We recently attended a book fair where we met the author, C.K. Westbrook, and were intrigued by “The Impact Series,” a science fiction trilogy: The Shooting, The Collision, and The Judgment. In each volume the story, told a day at a time, is that of Kate Stellute, who works for the United States Space Force in the near future and while out for a run is abducted by an alien. She becomes its media connection to the people of earth, who are warned they must change their ways or be obliterated.
As the author writes:
Life will never be the same for Kate.
After almost every gun owner worldwide turns their weapon on themselves in a terrifying fifteen-minute window, Kate Stellute, like the rest of the population, searches for answers. The mass shooting is enormous in scale and diabolical; no one can figure out who or what caused it, but after a bizarre encounter with an otherworldly stranger, Kate suddenly finds herself the government’s prime suspect.
A mid-level program analyst for U.S. Space Force and proud rule-follower her entire life, a confused Kate doesn’t know where to turn. She puts her trust in her neighbor Sinclair Jones, a NASA biophysicist, and with their combined background they race to unravel the truth before an angry mob closes in.
Kate knows she must formulate a plan to appease the otherworldly stranger, keep herself out of prison, and save the world from more violence . . . but is she already too late?
We’ll be publishing an excerpt from each of the novels over the next three weeks, along with a Q&A with the author. This week we begin with the first volume, The Shooting. Please let us know how you like C.K.’s story by sharing your thoughts in the Comments section below.
Book One: The Shooting
Kate was running along her favorite trail near the creek where the water was low and still from lack of rain. While the D.C. weather was hot and sunny, the trail provided some shade. Unlike the day before when crippling anxious thoughts took over during her run, today Kate tried to channel peace and let herself feel free.
“There is nothing I can do about anything, so I refuse to worry and be sad,” she mumbled to herself through her bright green bandana mask.
Just breathe and appreciate the green woods, beautiful trees, and singing birds, Kate thought. She waved cheerfully to fellow runners and dog walkers. Few people waved back. The virus seemed to take away people’s desire to be polite, but Kate kept waving and smiling with her eyes.
As she reached the exact place where she’d been overcome with anxiety the day before, Kate’s heart started to race. Not today, anxiety. You got this, Kate. You just need a good song. She paused to change her music on her old iPod and was scrolling for a good playlist when she heard an explosion.
What the hell?
She clasped her hands over her ears and squatted down, trying to get low, like shooting drills always recommended. As shots went off like firecrackers, she channeled her breath and stared at the ground, preparing to be hit by something.
Lifting her eyes just enough, she tried to assess the scene. What is causing the explosions? What is all the popping? Did a nearby transmission box blow up? A series of car bombs? Has the President’s army of racist misogynists made good on their threat to take over the city?
She scanned around her for other runners on the trail but seemed all alone. The flight or fight instinct took over, but she didn’t know who to fight or in what direction to run.
The explosions persisted, like hundreds of cars backfiring at the same time. Or fireworks, which were harmful to wildlife. She hated them. She looked around, her hands still covering her ears to soften the sharp, harsh sounds to no avail. Some of the pops seemed close, like just through the woods or across the creek, and others sounded far off, like fireworks downtown near the monuments.
Another runner came around the bend, heading toward Kate.
“Run!” she yelled, flying past Kate.
“Where?” Kate yelled back. “What is it?” she yelled to the runner’s back, but the runner did not slow down to answer.
As fast as the cracks, pops, and explosions started, they slowed down.
She had to get home.
Sweating, breathless, Kate started running as fast as she could for the row house she and Kyle rented together. A few “after pops” went off, making Kate jump every time. They came with less and less frequency—like the last popcorn kernels at the end of the bag in a microwave. Some still sounded so close that she flinched. Others made her look in different directions to see if she could identify what was making all the racket.
Finally home, she flew up the stairs and tried to put her key in the lock, but her hands were shaking. She didn’t look behind her, afraid an explosion would go off on the porch.
