The Greatest Risk is to Take No Risk at All. Nationwide food shortages have sparked civil unrest, and the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense’s hold on the people is slipping. The Resistance’s efforts to hasten the OCSD’s demise have resulted in disaster, with Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher taking the blame for the ill-fated mission in OP-439. Both teens struggle to survive the circumstances that force them into the national spotlight—and this time, they’re on opposite sides. On the run and exiled from the Resistance members in BG-098, Tommy makes his way to a Resistance safe house in the capital. The OCSD is preparing to monitor all under-eighteens with the Cerberean Link, a device that protects them against hunger and sickness and can even locate them if they’re lost. Tommy’s now living in close quarters with Atari, an operative who’s been assigned to sabotage the Link. But does Atari plan to use it for his own purposes? Through it all, Tommy refuses to believe Careen’s loyalties have shifted away from the Resistance, and he’s willing to assume any risk to reconnect with her. Will they be able to trust each other when it matters most?
Each subsequent book in the Resistance Series picks up minutes after the one before left off. This gives the reader the sense of staying in the thick of the action. The books are told in multiple perspective, and the opening scene in Ignite, the third book in the series, is a short recap of a scene from Resist, except shown from a different character's point of view.
Who do you trust when your world unravels and everything you believed is a lie? For the past fifteen years, The Office of Civilian Safety and Defense has guarded the public against the rampant threat of terrorism. Teenagers Tommy and Careen have never known life without the government-approved Civilian Restrictions. For them, there’s no social media. No one is allowed to gather in public places or attend concerts or sporting events. Only a small, select group of adults have driving privileges. It’s a small price to pay for safety. Now a new, more deadly, terrorist threat looms: airborne chemical weapons that can be activated without warning. The OCSD is ready with an antidote to counteract the effects of the toxins. Three drops a day is all it takes. It’s a small price to pay for health. Tommy and Careen obediently take the antidote; neither considers stopping when strange things begin to happen. The day the disaster sirens signal the dreaded attack, Tommy shares his last dose with Careen, even though doing so might hasten his death. It’s a small price to pay for a friend. Follow Tommy and Careen as they uncover a web of lies and deceit reaching to the highest levels of the United States government and join an underground resistance group that’s determined to expose the truth.
Tommy's living under the constant threat of a chemical weapons attack, and doesn't realize he's actually in the grip of the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense's hallucinatory "antidote." He's never been taught to question authority--and it's a stretch for him to sneak in a morning run before taking his daily dose of the antidote. Surely whatever side effects he's experiencing are still better than falling victim to the terrorists? Dystopian fiction seeks to explore what humans will endure before they rebel against external forces that seek to control them. What will it take for Tommy to assert himself?
Tommy Bailey's world changed forever the night his parents were killed in a car accident. He's reeling from the loss of his family and trying to cope with his new physical limitations. He has no idea there's a connection between that accident and the terrorist attack that threatens him now. He's being watched. And things are only going to get worse. Tommy is lonely--but he's never alone.
When I wrote Counteract, I enjoyed creating a dystopian story with action, adventure, and characters you want to root for. But there's also a message of caution. Tommy and Careen unquestioningly follow instructions and take the antidote that's supposed to protect them against the airborne poison--but the OCSD has conveniently neglected to mention some disturbing side effects. In this scene, Tommy has begun to realize that his malaise is related to the antidote, and he starts to rebel--just a little. But the pull of the antidote is strong. What will it take for him to risk his safety and free himself from its grasp?
My villain in the Resistance Series is fear. The people's reaction to fear and terrorism has spiraled out of control, and the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense has taken advantage of that desperation to clamp down on the people it claims to be protecting. All this seemed pretty far-fetched when I started writing Counteract in 2010. When I explained the Essential Services Department with another writer friend, she said, "Wonderful! No more schlepping to the grocery." She changed her mind after I explained that ES doesn't let people choose what they want to eat. An unexpected consequence of relinquishing control. I didn't realize just how much my made-up scenario would come to resemble the world we live in...
