On to the countdown!
A blog about paranormal — and the first in a series of photo galleries!
Today I’m gonna answer an FAQ that’s been coming in with extra heavy”F” via email and my Facebook pages. This particular “frequently asked question” generally goes something like this:
“I’ve heard that BORN TO DARKNESS is the first book in a new paranormal series. I really love your TS books, but I’m a little concerned that this new series isn’t for me. What exactly do you mean by paranormal, because I don’t like (demons/monsters/vampires/fill in paranormal element here)?”
Good question, readers-of-mine.
Those of you who have read SHANE’S LAST STAND, my e-short-story featuring BtoD’s Navy SEAL hero, Shane Laughlin, have no doubt noticed that this prequel to BORN TO DARKNESS had absolutely zero paranormal components. Yes, the story contained some high tech hints confirming that the series is set a few decades in the future. But other than that, SLS is the tale of a pretty standard SEAL op clusterfuck, if you’ll pardon my military-speak.
So that’s a clue right there — that the world in which the Fighting Destiny series is set isn’t overrun by alien life forms or demons or vampires — not that there’s anything wrong with those types of paranormal tried-and-trues. It’s just not what I wanted to write about. (IMO, the whole vampire angle has been completely and beautifully handled by both Joss Whedon and JR Ward. With Buffy on the one hand, and the Brotherhood on the other, no other vamps are needed. Again, that’s IMO. But let’s not talk about what I’m NOT writing, let’s talk about what I AM writing. )
See, the idea for this new series had been cooking in the back of my head for quite a few years, ever since I first read that the average person uses only a limited portion of his or her brain at any given time. How much of our minds go unused or underutilized? We don’t really know. But what if we could learn to exercise the parts of our brains that allow us to learn languages or complex math at the snap of a finger. . . Or what if we could learn to, oh, say, use telekinesis to pull a weapon out of the hands of an assailant? (That could come in pretty handy!)
Telepathy, telekinesis, prescience . . . the ability to regenerate cells and heal an injury or cure an illness . . .
Those are the paranormal elements that I’ve included in this new series.
A few years ago, my seventy-something-year-old dad went in for a knee replacement, and before he had his surgery, he sat down with his doctor. And he told his doctor that he’d read this very interesting book about the best way to prepare for and recover from surgery. The doctor who’d written the book suggested that surgeons should only speak positively during the medical procedure – even though the patient was under anesthesia. (No “Oops.” No “Yikes.” No “uh-oh.” Instead, “This patient is going to be just fine!”) The author went on to say that in addition to that kind of subconscious reinforcement, patients could also learn to control their blood pressure and their pulse rates, and even speed along the healing process by working to regulate their blood flow. (This wasn’t just a “yah-rah-rah, think positively” approach, but rather a full-on take a deep breath and concentrate and get your body to work to heal itself angle.)
I was with my mom when my dad had the operation, and we were allowed back into the recovery area to see him shortly after he regained consciousness. As we were there, he was woozy, and all of his monitors were beeping loudly, and the nurse informed us all that he wouldn’t be moved for quite some time, because his vitals were all over the place. She told us to go have lunch, because it was going to be some hours yet before he’d be allowed to go to his hospital room.
We took about twenty minutes to eat – my mom didn’t want to be far from my dad for long, and when we came back upstairs, we expected to have a several-hours-long wait. But the nurse came out of the recovery room looking really surprised, and she told us that, much to her amazement, my dad was good to go to his room. Somehow, he’d stabilized remarkably quickly.
We went back to see him, and he was far less groggy this time. And he said something like, “Yeah, once I knew what they wanted, I was able to get it all under control.” Just like that doctor had said to do in that book.
It was remarkable – I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. And it really made me think. What if we could exercise our brains and learn to do far more than merely (merely! ) control our blood pressure and heart rate? What if we could learn – with intense training and monk-like devotion – to go as far as to regenerate cell growth and keep our bodies young and strong?
But what if only a very, very small group of people (called “Greater-Thans”) had the inherent ability, plus the drive, the stamina, and the knowledge to undergo the intense training to gain control of these super mental powers? And what if there was a science to this ability to exercise and strengthen one’s mental prowess — called “neural integration,” but it was ignored and rejected and believed to be “fringe” by the ruling classes and the powers that be?
That idea kicked around in my head for a few years until it collided with an idea that I had about this crazy youth-obsessed world in which we live. A world where money can buy everything except real youth, good health, and eternal life. We are willing have massive amounts of surgery to make us appear younger — because society makes it clear that youth equals beauty, and that aging is icky and to be avoided at all costs. Particularly for women.
So what if there was a drug – an illegal, black market street drug – that allowed users to access the parts of their brains that could regenerate cell growth? What if this drug allowed its users not just to cure their own stage four cancers, but to transform those who used it into completely healthy twenty-somethings, with decades of life ahead of them? (Chances are it would instantly be in demand, not merely by those people with fatal illnesses, but by twenty-five-year-old debutants who longed to look eighteen.)
But what if this drug was immediately addictive, expensive to the tune of $5000 a dose, and dangerous to boot? What if it didn’t work for everyone? What if, for most people, a single dose was enough to drive them dangerously, powerfully insane, granting them wildly fluctuating and out-of-control “super powers” that they were unable or unwilling to control? (That could be pretty scary.)
And what if the drug was made in basements and cellars and in clandestine makeshift labs across the country by an extremely cold-blooded group of criminals who knew a secret that most people never found out: That the drug, oxyclepta di-estraphen or “Destiny,” was made from enzymes found only in the blood of little girls – and that some little girls (potential Greater-Thans) had more of that enzyme than others, and those girls were called “fountains.” And they were hunted down, kidnapped, enslaved and often bled dry.
We currently live in a society where girls and women are undervalued and often discarded, cast aside, rejected — or treated as a commodity, as sex objects, as toys or candy. I thought it would be the ultimate irony if it turned out, in this futuristic world that I was creating, that little girls had the ultimate power. Of course, with that power comes the threat of being manipulated and used.
So those are the paranormal elements in the “Fighting Destiny” series. There are a small group of people, mostly scholarly and scientific types, called “Greater Thans,” who have a wide variety of “super powers” including telepathy, telekinesis, prescience, super strength, and the ability to heal quickly and easily.
Most of the world, including former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin, has never heard of neural integration or “Greater Thans” when he gets a job in a scientific research facility called the “Obermeyer Institute.”
He’s about to get the surprise of his life.
And now, a photo gallery!
But there’s a story here that needs telling first.
See, some months ago I got this nifty software so that I could put easily formatted photo galleries right here on my countdown pages. But in the course of using this software, I kinda exploded my website. Remember on day one of the countdown, how I didn’t get the countdown page up until after noon? Well, for about five hours that morning, I was busy organizing all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to un-Humpty-Dumpty my website.
Being a big fan of learning from my mistakes, and grabbing the phrase “Not gonna do THAT again” as my battle cry, I did a little brainstorming. It didn’t take me long to realize that Facebook has a really terrific setup for photo albums. And because you-my-readers don’t have to log in or belong to Facebook to see my photos, I quickly decided to create each of my BORN TO DARKNESS Project photo galleries on my Facebook page.
So without further ado, here is the link: Born to Darkness Photo Gallery
That’s today’s countdown.
Facebook users, pop over to my Suzanne Brockmann Facebook page to talk about today’s page!
Come back tomorrow to find out more about Shane Laughlin and Mac Mackenzie.