The McClellands are enjoying a lazy summer vacation at the beach when they are lured from our world into Ixeos, an alternate Earth. Finding themselves lost in a maze of tunnels under Paris and surrounded by strangers, they discover that they have been brought to Ixeos for one purpose: to take the planet back from humanoid aliens who have claimed it. With the aid of the tunnels and a mysterious man named Landon, the teens travel the world seeking the key that will allow them to free Darian, the long-imprisoned rebel leader. But the aliens aren't the only problem on Ixeos -- the McClellands have to deal with brutal gangs, desperate junkies, and a world without power, where all the technology is owned by the aliens, and where most of the population has been killed or enslaved. The worst part? There's no way home.
by Jennings Wright
IXEOS is my fourth book, and it is by far the most complex. While my two treasure hunts involved a lot of locations and a lot of history, IXEOS encompasses the entire world. There are three main characters, another half dozen key secondary characters, and dozens of lesser secondary characters living all around the globe. Then there’s the complicated back story of the alien infiltration and subsequent war on the planet, the history of key players in the book, and the sheer magnitude of a the task of describing a world without power, where most of the humans are dead and the rest enslaved.
I remember sitting at my computer the first day, thinking, “How the heck am I even going to start this??” I had toyed with a prologue describing the war, but I decided that wasn’t a good way to begin. A lot of people skip prologues, for one thing, and for another, the original war isn’t the point of the book. The ramifications of that war, freeing the rebel leader, and trying to defeat the aliens are, and I wanted to get to those things as quickly as I could.
Still, the set-up was hard, and I had to do a good bit of editing to make it a reasonable length. Taking a global war, almost seven billion dead, half a million enslaved, and a few hundred teenagers brought from our world into Ixeos and turning it into a couple of chapters is a daunting task!
The other challenge was the large list of characters (and growing, with books 2 and 3). I have a small legal pad where I write names, descriptions and characteristics as I add these characters. Since I don’t develop secondary characters ahead of time, I just kept adding them to my list so I could remember who was who, and where they lived (there are scenes in Paris, London, Naples, Rome, Jordan, Guernsey, and Berlin, just to name a few). It was a little like herding cats, trying to keep all these names, faces and places straight.
All my books take place in multiple locations and involve a lot of research. I generally have a window or two open on my laptop with at least ten tabs, all with various topics. Subway maps, cities with tunnels, Italian surnames, history of the Decapolis, history of Naples, how EMPs work, a language translator… These are just some of the hundreds of topics I researched while writing IXEOS. I usually have Google Earth open, too, so I can see the routes the characters are taking in the various cities. Fortunately, I love history and geography, so, for the most part, I really enjoy this aspect of writing.
Once the book was finished, beta readers had had a chance to read and comment, editing had been done (and done and done), it was time for one of my favorite aspects of publishing: the cover design. I’m pretty particular about my covers, and have been very fortunate to have a designer who is really attuned to what his clients like and don’t like. I knew the IXEOS cover needed a tunnel on the front, and had been thinking about it since I started writing it. One day, a friend posted a picture of his preschooler in a tunnel on a playground. He’d used Instagram, and it was a very stylized, interesting picture. I immediately asked him if I could use the concept for my upcoming book, to which he agreed. I sent it to Glendon at Streetlight Graphics as our starting place for the design. We replaced the toddler with an adult, made the tunnel bigger and rougher, and added an iconic view of Paris in the background. Glowing sci-fi letters and some tweaking of the font size, and the IXEOS cover was born. I was absolutely thrilled, and it has gotten rave reviews from all corners.
Bringing a book, especially one as complex as IXEOS, from those first words to the final cover design is an intense undertaking. But when you hold your book in your hand for the first time and see that cover live and in person, there is no better feeling (except when readers tell you how much they love it and that they can’t wait for book 2)!
Author Jennings Wright
Born and raised in Florida, Jennings spent her early years reading anything she could get her hands on, when she wasn't spending time in and on the water. She won a prize in the 6th grade for her science fiction stories.
Jennings attended the University of Tampa, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science, and almost enough credits for B.A.s in both English and History. She attended graduate school at the University of West Florida, studying Psychology. She spent time over the years doing various kinds of business writing, editing, and teaching writing, but mostly having and raising her family, homeschooling her children, owning and running a business with her husband, and starting a non-profit.
Thanks to a crazy idea called NaNoWriMo Jennings got back into creative writing in 2011 and hasn't stopped since. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, also a business owner and writer, and two children, and travels extensively with her family, and her non-profit in Uganda.
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