How do you choose the catalyst that will bring your protagonists together? A good YA thriller should have an element of romance, right? In Counteract, Careen is a strong, independent heroine--well, at least she was, until the world unraveled and she realized everything she'd come to believe was a lie. Add the looming threat of forced conscription into some sort of army--she and Tommy aren't exactly sure how the government plans to make use of the people forced to participate, but anyone who fails to report for training can be jailed. They've just recently become a team--working together to figure out why everyone is being forced to take CSD, which makes people compliant and causes amnesia. Now they're trapped. There's no escape. And unlike most of the people around them, they've stopped taking CSD. This is not the time to deny their mutual attraction, or fail to seek the comfort of a human connection in the only way they have left.
Careen and Tommy were law-abiding citizens who put their trust in the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense's ability to protect them against the biological warfare that threatens the country. This scene shatters that trust; they realize they're quite on their own, and they've got no idea how to protect themselves. It was my hope that readers would put themselves in Tommy and Careen's shoes, and think about who they trust--and how much control they might have relinquished over their own lives.
The characters in Counteract are mandated to take the Counteractive System of Defense drug (CSD), which is supposed to protect them from an imminent chemical weapons attack. Trouble is, the side effects include hallucinations. How do you know what's real--and who to trust--if you can't believe what your senses tell you? Careen is an extremely intelligent young woman who turns into a scatterbrain when she takes CSD, but her natural defenses kick in when she perceives she's in danger from more than the toxins in the air.
I made the decision to write the Resistance Series books in multiple point of view because I had a collaborator early in the project. We'd each written scenes for our characters, and when I began writing alone, I didn't want to take a voice away from any of the characters. Writing in multiple POV gives a film-like feel to the book. It also allows the reader to know things Tommy and Careen don't. In this excerpt, we meet Dr. Trina Jacobs, a new hire at the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, charged with developing a drug that will counteract the effects of the toxins used in chemical weapons.
This excerpt is the final version of the first scene written on the project, in response to the prompt about everyone being on LSD. Tommy Bailey was seriously injured in the auto accident that killed his parents, and he's just beginning to get his life back together when the threat of a chemical weapons attack against the US sends him reeling again. Writing a scene in which your character hallucinates was a great creative exercise. A lot of the references might be lost on someone who didn't know the writer, but the finished scene portrays a person whose fears of pain, death and decay overwhelm him.
Counteract evolved from a writing prompt. I was mentoring a friend of my daughter's, editing his short stories and working on his writing. We were between projects, and he suggested we free write to a prompt. His suggestion? "What if everyone were on a mind-altering drug and all thoughts were communal?" It was certainly thought-provoking, and we each wrote a scene and eagerly traded them. In his, Chase created the character Tommy. We had no idea where the project was going at the time, but writing hallucination scenes for these new characters was fun and exciting. After we had three characters and about six scenes, we began to dream about how and why our characters had ended up in this situation.
I put considerable thought into the "grown-up stuff" I included in Counteract, which is categorized YA. If it were a film I'd rate it a mild PG-13 for romance, violence, and language. I wanted to use the situation in this excerpt, not to glorify the fact that many college students have, at one time or another, experienced waking up and not knowing exactly where they are, but to allude to what Careen is giving up by blindly following the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense's edict to take the antidote. It's supposed to protect her from a chemical weapons attack, but it's got some side effects that have been, shall we say, downplayed by the OCSD...
This is the opening chapter of Counteract. Here you'll meet Careen, Tommy, and Wes--three young people who have very different reactions to the news of an imminent terrorist attack against the United States.
Knowledge comes with a price. Tommy and Careen no longer believe the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense’s miracle antidote can protect them from a terrorist’s chemical weapons. After accidentally discovering the antidote’s real purpose, they join the fight to undermine the OCSD’s bid for total control of the population. Being part of the Resistance brings with it a whole new set of challenges. Not everyone working for change proves trustworthy, and plans to spark a revolution go awry with consequences far beyond anything they bargained for. Tommy and Careen’s differing viewpoints threaten to drive a wedge between them, and their budding relationship is tested as their destinies move toward an inevitable confrontation with the forces that terrorize the nation. Where does love fit in when you’re trying to start a revolution?
