THE FOURTH LAW
by Clayton Barnett
In 2026, 23 year-old apprentice nurse Lily Barrett lives in a shattered time. Following its economic collapse, the US has devolved into a group of a few barely-functional smaller states, and vast swathes of barbarian badlands. Her sister has been missing for years, and her father, after earning the opprobrium of most of the world for running a state terror organization, presumed dead.
Two things keep her going: her live-in job at a small, Catholic orphanage in the city of Waxahachie, Republic of Texas, and Ai, her odd, but dear friend, whom she met online: a young woman who only shows herself to Lily as a rendered CG image.
Troubled by her past, haunted by her name, and facing an uncertain future, Lily seeks only a quiet, normal life. But, that past and her present conspire against her. A new Morning has come, and with it, delights and terrors, happiness and adversity.
Where do we come from?
What are we?
Where are we going?
A young woman, or older girl. Call her twenty, Lily thought. A burnt-orange, silk, Chinese-style dress. Her face that indeterminate Eurasian that could have her from Hungary to western China. Her hair, though. Long, and artificially dyed; in this awful light it was hard to tell exactly, but somewhere between a blue and a green... aquamarine?
Lily very slowly put her left hand out, stopping just shy of the girl’s face.
“Is...is it...you, Ai?” The girl smiled and nodded.
“Welcome to my home, friend Lily!”
Happy that she finally saw Ai in person, Lily was completely perplexed.
With a look of surprise and her hands to her cheeks, Ai exclaimed, “Oh! But where are my manners? I’ve never had a guest before! Let’s sit over here!” She stepped past Lily’s left. Turning, Lily saw a small wrought-iron table with two chairs of similar make. Those were not there a second ago. Ai sat primly and waved at the other chair for Lily. After a moment’s hesitation, she joined her.
Ai continued to beam at her. “This is so nice! That’s right, you’re a coffee drinker, here! I’m going to try some tea, though.” Ai raised a delicate china cup to her lips, then paused. Lily looked down to find a stout white mug in front of her. Her nose told her that the liquid inside was coffee, but why was the coffee as clear as water?
~Buy THE FOURTH LAW on Amazon.
AN INTERVIEW WITH CLAYTON
-What inspired you to become a writer?
In the case of my 80k word visual novel, OTChi Kocchi, from a few years back, it’d be jealousy. That may sound petulant, but it’s true: I was angry at myself that if a bunch of ‘artsy’ types could make a visual novel, then why in the hell couldn’t I? I had a friend who was – and is – a great illustrator, so off we went.
For this, my first traditional novel, it was an odd synchronicity of the right ideas being in my head at the right time when I accidently found out about NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, last November. I was suddenly galvanized to write down the images that flooded into my mind.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
I’d love to be able to visit Ai’s home and meet her family! Spend the morning going shooting with Fausta, the afternoon listing to Dorina twist my mind inside-out with her wild ideas, and the evening with Thaad and a bottle of single malt Scotch, talking about their world, and ours. A good-bye kiss from Ai would not be refused!
[edit; thought of this a bit later… in ‘story form…’ “Think of it: on the loose in the entire internet with Dorina, a bottle of red with Thaad on the Left Bank, impromptu trips to visit Fausta wherever she’s killing people…”
“I know you always fancied travel.”]
-Give us a fun or interesting fact you learned researching this book.
Two things: one in general and one in particular. Firstly, Wikipedia and Google Maps are your friends! I’ve never been to Waxahachie, Texas, but after all this time I could likely walk around it blindfolded. If you’re telling a story about a real place, you must get it right.
Secondly, I discovered a resort called the Travaasa, in Austin. I put Lily and her mom up there for a night. Sounds like a lovely place!
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
As I alluded to in an earlier answer, definitely drinks with Thaad. Now, if it’s out to a party, then Dorina, as her true nature is itself a carnival!
-If you could go back in time and give your pre-published self one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Stop typing ‘then’!”
Because of the way I ‘see’ these scenes unfold, when I first wrote “T4L,” it was ‘this happened, THEN this happened, THEN that happened.’ When I went back to edit it once finished, I was appalled at the roughly 3000 times I wrote ‘then.’ Two days of “Find and Replace” got the stupid down from eleventy to a tolerable two to three.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
Interesting question! Let me unpack it a bit!
I’ve written science fiction, light and dark fantasy, romance, steampunk, drama, explicit/hentai, a children’s book…. I’m working on an espionage/thriller – slowly. Hmmm.
I think that last is a clue: I really enjoy discovering along with the characters how much they like one another. It makes me happy. That may be a reason I’ve been stuck on MachCiv book #4, as while lawyer Sylvia Fernandez is likeable, everyone around her in ExComm are not. However, even if it’s hard for me, that’s all the more reason to see that story through: it’s another irrational deadline, in its own way.
One time engineer, some time pharmacy technician, full time husband and father, Clayton Barnett stumbled into writing a traditional novel last November during National Novel Writing Month. Liking the results, he edited what would become “The Fourth Law” and set about teaching himself self-publishing. In July of 2015, he released a sequel entitled “Echoes of Family Lost,” in what is now called his Machine Civilization series. He is working on a third book – for children – and is making notes for a fourth. Clayton Barnett lives in central Ohio with his wife, two daughter, and two dogs.
Check out Clayton’s website.
Clayton Barnett will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
-Kit ‘N Kabookle posts on Twitter @desantismt. Tag me for retweets.