The One Apart
by Justine Avery
Genre:Fantasy, Supernatural Thriller
Only one obstacle stands in his way of enjoying a normal life. He remembers—every life he's lived before.
Tres is about to be born... with the biggest burden any has ever had to bear. He is beginning again—as an ageless adult trapped in an infant body.
He and his teenage mother face life filled with extraordinary challenges as they strive to protect, nurture, and hide how truly different he is. But Tres alone must solve the greatest mystery of all: who is he? The answer is linked to the one question he's too afraid to ask: why am I?
In his quest, Tres discovers that all is considerably more interconnected and dynamic than he could ever imagine—and fraught with far more danger. He cannot hide from the unseen threat stalking him since his birth.
Life as he knows it—as all know it—is in peril. And Tres is the only one aware.
Tres felt his body abruptly drop around him with overbearing weight, encapsulating him once again.
The mental images, the overpowering memories, finally faded. Only an ominous stillness remained.
Every cell within him began to twitch, infusing with energy—even as he felt immobile. Every joint, tendon, and bone ached under the pressure of being alive.
A deep sadness engulfed him. He pondered possible reasons. And, just as quickly, he was distracted by the presence of his own simple thoughts. Thoughts. He realized his own thinking.
This mind—certain of its own newness—desired to explore, feel, do, be. Tres opened his eyes--tried to open his eyes. He found his eyelids fused shut.
He opened his mouth. Thick, warm syrup seeped inside his swallow. Intense fear washed over him, even as he knew exactly where—and how—he was. Oh, no.
Tres was aware, more aware than any had ever been. In this moment, he knew everything—and yet, nothing.
He was beginning again.
Justine Avery is an award-winning author of stories large and small for all. Born in the American Midwest and raised all over the world, she is inherently an explorer, duly fascinated by everything around her and excitedly noting the stories that abound all around. As an avid reader of all genres, she weaves her own stories among them all. She has a predilection for writing speculative fiction and story twists and surprises she can’t even predict herself.
Avery has either lived in or explored all 50 states of the union, over 36 countries, and all but one continent; she lost count after moving 30-some times before the age of 20. She’s intentionally jumped out of airplanes and off the highest bungee jump in New Zealand, scuba dived unintentionally with sharks, designed websites, intranets, and technical manuals, bartered with indigenous Panamanians, welded automobile frames, observed at the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo in Noba, Japan, and masterminded prosperous internet businesses—to name a few adventures. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree that life has never required, and at age 28, she sold everything she owned and quit corporate life—and her final “job”—to freelance and travel the world as she always dreamed of. And she’s never looked back.
Aside from her native English, Avery speaks a bit of Japanese and a bit more Spanish, her accent is an ever-evolving mixture of Midwestern American with notes of the Deep South and indiscriminate British vocabulary and rhythm, and she says “eh”—like the Kiwis, not the Canadians. She currently lives near Los Angeles with her husband, British film director Devon Avery, and their three adopted children: Becks, Sam, and Lia. She writes from wherever her curiosity takes her.
Avery loves to connect with fellow readers and creatives, explorers and imaginers, and cordially invites you to say “hello”—or konnichiwa.
What inspired you to write this book?
For The One Apart, I woke up one morning with just one interesting sentence in mind as an idea for a brand-new story: “he remembered everything.” It felt really impactful, like the fact that this person remembered “everything” was a big deal, that it wasn’t supposed to happen, something went wrong, or maybe, someone would be really upset to discover this person did remember everything. That was it. And that’s my favorite part of writing. I love having no idea what the story is and just writing to uncover it. I wrote two scenes from that idea and set it aside because I was hoping to write a short story and I knew this idea was “a long one.” And two years later, when I sat down to start writing my first novel, I picked up this story idea again. I knew this one was the idea to run with.
Describe your writing style.
Practically, my writing style is to take one very simple, interesting idea and just following it while I type, uncovering the story as I go. I don’t plot or outline; that’d instantly take away all the fun for me. And if it’s not fun for me to write, I can’t see how the story would be fun for anyone to read. So, I start with an idea and follow it. In my mind, the story plays out like a movie. I see the characters, the setting, and stuff just starts to happen while I try to quickly write down everything I see or hear, etc. That’s my only explanation for why my stories can be kind of intensely descriptive at points… I see it all so clearly in my mind, that I try my best to capture the exact feeling and scene for the reader. And, for me, reading is a visual experience… and an audible one. My word choice, spacing, sentence size, or the sound of the words spoken end up dictating what I put down on paper—all to capture the exact mood and “feeling” of the story. Even when that means forcing a chapter break because I want the reader to really pause and let the moment soak in before the move on to the next—just like a carefully edited film.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in rural northern Indiana to parents born and raised on working farms stretching over rolling countryside. Everyone knows everyone, there’s a distinct dialect, and you have to share the road with Amish buggies. My father was a recently returned Vietnam veteran, and I was meant to grow up on a farm of my parents’ own one day. Instead, my father decided to rejoin the military, and our family of three moved first to the big city while he attended college and then to Germany where his career began. I was enrolled in the kindergarten in the local village and was supposedly speaking fluent German with my new friends in no time! But I only remember a few words and phrases now. And I ended up growing up in Germany, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and the tropical paradise of the Republic of Panama, where the temperature is in the humid 80s year-round and iguanas, toucans, and parrots played in the banana and mango trees in the back yard.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More fantastic stories! My interests are all over the place, and I love following my curiosity wherever it takes me. I’ve got a list of little story idea nuggets much longer than life will give me time to write stories for and in just about every genre. I will most definitely write more fiction, short and long, and great nonfiction stories as well.
What makes a good story?
