by Simone Pond
Book three picks up in the year 2345, seventeen years after the disappearance of former city center leader, Chief Morray. There has been peace among the West Coast regions for years, but in Ojai Village there is very little peace between Ava and her sixteen-year old daughter Grace. Both have different ideas about what it takes to maintain independence. Ava spends hours inside the mainframe searching for Morray, while Grace focuses on the art of combat. Grace’s dream is to get accepted into the Silicon Valley Academy and become a soldier like her father General Joseph Strader. During tryouts for the academy Grace comes across some digital footprints inside the mainframe, convincing Ava that Morray has returned to seek revenge and reclaim control. When Ava goes missing, Grace assembles a motley crew of cadets to go on a search and rescue mission up north in Seattle to save her mother and take down Morray. Grace soon learns that independence comes at a price.
Ava awoke from a deep sleep, feeling groggy and half drugged. Her temples throbbed and each cell dragged through her body. She didn’t remember going to bed, or falling asleep. She especially didn’t recall putting on a delicate nightgown of soft satin. She usually slept in a tank top. She sat up and looked around the room to get her bearings. Nothing made sense. Not the enormous king-size bed or the overstuffed feather comforters, or the chiffon canopy hanging over her head. She got out of bed and looked around the room to figure out where she was. Massive crystal chandeliers dangled from the vaulted ceilings. The room was far too opulent to be inside the academy. No, she thought, these chambers are fit for a queen. And she had been here before. A long time ago. A very long time ago. She went over to the windows and peered out to the vast green forest of trees that stretched across the Los Angeles basin all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
“Impossible,” she whispered, leaning against the glass to keep from collapsing.
This was the same room at the Royal Palace where Morray had held her prisoner sixteen years ago. She stood by these same windows just before she made her speech and just before Joseph’s men stormed the Arena and took down Morray. The walls shifted to gray, and the edges of the room closed in on her. She staggered over to the white lounger to sit down and catch her breath. How could she be sitting in a place that no longer existed? Years ago, the New Democracy had demolished the palace. She wondered if she were having a lucid dream or a very pronounced hallucination. It was too real to be a dream––the intoxicating scent of jasmine, the cold marble floor under her bare feet, and the taste of bile in her throat––but the room defied all logic. This had to be an outright lie. It had to be. There was only one explanation and one man who could concoct such a convincing falsehood . . . Morray.
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AN INTERVIEW WITH SIMONE
-What inspired you to write Mainframe’s series?
It started with a conversation with my husband. We like to play “What if?” and I asked him, “What if in the future people lived inside giant city centers that they thought were safe havens, but they were actually prisons?” And he said, “Now that’s a good idea for a story. Have you seen Logan’s Run?” The seed was planted for my first book and as I was writing The City Center, ideas for the other books started coming to me.
-Do you plot your novels, or do you just sit down, start writing, and let the story take you where it will?
I neurotically plot out my novels. For the entire series, I have timelines and family trees that span over three hundred years. There’s a lot to keep track of so I have to take meticulous notes. For each book I first start out by getting to know the main character and what they want, then I plot out my story beats. I need to have a big picture overview of the entire story before I can start writing. Things change as I’m writing, but I find it important to have some direction. It’s like a map.
-What are your ideal writing conditions?
This varies, depending on my mood. Sometimes I need silence. Other times I need to be in a coffee shop with a bunch of strangers. As long as I have a steaming, hot cup of tea and my laptop I’m good.
-If you could visit the world of your novels for a day, would you? I feel like I spend the majority of my life inside my novels. In fact, this comes up in The Mainframe. The main character, Ava, is obsessed with searching for Morray in the digital realm. At one point in the story she realizes she’s spent most of her life in a virtual world, rather than the real one. I feel like that a lot.
-If you could go back in time and give your pre-published self one piece of advice, what would it be?
To not be so hard on myself. To celebrate the book releases instead of worrying about the outcome.
-Any future projects lined up? Are they similar to Mainframe, or will you branch out into something completely different?
I’m currently working on a book of short stories about the Repatterning, which is the man-made apocalypse that kicked the series into motion. I’ll probably write another book in the series because I really love the characters. Especially Morray.
As a young girl, Simone Pond loved writing in her journal and making up stories, but after reading S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, everything changed. Amazed that a woman could write so convincingly from a teenage boy's perspective, Pond became determined to become a writer as well.
In 2013, Pond released The City Center, the first book in her dystopian fiction series. A fast-paced tale of love and adventure that will appeal to young adults and seasoned readers alike. The second book in the series, The New Agenda, was published in May of 2014. The City Center and The New Agenda are best sellers in Amazon's post-apocalyptic science fiction category, and The City Center was the recipient of a gold medal award from Readers' Favorite.
Pond currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their Boston Terrier.
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