When the ARC for BOUNDERS passed my desk, the first thing that drew me in was the cover. That was immediately followed by the story, and I was quick to order copies for the Sacramento Public Library.
Thirteen years ago, Earth Force—a space-military agency—discovered a connection between brain structure and space travel. Now they’ve brought together the first team of cadets, called Bounders, to be trained as high-level astronauts.
Twelve-year-old Jasper is part of this team being sent out into space. After being bullied back on Earth, Jasper is thrilled to have something new and different to do with other kids who are more like him. While learning all about the new technologies and taking classes in mobility—otherwise known as flying with jetpacks—Jasper befriends the four other students in his pod and finally feels like he has found his place in the world.
But then Jasper and his new friends learn that they haven’t been told everything about Earth Force. They weren’t brought to space for astronaut training, but to learn a new, highly classified brain-sync technology that allows them to manipulate matter and quantum bound, or teleport. And it isn’t long before they find out this new technology was actually stolen from an alien society.
When Jasper and his friends discover the truth about why Earth Force needs them, they are faced with a choice: rebel against the academy that brought them together, or fulfill their duty and protect the planet at all costs.
I contacted Monica for an interview to find out more. Here’s what she said!
According to your website, you worked as an attorney for more than fifteen years. In what ways, if any, has this influenced your writing, and can you tell us more about your journey toward publication?
Overall, my experience as a practicing attorney has been a great asset in my fiction writing. Legal writing is a core aspect of my job as a lawyer, and I’ve spent years honing my skillset. At this point, the mechanics of writing are very automatic, and that gives me great freedom to relax into a story as I work on a fiction project.
Of course, there were some conventions I had to unlearn when I moved into the realm of fiction writing, like the reluctance to use contractions. The hardest habit for me to break was double spacing after the period at the end of a sentence. For a long time I tried to switch back and forth, employing different writing styles for the two different audiences, but I recently decided to use the fiction writing conventions almost all of the time. I figure I’ve been practicing law long enough that I can get away with a bit of informality.
In terms of my journey to publication, I wrote most of BOUNDERS on the commuter boat, travelling from my suburban coastal community to my job in Boston. In late 2013, I signed with my literary agent, David Dunton of Harvey Klinger, Inc. The book was acquired by Simon and Schuster in 2014.
I love how your creative process involved unlearning and breaking out of boxes. And BOUNDERS has a great premise–I was especially intrigued by aspect of manipulating matter to involve space travel. How did this idea originate, and what do you want readers to take away when they’re finished?
I love to read about developments in technology and science. A few years ago I stumbled upon an article about quantum entanglement. The notion of related atoms in two separate locations fascinated me. My imagination stepped in, and I fantasized about quantum entanglement as a basis for space travel, and the idea for the quantum bounding ships took form. As a story started to bloom in my brain, I pushed my imagination even further into the fantastical, wondering what quantum entanglement might look like if mastered by a highly advanced civilization. That’s the origin of the alien biotechnology used by the cadets in BOUNDERS to manipulate matter and bound without a ship.
Speaking of quantum entanglement, I love your website, especially the home page. What recommendations (if any) do you have for authors interested in setting up an online presence?
Thanks so much! I’m really happy with my website. The vision was mine, but I worked with a very talented designer, Hafsah Faizal of Icey Designs, to bring it together. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram and have an author Facebook page.
My advice to authors interested in setting up or increasing their online presence is to see what the options are and choose what feels comfortable. I’m not extremely active on social media compared to some authors, but I do post and interact on a regular basis. Social media is constantly changing. The platform that’s hot today, may be stale tomorrow. So I’m reminding myself that it’s important to stay flexible and aware of new platforms as they arise.
Having an online presence requires a time commitment, so it’s important not to overextend. For example, when developing my website, I was faced with the question of whether to start a blog. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the commitment necessary for a successful blog, so I instead included a “News” section. That way, I have the flexibility of posting updates when I want without the pressure of a blog schedule.
Sounds like a great way to maximize your impact. What are some of your current projects? Will BOUNDERS have a sequel, and if so, can you tell us anything about it yet?
BOUNDERS is the first in at least a three book series, so there will be more space adventures to come! The second book, BOUNDERS: THE TUNDRA TRIALS will be released in early 2017. Most of the story is still top secret, but I’ll share one tidbit. A large part of the story takes place on another planet—one not visited by the characters in the first book. Any guesses? You’ll have to read to find out!