Kyle opened the door, pulled Kate inside, and slammed it closed behind her.
Kyle pulled Kate into the house. “Jesus, Kate! I was so worried. What’s going on? Did you hear it? Did you see anything out there?” Kyle said while holding a trembling Kate in his arms. They squeezed each other for a solid minute.
“I was on the path in the woods when it started. I was terrified,” Kate said, pulling away. “I have no idea what it was.”
“Did you see anything exploding out there?” Kyle asked.
“No, just heard what sounded like rapid gunshots. They seemed to come from every direction.” She walked into the living room and searched for the remote. Kate searched the couch cushions and the basket on the coffee table where it was supposed to live, but she and Kyle were both guilty of never returning it to its intended place. She also suspected Kyle hid it from her sometimes in an attempt to break her CNN pandemic death clock addiction. “Where’s the damn remote, Kyle?”
“Hold on, hold on. I have it here.” He rifled through the papers at his kitchen table desk. “I was trying to save you from the afternoon news.” He turned on the TV.
“Reports are still coming in and our reporters on the ground are scrambling to make sense of what happened, but we can report what appears to be a series of mass shootings all over the city just moments ago. What’s most confusing is these shots were fired at approximately the same time,” a reporter explained in a voice that sounded like he was trying to convince himself.
A chill ran up her spine at the words “mass shooting,” which would always remind Kate of Colorado and Theo Mast. A wave of nausea came over her so strong she put her hand over her mouth.
She flipped from the local news to cable; they too seemed confused.
“Just moments ago, there were multiple shootings in several cities. Our reporters are calling in from New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and here in Atlanta. Right now, all reporters are being told to take cover and stay safe. Everyone, Americans everywhere, should get inside a safe place and wait until law enforcement determines the cause and the culprits.”
“Good advice,” Kyle said to the TV. They both just stared at the screen.
After a few minutes listening to the reporters repeatedly advise people to seek shelter and stay inside, Kate walked to a window and peeked outside.
No cars or buses drove past their block, but she heard sirens off in the distance. They lived on a quiet side street with little traffic on a normal day and even less as a result of the pandemic. But right now, it seemed eerily calm. No people. No cars. Just trees swaying in the hot breeze.
A loud pop went off across the street. Kyle and Kate both jumped and quickly moved far from the window.
They looked around the house, like something might explode in their home. Then they looked at each other. Kate saw panic in Kyle’s eyes for the first time in their relationship. Moving quietly, they slowly crept back to the window and peered out at the neighbor’s house across the street.
At first, it looked quiet and normal.
“What the fuck is going on?” he whispered. “Why would someone target this neighborhood? No one important lives here.”
“I don’t know. But look. Does the window look weird or broken?” Kate whispered. “Maybe someone was shot? Part of the mass shooting? Or a home invasion?”
In a protective gesture, Kyle used his arm to back Kate away from the window.
In silence, Kate checked that the front door was locked, and Kyle ran to check the back. As he passed the kitchen, he grabbed his computer. Kyle drew the living room window curtains tightly closed, then they both ran upstairs to the bedroom which had only one small window. Kate closed the cheap miniblinds. She grabbed her personal laptop from the dresser, and they both sat on the bed and stared at their computers, switching from one news site to another. They also scrolled through Facebook and other social media.
“Let’s check Twitter, too,” Kate whispered, making Kyle jump.
Kate heard the confused barks of her next-door neighbor’s dogs and was happy she and Kyle had found a forever home for Barny, an old pit mix they’d been fostering until a week ago. He wouldn’t have liked the commotion. “They sound scared,” Kate said to Kyle. “Did they just start barking?” She didn’t recall hearing barking before. Not even in the woods. Were her ears tuned in to only explosions and scary noise or had everything really gone quiet?
