Storm Freeman gave the world a miracle. She designed The Gatherer to draw electromagnetic energy from the air and disperse free and infinite electricity to rural and underprivileged communities. Her invention helped people but devalued power industries. Some revered Storm as a deity. Others saw her as an eco-terrorist.
Then the miracle became a curse. The Gatherer unleashed a plague that damaged the human electrical system, bringing pain, suffering—and eventual death—to anyone continually exposed to the technology. Stricken herself, Storm goes into exile, desperate to find a cure—and destroy her invention.
But there are people in the government and in the corporation that funded The Gatherer who refuse to publicly acknowledge the connection between the device and the spreading plague. And they will stop at nothing to find Storm and use her genius for military applications…
The Big Thrill caught up to author Colleen Winter and had a chance to discuss her latest thriller, THE GATHERER:
Without spoilers, are there any genre conventions you wanted to upend or challenge with this book?
The genre convention I wanted to deliver was that I have two strong female characters who get themselves in and out of trouble without any help from men and with minimal violence. I wanted them to be capable, smart, and effective without being simply a woman acting like a man.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
There are two main characters. The scientist Storm Freeman who created The Gatherer and Maria Kowalski who is the military special agent who originally tried to stop Storm from releasing The Gatherer and is now tracking her down so that she can fix what she’s done.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
The biggest challenge it presented was walking the line between what is possible in energy generation and what I was creating. The technology behind THE GATHERER is fictional, though I like to believe that the source it taps into does exist out there.
The biggest opportunity is that our relationship with energy is here and now, and is affecting our lives and our society in enormous ways, while many of us seem to be oblivious to that fact. This series looks into that relationship and the potential for it to do harm and good.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
This book is relatively unique in that it explores our relationship with energy at the same time as it provides a compelling read. The issues that Storm Freeman is dealing with are the same issues we are dealing with as individuals and as a society. In some ways the urgency that Storm Freeman has in searching out and destroying what she created are the same struggles we currently have with climate change, increasing energy demands, and our health.
Why is this book important?
The book is important because it parallels our relationship with energy in that we are often so eager for the newest way to feed our endless need for energy that we often don’t think about the consequences. Storm Freeman has to live and breathe the consequences of the plague that The Gatherer has delivered to the earth. Like us, she can no longer deny the damage that her creation has caused and has to make the hard choices in order to repair the damage she and it have done.
Colleen Winter is a science fiction junkie and uses her electrical engineering degree to create stories that walk the line between what is real and what is possible. In a previous life, she worked as a journalist and now is a communications consultant in the Ontario electrical industry. She lives near Toronto, Canada, and spends as much time as she can rock climbing and hiking the beautiful places of the world with her family and her dog.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.