Cyrus Keith is here today to talk about Critical Mass–the final book in The NADIA Project series!
Ah, that there is a starter for sure. Critical Mass (coming February 2013 from MuseItUp Publishing) is the last installment of my series The NADIA Project, and finishes the story of Nadia Velasquez began in Becoming NADIA.
That’s the weird part. Well, maybe not so weird for a writer. I had a dream one night about meeting Nadia (I didn’t know her name, just her character). She was so real, she was nearly human, but I knew she wasn’t. I also knew what would happen if her enemies (her makers) caught up with her. She looked at me with tears streaming down her face, and cried, “But I don’t want to die.”
I start with what I call working notes. It might look like an outline, or maybe not. It’s just a running story-line, kind of like a storyboard, where I set out the major plot points: At Point A, this happens. At Point B, this happens. On and on until I set out how the story is going to end. Then I start back at the beginning and fill in the points from A to B to C, etc. all the way down the line. If something happens that changes it, I just go with the change.
Funny you should ask. I did steal some names from people I know. No need to be too specific, they know who they are. Jenna Paine is physically based on a young lady who worked in the same department as I did for some time. Not that this lady was a butt-kicking super-spy, but her appearance and mannerisms just matched up perfectly with what I had in mind for Jenna. I did include one of the guys from the dept. in Critical Mass as well, by name and appearance. He’s a pretty good sort, and seemed to fit where I wanted someone like that, so I used him.
I have to say everyone I’ve killed, left my story at the right time. The only difficulty was being so attached I didn’t want to see them go. I cried more than once in this series, mourning for dear friends whose stories just came to their suitable ends.
I do sometimes wonder about that. I think Jake Gyllenhaal could play Jon. John Leguizamo could be Bunny. Nadia might be played by Taylor Swift, if she could handle the role.
There’s the rub. When I first started writing, no one did. I wanted to be like the artist who reveals his brainchild only at the right time, to oohs and aahs from his adoring fans. Okay, maybe that’s exaggerating just a little bit, but I did have that kind of mentality. Since then, I’ve come to know the value of critique partners and beta readers. I have a good eight or so crit partners and three beta readers who give me the most awesome feedback on my work, and help me get it in shape for market.
How to say “Little Fish” like a nickname in Japanese.
As a matter of fact, I’m polishing off the NADIA Project with a novella that Lea Schizas and I intend to release as a free read (Did you get that “free” part?”). It details the life of Jenna Paine and how she came to be the person she is.
Okay, seriously, now. I hope you enjoy my work. The first novel in the series, Becoming NADIA, won Best Thriller honors at EPICon 2012 this year in San Antonio, and I think the following books are even better, if I say so myself. We get to explore some very deep themes of identity and spirituality and have fun dodging bullets in the bargain.
The easy thing to say is just Google Cyrus Keith. Becoming NADIA and its sequel Unalive (Book Two) can be found on line at MuseItUp Publishing (www.museituppublishing.com) and are available at all your favorite online outlets as well (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Omnilit, and a host of others). Critical Mass will be available this coming February. So for everyone who’s been waiting to see how it all ends, thank you for your patience. I think you’ll find it a fitting close to the series.
On their own, they’re deadly. Together, they could save the world—or destroy it.
Jenna Paine is a super spy, genetically enhanced to be more than human. Nadia Velasquez is a living weapon of mass destruction. When the secret organization who built them both decides they are no longer useful, two enemies are thrown together for the only purposes they could have in common: survival and revenge.
There’s only one way out of The Pinnacle, and that’s on a coroner’s slab. Jenna lives through a treacherous attack vowing to exact her vengeance on the people who trained her to be the most deadly agent on the planet. Wounded and on the run, she turns to the man who’s sworn to making her face charges for her involvement in the Pinnacle’s nefarious schemes.
After years spent hiding from the Pinnacle, Nadia runs into the one thing she never counted on: Shelf life. As her body breaks down, she realizes it’s only a matter of the short time she has left to redeem her existence and give her daughter a chance to live free.
In the final showdown, the two transhumans join forces against a common enemy, and the Pinnacle come to know the deadly significance of…
After three years, every suspicion was confirmed. This was the man who’d tried to kill them. Time to play.
Drawing a telescoping baton from her pocket, she caught up to him as he tried to duck down another alley. He spun with a snarl, a hand darting for his pocket. She closed in before he could draw his pistol, and went to work with the baton. Jenna broke his wrist with the first blow, and the second knocked him senseless. Stabbing out with her free hand, she grabbed his shirt and hauled him down, dragging him into the shadows.
He lay panting and whimpering in pain and fear as Jenna brought her face down close to his and hissed, “Let’s talk about Tahiti, Hamet.”
His eyes shot wide, and he began to gibber in a Middle-Eastern tongue. She placed a knee on his broken wrist. His complexion paled and he fell silent, teeth clenched in agony. “In English. I know who you work for.”
“I didn’t know it was you,” he blurted, a grimace pasted on his features. “None of us knew. We just had orders—” He moaned as a spasm gripped his broken arm. She grabbed it and gave it a light twist. She was rewarded with a howl as the man bucked off the pavement.
She shoved him back down, brandishing the baton in his face.
“Orders from whom?”
“You know as well as I,” he moaned. “You get orders. You follow them. You don’t ask questions.”
“Is that right?” She snapped the baton down on his hand. A satisfying crunch echoed off the wall, accompanied by a shriek which was cut off by her wadded up bandana.
It got worse before it got better. Jenna didn’t like that part of the job, but two things drove her on: justice, and vengeance. Jenna had to find out why The Pinnacle wanted one of their own dead, and Anna Spielberg deserved payback. Now, after three years, she was damned well going to get it. Occasional shadows drifted by the end of the alley, but at this hour and in this neighborhood, no one was going to get involved.
Hamet was tougher than she gave him credit for. By the time she got the information she wanted, there wasn’t much left of him. But the answers came. They weren’t what she wanted to hear, but the truth needed to be told. When she finally snapped his neck with a sharp twist from a rear naked choke, it felt anti-climactic. The trail she’d followed on her own for the last three years had finally come to its end. And with that end came the realization that Jenna had been trying to avoid for longer than that. Not all was well with her employers.
There were divisions among the Council. Not on the surface, for outwardly they still seemed to operate as united as ever in their cause for world peace. But underneath the placid veneer were machinations and plots. Whispers of sabotage and power plays chased each other through Jenna’s mind as she strode from the alley and back up Seventh Avenue.
Somewhere in the power struggle, someone upline had made a mistake. They issued a kill order on the wrong person, and not just because of who Anna was. Dr. Spielberg had dedicated her life to the purpose of world peace. She saw it happening within just a few more years. It wasn’t even that they tried to wipe out a seven-year-old girl as well. Sofi was as harmless as they come, a sweet, shy little thing with as much deadly potential as a pink frosted cupcake. Their worst mistake was in messing with someone assigned to Jenna Paine’s protection.
As Jenna stalked away from the body, one thing hung in her mind: she would find out who on the Council issued the kill order on Anna. And when she did, they would face the full fury of a woman scorned.
Cyrus Keith is the son of Franklin the Son of Keith the son of Herman the son of Cyrus. See how I did that? We could go on, but that would be just boring. The best thing my father taught me is that a dream with no action is despair, and to settle for less than what one could be is to accept mediocrity as a standard. We lived in a small house in Northwestern Indiana, just a cat’s throw from the Belle Gunness estate, which may explain all the ghosts in the area.
Now I make my home in Michigan with my wife and our four.
Again, thanks for joining me today. It’s been a pleasure. Looking forward to the release of Critical Mass.