Twelve-year-old Jasper is part of this team being sent out into space. After being bullied back on Earth, Jasper is thrilled to have something new and different to do with other kids who are more like him. While learning all about the new technologies and taking classes in mobility—otherwise known as flying with jetpacks—Jasper befriends the four other students in his pod and finally feels like he has found his place in the world.
But then Jasper and his new friends learn that they haven’t been told everything about Earth Force. They weren’t brought to space for astronaut training, but to learn a new, highly classified brain-sync technology that allows them to manipulate matter and quantum bound, or teleport. And it isn’t long before they find out this new technology was actually stolen from an alien society.
When Jasper and his friends discover the truth about why Earth Force needs them, they are faced with a choice: rebel against the academy that brought them together, or fulfill their duty and protect the planet at all costs.
This time, Earth Force has brought them to the remote planet of Gulaga, where the cadets learn that they will be participating in the Tundra Trials: a special, team-based scavenger hunt that will have Jasper and his friends journeying across Gulaga’s frigid landscape to find enough cache boxes to win the competition.
But the Trials are the last thing on Jasper’s mind when he and Mira are chosen to take part in the next step of Earth Force’s plans, fusing with a new tech that will take their Bounder abilities to the next level. The worst part? Jasper is expected to keep the truth from his new friends.
When an Earth Force plan goes wrong, and suddenly they are under attack, Jasper, Mira, and the others are asked once again to do what they can to assist Earth Force in their goals. But with the events from the last tour fresh on his mind, and the new information he’s learned, Jasper doesn’t know that helping Earth Force is the best idea…or what will happen if he doesn’t.
In our last interview, when talking about THE TUNDRA TRIALS, you said, "A large part of the story takes place on another planet—one not visited by the characters in the first book." Can you tell us more about this mystery planet?
Yes! Most of The Tundra Trials takes place on Gulaga, the Tunneler planet. The Tunnelers are an alien species introduced in the first book. Their home planet is very cold, so most of their civilization is underground. Their main city is the subterranean metropolis of Gulagaven. In order to reach Gulaga, visitors have to dock their ship and take a space elevator to the planet’s surface.
The Bounders have quite an adventure on Gulaga. In addition to exploring the tunnels, they compete in the Tundra Trials, a pod against pod scavenger race across the frozen surface of the planet.
Sounds exciting! In writing more books, do you find that writing energizes you? Exhausts you? How do you balance writing and editing more than one project at a time?
The past year has definitely been a balancing act. I was promoting Bounders, editing The Tundra Trials, and drafting the third book in the series. I’m most productive when I’m able to focus on something intensely for a short period of time—say a few weeks—and then shift to something else. In that way, I’m comfortable moving back and forth between projects. But there were certainly times when I was exhausted!
I’m most energized when I hit my stride in drafting a new book, when my characters settle in and finally decide to let me know what’s going to happen in their story. Now that The Tundra Trials is published and I’ve turned the third Bounders book into my editor, I’m excited to start working on something new.
Can't wait to hear what that might be. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Not reading reviews is great advice that I don’t follow. Early on, reviews definitely got under my skin, even though the majority of my reviews have been quite positive. They don’t knock me off balance nearly as much anymore. I know how subjective the reading experience is because I’m a reader. There are lots of books I haven’t cared for that others rave about and vice versa.
One of the highlights of the past year has been receiving letters and emails from young readers who enjoyed my book. Those are the reviews that matter the most to me!
I can see why! Can you tell us anything about the next book in the Bounders series?
I’m looking forward to the third book because Addy, Jasper’s younger sister, finally gets to go to the EarthBound Academy! Addy has a strong personality, and it was fun writing about her interactions with Jasper’s pod mates and the other Bounders.
Much of the third book takes place on a new alien planet, and the kids have some fun with virtual reality technology. There’s lots of action, and the overall series plot is starting to take shape, but you’ll have to wait to find out more!
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