by Russ Linton
His mother kidnapped, his superhero father absent, powerless Spencer Harrington faces a world of weaponized humans to prove himself and find the truth.
Nineteen-year-old Spencer is the son of the Crimson Mask, the world's most powerful Augment. Since witnessing his mother's abduction by a psychotic super villain two years ago, he's been confined to his father's arctic bunker. When the "Icehole" comes under attack from a rampaging robot, Spencer launches into his father's dangerous world of weaponized human beings known as Augments.
With no superpowers of his own save a multi-tool, a quick wit and a boatload of emotional trauma, Spencer seeks to uncover his mother's fate and confront his absentee superhero father. As he stumbles through a web of conspiracies and top secret facilities, he rallies a team of everyday people and cast-off Augments. But Spencer soon discovers that the Black Beetle isn't his only enemy, nor his worst.
This part always comes so fast.
I hand the phone back to Mom. “You’ll need to send later, I guess. The signal dropped. Should be in your outbox ready to go.”
As she takes the phone, the wall of the room explodes.
Here. Dream becomes nightmare. For a moment, I feel I can make it stand still, but why would I? Events unfold with the emptiness of the bunker gnawing at my insides. I can identify every stray chunk of plaster and splinter of wood in this time-robbed moment.
Fragments of home spray like a swarm of locusts. Mom screams and the world spins under her protective dive. I struggle to see through a haze of dust. Glimpses of the valley filter past a humanoid silhouette. A long, pincered arm lashes out. The arm clamps tightly around Mom’s waist and retracts, drawing us closer.
“Release the boy and he will live,” the Black Beetle speaks with an unnatural vibration. “He can relay a message for your husband.”
Mom squeezes tighter but her screaming stops.
I search her face, knowing what I’ll find, all the while scrambling to find an anchor as we slide across the room. She’s bleeding from a gash on her forehead and the pincer cinches tighter. Her eyes are full of fear, but focused. She’s calculating, deliberating. A hundred times? A thousand? It always hurts.
“No, Mom, please!” I throw my hands around the leg of a toppled chair which drags uselessly behind us. Countless trips through this nightmare, I know I can’t keep us here, but I reach out anyway. And always, she lets go.
I grab her arm, trying to pull her back, cursing my stunted size, my weak limbs, my feeble grip. Sweaty hands slip as the pincer continues to retract. Her trembling lips form a final smile and she watches me with a sad but determined expression.
She mouths the words, “I love you.”
I’ve written quite a bit about how family and my own experiences inspired Crimson Son. It’s a personal work on many levels mixed with trippy fantasy and heart-pounding action. But I also found inspiration for the story in other books as well.
There are some obvious influences such as Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Kurt Buseik’s Marvels. Watchmen presented a world of powerful super humans mixed with costumed vigilantes who, instead of protecting us, had been corrupted and infiltrated and were fighting for their own survival. Marvels gave us a street level view of the chaos that a world full of superheroes and clashes with their nemeses would bring.
Both of these graphic novels helped shape Crimson Son and provided a starting point for my own world building. The superheroes in my world are more transparent – they’re blatant stand ins for nuclear weapons; wepaonized humans created to fight wars and eventually driven to covert operations. And the real heroes, they’re the ones with the street-level view like the journalist snapping on-scene photos in Marvels.
But the book also has some unexpected influences.
I read Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series and was fascinated by the opening premise which flipped traditional fantasy on its head. The world was a highly magical one where the inhabitants had each manifested some capacity to use magic.
Everyone that is, except Tavi, the protagonist. Tavi had to survive on his wits while everyone else had access to elemental forces to do their bidding (and even their chores). He didn’t accept the idea that he was broken in some way and he’d gladly take on tasks which nobody thought possible without magic. While the series ended a bit differently than I anticipated, I enjoyed seeing how Tavi grew despite his “handicap”.
That’s the kind of hero I wanted to write about. One who doesn’t have access to the easy button. Normal people doing extraordinary things. That’s what inspires me.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
In the fourth grade, Russ Linton wrote down the vague goal of becoming a “writer and an artist” when he grew up. After a journey that led him from philosopher to graphic designer to stay at home parent and even a stint as an Investigative Specialist with the FBI, he finally got around to that “writing” part which he now pursues full time.
Russ creates character-driven speculative fiction. His stories drip with blood, magic, and radioactive bugs. He writes for adults who are young at heart and youngsters who are old souls.
Local / Personal Bio
Russ lives in Denton, Texas where he writes beside an unnervingly quiet dog with the support of his history-obsessed son and his extremely patient wife. He regularly pursues community service and is currently scoutmaster for his son’s Boy Scout troop. He is a regular at the North Branch Writers’ Critique Group and has honed his craft through creative writing courses with Stanford University’s continuing studies program as well as writing workshops at local conventions.
Russ holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do which was marginally more useful in a former life not making his living from behind a desk. He enjoys the outdoors and when he isn’t leading his scouts on virtual campouts in Minecraft, he’s making them haul their gear across state parks in the North Texas area.
Website - www.russlinton.com
Facebook - facebook.com/RussLinton
Twitter - twitter.com/Russ_Linton
Google Plus - https://plus.google.com/+RussLinton
Create Space Paperback
Barnes and Noble
Russ will be awarding a $10 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner and another winner will receive a signed copy of Crimson Son (US ONLY), both prizes via rafflecopter during the tour. A $10 Amazon GC will be awarded to a randomly drawn host.