In 2012, the world came to a grinding halt as radiation hit from a massive solar storm. Crops died, animals perished, cities fell and humans became little more than beasts themselves. Under the threat of starvation, civility was reduced to mere memory. Only the strongest men survived, and physically weaker women and children wasted to nothingness.
More than a century later, humanity struggles in the desert Wasteland. The solar radiation rendered most women infertile, and the population dwindles more with each year that passes. Scattered up and down coasts, isolated cities eke out an existence from fishing, foraging and hunting for what little game is left. Outside the city walls, men face the threat of pirates and raiders.
Few women remain, divided into four classes—Whores, Breeders, Priestesses and Wanderers. They are as reviled as they are worshipped, a commodity any man must pay to touch. To touch a Whore, a man must sacrifice his riches. To touch a Breeder, a man must sacrifice his freedom. To touch a Priestess, a man must be chosen by the gods. And to touch a Wanderer may end up costing him his life.
There is only one rule in the Wasteland—survive.
Guest Blogger Crystal Jordan
Thanks a bunch for having me—I’m so excited to be here! The members of my group blog, The Smutketeers, were invited over to chat about The Wasteland continuity series we did together. Mine is the first in our four-part series, and it’s called THE WANDERER.
This isn’t the first continuity series I’ve worked on, so while we were working on this idea together, it was important to all of us to share this complex post-apocalyptic world, but also have a corner of that world that was all our own. Of the four “castes” of women we set up in this world, each of the authors got to develop one for their heroine. Lilli Feisty got the Whores, Eden Bradley got the Breeders, R.G. Alexander got the Priestesses, and my Wanderers were the take-no-prisoners warrior women.
The heroine of my book, Kadira, is unique in that she was born to a trading family. Her parents died before she could ask the obvious questions of how her mother had come to be among a band of male traders, what caste of women had she been from originally, and was she stolen away or did she run away. It’s a mystery that will never be solved, but after road pirates murdered her family, Kadira was adopted by the Badawi clan of Wanderers, and has spent every minute since trying to prove that she’s just as good—if not better—than anyone born a Wanderer. She’s the fiercest warrior and has even become a kabu shaman who marks people with sacred tattoos to commemorate life’s milestones. Even then, she always feels like she’s never quite enough, that she’ll never really fit in and be a true Wanderer. She hates that she’ll always be different.
I had a lot of fun showing the similarities and differences between Kadira and the hero in my story, Ezra. He’s the Chieftain of the Haroun clan…and a genius inventor. Like her dual role as a spiritual leader and a warrior, he also has a dual role as a chieftain-warrior and reviver of technology. As a child, his genius was considered a freakish curse from the god and goddess, and he had to prove he was fit to succeed his father as chieftain. He, like Kadira, is different, and he has to convince Kadira that the things that make her unique are the things that make her the woman he wants.
When we start the story, there’s been an unspoken attraction between the characters for years, and Ezra decides it’s time to quit dancing around the issue. He offers a deal to her clan to provide the alternative fuel they need to run their machines if Kadira agrees to be his exclusive lover for the duration of a Wanderer fertility festival. Kadira doesn’t take this news lying down. She’s a warrior, after all. Her response is to hold him at knifepoint during their first sexual encounter—if he doesn’t please her, she’ll slit his throat.
Eden told me this was one of the hottest scenes she’d ever read when she looked my story over for me. ;-)
This fertility festival was the only part of my Wanderers that wasn’t specifically based on another culture. The entire Wasteland world is an amalgamation of many different societies, both contemporary and archaic, and in the case of my Wanderers, I based the contentious clan dynamics on a combination of medieval Scottish Highland clans and earlier nomadic Bedouin tribes.
One of the most interesting aspects of developing the Wanderer clans was the deep spiritual meaning behind the tattoos—which can tell of warriors’ rites of passage into adulthood and/or mating bonds, battles they’d won, and other great warriors they’d defeated. The markings and methods described were inspired by many Polynesian cultures, most especially the Maori of New Zealand and the people of Hawaii. In fact, the name “kabu” is a fudging of several different Polynesian terms for a tattoo, including tabu, tapu, and kapu. I wanted to show respect to the cultures I wove into my world, but make it clear that the Wanderer culture is a whole different beast. It was also important that I work with R.G. and Eden to make sure that the city religions they were developing in their stories were diametrically opposed to my nomadic desert clans. We wanted each subculture to be distinct—and fitting—for the caste we were showcasing for our readers.
Click here to watch the video of the Smutketeers introducing their view series.
Everyone who makes a comment on this blog post is entered to win the entire Wasteland series. Three winners will be announced on this blog at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time. The authors will be checking in all day to respond to any questions or comments readers leave, so good luck and start your commenting!
AND THE WINNERS ARE....
Email me at Morgan@RTBookReviews.com to claim your prize!