“What?” Kyle asked, starting to scroll through Twitter. “Jesus Fucking Christ. They’re now saying hundreds of simultaneous mass shootings were staged across the country. The entire country. All at the same time. Just after noon here, but also in Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, Orlando, Billings, Austin, Charlotte… What the fuck? What the fuck, Kate? What the fuck?” Kyle almost never swore so Kate knew he was really upset.
They went downstairs and back to the TV. The news showed footage from cameras all over the country. Journalists reporting live at the time, security cameras, influencers doing Instagram live for their followers—footage all over with pops and explosions going off for a few minutes. There were zoom meeting recordings showing people ducking, running, screaming—and some people actually being shot.
“Preliminary reporting seems to indicate the shootings started in unison at 12:06 and ended around 12:15,” an anchor reported. “People are finding dead bodies all over, in cars, in streets, in houses. It doesn’t make any sense. This does not make any sense,” she kept repeating.
“Shoot, maybe we should call the police about the neighbors with the broken window? They should check on them. See if they’re okay.” Kate said.
“That’s a Black couple. Do you think calling the police is safe, Ms. Black Lives Matter?” Kyle responded in a not joking voice. He could not understand why Kate cared so much about racial justice and went to the protests and rallies. He supported the effort but did not think it was his, or Kate’s, fight.
“Shut up,” Kate said, dialing 911.
The busy signal squawked. The line was busy or she got an “all circuits are busy” recording every time she tried. “That’s not comforting,” Kate said. “We need to go over and make sure they’re alright.” Kate scrambled toward the door. She couldn’t forgive herself if her neighbors were hurt, and they’d just sat there watching TV, doing nothing.
“Are you nuts?” Kyle asked, jumping up to block her way. “We are not leaving this house until we know what the hell happened. Seriously, Kate, don’t be crazy. It could start again any minute. Where did the shooters go?”
Ugh. he had a good point. “Yes, I guess you’re right,” Kate agreed as she paced the small living room.
Staring at the TV for a few more minutes and repeatedly getting a busy tone or no tone for 911, Kate couldn’t take the guilt. “But they might be hurt or bleeding to death or something. Stay here and watch me cross the street. I’ll be so fast. I’ll take a look and come right back,” she told Kyle while unlocking the front door.
“Kate! No!” Kyle yelled, finally pulling his eyes away from Twitter.
She ran down the porch steps and bobbed and weaved across the street, up the neighbor’s steps to their porch, creeping slow and quiet to the cracked window and peering in the hole, from which several large cracks fanned out in different directions.
She gasped. A body lay in front of the couch. Because of the angle, she couldn’t see the head or face clearly. Is that a shadow or a pool of blood?
Kate’s heart was beating so fast and loud she glanced down at her chest to see if she could actually see it. She then moved to the front door and knocked lightly. Her hand was shaking as she knocked again a little louder, afraid of who would answer.
“I’m nuts,” Kate whispered to herself. “But they need help.” She quietly tried the door knob. It was locked. She tried it again to be sure. She took a deep breath and whispered, “I’m sorry. I’ll be back,” and bobbed and weaved her way back to her house.
Kyle threw the door open and pulled her inside.
“I’m almost positive Yvette is laying on the floor, bleeding, maybe dead and shot!” Kate said in a gush.
“What the fuck!” Kyle said over and over, pacing the hall, his hands cupped over his head like he was preventing it from exploding. “Did you see the fucking shooter? I guess not or you would be fucking dead.”
“Please stop swearing! Seriously, it’s not helping!” Kate said, her annoyance with him making her voice go up an octave.
Kyle paced the foyer. “What should we do? We don’t have a car. Lyft? Run? Stay?”
Kate had never seen him freak out like this before.
“You’re talking about fleeing? Where to? Has the news changed? Are we still under attack?” Kate asked walking to the TV. Flipping stations, Kate found an anchor she trusted. “Let’s see what Bianca is telling us to do.”
