Genre: YA science fiction
Word Count: 71,000
How did you fall for writing?
After reading a rash of books where the scientists were the bad guys, I wanted to portray scientists as something other than the evil masterminds. Being a woman in STEM, I set out to write a story where scientists are multi-faceted characters that care about things other than their work, and how they inspire a positive appreciation for education in their children. The story led elsewhere, but this was the spark.
When seventeen-year-old Morrighan discovers her spy brother’s cover has been compromised while infiltrating the organization that previously targeted their home, she and her genetically-engineered siblings sign up for the extraction mission without a second thought. But instead of meeting at the rendezvous point, her brother’s new colleagues ambush Morrighan's team. His betrayal lands them in an enemy prison with her magnetic powers all but useless within her cell’s plastic walls. Strapped to a gurney, Morrighan must free herself before she and her siblings are injected with a bioweapon designed to brainwash them and add their unique powers to the enemy’s forces.
During her team’s escape, Morrighan steals several vials of the substance. Studies reveal they contain a neurochemical that robs recipients of free will by rewiring their neural networks. Morrighan learns the organization’s ultimate goal is to distribute the drug to the defenseless population and construct their own version of disciplined humanity. She returns to the enemy base to destroy their stockpile, but the drug has already been administered to a private military. With the enemy circling in, Morrighan must decide if destroying the organization and finding a cure is worth losing the brother she had set out to save.
I have a background in biotechnology and immunology/infectious diseases, and earned a PhD in cellular and molecular pathology. My research has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, most recently in Stem Cells Translational Medicine. I created the blog series Put the Sci in your Fi as a resource for science fiction writers who want to apply real-world science to their works, and have contributed the guest article “Sights, Sounds and Smells in the Lab” on author Dan Kobolt’s similarly themed Science in Sci-Fi blog series.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The needle slid behind my left ear with a sharp pinch. Goosebumps prickled down my spine. I’d gotten my fair share of pokes in seventeen years, but I fought the impulse to tear the needle out and hurl it across the room all the same. There’d be hell to pay, probably in the form of laundry duty, if I broke any lab equipment. So, instead, I focused on a green speck plastered to the ceiling next to the fluorescent light, no doubt launched unintentionally from a test tube. The syringe let out a muted swish as it injected a torrent of my parents’ biocybernetic concoction under my skin.
“Mori, if you dig your nails into the chair any more, I’ll have to get it reupholstered.” Vivienne slipped the needle out and set the injector gun next to a wad of gauze on the metal cart. I made a conscious effort to unclench my fingers as she tilted my head and inspected her handiwork under the fluorescent lights. Her gentle hand and expert technique meant she didn’t need the gauze. Strands of salt-and-auburn hair escaped her claw clip and tickled my cheek.
“You weren’t the one who just had science juice stabbed into her neck with a drinking straw.” It didn’t actually resemble a straw, but no size was a good size when it came to stabby things.
She clucked her tongue in exasperation at my scowl, like she had when I was six and needed weekly gene editing cocktails to fix my liver.