There are so many elements that make a story the kind that sticks with your or you’d want to share with everyone else you know. And every story that ever existed is different for every single person who reads it. But I think the best stories are those that make you feel, whatever that feeling is. They move you in some way, whether they make you laugh or get angry, insight a new curiosity or make you in awe of the world and people around you. The best stories kind of provoke you somehow, change you the tiniest little bit, and make you see life in a new way.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
There’s nothing like curling up with a good story at the end of the day and slipping into some other world. It’s like traveling out of your own life and stepping into something much larger. But I also love to watch what’s happening outside my own window, in nature. It’s very relaxing to really notice what else is going on all around you and despite you. Maybe it’s a wonderful reminder that the world/life is bigger than you and your own problems are actually really, really small. I learn something new every time I pause to look out the window and see what’s happening with all the little critters out there. If I didn’t bother to pay attention, I would’ve never noticed the little wren, for example, that hops around the back patio, looking for food, on only one leg. He only has one leg and one foot, but he manages just fine, even if he has to rest on his little round belly now and again. I’ve never seen a one-legged bird before, and I never would’ve known he’d be living life in the wild just fine, as if he was just like all the other little wrens and wasn’t missing anything at all.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, originally published in 1974. It’s a sci-fi space opera, which one both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, and it’s themes and messages, capturing the essence of the times during the Vietnam War, are still very much applicable today. Haldeman’s writing style is straightforward, casual, and easy—very enjoyable, and I’m really looking forward to all the profound ideas in store as the story develops that I’ve heard so much about.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing stories since I was about 7 years old when my second-grade English teacher required all her students to write a new story every week. All my stories were true then, based on some childhood adventure I had over the summer or the weekend, and I remember the teacher praising them. I also remember her forcing me to stand up in front of the class to read some of them—I was so shy!—and that made me want to start writing boring stories. Years later, when I was still a kid, I started my first novel, handwritten in a spiral-bound notebook with a bright yellow cover. It was essentially a retelling of the Cinderella story with a main character named Ella that—SURPRISE!—would be revealed as a secret Cinderella. It’s a good thing I never finished it! After that, I believed the folks that told me that writing is more of a dream and not really a career, so I only wrote sporadically when I was really moved to live my biggest dream, only for life and that “real career” to get in the way. Finally, the urge to write, the feeling that you’re supposed to write, took over, and I finally gave my writing “dream” the priority it deserves.
What is your writing process? Do you outline first?
My process is very simple: start with a tiny story idea, the simpler and less-detailed, the better. Then, I start writing the story from the beginning. I never know how my stories are going to end up—and for me, that's the whole fun of it. That's why I write! Every story's an adventure, a mystery, an experience waiting to unfold. That's the whole appeal for me. If I'm not having fun writing a story, I imagine no one else is going to enjoy reading it. No outlines exist for my stories. My stories aren't planned; they're dreamed. At most, I may get flooded with ideas for a story while writing it, then have to keep up by jotting them all down and maybe needing to put them in chronological order to refer to them later. But I've found I'm not happiest with even "fun ideas" in a little list to write into the story; that's when creative writing turns into academic writing, for me, with a pre-determined end goal, and all the fun is sucked out of it.
Describe yourself in five words or less.
Optimistic, driven, curious, adventurous, smiley!
Tell us a little bit about the characters in The One Apart.
The story centers around Tres, who realizes, within the first few scenes, that he’s inside the womb, about to be born—and not for the first time. His birth, childhood, and life are all focused on figuring out just who he is, why he was born remembering all his past lives (when no one else is), and what, if anything, it all means. He feels completely out of place, afraid, and struggles with wanting to share with the world and his family who he really is, what he’s really aware of, but he doesn’t want to frighten them or even lose their trust and love for him. He’s welcomed into the world by his teenage mother, Sancha, and grandmother, Maria, both strong female characters with their own fears and struggles who are able to detect Tres’s uniqueness but deal with it very differently. Maria is the matriarch of the family, holding them together through all the challenges and discoveries, while Sancha is childlike herself, all naivety and innocence and youthful bravery. And Tres learns as much from the two of them as his own existence teaches them.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel? The One Apart had many different titles before finding the one it was meant to have. When it was just a tiny idea, just a concept, and I had no idea what the full story was as I began writing it, I labeled it “Impossible Memories” just to give the Word file a name. As the story evolved, so did the title… to “Anomaly” and then “Remember Me,” both of which are all too commonly used as book titles already. Finally, it became The One Apart… because the main character, Tres, is very much “the one apart” from all others existing around him. But the title has a double meaning, as all my stories tend to. And that is for you to discover when you read the novel!
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
It feels like I learned everything while writing my first novel! Biggest of all, I learned that I’m capable of writing a novel-length story… and one that’s epic in length! I learned that I’m a writer who finishes things, no matter how daunting they happen to be, and that writing a novel is both a million times more difficult and a bit easier, than you first think it might be. I learned that my imagination really is unpredictable, and that I can bring myself to get teary-eyed or even a bit afraid so that I have to peek over my shoulder while I’m alone in the room writing—even though I’m the one making up the story! I learned a lot about my own current beliefs about why we’re here, why life’s so precious, how we can accidentally whittle away great moments by worrying too much, and how important family can be. And I learned that creating a massive story, writing a book, is just like creating a little life, an entity of its own. A book you write is like a child of your own you treasure, realize is so unique and will touch others’ lives as they get to know it, and you’re just as protective of, afraid for, and in love with a book as you are your own child.
Anything specific you want to tell you readers?
I write to explore ideas and satiate my own curiosity. I publish to share the story with others for your own enjoyment. When it’s in your hands, it belongs to you. There’s no intended lesson or meaning or ulterior motive; the novel is for you to interpret, for you to explore and discover. So, I hope you enjoy the heck out of the adventure of reading it!
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