“Maybe we should move back upstairs, away from all these windows?” Kyle suggested.
But Kate was not listening to him.
“According to updated reports coming in from local officials and reporters in multiple cities, what happened today, which we are still trying to make sense of, was not some coordinated mass shooting. A mass shooting, by definition, has multiple victims, from one or two shooters. For example, one person shooting family members, or several people at a church service, or school, or some social gathering like a concert or movie. What happened today is unprecedented. Viewers, if you have small children in the room, you may want to cover their ears for what we are about to report.”
Kate and Kyle looked at each other. She saw her own fear reflected in his eyes. She pushed back memories of Colorado; she didn’t have time to slide down another rabbit hole of stress. She’d think about it later.
“This new fact we have ascertained makes what happened today seem even more unfathomable, but there are dead and wounded police officers all over the country. We are getting reports from everywhere—cities, suburbs, rural counties in every state. It would seem that in addition to thousands of Americans, cops were definitely targeted,” Bianca said with tears in her eyes.
“Jesus fucking mother of God Christ,” Kyle yelled, tugging at his hair. “Shooters, murderers everywhere, and we are down hundreds of cops!”
Kate thought about the Sheriff in Colorado who was going to take care of everything. She thought of the President’s Blue Lives Matter followers and their idolization of cops, as long as the cops did their bidding. Was this some sort of twisted revenge attack? The President’s supporters were inclined to celebrate violence. Hell, the President publicly celebrated and encouraged violence. She just hoped that whatever, whoever it was, it didn’t make it harder for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Who the fuck shoots hundreds of cops?” Kyle asked as Kate rubbed his back.
“I don’t know, baby. It’s all so horrible,” Kate added with tears in her eyes.
As the hours went by, Kate and Kyle just stared at the TV, flipping around between local and national news. When Kate realized she was shivering, she went upstairs to change out of her running clothes, still damp with sweat from her earlier run.
She occasionally peeked out the window and looked across the street.
“Pick up for Christ’s sake,” she yelled at her cell as she continued to try to get 911 to answer. “All circuits are still busy,” she mumbled. “This is unacceptable!” She felt horrible thinking about Yvette and equally horrible thinking of dead police officers.
Just after 7:00 p.m., the anchors seemed to have pulled more information together. They were interviewing firefighters and EMT ambulance service providers who had been in homes and businesses trying to help gunshot victims.
“First responders report they are getting hundreds of calls and have asked the public to be patient; they will get to you as soon as possible,” Bianca told the camera before cutting away to a live interview.
“I would say we are seeing a pattern here,” a red-eyed New York City police officer said to the microphones thrust in his face as he tried to enter an apartment building in Hell’s Kitchen.
“What pattern?” yelled a particularly loud and aggressive reporter. Maybe he yelled because of his mask. It was New York, so everyone was wearing masks.
The police officer paused to collect his thoughts. “I’ve been to the scene of four shootings since approximately 12:15 today. That includes a police station on 33rd. I’ve seen dozens of dead bodies. It appears upon initial review, and this could change, that these people shot themselves with their own firearms. These may not be mass shootings as we have previously understood mass shootings but may be mass suicides. We will let you know more as we continue our investigations.” He turned and walked away from the reporters.
A feeling of dread spread through Kate’s stomach. She remembered a large bag, with who knows how many guns, and the terror of not knowing what Theo Mast intended to do. Murder? Suicide?
“No way you are leaving,” said the big, loud reporter blocking the cop’s exit. He seemed like he was seven feet tall and towered over the police officer. “People are terrified. There is a big difference between mass shootings and mass suicides. Do you really think all these people shot themselves? What about the police? Who shot them?” He continued so loudly that the cop could not ignore the important questions.
Bile rose in her throat.
