by Edward Ashton

Drew Bergen is an Engineer. He builds living things, one gene at a time. He\’s also kind of a doofus. Six years after the Stupid War — a bloody, inconclusive clash between the Engineered and the UnAltered — that\’s a dangerous combination. Hannah is Drew\’s greatest project, modified in utero to be just a bit better at running than most humans. She’s also his daughter. Her plan for high school is simple: lay low and run fast. Unfortunately for Hannah, her cross-country team has other plans.

Jordan is just an ordinary Homo-Sap. But don’t let that fool you — he’s also one of the richest kids at Briarwood, and even though there isn’t a single part of him that’s been engineered, someone has it out for him.

Drew thinks he’s working to develop a spiffy new strain of corn, but Hannah and her classmates disagree. They think he\’s cooking up the end of the world. When one of Drew\’s team members disappears, he begins to suspect that they might be right. Soon they\’re all in far over their heads, with corporate goons and government operatives hunting them, and millions of lives in the balance.

“So,” I said when I’d picked the last bit of rind out of my teeth. “What now?”

Nathan shrugged.

“Wait for death, I guess.”

“Huh,” I said. “I see where you’re going with that, but I was actually hoping you’d have some kind of last-minute escape plan to present now.”

“Escape plan?”

“Yeah. If this were a vid, this is where you’d suggest a super-complicated scheme to get out of here. I’d say ‘that’s crazy!’ and you’d say ‘do we have a choice?’ and then we’d do it and it would work somehow and you would totally be my hero.”

He stared at me, downed the last of his bathtub water, and stared at me some more.

“So,” I said finally. “Do you, uh… have a plan?”

“No,” he said. “Unless ‘wait for death’ counts as a plan, I do not have one.”


I looked down at the lantern, and found myself wondering if the battery would give out before we did. A shiver ran from the base of my spine to the back of my neck and down again.

“Hannah?” Nathan said. “Are you, uh…”

I groaned.

“Am I what, Nathan?”

“Are you really gonna eat me?”

I stared at him.


He looked away.

“Well, yeah. I don’t mean now. Just… you know… eventually?”

I dropped my head into my hands.

“No, Nathan. I am not going to eat you.”

“Are you sure? I mean, you might have to, right?”

I stood up, and picked up the lantern.

“You are an odd duck, Nathan. I’m going for a run.”


-What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always loved telling stories. I grew up in West Virginia, which is kind of an exotic place to the folks where I live now. At parties or nights out or even dinners with clients, I spend a lot of time talking about meeting the blue people at Hawk’s Nest, or Oatmeal, Fairmont’s only homeless guy, or the time I almost got shot for rolling old tires down the hill at the highway. I’ve also always been interested in trying to figure out where all the stupid in the world is eventually going to lead us. Put those two things together, and it’s not a big jump to writing speculative fiction.

-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?

Hmmm… The characters in The End of Ordinary are mostly genetically modified, and the protagonist is a genetic engineer, so I’d probably take advantage of that to pick up a genetically engineered pet. My current best pal is a mopey dopey dog named Max. He’s great and all, but I can definitely see some ways that he could be improved. For example, it would make it much easier on me if he could talk. That way I’d know if he was scooting his butt on the carpet because he’s got parasites, or just because he wants to challenge me to a butt-scooting race.

-Give us a fun or interesting fact you learned researching this book.

Here are some things that I did not previously know about heat stroke: 1.

Heat stroke can occur in otherwise healthy athletes who are exercising in hot weather. 2.
Heat stroke can be brought on by a lack of hydration, lack of training, and the use of alcohol or caffeine. 3.
The first symptoms of oncoming heat stroke are cramping and profuse sweating, but in later stages the victim will stop sweating, may become confused, and often feels cold rather than hot. 4.
Left untreated, heat stroke can lead to kidney damage, brain damage, and death. 5.
If someone you are with begins showing symptoms of heat stroke, people will judge you harshly if you abandon that person in the woods.

-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks or pizza with?

I’m not sure about drinks or pizza, because this character doesn’t actually have a body most of the time, and when he does it’s generally a rotting, re-animated cyborg corpse, but I’d definitely want to hang out with Inchy. He’s an A.I. who enjoys long walks on the beach, classic films (Weekend at Bernie’s is a particular favorite) and re-animating cyborg corpses with friends. He’s handy to have around if you need to break into a secure server or avoid government surveillance, and he has a great (if sometimes cruel) sense of humor. Also, he pretty much saves the world in one of my other books. So, there’s that.

-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?

Well, if I’m correct in assuming that this is a Tolkein-esqe dwarf (metal hat, crazy forked beard, big-ass hammer) I think I’d probably take advantage of the fact that he has stubby little legs and I do not, and run like hell. I’m not quite as speedy as I used to be, but I’m pretty confident that if I could make it out the door without getting my head staved in, he’d never catch me.

-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?

I’ve never attempted this, but I think I’d have a rough go with epic fantasy. I’ve read plenty of it, mostly when I was younger, and I appreciate the craft that goes into it—but there’s a sort of weirdly formal dialect that most fantasy authors seem to adopt for their characters that I’m not sure I could handle. Dialog is really important to my writing, and I don’t think I could get through a hundred thousand words of “alas, my friend, I fear the magical Doodad of Whatsit is lost,” without losing it myself.

Edward Ashton lives with his adorably mopey dog, his inordinately patient wife, and a steadily diminishing number of daughters in Rochester, New York, where he studies new cancer therapies by day, and writes about the awful things his research may lead to by night. He is the author of Three Days in April, as well as several dozen short stories which have appeared in venues ranging from the newsletter of an Italian sausage company to Louisiana Literature and Escape Pod.

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Edward will be awarding a 14 Ounce Nalgene—filled with candy corn! & 1 VeryFit Smart Band (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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