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Tom is twelve and all he's ever known is a world with acid rain and constant cloud. His world is a place where people try to scratch out a living; surrounded by the wreckage of the past.
One hundred years ago a group of mysterious scientists took charge of the Earth's weather in order to control climate change. They burned the planet and in the ensuing chaos they disappeared.
When one of the "Changers" appears on Tom’s farm, his life changes and he is forced into an adventure where he must choose between his family and helping the Changers repair the damage they have done.
But can the Changers be trusted this time?
This is a 60,000 word Young Adult/Children's science fiction novel and is the first book in the Changers Trilogy.
Bio:Mike Lewis is a writer from Woking in England; the place that the Martians first landed in H G Wells' War of the Worlds.
This might explain why he writes science fiction and fantasy.
He has had a number of SF/Fantasy short stories published in professional magazines and anthologies and is now dipping his toe into independently publishing his own fiction.
It was raining the day it started. The thin, green, sticky rain that stuck your hair to your head in tangled strands. The kind of rain that dripped in long strings from the bottom of your coat.
Tom sat at the kitchen window looking out across the farmyard, his feet tucked under him. He half watched the rain and half watched his mother baking. Although Tom didn’t like the green rain -- he hated the way it marked your shoes and stained your clothes –- it was a welcome sight after the days of yellow rain.
You couldn’t go out in the yellow rain. It attacked your clothes, ate holes in the soles of your shoes and generally messed you up. Yellow rain meant days stuck in doors.
“What’'re you looking at?” Tom’s mother asked from behind him. He could see her reflection in the window, her features wavering in the light from the oil lamp.
“Nothing much,” he said, staring through her reflection and out into the green, wet world beyond.
“You should go out while you can,” his mother said. “It’ll be school again soon and then you’ll be stuck in doors even on green rain days.” Tom turned to face her and watched her hands kneading the large, soft ball of dough.
“I’ll go out,” he said, pushing up his glasses. He knew that his mother would soon find a chore for him to do if he didn’t leave now. Perhaps he could find Jordan?
“Good.” His mother turned back to her cooking, humming an old song quietly to herself.
Tom put on his big old black boots and the thick raincoat, which had been new that year. He pushed open the heavy back door and stepped into the porch. The patter of the rain was louder now and Tom could smell the wet stickiness of the ground.
Bess, their old collie dog, was lying across the doorstep and Tom had to step across her to reach the yard. She looked up with sad old eyes and muttered something in a deep growl before flopping back onto her paws. She didn’t speak much nowadays. Her voice-box was wearing out and Tom’s father hadn’t been able to get the parts to replace it. Tom nodded at her and stroked her head for a moment, tracing the grey hairs now showing through the black. “Just going for a walk, Bess,” he said. Bess had taught him his first few words and they used to have long conversations when he had been much younger.
He walked across the yard, the hood of his coat pulled firmly over his head. The rain still managed to seep in though, and he could feel the sticky trails it left on his face. He sheltered from the rain for a moment, by the doors of the first barn, and tried to wipe clinging droplets from his glasses. He could smell the warm, dank air that seeped through the doorway and he took a deep breath, savouring the metallic tang at the back of his throat. He wanted to go inside and look at the animals and play with their young but he could hear his father’s voice through the door. Tom had been told often enough that he should keep away from the animals -- he didn’t have a special suit like the workers wore in there.
He picked his way through the puddles, the sticky, green mud glooping around his boots, and went between the barns to the back of the farm. He glanced at the abandoned wrecks of machinery. Normally, they excited him but today he didn’t feel like pretending to drive a tractor or climbing on the back of the great bailer. The machines looked sad, their metal rusted and pitted by the yellow rain as they slowly subsided into twisted heaps.
Tom reached the end barn and stopped when he saw a scruffy figure walking round the corner. The boy looked up and shouted Tom’s name in greeting. It was Jordan; Tom recognised the patched coat with its multi-coloured squares of welded plastic. He waved in answer and walked over to the other boy.
Jordan was standing washing his boots in a puddle. The two of them stood for a moment and watched the oily water cascade in rainbow patterns across the brown leather.
