I like to think that there are certain constants in every world. Because writers are people too, and we all have to draw from our own experiences at some point in order to make what we write believable. That is not to say that my personal experience includes hand-to-hand combat with alien soldiers. Or aliens in any situation, combative or otherwise. It does mean, however, that there are certain truths that I think transcend genre. A good mystery novel may set the detective in a scene with the worlds slowest moving government paper pusher – maybe even the DMV – and that puts the reader firmly in the correct mindset. Because we have all been there, right? A romance novel might have that awkward moment where one person announces their feelings only to be met with strained silence, or that horribly apologetic, “Thank you?”. Ugh, a reader can’t help but feel for that character. And a sci-fi political action, or whatever the appropriate genre is for Barghest, has high school.
It doesn’t matter if it is a century and a half into the future and humanity has figured out faster-than-light travel, achieved world peace through interspecies war and oppressive government oversight, and figured out a way to make tofu into something that tastes like food instead of mushy cardboard. High school is a constant. It is a weird, uncomfortable, and at least 60% of the time is trying to figure out who you are and how to move your body without looking like a muppet that lost out on a Dark Crystal casting call. Even genetically superior beautiful people of the future still have bullies, nerds, and regrets. At that age, events that will be looked back on as insignificant, or the starting point of something great, seem to be the END OF ALL THINGS. Clara Maker wasn’t always Sargent Maker of the Sol Coalition: saver of allies, infiltrator of enemy lines, and terrible poker player. She went to high school too. Some of those experiences shaped her future. Some of it made for funny stories that she could laugh about when she got older and wiser and gained a little perspective. Some of it just sucked.
That sounds familiar.
Read Barghest, Part II, Chapter 4: Unexpected Results and let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you. Also, if high school was awkward for you too, imagine me giving you a fist bump. If not, then me neither. I was totally cool. Really.