That hashtag should actually be #amread, because I finished it already. Oh. Migerd.
This post is going to be longer than my usual fly-by, but I have to post everything the McGraws sent me, because they crack me up.
Best. Book. Ever.
About Robert McGraw
Robert McGraw has had several professions, but his most difficult job is convincing his wife he’s actually working even when he’s just staring out the window. He is the author of numerous magazine and newspaper articles, as well as three books. Two of his television scripts won awards from the International Television Association.
A former professional symphony musician who spent several years playing for the Cape Town Symphony in South Africa, Robert has a Master’s degree in Education and completed the work (all but dissertation) for a Ph.D. in music. He also studied art at The Ruth Prowse School of Art in Cape Town and creates visual art in a variety of styles. His works are represented in the collection of the International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
About Darrin McGraw
Darrin McGraw grew up more or less in a succession of libraries. He is pleased to note that the New York Public Library has a McGraw Rotunda, though he cannot actually take credit for this. He graduated from Stanford University and earned a Ph.D. in English from UCLA. After working in online software development he served for eight years as the writing director of the Culture, Art and Technology program at UC San Diego.
Besides writing and reading he has many other interests including early music, alternative architecture, and woodworking. When scientists have finished cloning the woolly mammoth he has a few other extinct species to suggest, including Cleopatra and Dr. Samuel Johnson.
About ANIMAL FUTURE
In a near-future Southern California full of mentally-enhanced animals, three unlikely companions— a Vietnamese-American policewoman, a well-dressed chimpanzee, and a fast-talking spy— find they have no choice but to combine their talents in order to stay alive. While being hunted by fanged assassins, corrupt officers, and some chillingly methodical robot snakes, the trio investigates what turns out to be a terrorist plot masterminded by unknown foreign interests.
This exciting, irresistibly quirky novel of action, comedy, and ideas features a remarkable cast of supporting characters, including a motel desk clerk with a prehensile tail, a poker-playing bison, an Aztec riflewoman, the irrepressible ferrets Larry and Leroy, and a large number of pandas in Bermuda shorts.
Since the mysterious Elevation began, San Diego has become the main port of entry for a flood of newly-intelligent animal species hoping for a better life in the United States. Interacting with these Provisional Citizens is just part of the job for Tactical Assault Officer Autumn Winn, of the White Knights police/security agency. Her more pressing problems usually involve dealing with her obnoxious supervisor and struggling to convince her Americanized family that their Vietnamese cultural heritage is worth preserving.
Autumn’s life takes a bizarre turn, however, when she and her partner enter a tailor shop in search of an elusive animal rights activist. Instead, they meet a team of black-clad intruders armed with machine guns. After a furious gunfight, the intruders kidnap the wife of Mr. Brian, the immigrant chimpanzee owner of the tailor shop, arousing his determination to do whatever it takes to rescue her— even if it means taking off his cufflinks.
However, Autumn has a harder time getting along with handsome secret agent Mack Davis, a customer at the tailor shop who realizes the kidnappers have accidentally scooped up something he can’t live without. To get it back, he is suddenly forced to rely on his new-found friends and his quick wit. At the same time, he must draw on his underworld contacts to learn the truth about the peculiar jade figurine he was smuggling in from Singapore for his old girlfriend, so that he can have a candlelight dinner with her without being ambushed by foxes with machetes.
Together Autumn, Brian, and Mack hide out in the San Diego Zoo; get into a Western-style gunfight in Old Town; visit the secret lair of a deranged intelligence broker whose fur could use a little brushing; and join a daring raid on the former UCSD Geisel Library building at the University of California, San Diego. Along the way they learn from each other new perspectives on life, culture, true love, tolerance, respect, and the importance of keeping your 9mm automatic pistol well oiled.
Depending on your species, you’ll laugh, growl, purr, and/or think deep thoughts when you read this captivating adventure thriller for readers from YA to adult.
Book 1 in the Animal Future series
Buy ANIMAL FUTURE in any or all these formats:
And now, some words from the authors.
MA: Brian makes it clear why he chose to be a bespoke tailor, and it made absolute sense. But what made YOU think of it?
ROBERT: One day I was simply writing, sort of limbering up my mind, and I typed a humorous paragraph about a spy who walks into a champanzee-owned tailor shop. Then I enlarged it into a short chapter and sent it to Darrin. I don’t know where it all came from. This out-of-the-blue thing seems to happen to other authors too.
DARRIN: We had a laugh, then promptly forgot about it for a year. Eventually, we decided to explore why Mack had to escape from the airport and what an elevated-animal world would be like. Then came the idea that Mack was going to return to the shop and witness Brianna getting kidnapped. Gradually we stepped back and developed a whole book from that incident. Autumn quickly became the third member of the protagonist trio, but the farther we went, the clearer it was that the book was going to have her at the very center.
MA: Why are emus postal workers?
DARRIN: We give a lot of thought to what roles would actually be a good fit for an animal and how the labor market would sort that out. For instance, a lot of service-sector jobs don’t involve actual manual work but they do involve standing for long hours, so they’re well-suited to quadrupeds such as deer or horses. Other jobs involve a lot of fine detail work or accessing small spaces, so weasels or similar species would be a good choice. In the case of emus, they are built to run long distances, they’re not brilliant thinkers even after the Elevation, and at best they can only type one letter at a time, so carrying messages is the ideal job for that species.
ROBERT: Besides, I thought it would be funny to say “You’ve got emu-mail.” (I know, my sense of humor can be pretty juvenile sometimes.)
MA: How does your collaboration work?
DARRIN: We do a lot of sitting around and brainstorming, coming up with ideas and then going each other one better. We also do a lot of “No, that wouldn’t work, because….” We make lists of things on a big whiteboard. We often refer to examples of storytelling from the movies, because by necessity they have to find very economical ways to vividly portray incident and character. Once we’ve got a plot concept, one of us will write a not-very-complete draft and hand it to the other one to take a turn.
ROBERT: And credit where credit is due, Darrin has spent many, many hours walking and driving around the San Diego area, taking photos and doing “location scouting” to make sure what we write is as accurate and believable as it can possibly be.
MA: Who gets final say on the semicolons?
DARRIN: Sometimes I use a semicolon, and then he flags it for rewrite if he thinks starting a new sentence would be simpler. About half the time it affects the meaning or the flow of the paragraph and I push back, but otherwise we change it to a period and we move on.
ROBERT: I keep saying, “One of Elmore Leonard’s rules was to never use semicolons.” Then Darrin says, “But you aren’t Elmore Leonard,” and I’m forced to admit he’s right. (Darn!)
MA: Can you tell a little about the sequels?
DARRIN: Book 2 involves an assassination plot against a major industrial figure, which now that Autumn is a Sergeant at White Knights it’s her job to prevent. It also involves a reverse heist in which Mack, with the help of a team of animals, is trying not to take something out of a skyscraper, but instead secretly to get something in.
ROBERT: And here’s the zinger: We can’t have Mack just walk in the front door. Oh no, that would never do. So we make him have to enter the skyscraper by going up the outside of the building,…way,way up,. . .carrying a really big object. Heh, heh.
In addition to Book 2 of the Animal Future series, we are also working on projects of our own. I’ve written a humorous historical mystery to be published later this year. It takes place in1934 when a carnival comes to a small town in the Arkansas Ozarks and sideshow “freaks” start being murdered. The two worlds –carnival and small town– come into conflict, and each side experiences the human tendency to not trust anyone who is different from us. The title is “Not Like Us.”
MA: Looking forward to more from each and both of you!
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Forget about writing until you’ve read ANIMAL FUTURE and PACKAGED. You’re welcome.