LOSING NORMAL by Francis Moss ***Excerpt -- Giveaway***
Publication date: November 5th 2018
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Everyone we love, everything we know, is going away… and only an autistic boy can stop it.
Alex knows exactly how many steps it takes to get from his home to Mason Middle School. This is normal.
Alex knows the answers in AP math before his teacher does, which is also normal.
Alex knows that something bad is coming out of the big screen in his special needs class. It’s pushing images into his head, hurting him, making him forget. Alex pushes back, the screen explodes, and nothing is normal any more.
Giant screen televisions appear all over the city. The programming is addictive. People have to watch, but Alex cannot.
Sophie, the sentient machine behind all this, sees the millions and millions of eyeballs glued to her and calls it love. To Sophie, kids like Alex are defective. Defectives are to be fixed…or eliminated.
ExcerptChapter One: Sara
SARA I can figure out most boys in like, ten seconds. The older ones want me to see how totally cool and hip they are, while they stare at my boobs. The ones my age think I’m totally cool and hip. They yak-yak about something boring, like video games, or sports, and pretend not to stare at my boobs. Alex was different. Older and younger at the same time. He never looked at my boobs or at my face. Just down at the ground or off to the side. Interesting.
I caught up with Alex as he went out the school front door. “Exciting stuff, huh? That big screen blowing up,” I said. He looked away. Silence. “I felt like everything in my head got sucked out.” Silence. Try again. “What happened to you?”
Alex shrugged, and looked down. “I don’t remember.”
We got to the sidewalk and Alex turned right. “Where do you live?” I asked.
“3420 Mentone,” he replied, not looking at me. He walked away like I wasn’t there. I caught up to him.
We walked. More silence. “I live on Keystone,” I said. “A block away from you. It’s a crappy apartment building called Two Palms, with one dead palm tree.” We walked some more. “I saw the fight. At lunch. You really nailed that ugly dude.”
“Chuck Schwartz took my pudding,” Alex said, looking down at the sidewalk.
“What a jerk,” I said. No answer.
Halfway down the block, he stopped, frowned. The lines on his forehead made a cute little downward V.
“We’re taking smaller steps.”
“Is that a problem?”
Alex pointed. “My home is point-six kilometers from the school, which equals the crosswalk. Then it’s almost one kilometer. Thirteen hundred twelve steps.”
“You actually count?”
He shook his head. “I just know.” We walked on. I tried not to count my steps.
“So, what do you like to do, Rinato?”
Alex actually turned to look at me, his blue eyes lighting up. “I like movies. My dad has one hundred twenty-three DVDs. 2001, Chinatown, Citizen Kane, Duck Soup, E.T., The Godfather One and Two —”
“Oh. Really old ones. The new Time Kids movie is at the Tivoli. Want to go see it?”
“—the original Star Wars Trilogy from 1977, 1980 and 1983. My dad and I rented the Special Edition that came out in 1999. It’s not as good.”
Alex took a breath. I jumped at the chance: “Time Kids . New movie. At the Tivoli. Yes or no?”
“One of the worst things is that George Lucas changed it so that Greedo shoots first, instead of Han. He’s sitting right across the table and he misses!” Alex shook his head like this was a crime. “And there are fifty-seven other changes from the original just in the—”
I stomped my foot on the sidewalk. “Stop! Stop! Stop!” I yelled.
Alex stopped yakking. He looked at me for a second, then down at the sidewalk. Then: “I don’t like theaters. I don’t like crowds.” So much for that. We started walking. More silence.
Then: “I like books. My mom and dad used to read to me when I was little, mostly fairy tales and kids’ books. I learned to read when I was three, so they stopped. But I read books on math and physics. Also I like cars. I have a book about all the production sports cars ever made, and…” I tuned Alex out. He didn’t notice.
Francis Moss has written and story-edited hundreds of hours of scripts on many of the top animated shows of the 90s and 00s. Beginning his television work in live-action with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he soon starting writing cartoons ("a lot more jobs, and also more fun"), staff writing and freelancing on She-Ra, Princess of Power, Iron Man, Ducktales, and a four-year stint on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, writing and story-editing more episodes than you can swing a nuchaku at.
One of his TMNT scripts, "The Fifth Turtle," was the top-rated script among all the 193 episodes in a fan poll on IGN.COM. A list of his television credits is at IMDB.COM.
Francis, in partnership with Ted Pedersen, also wrote three middle-grade non-fiction books: Internet For Kids, Make Your Own Web Page, and How To Find (Almost) Anything On The Internet. Internet For Kids was a big success, with three revised editions and twelve foreign language versions. He's the sole author of The Rosenberg Espionage Case.
After high school where he grew up in Los Angeles, Francis had one dismal semester at a junior college, and then enlisted in the Army. He became a military policeman and served in Poitiers, France, falling in love with the country, taking his discharge there and traveling around Europe (including running with the bulls in Pamplona) until his money ran out.
He attended the University of California, Berkeley and became active in the civil rights and anti-war movements, still managing to earn a BA and an MA in English lit ("the major of choice for wannabe writers").
Francis is married to Phyllis, a former music teacher and active viola player. They have a son, a daughter and one grandson. They live in Joshua Tree, California.
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