“Look, the first two calls today were individuals in their homes. Did someone break in? Did a friend or family member shoot them and leave? The situations did not fit the typical profile for home invasions. Was it someone they knew? But the…” he gulped, “the position of the gunshot wounds seem self-inflicted”
“What the hell,” Kyle said, staring at the screen, squeezing Kate’s hand so hard she thought he might bruise her.
Reporters shouted more questions to the cop, and he yelled back, “We have to wait for the coroner’s reports. I’m just offering this information now to potentially calm some people. Though I am not sure this helps family members. I mean, isn’t it better that we don’t have assailants running around shooting people, right?” He sighed deeply and continued. “At the police station, where almost everyone was armed, it appears that the individuals shot themselves. How could a shooter, or even multiple shooters, get so close to trained and armed police officers? Someone there, of all places, would have shot the shooter,” he said, almost as a question to himself.
The gaggle of reporters continued their tirade, shouting questions and raising hands like they were in grade school hoping to be picked next.
“Look, I’ve said enough for now. We need more facts. I’m just remarking on a trend we’re starting to see.” He finished and walked quickly away, leaving the reporters stunned to silence while processing his words.
“Did he just say he thinks the cops shot themselves?” A reporter asked another reporter while still on a hot mike.
They cut away from Hell’s Kitchen, and the network anchors suddenly appeared. Faces grim, one of them took an audible breath. “We’ll take a quick break and try to corroborate what the police officer said.”
“No wonder we can’t get through to 911 or get anyone to check on Yvette,” Kate said to Kyle.
“That was in New York. We don’t know if that happened here. Why would it?” Kyle said, watching a commercial on TV.
“Why wouldn’t it?” Kate responded. “I mean, that would explain the ‘all circuits are busy’ for seven hours. Cops will look after and investigate their own situations first. Especially involving shootings at police stations. I mean, they will look after their own first—it’s only natural.”
Kyle rolled his eyes, which he only did when super annoyed; he didn’t like her immediate suspicion of the police. “They will come as soon as they can,” he said.
Kate and Kyle watched news coverage late into the night. At one point, they took a break and nuked canned soup. Kyle downed a couple of beers, but Kate couldn’t stomach even one.
PTSD, Kate thought, watching her hands shake.
By 2:00 a.m., the news anchors were sure of one thing: millions of Americans had been shot in every state and every city, from sea to shining sea, and in Alaska and Hawaii. Just as unfathomable, it seemed there were countless deaths across the globe. The scope of the horror was starting to sink in. No place was spared. Mass shootings at approximately the same time, everywhere.
Kate snapped awake in the wee hours of the morning, jolted by a terrible nightmare. She had fallen asleep on the couch. As she blinked her eyes open, she lost the details of the dream but had a cold, hard feeling in her stomach. Just like so many mornings since the unstable liar was sworn in as President.
This is normal; of course, I’m stressed. The pandemic is killing tens of thousands, the planet is dying, the worldwide economy is collapsing, the Administration is hurting and destroying everything I love. An anxiety attack is perfectly normal.
“Kyle!” she shouted.
He jerked awake. “What? What? Are you okay, babe?”
“Was there really a nationwide mass shooting yesterday?” she asked.
Kyle sat up and looked at the muted TV. He clicked the volume up.
“Yes. A mass shooting, everywhere at once, remember? Millions are dead. Millions of Americans are dead. Or wait, not a mass shooting, a mass suicide,” Kyle said slowly as if he was reminding himself.
As their minds fully woke, the news anchor’s words started to make sense.
“I hoped it was a nightmare,” Kate said, turning the volume up.
“What we now know for sure is that the shootings were not just in America but across the planet. All at approximately the same time or within a fifteen-minute window. Hundreds of millions of people are dead. Millions of police officers and soldiers are dead. We have a representative from Homeland Security joining us to discuss why this happened.”
