Pioneers is upper MG speculative fiction, set in the near future.
Pioneerstells the story of fourteen year old Hope, who has recently moved to a brand new country created by the Titan Ten, the most rich and powerful countries in the world for seemingly altruistic, humanitarian reasons. Her five year old brother, Louie, disappears during a game of hide and seek just as a huge storm batters the islands. His Guardian Angels tracker reveals that he is heading towards the mainland, but a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) knocks out all satellite communications, cutting off all ability to track him.
When the Law Enforcement Officers appear helpless with the Tech-Fail, Hope sets out with her neighbours Neville (a senator) and his son Elijah to find Louie before he heads to the mainland. Suspicions about the Transients (undocumented, illegal migrants) and how they might be connected to children who have disappeared, worry Neville and Hope’s mum. On Hope’s journey she meets characters who have Old World Technology to help them on their way.
Pioneersis a story about sibling ties and finding your identity in a changing world. It touches on how societies view undocumented migrants and why people move around the world. It has geopolitical themes about resources that we need for technology such as rare earths. I am personally interested in AI and how technology can be used, and find parallels in the books I write with episodes of the Black Mirrorseries. But at the heart of the story is a sister trying to put her family back together and feel a sense of ‘home’ again.
I worked with Golden Egg Academy on Pioneerswith help from Maurice Lyon. Stripes were interested in it, but advised me to change one element to the ending, which I have listened to and revised, but not yet submitted to anyone.
I have a collection of picture books, and I have also written a standalone classic-feel MG steampunk story called ‘Sister’ about a clockwork girl, which I am hoping to send out on submission soon. I have been a runner-up in SCBWI slushpile challenges; one of my picture books was picked by Jodie Hodges. She said, “I like the central concept of Demolition Babyand the fun read-aloud quality it has.” Also, the opening of my second Liberty Isles book Fool’s Goldfrom Blade’s POV (a Transient character in Pioneers) was picked by Sallyanne Sweeney for having: “a clear and engaging voice…I loved the confidence of this taut and tense opening.”
I live in Milton Keynes, have 4 children, and work as a part-time primary school teacher. My book blog is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks one again for taking time to read this.
Louie would be hiding in the shadows behind the chicken shed. It was the same every time they played hide and seek.
The pigeon grey sky was growing ever darker. An earthy smell of rain, carried on the wind, wafted into Hope’s nose, sitting there stubbornly. It was time to go in, before the rain started.
‘17…18…19…20…Coming, Louie! Ready or not!’
Hope ran across the freshly churned up back garden, dodging the timber slats and fence posts. Mum would moan about the state of the garden, no doubt, seeing as the Skills Co-Op were only halfway there to making the garden Transient-proof.
Full of chatter about not missing the last VacTrain to the mainland, the Skills Co-Op loaded their tools onto their AVs, keen to speed off before Hope’s mum returned.
‘Where’s Louie hiding? Where is he?’ Hope called out in a sing-song voice, deliberately loud . If she didn’t play along, Louie would lose interest and go wandering off. They always went through this pretence: that she had no idea where he was. Of course, she always found him in the same spot. Every single time, thinking he was clever, outwitting his big sister. With his curly brown hair and dark brown eyes, he was the cutest little brother. Blessed with Mum’s long eyelashes. Blessed with Dad’s sunny smile and cheeky dimples. Hope, on the other hand, suffered from too-tightly braided hair (to be ready for GrandmaMum had insisted) which made her scalp itch and her gum-spiking metal braces ache all the more.
But even before Hope made it to the oak tree, Al-Iss, the smooth voice of the Turner’s AI, called out.
‘Incoming call from Mum. Urgent.’
Doombots! She’d left her Device in the house again. Mum would be livid.
‘Al-Iss you spambot, you’re supposed to remind me,’ Hope muttered under her breath.
A spot of cold rain dropped onto her too-tight braids. Hope hesitated. Should she answer the call? She squinted at the slate grey, heavy clouds.
‘Louie! There’s a call from Mum! I’ll be right back,’ Hope yelled in the direction of the chicken shed. She knew what Mum was going to say: that she was running late, blah, blah, blah. That was always the reason she called. For an organised person, Mum sure was late a lot of the time.
As Hope ran towards the house, a grumble of thunder prowled through the air. Louie hated storms. He always had. She’d better be quick. Hope sprinted across the lawn and clattered up the porch steps. After scanning her thumbprint on the security sensor, Hope’s image appeared on the mini screen as the door clicked open. She burst into the kitchen. The lights flickered on.
Mum’s image flashed up on the wall screen. That pic from when they’d all been bare back horse riding in the sea. That time when Mum was on a mission to research her family tree. No wrinkles or worry on Mum’s face back then. Carefree and smiling.