. You don’t get to know most of the people until after they’ve thawed from freezing, so I want to explore what they did before. Just how did Anne and her wife elude the Seattle officials to set up their own veg plot? What was Franz up to when he worked in the medical shipping lanes, and why is Agnes so horrible?!
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Sit down and write. I know, that doesn’t seem very helpful. But you can’t send out query letters or start self publishing unless you actually have a manuscript. Gone are the days when you can make it big on a single book; it’s about having a backlist of work for fans to read. So, the sooner you start, the better you’ll be.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
Luckily I’m a self-employed gardener and writer, so I work from home most of the time. My husband works odd shifts, so we always get time together when most people are at work. So far, finding time to write hasn’t been restricted by family, just by other things like getting sidetracked by Buzzfeed or talking on Twitter for WAY too long!
Excerpt from A Changed World – Chapter 13
Anne held out the feathers in her hands and the creature quickly reached out and closed Anne’s fingers around the items, pushing them back towards her.
“You’re sure?” Anne asked, the delight clearly spreading across her face. The creature looked at the table and began to pick up other feathers and beads, pushing them towards Anne in an attempt to get her to take more. After a moment, the shopkeeper stood back and surveyed Anne, taking particular interest in the small tufts of hair that were beginning to hang down. Then, it shook its head and retrieved some of the goods it had given her. It said a few quick and happy-sounding words, and disappeared into the shop. John heard continued babble, before its head popped through the opening with a puzzled look. It reached out for Anne’s arm and drew her through the doorway, with John and the others quickly following.
As John entered the shop, he saw the blue illuminations he’d become so used to were absent. In their place, small brightly coloured globes hung from the ceiling as if a vibrant and fluorescent galaxy of planets was shining bright light into the world. He stooped so as to avoid becoming entangled in them. Whilst the cavern provided ample room, the height of the small shop certainly wasn’t meant for humans. Across the room, the small, thin creature was burbling excitedly towards Anne, picking various glass boxes off the counter and holding them up to her face. As John neared, he saw that each of the tiny translucent containers held tiny plants; a splash of vivid green moss, a rosette of purplish fronded foliage, a cluster of beige leaves with a stem that held minuscule circular-shaped flowers.
“I think she wants you to have one,” John said as the creature began to chatter excitedly upon holding up a small box containing a violet flower. He had no idea whether it was a woman or not, but his mind was already categorising the smaller creatures as females and the larger, muscled ones, such as the guards, as male.
“Do you think I should?” Anne beamed, looking around to John with almost as much excited anticipation as the shopkeeper seemed to have.
“What are they?” John asked
“I think these are the plants they have on their skin.”
“In that case, hell yes you need to get one.”
In fact, John would quite happily have one himself. There was a particular clump of evergreen moss with yellowish flower stalks that he was imagining being etched into his shoulder.
Anne nodded at the shopkeeper, who instantly ushered Anne over to a small foamy seat at the back of the small shop. The female creature pushed her hand into the wall and withdrew a small box from the gel matrix, popping it open to reveal a thin metal instrument that looked like a pair of tweezers but with extremely sharp and pointed ends. Turning her attention to Anne, she put a finger to her own face, pointing towards a spot just above the brow and indicating where it might look best.
“What do you think?” Anne asked, turning towards John, Viktor and Amity.
“Maybe towards the corner of your eyebrow,” Viktor said, creeping up to sit by her side. Anne pointed to the place on her face and the shopkeeper nodded in understanding. With her long and dexterous fingers, she slipped the lid off the small box, before carefully using the tweezers to pluck out the thin white stem of the violet flower. John saw there was a miniscule root on the end of it, and the alien woman carefully rotated the plant so the root was perfectly in line with the tip of the tweezers. Reaching back behind her, she pressed her hand into the wall again and, this time, withdrew a small pot. She dipped the root of the plant into the pot before replacing the container back into the wall. Then, as she raised the tiny plant towards Anne’s face, she allowed her slender fingers to grip Anne’s jaw tightly so that, if Anne winced, her mobility was as restrained as possible. It only took an instant for the tweezers to puncture the skin above Anne’s eyebrow, and before John knew it, the creature was withdrawing the tool, leaving the single stalk in place.
“How does it look?” Anne said.
“Amazing,” Amity beamed, and John was sure that she too was now desperate to have her faced swathed in flowers. As Anne moved her head, the small violet flower floated up and down on its single thread-like stalk.
The woman began to babble again, and she pulled Anne to her feet before dragging her over to the wall. A quick swipe upon a panel and a mirror flashed into life, allowing Anne to get the first look at her latest adornment.
“I love it,” she gasped, smiling and touching the edges of the petal with extreme care.
“It doesn’t hurt a bit. You should all get them,” she added.
“Perhaps not a flower,” Viktor said, leaning in and kissing her. “I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that.”
“I saw some moss and lichen over here, Viktor. We could have a swirl added to our necks.”
John turned towards the table, intent on not missing out, only to realise that several large and lean looking aliens were now standing in the doorway. They were framed by the light of the cavern and filled the entire arch of the entrance, looking displeased. One strode in angrily and began to shout aggressively towards the shopkeeper, who was quickly defended by Anne. She pushed herself between the two, and despite the angry individual pushing its head back and forth to try and pick on the shopkeeper behind, Anne stood her ground. It seemed to stop any argument that might’ve been brewing, but the newcomers wasted no time in ushering the four humans out of the shop and back onto the promenade. John took a fleeting look at the small container holding his moss. He’d have to wait for another moment to embrace this new and weird way of life.