A man introduced as a senior policy advisor appeared on the screen. He looked like a deer in headlights. He had deep circles under his eyes. “I need to be clear right away: we have no idea why this happened. None. Why would millions of people commit suicide at the same time? We are looking into some kind of a cyberattack. Or perhaps a mass drugging? We have considered and rejected an attack from a foreign nation or sect because the incident happened in every country. The usual suspects, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, all seem to be reeling from this tragedy. In fact, many heads of state are dead. Just like many in leadership at Homeland Security.” The man seemed to get more distressed as he spoke.
Was the Secretary of Homeland Security dead? Kate felt a chill run through her body. Are any of my Space Force colleagues dead? My old colleagues from NASA? Is our government even functioning?
“Who’s in charge?” Kyle asked, and Kate just shook her head.
“We are so sorry for your loss. Are you saying the Administration has no idea what caused this crisis?” asked the anchor.
“Yes, that is correct,” the senior policy advisor replied.
“What should Americans be doing now, today, as they wake up and realize the full extent of what happened?” the anchor asked.
“As head of logistics at Homeland, I can tell you that I know people are scared, but they need to remain calm and focused. I understand that many Americans have dead bodies, dead loved ones, in their homes.”
Kate thought of Yvette. Is she still on the floor? Did her husband come home to find her there?
“Many victims did not die from their gunshot wounds, so our hospitals, already stressed with COVID, are busy. We also know many people are dead, so we’re asking all refrigeration truck owners from all industries to call their local officials to make arrangements for their trucks to be used for body storage. That will help make space in the hospitals for the living. We need to help people remove the deceased and get them stored safely. If people have not been directly impacted, please help your neighbors, family, and friends. Stay out of hospitals and away from doctors, so they can focus on the living victims. If you can give blood, call your local blood bank and donate. It’s been 18 hours, and I know people are in shock. They are tired, and many are mourning, but we all need to work together to save American lives.” The official sounded exhausted and a little incoherent.
“See, we were right to check on Yvette,” Kate said, nudging Kyle and feeling sick thinking of her still lying there.
The agent continued. “We also need to understand that no one else has been shot since yesterday, so the threat seems to have passed. Please stay inside your home or a safe location. We don’t know why it happened or if it will happen again. For right now, it’s only safe to go outside if you need to help others. Only go out if you are helping yourself or others in a medical emergency. And of course, wear a mask and keep social distancing. We are still in a pandemic.”
“Wow. That is a lot to process but very, very helpful,” the anchor said, shaking her head. “Now we will let you get back to work, your very important work.”
“Thank you. Be safe, fellow Americans,”the government official said before disappearing from the screen.
I wonder if this guy’s a career employee, like me, or a political hack appointed because he made a big donation to the campaign. It’s hard to trust anyone in this administration. It’s always good to question authority, even if only to oneself.
“Well, viewers, you heard him, directly from Homeland Security. If you have a wounded person in the home, take them to the hospital. If you have a victim in your home, hold on; a system is being set up to help with the deceased. It’s okay and helpful to check on your neighbors and make a blood donation, but otherwise, stay home.” She repeated what the government official said in a more coherent way.
“We need to give blood,” Kate and Kyle said at almost the exact time while staring at the TV.
Kate laughed but then felt immediately bad for doing so.
“This whole thing fucking sucks,” Kyle said. “Jesus. First COVID and now this. It’s incomprehensible. Why is this shit happening?”
Kate felt crazy stress energy surging through her veins. Under normal circumstances, she’d head to the trail for a run. Instead, she showered, dried her hair, and dressed in 20 minutes flat. “I’m so anxious. I feel like a hurricane is coming, or something terrible is imminent and we need to be ready.”
“It’s PTSD. It’s just too much. Our systems are in overdrive,” Kyle said, pulling her in for a hug.
While Kyle showered, Kate prepared breakfast. She put cereal, fruit, oat milk, and coffee on the table and decided to make vegetarian sausage. “We need to eat hearty if we are giving blood,” Kate said to Kyle as he walked into the kitchen.
