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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

ℚ♫ The End of Ordinary - Edward Ashton

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about The End of Ordinary (, Harper Voyager Impulse, 298 pages), a Science Fiction Novel.

Energetic and bitingly satirical, The End of Ordinary is a riveting near-future thriller that asks an important question: if we can’t get along when our differences are barely skin deep, what happens when they run all the way down to the bone?

"This novel does what speculative fiction is supposed to do: entertain, horrify, make us laugh, make us think."
- Perihelion SF


|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||


A very warm welcome to Edward Ashton; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

To start, Edward has shared with us his music playlist for The End of Ordinary - enjoy!
(p.s. this is currently a work in progress as it contains over 100 songs! bear with us 😉)

What was the inspiration for The End of Ordinary?
"I’ve always been a fan of the not-quite-right. The protagonists of my first book, Three Days in April, are basically the bastard offspring of The Island of Dr. Moreau and the Island of Misfit Toys. A lot of the fun of writing that book came from imagining how things are likely to go wrong when we first start trying to tweak our kids’ genes to make them faster or stronger or better looking.

When I started writing The End of Ordinary, though, I wanted to look at a different question: what happens when we figure out how to make genetic alterations that actually work?

The protagonists of this book are the second generation of Engineered folk, and these ones aren’t misfits. They’re the lucky recipients of the best genes that money can buy. That doesn’t mean they don’t have problems, though. The racism and class resentments we see in today’s society are based largely on imaginary differences. Humans as a species have fewer genetic variants than almost any other large mammal. I wanted to see how bad things might get when those differences become real."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I always put a lot of myself into my writing, but The End of Ordinary probably has a bit more of me in it than most. Drew Bergen, my protagonist, is a genetic engineer and a former college athlete who’s coming to terms with the fact that his fourteen-year-old daughter is far more talented than he ever was. I’m a cancer researcher, which is at least genetic engineering adjacent, and let’s just say that when I run with my daughter these days, it’s not me slowing down for her anymore.

This book is speculative fiction, with lots of adventure and suspense and a heavy dose of humor, but at the end of the day it’s really a story about a father and a daughter. The desperate fear of losing Hannah that drives Drew to do some of the stupider things that he does over the course of this book is something I can definitely identify with."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for The End of Ordinary - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"One of the nice things about working with a publisher like HarperCollins is that I don’t have to worry too much about things like cover design—which is good, because graphic design is definitely not a part of my skill set.

After the final edits on the manuscript were complete, the HC art department provided me with a few concepts for the cover art. For some reason, the image of the ear of corn unravelling into a double helix really grabbed me. It’s absurd and vaguely disturbing at the same time, which is an aesthetic that I can appreciate, and the yellow-on-blue color contrast really popped when I looked at it in thumbnail size."
Why should we read The End of Ordinary and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"In both The End of Ordinary and Three Days in April, I’ve tried to address serious topics (racism, class prejudice, the balance between privacy rights and the need for security) in a humorous way. This is a tricky line to walk, because it’s easy to slip into farce if you’re not careful, and I really didn’t want to do that.

One of the early readers of my first book described it as Philip K. Dick with a sense of humor, which was probably one of the kindest compliments I’ve ever received. If I can place the tone of my work somewhere on a spectrum between there and Kurt Vonnegut on one of his less cynical days, I feel like I’ve hit my mark."
Can you tell us something quirky about The End of Ordinary, its story and characters?
"Fun fact: the first draft of The End of Ordinary had an entire additional plot line and set of characters. Trey and Dexter were basketball players at Hannah’s school, one of them Engineered, the other the son of the last remaining unmodified NBA star. I loved those guys, and their stories were so fun to write… but at the end of the day their plot just didn’t mesh with the main line, and my editor forced me to murder them. Gone but not forgotten, my brothers."
Who would you recommend The End of Ordinary to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"The End of Ordinary is a fun book and a fast read. It’s adult science fiction, with some elements (younger protagonists, fast pace, a lot of snarky humor) that would probably appeal to a YA fan.

There is a bit of light swearing and some oblique references to sex, but nothing remotely graphic. I wouldn’t give it to a child, and I wouldn’t give it to someone who’s easily offended, but I think it’s fair game for just about anybody else."
If you could / wished to turn The End of Ordinary into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Hmmm… this is a tough one. I’d probably get Peter Jackson to direct, just in the interests of scoring a free trip to New Zealand. Tom Hanks circa 1995 would probably be a good fit to play Drew, and I’d want a blonde, fourteen-year-old Lucy Lawless for Hannah."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I think as a writer you almost have to be an avid reader of the genres you’re writing in. Otherwise, you don’t know when you’re just repeating a trope, or trying to do something that’s already been done a million times before. Most of my work over the last several years has fallen somewhere on the spectrum from magical realism to hard science fiction, and those are definitely the sorts of stories I like to read as well."
What is your writing process?
"Most of my stories start with a single scene, or maybe just an image that’s popped into my head and that I’d like to explore. I don’t outline. I generally don’t even try to figure out what the ending of a piece is going to be before I start writing.

As an example, a while back I started a project with the idea of a man stepping alone from an airplane onto a deserted runway in the dead of winter. I didn’t know who he was, or what he was doing there, but I loved the feel that I got from that image, and I started writing. A few weeks later, I had a four thousand word story called “Bluejay,” which wound up being produced by Escape Pod in August of last year. "
What is in store next?
"Stupid War. This one is set in the same future as The End of Ordinary and Three Days in April, and tells the story of the war between the engineered and the unmodified that serves as a backdrop in The End of Ordinary.

I also try to put out a new short story every couple of months. You can find links to most of those on my website, edwardashton.com."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"Oh, I do. I have an adorably dopey dog named Max, who follows me wherever I go. I’ve attached a picture that my daughter drew of the two of us (we’re inside the house, in the living room, sitting on the couch watching Steven Universe together.)"
LOL Brilliant! Thank you for sharing :-) and of course a big hello to your very talented daughter!

The End of Ordinary
Available NOW!

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