Hopefully everyone survived the St. Patrick's Day celebrations without feeling a little green today. We have author Justin Joschko in the house today to answer a few questions.SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.
JJ: Selena Flood is a seventeen-year-old street brawler from New Canaan, a powerful theocracy on the east coast of America-that-was. Her parents were double agents operating in the top echelons of the New Canaan government on behalf of the democratic Republic of California. Before their discovery and capture, they gave Selena a data stick containing vital details on a terrible new weapon to be unleashed upon the Republic, and charged her to carry the data across the country before New Canaan could strike. Stoic, driven, and a talented fighter, Selena chafes against the roles thrust upon her, both as savior to the republic and mother figure to her younger brother Simon, who accompanies her on her journey west.
SC: Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?JJ: This is going to make for a boring answer, but I don’t, sorry. I’m a big fan of James Randi and tend to favor his skeptical attitude towards such things.
Having said that, I do have a personal story that’s always puzzled me a bit. Back when I was living in Toronto, I was mugged by a couple guys on the subway while on my way home from a bar. It was about 1 AM, shortly before the subway closed for the night.I managed to get away without them actually stealing anything (they were fairly rubbish muggers, to be honest), but I was pretty shaken up. And had a hard time sleeping. I called my girlfriend the next morning to tell her about it. She was living in France at the time, and so had been up for a while. She told me she’d had a dream about me being mugged the night before. Weirder still, she recalled that it was after she’d woken up a bit and gone back to sleep, so she could place the time at around 7AM—which would be about 1AM Toronto time, right around when the actual mugging occurred.
Bizarre, eh?SC: Ah, the TTC. I know it well. Thanks for sharing your story, glad you're okay. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?
JJ: The second book in the Yellow Locust series, IRON CIRCLE, comes out at the end of the month. Book 3 is also in the works. In the meantime, I’ve finished a horror novel about werewolves, set in my hometown of Niagara Falls, which I hope to get published soon.SC: I had one of the most supernatural experiences of my life in your home town, go figure. Thanks for stopping by today. Let's take a look at your novel now.
Genre: Science Fiction Dystopian
Date of Publication: May 8, 2018
Number of pages: 306
Cover Artist: Danielle Doolittle
Selena Flood is a fighter of preternatural talent. But not even her quick fists and nimble feet could save her parents from the forces of New Canaan, the most ruthless and powerful of the despotic kingdoms populating America-that-was.
Forced to flee the tyrannical state with her younger brother Simon in tow, Selena is now the last chance for peace in a continent on the verge of complete destruction.
In her pocket is a data stick, the contents of which cost her parents their lives. Selena must now ensure it reaches the Republic of California—a lone beacon of liberty shining across a vast and barren wasteland—before it’s too late.
Between New Canaan and California stretch the Middle Wastes: thousands of desolate miles home to murderers, thieves, and a virulent strain of grass called yellow locust that has made growing food all but impossible. So when Selena and Simon stagger into Fallowfield, an oasis of prosperity amidst the poisoned plains, everything seems too good to be true—including the warm welcome they receive from the town’s leader, a peculiar man known only as The Mayor.
As Selena delves deeper into the sinister secrets of this seemingly harmless refuge, she soon learns there is a much darker side to Fallowfield and the man who runs it. Before long, she must call upon the skills she honed in the fighting pits of New Canaan to ensure not only her own survival, but that of her brother, in whom the Mayor has taken far too keen an interest.
And she’d better act fast, for an all-out war inches ever closer, and New Canaan is never as far away as it seems.
The grass followed the siblings into town, looming silently along the highway shoulders, lancing up through broken sidewalk slabs, squatting in the cavernous lobbies of derelict skyscrapers. It stalked them all the way to the city center, where a square kilometer of turf and asphalt had been pared away to uncover the silty soil beneath. Stakes with tips painted green, blue, and orange still jutted evenly along the field’s southern edge, though whether the colors signified crop rotation or ownership, Selena couldn’t say. Only one plant grew there now, and she was willing to bet it hadn’t been deliberately planted. The yellow grass devoured every inch of naked soil, creating a neck-high carpet of brittle, oily stalks. We aren’t gonna find any food on offer here, Selena thought, though she kept this opinion to herself—the last thing her brother needed was more bad news.
A fountain stood on a cobbled square beside the field, its ledge chipped and weathered. A bronze woman stood atop its stone platform, her face tarnished and scaly with grime. She held aloft a jug with a broken handle. Water dribbled from its spout. No food, maybe, but water’s more important anyway.
Selena knelt to the water. A caustic stench of grease and bitter herbs rose from the pool. A skein of shimmery oil coated the water, stirred to a rainbow froth where the trickling spout spilled its endless contents. Selena rolled up her pant legs, removed her shoes, and waded into the fountain. The water’s scummy skin clung to her leg hairs. She cupped her hands beneath the dribble.
Even before the water touched her lips, she knew it was bad. The stench of it lapped at her face like a hungry tongue. She sipped anyway, gagged, spat. Running or still, the water was hopelessly befouled. Its taste and smell lingered long enough for her to place it: the smell of the yellow grass, the few times she’d been forced to push her way directly through it. Not content with razing the town’s crops, the vile stuff had also poisoned its water supply. Whatever this shit is, it’s thorough.
About the Author:
Justin Joschko is an author from Niagara Falls, Ontario. His writing has appeared in newspapers and literary journals across Canada. Yellow Locust is his first novel. He currently lives in Ottawa with his wife and two children.