“Right. Good thinking,” he said, sitting down. “First we should check on our neighbors to make sure everyone is okay.”
As Kate was shoving a spoon of cereal in her mouth, she paused. She didn’t feel hungry, but she needed food to avoid fainting while she gave blood. “It’s only six-thirty? Maybe we should wait until eight?”
“I doubt people are sleeping in, but yeah, let’s wait until eight,” Kyle agreed.
“Wonder if the blood bank is doing normal hours?” Kate asked.
They ate in silence for a few minutes. The idea of sitting around, waiting an hour to do something seemed impossible. It was so quiet that they both jumped when the AC kicked on.
“I can’t take it. Let’s go out and see what the hell is happening,” Kyle said, standing up.
“I’ll grab masks,” Kate said.
To be continued
Be sure to check out our interview with the author just below her photo and bio.
Next Tuesday: Book Two, The Collision
CK Westbrook is an environmentalist who lives and works in Washington D.C. and a self-described old-school news junkie. CK has worked with the U.S. Congress and many Administrations to try to protect our water, air, and wildlife from pollution, abuse, and exploitation. Since the state of our planet and the news is bleak and depressing, CK escapes reality by creating intriguing characters in a science fiction world. The world these characters live in may be dark and scary, but they have fantastic adventures which impact their planet. In addition to creating imaginative stories, CK breaks free from daily life with an intense passion for travel and has been to all seven continents. CK loves weaving real-world topics and crises into suspenseful sci-fi and fantasy. To learn more about CK Westbrook, please go to www.ckwestbrook.com and 4 Horsemen Publications, on Twitter @WestbrookCK, and as CK Westbrook Author on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
An Interview with C.K. Westbrook
FC: When did you first get the idea to write this novel, and why?
C.K.: The pandemic created a lot of free time which allowed me to think, be creative, and write. We went into COVID lockdown in March 2020 and everything was dark and scary. There had been more than 400 mass shootings in the USA in 2019. I had been active in the gun violence movement and often heard the argument that “we can’t do anything about gun violence because we will never get rid of the guns.” So, I sat in my house at my computer combining all these thoughts and feelings and thinking about illness, fear, death, violence, and what we think makes us safe. I let my imagination take over and a few weeks later, the first draft of The Shooting was written.
FC: Why did you decide to write it as a trilogy?
C.K.: The stories are intense and suspenseful and seemed like a natural fit to be a trilogy with dramatic cliffhangers. I don’t want to give anything away, but I saw the full timeline in my head as I wrote The Shooting.
FC: What’s the most interesting or surprising thing you learned while research and writing it?
C.K.: I knew how terrible gun violence is in the United States, and I knew about the problem of space debris. But my research showed me the enormity and how extremely dangerous both problems are and how little our government is doing about them. Like the climate crisis and biodiversity extinction crisis, the government at all levels is not doing nearly enough to address these deadly problems.
FC: In what way is the book you wrote different from the book you set out to write?
C.K.: I knew the book would be about pollution and guns, but the feminist themes kind of snuck in. I was not really surprised, because I am a feminist, but it’s there in so many ways.
FC: Who are two creative people, one a writer and another not a writer, who have influenced you and your work?
C.K.: I loved The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins because she writes about violence without glorifying it. I have enormous respect for Jane Fonda. She has written books, but not fiction. Her brave creativity and brilliance are in her acting, producing great films and projects, and activism. I was arrested with her at a climate change protest and we spent hours in jail in a group of women talking about life, history, war, the environment, people, trauma, fitness, health, and the things we do for what we love.
FC: Persuade someone to read your book in fifty words or less.
C.K.: Science fiction usually has a catastrophic event that changes everything. The event in my book is that almost every gun owner, worldwide, turns their weapon on themselves at the same time. How? Why? Will there be more global violence? An unexpected hero must rise up to save the world.
And remember, next Tuesday is The Collision, Book Two of “The Impact Series”