Almost a year ago, while my husband and I were driving to a friend’s house, he told me about a story he’d read in the Portland Mercury. According to the article, fifty years from now much of the United States will be devastated by climate change. The Pacific Northwest will remain relatively unchanged in comparison, which will result in an influx of climate refugees.
The first thing that sprang to mind upon hearing this was a similar rush of immigrants to Oregon in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and what Governor Tom McCall said in response. “We want you to visit our State of Excitement often. Come again and again. But for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.” This quote was often misrepresented as, “Welcome to Oregon. Now go home,” something I myself believed at the time.
“That sounds like a great set up for a dystopian YA novel,” I said. Within minutes, I had the basic premise outlined. The Pacific Northwest, disgruntled over the population boom, secedes from the United States to form its own country with a closed border. Wealthy Americans want to buy their way in, so poor people begin disappearing off the streets. Naturally, I needed a romantic aspect, but I wanted to give it a twist. I decided my protagonist would be a girl whose family had disappeared, and the love interest would be the boy whose family had displaced hers.
Over the coming weeks, the idea grew to include an existing political movement to form a bioregion called Cascadia, Portland’s MLS soccer team and its rowdy band fans, the Timbers Army, and a rock star-turned-activist who becomes the first president of the new nation. My husband, friends, and fellow writers supplied me with myriad excellent ideas and educated me about the subjects of history, politics, computer science, medicine, and soccer.
Several writers I know have been experimenting with serialized stories, and this idea seemed perfect for that venue. I envision it much like a season of a television series. Each short episode gives you part of the story, with the entire plot-line playing out over a nine book “season.”
After months of work and research, I’m happy to announce that The McCall Initiative, Episode 1.1: Deception is now available. I plan to release the rest of the series at six-week intervals. Each episode will be between 50 and 70 pages long (though episode 2 stubbornly decided it needed to be about 90) or about 15,000 to 25,000 words. I’ve already got additional ideas for a second season. One thing to note is that this series is only going to be available in ebook form.
I realize this is quite a departure from the books of my readers are used to, but I have a little secret to reveal. You guys don’t read my stories because they’re about racing. You read them because of the characters and relationships and emotional connection. Even though The McCall Initiative is a dystopian story set fifty years in the future when the cars drive themselves, I think you’ll enjoy it. Besides the price is right. Each episode is only $1.99.
The climate change that’s devastated all but the Northwest corner of the U.S. has been around since before Piper Hall was born. She doesn’t spend much time thinking about it, the secession that created Cascadia, or the closed border, erected to keep out climate refugees. All she wants is to get through high school and earn a medical degree so she can pull her family out of poverty. Piper’s sure her little brother’s stories about poor people vanishing are just rumors—until she comes home to an empty house. Losing her future, her family, and her freedom and forced into hiding, Piper has to find a way to get to the bottom of the disappearances. But the only one who can help might be the very boy whose family has displaced her own.