I’m so excited to be here at The Novel Approach. This is my third visit, and each time gets better than the last. Lisa and I always have a great time doing what we do best. Chatting and knocking back drinks. You know, for such a tiny woman, she could drink a man twice her size under the table. She puts me to shame. And it was great to meet Tina, the newest addition here at TNA, and it was also extra special to hang out here with my hubby, Bruce, who Lisa snagged for her blog as well. Such great people here, and the drinks are top-notch! Who could ask for more?
Now why am I here today? Well, this week is Wilde City Press week at The Novel Approach, and my latest release Moral Authority just happens to be from Geoff and Ethan at Wilde City. This means I get to be included. I so love being included! When I’m not, it’s kinda like being invited to a three way and being expected to watch. That’s just no fun at all.
For those of you who don’t know, Moral Authority is a dystopian novel. It is set in America of 2050, where a fourth branch of American government has been established. This branch of government is charged with providing a moral code of conduct for all citizens, for establishing moral laws for the country, and for upholding those laws. The name of that government is the Moral Authority. Samuel Pleasant is the man in charge of the Moral Authority. He is a megalomaniac who will do anything to protect moral law as well as the power he wields. No matter what the cost.
Obviously, like most dystopian novels, the America in my book is meant to be frightening. It is a lesson of what shouldn’t be done because morality is not something that can be prescribed for all by a select few. When that happens, the freedoms we currently have can be stripped away in the blink of an eye.
But there’s more to Moral Authority than just the dystopian slant and the brewing civil war. There is also love, and it happens in the most desolate of places.
Mark Bryan, one of the three main characters of the book, is a young man, who offers us a glimpse of true humanity and the one character who truly loves with all his heart. Sure, he’s angry, and sometimes he’s brash. But at the heart of those characteristics, there is love.
And Mark loves even when loving would seem impossible. When most of us would give in to the horror with anger and hate, Mark reaches deep inside and finds the best in himself to help those around him, and he truly makes a difference in the lives of the people he comes across. He offers them friendship, when they are lost and alone. When they are faced with impending death or torture, he gives them hope. And in one of the most horrific settings in the novel, Mark manages to find true love, and their budding relationship saves that man’s life.
Mark puts others above himself because that is what love is about. When Mark is juxtaposed with the Moral Authority and their selfish and terrible deeds, it is easy to see that the true moral authority rests within each individual and not with a group of elected officials or a majority voting block of the country.
It is the individual that makes the difference.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are prescribed ideals in America of 2050. The Moral Authority, the nation’s newest branch of government, has virtually eliminated crime, poverty, and most social ills, but it also rules the land with a tyrannical fist, championing ignorance and brandishing fear.
Mark Bryan is a gay man whose existence brands him an outlaw; Isaac Montoya is a charming stranger, who entices Mark to defy moral law; and Samuel Pleasant runs the Moral Authority and plans to punish moral offenders and a rebellious uprising—no matter the cost.
Will liberty and justice return for all?
On deck, Mark looked around at Provincetown harbor. Boat slips surrounded the area, but there were no boats. At one time, Provincetown was home to many boats, both commercial and private. Now, the only boat was the one he currently stood on. No doubt all other water transportation was forbidden since Provincetown had been turned into a detainment camp. Forced by K3s, citizens and businesses relocated off the cape.
The line of men in orange jumpsuits extended all the way down the pier, toward a New England-styled building with white trim and a gray roof. No doubt the building was once a visitor’s center or some official site for Provincetown tourism. Now, it was where the processing of prisoners occurred. It even had K3 guards standing sentinel along the white ramps, their weapons drawn and their muscles tense, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to shoot someone.
He focused his attention instead on the cool sea breeze that continued to swirl around him, whispering to him that he wasn’t alone. Mark then stepped off the metal plank used for disembarkation and onto the wooden slats of the pier. As he walked forward, Mark imagined what Provincetown might have been like a generation or two ago.
Mark pictured the excitement his gay brothers in the past must have experienced upon exiting the ferries that used to shuttle them back and forth from Boston. When their feet touched these same wooden slats he now walked across in chains, they were no doubt liberated from their daily selves. He imagined their excitement, as opposed to his dread, about their arrival. Instead of being detained like Mark, they had arrived at a destination where they were the most free, where they could be who they truly were and express that without hesitation or fear of reprisal.
He clearly saw them in the past, walking hand-in-hand as they hurried to join the rest of their kin at the local bars or shops. Each person they encountered was a potential new lover or friend. In the past, there were no limits here, no boundaries like the rows of chain link and barbed wire fences that extended for as far as the eye could see along the beach in both directions. Provincetown was whatever they wanted it to be. It could be filled with dancing and debauchery, shopping and sightseeing, or relaxing and lounging, or it could be all those things.
In fact, if he listened hard enough, he still heard the thumping bass beat of a long ago silenced speaker churning out the dance music to which the boys used to love to dance. The music drifted on the air currents, refusing to die and challenging the present to ever erase that part of this town’s past. The vibe was in the air. It was the essence of what Provincetown was and what it promised to be again. This was no doubt what he sensed while climbing out of the boat hold. It was the spirit of Provincetown and the ghosts of his gay brothers from the past. They were here, they told him. They wouldn’t be chased away.
The line stopped, and a gunshot exploded from down the pier, drowning out the ghostly drumbeat. Up ahead, a body fell to the pier. Blood pooled around the man’s head and stained the wood on the pier a reddish brown.
Another shot went off, and another body fell.
Mark tried to avert his eyes, but he couldn’t. The image was much too surreal to be real. He stared because his mind told him he was hallucinating.
Another shot pealed and another body fell. Then three shots with three more bodies falling onto the pier. When Mark heard another shot, he turned away. It was too much. He closed his eyes as another shot echoed through the sky, followed by another. He tried to listen for the bass beat again, to reconnect with the past, but it was impossible. All he heard were gunshots and the awful thump of bodies falling onto the wooden slats.
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