“What you doing?” Tom asked.
“Nothing much. Been a boring week.”
“Yeah,” Tom agreed, there had been little to do with no school to go to. It nearly made you want to be back in the school with Mrs Finch.
“Let’s look for rats,” Jordan said. He pointed to the end barn. “We haven’t tried there for a while.”
Tom nodded. The grain barn was one of the best places to catch rats and they could get a penny a head from the farm.
The barn door was heavy and it took their combined weight to shift the lever back. Jordan was a head taller than Tom so he was able to reach the bolt and undo it. Tom always had to jump up and swing on the bolt before it would open. They slipped through the doorway and then closed the door behind them.
Tom stood for a moment, blinking as his eyes adjusted to the bright light of the barn. He waved his arms around, luxuriating in the warmth and light of the huge, open space. He let the warm air, pushed by the fans at the far end of the barn, play over his face.
Jordan was already walking away, between the tall rows of swaying corn that stretched to the other end of the barn. Tom ran after him, not wanting to be alone in this space which somehow seemed to be larger than the world outside. As he reached Jordan, the two of them stopped and then bent down. They walked slowly along the row, searching the crop tubs for signs of the rats. There were the odd tell-tale signs here and there; a broken plant stem or a track marked in the dust. Tom pointed excitedly to the end of one tub.
“See there!” he said to Jordan and pulled his discovery from the soil.
He held it up for Jordan to see. It was a crude ladder made from stalks of grass and plaited crosspieces. The rats were becoming more adept at making tools, it seemed. Tom studied the ladder, entranced by the plaiting and the intricate way it had been built.
“Give me a look,” Jordan said. He snatched it from Tom’s hands.
“Hey!” Tom tried to snatch it back and the ladder tore across the middle, leaving them holding two halves.
“I wanted to keep that,” Tom said.
“Why?” said Jordan. “It’s only a stupid rat ladder.” He dropped his half of the ladder on the floor. He turned away and moved to the back of the barn, his shadow stretching out in front of him as he passed under the overhead arc lights. “Let’s find some proper rats,” he said over his shoulder.
Tom picked up the pieces of the ladder and put them in his pocket. He might be able to repair it and add it to the other things he had collected from here -- the crude knives and bags he had found.
Tom followed him again, scuffing the ground with his feet. He was so intent on the cloud of dust his feet raised that he nearly ran into Jordan who stood in the middle of the row.
“Watch it,” Tom said.
“What’s that?” Jordan asked, pointing to something ahead of him.
Tom stepped past him and looked. At first Tom thought that Jordan was holding something, then he realised that he was actually pointing at something in front of him in mid-air.
Tom walked round to the other side of the object, which seemed to hover three feet off the ground. Jordan reached out to touch it.
“Oh,” he said and stepped back. “That’s strange!”
“I can’t touch it,” Jordan said.
Tom reached for the object from the other side and saw what Jordan meant. As your hand reached out, it stopped short as though there was a wall in the way, and your hand tingled.
“What is it?” Jordan asked, kneeling down so he could see under the object.
Tom shrugged. “I dunno, but it looks like a finger.” Tom looked closer and realised that it was a finger. A finger that ended where it should join the hand. A finger hanging in mid-air.
What will readers like about your book?
Changers' Summer is a fast-paced Young Adult SF novel which features a talking dog, fish-powered boats and the adventures of a young teenager as he tries to protect his world from the Changers.
Why did you self publish?
Changers' Summer has been to a number of publishers, was requested a couple of times by agents but never quite sold. Publishing on the Kindle (and other ebook formats) was an experiment to see if I could sell any copies and make some money from my writing.
What is your writing process?
I write fairly quickly and then spend a lot of time revising and editing. I am lucky enough to be in two very good writers' groups of other professional, published writers and the feedback from them is invaluable.
How long does it take you to write your first draft?
Changers' Summer was written in 8 weeks but then I spent about 2 years on and off revising it.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
It was originally started as part of a writing challenge but then the adventures of Tom and his friends took on a life of their own. I was interested in writing a Time Travel story from the point of view of the people visited by the Time Travellers, instead of the usual method of following the Time Traveller.