At the midway point of Resist: Book Two of the Resistance Series, Careen's feeling like she's bitten off more than she can chew. She's the face of the Resistance's counterattack against the oppressive Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, and the Resistance has hacked into the government-run television station to broadcast her videos that champion freedom, rather than acquiescence to the OCSD. She's frustrated with Tommy's jealousy. After all, she joined the Resistance because of him. She didn't ask for the attention. She didn't ask for attention from Wes Carraway, either, but every time she turns around, he's there. She can't seem to find common ground with Tommy, and she can't seem to get rid of Wes. What's a girl to do?
Jaycee Carraway is the youngest member of the cast of characters in The Resistance Series. She's a bit of a practical joker and loves attention. She had just one scene in Counteract, but several of my readers commented on how much they liked "the little waitress." I didn't even know her name when I wrote the first draft of Counteract, but later, when it was in revision, I heard another one of the characters call her Jaycee. (Yeah, that happens in my head--more than you'd think.) Anyway, in this excerpt from Resist, Jaycee's dialogue flowed as she directed my hands on the keyboard. She wanted a bigger part in the story, and she knew just how to make it happen. She's become a major character in Ignite, and she's loving it. So am I.
I added this section of Chapter 10 after I'd finished the second draft of Resist. I remember sitting on the front porch (my favorite place to write) and feeling like a spectator as Tommy's first impressions of the unfamiliar mountain landscape unfolded on the page in front of me. Tommy's never been far from his home quadrant in what used to be central Ohio, because of the Travel Restrictions. Now he, Careen, and his folks are on the run, in search of the Resistance's remote headquarters. Even as Tommy marvels at the massive rock formations, he recognizes that the terrain can change at a moment's notice. Will he and his allies be able to shake loose the oppressive regime from its seemingly impregnable position?
Resist has only been out a few weeks, and even though I was pleased with how the story had carried forward from Counteract, it's reaffirming to get good feedback from a reader. Here's one of the first reviews posted on Amazon: "Author Tracy Lawson hits it out of the park in this second book of her gripping dystopian series. Fast-paced and impossible to put down! Who says this is only for young adults? I absolutely loved it, and my 17-year old daughter did as well! This book is rich in detail and filled with great characters. Tommy and Careen are as brave and bold as they come. Determined to continue their quest to overthrow a corrupt government, they are on the run to reach their Resistance headquarters. Lives and relationships and everything else imaginable are put to the test here. Put this on your must-read list! I can't wait for the next book. Tracy Lawson is a budding superstar author!"
Eduardo, the timid mailman of Counteract, was so frightened of the possible terrorist attack that he took his daily dose of the preventive antidote with a Kahlua chaser. His cowardice touched off the series of events that led Tommy and Careen to discover the real purpose of the antidote. When he realizes he's been played for a fool, he decides to fight for change and justice, and he undergoes a very satisfying evolution. Early in Resist, Eduardo's making up for his past mistakes. He's rescued Tommy and Careen from the botched mission at the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense headquarters, and now they're dodging roadblocks and the quadrant marshals in an attempt to complete their task without the help of the other members of the Resistance. They know the OCSD has used the antidote to keep the people in its iron grip--but that's all about to change...
It's been harder than I thought for Resist, the second book in The Resistance Series, to take hold and achieve the sales numbers I'd hoped for in the first two months. I wonder if every second book in a series needs time to find its audience? It really does help to read Counteract before Resist, as Resist picks up the action right where Counteract left off. Tommy and Careen took part in a Resistance raid on the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, in attempt to free other members of the Resistance being held captive there. Things didn't exactly go as planned, and now Careen's accused of a murder she didn't commit. She and Tommy are dodging roadblocks and the quadrant marshals in a headlong dash for the safety of the Resistance's remote mountain headquarters...
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