Release Day Post + Giveaway: Paragon, Soren Summers
The other day I hid an ad on Facebook, because that’s a thing we have to do now. But then the system asked me a question, as if to shame me for picking out the brands and businesses I don’t care about: “Hide all products related to Positive Thoughts?” Not cool, Facebook.
Generally I’m happy to look at and click on ads about stuff I’m interested in, but this? This was a juicer. A damn juicer was being targeted to people who, for whatever infernal reason, Facebook’s algorithm decided are interested in Positive Thoughts. I don’t recall ever specifying an interest in positive thinking, and my activity on Facebook doesn’t generally involve uploading motivational posters or watching uplifting videos. But it still got me just a teensy bit paranoid. Am I really that negative a person?
The answer, lest you think this entire post is going to be about me trying to suss that out for myself, is no. Hell no. As surly, angry, and arrogant as I am in real life, I’m probably one of the most optimistic people I know. It takes a certain amount of self-belief and confidence (and a pinch of delusion) to be able to start and finish a 60,000-word novel, for example, even with the knowledge that not a lot of people might read it. On a more relevant scale, it also takes a certain amount of positivity to live in a world where you pick up the newspaper and turn on the TV only to discover that everywhere, at any given moment, people are dying.
Sometimes, in a fit of ennui, I’ve asked myself what existing is even in aid of. Not in a suicidal sense, mind you, but more in a nihilistic, “What’s the point?” sort of way. Sometimes it’s difficult to even consider going through the motions of life when the world, for all intents and purposes, can be a burning mountain of refuse. Murder, hatred, and the very existence of a racist, misogynistic bewigged pumpkin as the most powerful man in the world is all evidence of the fact that people can be absolutely terrible. Why bother?
I’m not a fan of people in general, something many who knew me from my previous life would find surprising. I was a lifestyle journalist and sometime public relations practitioner, and despite spending most of my time writing I knew that my gift was in communication. I’ve been repeatedly told that I’m good with people, and after years of struggling with that, I think I’ve either accepted it or plain given in.
An ironic talent, perhaps, for someone who dislikes other humans in general. I detest small talk, dread social interactions as tiny as going up to a cashier, and most of all, I hate waiting for colleagues to finish tasks so I can get on with my work. So, like the fool that I am, I entered the world of self-publishing, where I thought I’d be safe from the scourge of Other People. I was so, so wrong.
If there’s anything I’ve gleaned from the entire experience of writing and publishing books about Vertex, it’s that people can, indeed, be incredible. Awesome, even. The greatest boon so far has not been the income (which would make you weep, and not in a good way) or the ego boost from positive reviews. It’s the handful of new friendships I’ve developed, whether it’s with blog reviewers like the lovely ladies here at OTDU, or readers who so kindly made the time to drop me a tweet or a message, setting off flurries of chain emails that led to us becoming actual friends.
This is the gist of the entire Vertex series, actually. Monster introduces you to the core characters of the trilogy, asking you pointedly at turns which of them you believe to be the most monstrous, the very worst, a question that I hope keeps pricking at the reader’s mind until the very last page of the very last book. Yet despite their many, many faults, Jarod, Gabriel, and all the rest do what they can to fix things, to be the best people they can be to each other, because those are the only options left when the world, as in many cases throughout the series, crumbles down around their ears.
Vertex itself, the corporation responsible for the events in the books, stands by a single core tenet, something that’s so fundamental you’ll find it on the company website, in all the press releases, or even plastered in huge letters in the foyer of every research facility: “The betterment of mankind.” And for all of the machinations of Jonathan Hargrove, the corporation’s shady CEO, there’s a strange sort of dedication he has to this motto, a fondness for other humans in spite of his own criticism and prejudices.
Even someone as callous as Hargrove knows that there is something in humanity worth saving. I am by no means a religious man, but hearing the members of a choir shake the walls of a cathedral with the perfection of their voices still brings me to tears. Seeing something as massive and pure as a mountain, an ocean, or a night sky brimming with stars leaves me gasping for breath. There is much, much ugliness in the world, and in the human race itself, but for all of the hideousness, there is still so much beauty.
That’s why I write. That’s why I do what I do, in some hopeful, desperate attempt to remind what readers I have that there’s still some goodness among the garbage, that something as lovely as a lotus flower can grow out of murky, muddy water. I don’t purport to write anything especially brilliant or thought-provoking, but I do know that my writing is at least strong enough to take a reader out of our world for at least the length of its pages. If I can bring someone to a destination that isn’t this planet, to help them forget some of their worries for just a few hours, then I’ve done my work.
Not all of us can have noble callings. Not everyone can be a doctor, a humanitarian, a social worker, but all of us, every one, has the ability to suffuse someone else’s life with even just a bit of joy and radiance. Every day the earth fills with just a little more darkness. All we can do is refuse to surrender to it, to struggle and kick when it tries to envelop us. We can be beacons of light to cast away the shadows. We can shine in whatever capacity we can – as professionals, as parents, as sons and daughters, as friends – to shed our brightness on those around us. The world may be garbage, but we are not.
Blog review is here
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER. CONGRATULATIONS TO PAUL
To celebrate the release of book #3 in the Vertex series, Paragon, Soren Summers is giving away a signed paperback of both Monster (Vertex #1) + Siren (normally only available as an e-book for newsletter subscribers). This giveaway is NOT restricted to the USA, it is an international giveaway – On Top Down Under is a dual hemisphere blog.
Simply leave a comment below before midday on Monday July 24th Australian Eastern Standard Time for a chance to win. The winner will be contacted within 24 hours and must contact us within 72 hours of notification otherwise we will redraw. Thanks for stopping by and good luck everyone!
Hi, Soren here. After 15 years spent working in lifestyle journalism and public relations I decided it was time to stop selling other people’s stories and start telling my own. I’m obsessed with writing about ordinary people struggling against overwhelming supernatural odds. I’ve also been told that I’m kind of charming. No, really.
I love video games, staying home on the weekends, and geeky guys. I’m great with animals and I have a soft spot for cats, dogs, and geeky guys. My favorite edibles are pizza, coffee, and geeky guys. My favorite shows are RuPaul’s Drag Race, Better Off Ted, and anything that has geeky guys in it. Also my friends say I have a one-track mind but they have no idea what they’re talking about.
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