I suppose, being my first blogpost on my RedRoom page, I'll ramble a bit on my new book, Pepe:
It's a cyberpunk novel -- perhaps a bit of crossover to fantasy -- set in 2040 (I wanted to begin it in 2020, but the publisher thought that some of the elements were a bit too futuristic -- especially the effects of global warming and all, so I went with her suggestion).
Pepe is a homeless street boy who doesn't know his true identity. In the course of the story, he lives in places you'd typically find them: before the fire, in a vast slum community named the Dockyards (which is one of the central locations); later, an abandoned multi story construction site with other homeless kids; and then, a shelter for homeless children, Mercy House, which I've based on an actual place where I worked for a year. More about that in a bit. Everywhere he lives, he has his sister, Po, with him. She's two years younger, she's not his biological sister, but he knows he's gotta take care of her. I've described the life of street kids as closely as I can without making the story dreary and dismal. There's every type: Pepe's and Po's "grandma" died when their home was burnt in a slum fire; there's Jose, the drug addict, who ran away from an abusive dad; and Raquel and her six-year-old twin brothers, Pierre and Michele (don't worry -- no tiresome comedies-of-errors). Their mother abandoned them after their dad went to prison. They are French/African. Raquel is a colourful character. I loved doing her.
Mercy House is based on Father Joe Maier's Mercy Centre (Human Development Foundation) in Bangkok. I described it as closely as possible without making parts of the book sound like a publicity brochure. The real-world Mercy Centre also includes an AIDS hospice for terminal victims of that disease, and a slum kindergarten. Fr. Joe is the inspiration for Fr. Antonio in the story. He's read this, and likes it. I've promised half of my royalties to HDF.
Some of the settings were inspired by various parts of Bangkok, especially the slum community where HDF is located (also near the docks). Some aspects of the political and social situation (especially with regard to homeless children) also remind us of Colombia and Brazil. However, the story is actually set in the fictional Southern European nation of Cardovia, with a history that goes back thousands of years. Cardo, the founder and first king of the dynasty, once paid a visit to King Solomon and received a special gift from him. This, and the character of Atsuko, the aged Japanese mystic, give the story its fantasy edge.
It's Cyberpunk: The blurb above said that the General's brain had been wired to a network of computers and robots. You'll see that that can definitely have its disadvantages. Unbeknownst to his dad, Raul is a hacker. His dad is an army colonel, one of the General's top commanders. Their family is typical upper-crust -- the opposite end of the spectrum from Pepe and Po. Tthings get precarious when Raul hacks into the Generals computer system and realises what kind of person he really is.
Rich kid meets poor kid: We see the typical attitude of rich kids towards "low-lifers", but things happen. A relationship slowly develops until Raul, Pepe and Po are the closest of friends. He enters their world as one of them. At the same time, in front of his computer terminal and VR set, sometimes accompanied by Pepe, he makes discovery after amazing discovery. Puzzle pieces begin to fit together, until suddenly he realises the danger Pepe is in. In fact, it might be too late...I'll stop here. I'm giving too much away.
There are no superheroes. Everyone's thoroughly human. Perhaps the closest thing to a superhero is Atsuko, but even he has his limitations. But, everyone does what it takes to give the story an ending that should be thoroughly satisfying.
I think you'll like it.
Well -- (as Mr. Bean says about his videos) -- I like it anyway...
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Human Development Foundation of Fr. Joe Maier. He was the inspiration for the character of Fr. Antonio in Pepe, and his shelter for homeless...