C.L. Gaber, author of the Ascenders Saga.
1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.
Hello! I’m sitting in my Nevada office with my new puppy biting the bottom of my jacket going over the edits for Ascenders: X-Catcher (Book Five). The pages have tiny puppy bite marks, which is really cute. At this point, I print the book out so I can really spot any mistakes. I’m also cooking up some ideas for “Claires 2” and making sure that a historical serial killer matches up on the Claires’ timeline. He does – which made my writer’s heart soar.
2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way. My series is the Ascenders Saga! Here’s the as-short-as-possible description:
Walker Callaghan doesn’t know what happened to her. One minute she was living her teenage life in suburban Chicago…and the next minute, she was in a strange place and in a brand new school with absolutely no homework, no rules, and no consequences.
Walker Callaghan, 17, is dead.
She doesn’t go to heaven or hell. She lands at The Academy, a middle realm where teenagers have one thing in common: They were the morning announcement at their high schools because they died young.
These high school kids are now caught in a strange “in-between” zone where life hasn’t changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques. “There are even cheerleaders in death,” Walker observes. It’s not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who “used to have this band.” The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie.
Principal King explains the rules — there are none. Why? You can’t die twice.
There is no homework.
You’re just there to learn because the human brain isn’t fully formed until you’re 24.
By the way, you can’t get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do …because no one knows how long you’ll stay in this realm or what’s next.
“Losing someone you love would be like dying twice,” Walker says.
* * * * * *
Walker Callaghan has just arrived at the Academy after a tragic car accident. “Is this heaven or is this high school?” she asks.
She finds out her new life is a bit of both as she falls in love with tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He’s looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.
He needs just one hour to retrieve his younger brother who strangely never arrived at The Academy. Bobby is an Earth Bound Spirit, stuck at a plane crash site that took both of their lives as their rich father piloted his private jet nose-first into a cornfield on Christmas Eve.
Walker loves Daniel and risks it all to go with him.
Have they learned enough to outsmart dangerous forces while transporting a young child with them? Can their love survive the fragmented evil parts of themselves that are now hunting them down as they try to find a way back to the middle?
At the Academy, you learn the lessons of an after-lifetime.
Ascenders Books 1-4 are currently available on Amazon.com. Book 5 is due out in February. The first spin-off, “The Claires,” is out now.
3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)
Honestly, my least favorite part is time. I’m a journalist, so I have deadlines and assignments that I’m grateful to do – especially since I cover the film beat and interview really cool people. It’s just tough sometimes to balance your fiction passion project with regular work, family and life. I think writers have to just find the time, which isn’t always easy because most of us are pulled in a million directions.
4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?
I love it when you finally get the first page right after a lot of tinkering. I obsess over openings, tinkering endlessly. You have all these words and then lean it out. There it is! I have one or two trusted people who listen to my first pages and they tell me honestly. Deep in my writerly brain, however, I believe that writers just know. It’s just a relief when you have that part. A book is born.
5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)
I admire times infinity Mr. King’s ability to make a portal a door to the storage closet. He makes magic so beautifully accessible and understandable. I love how he immediately draws such brilliant characters that are so defined and unforgettable, too.
6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?
Oh, my poor female protagonist in Ascenders. She was living such a lovely after-life (for about five minutes) in the upcoming “X-Catcher,” but then the shit hit the fan from several fronts. She’s stuck in The Other, the wild west of the afterlife. Her boyfriend’s father takes her hostage. A guy with powers of distortion stalks her. Her friends are AWOL. I would have to explain to her that when the fate of the universe – for the living and the dead – is at stake, you just can’t sit on your ass and fake it. You have to run back into the action. I would explain to her that what I’m going is the best for humanity even though she faces certain extinguishment. Sorry, not sorry.
7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?
Well, the last book I read was King’s “Carrie,” so I’d say the stakes are her sanity. She would probably lose the game because I’m guessing Carrie can’t play poker, and nobody would want to play it with her because she’s an outcast. Plus, that horrible mother would probably think poker was a sin.
8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)
I think one of the big traps is rewriting too much at the beginning. I like to do a few chapters and then go back. Another thing I have found helpful is to have one or two trusted people in your life who enjoy hearing your work in progress. I don’t believe in getting five or seven or ten opinions. I think writers give up when they hear so many conflicting opinions. Also, a great editor is key to make sure you aren’t missing some of the rules of your own world.
9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.
Wow, no plots for world domination! 2020 was too exhausting to come up with those kinds of things.
Ascenders is being developed into a TV series, which is cr-a-zy!!! Book 5 comes out in February of 2021, which is so exciting.
And I’m working on a sequel to “The Claires,” the spin-off book, about four sisters who hail from the 1800s, die together at age 17, and then are reincarnated together to a new family.
Please follow me on Instagram or Facebook under CL Gaber. Lots of Ascenders news, plus too many cute dog photos.