Falling into FREEFALL: By Joshua David Bellin
FREEFALL started out as a love story, plain and simple. But it became something more.
Back in 2013, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. I’d read some YA space operas beforehand, and I had an idea for one of my own. As is typical for me, I plunged into the writing without much of a plan; all I knew was that I wanted to write a deep-space romance involving a teenage boy named Cam and a teenage girl named Sofie. I didn’t think much about who they were, how they met, or anything else. I just wrote.
But within days, it became apparent that my romantic leads were taking me in a direction I hadn’t foreseen. For a variety of reasons—the need to ramp up the tension between them, the desire on my part to delve into lives beyond the one I myself had lived as a teen—the two were diverging radically from each other, Cam becoming a pampered child of the elite, Sofie a revolutionary leader of the oppressed. Once that happened, the rest of the book took shape: Earth in the twenty-second century stratified into two societies, the Upperworld and the Lowerworld, with the planned colonization of outer space a battleground between the two. The romance between Cam and Sofie was still central, but the book was no longer purely a love story; it was also a science fiction satire about a world where corporations rule, space exploration has become privatized, and the struggle for justice extends from Earth into the deepest reaches of the galaxy.
Once this new conception was in place, the personalities of Cam and Sofie developed naturally and dramatically. Cam is a guy who has no reason to care about anyone else—he comes from one of the richest families on Earth, he’s been sheltered from the world’s problems all his life, and he’s about to leave the planet anyway. But he chooses to care. At considerable risk to his own status (and life), he involves himself in the lives of others who lack the freedom to make the choices he can make. With Cam, I wanted to be sure he had no super-powers like so many YA heroes have, that he couldn’t do anything beyond what a normal person could do. It’s his choices, not his abilities, that define him.
With Sofie, the development of her character was even more striking. I love characters who change as I write them, who seem to be pushing against whatever limits I might unconsciously be imposing on them, because those characters seem the most real to me. Sofie was that kind of character; no sooner did I start writing than she took control and insisted on becoming a passionate spokeswoman for the voiceless. There’s a lot of talk in YA fiction about “kick-butt heroines,” and I think Sofie fits that description—except she fights not with her fists but with her mind, her words, and her faith. For her and Cam to trust one another, walls had to come down; for their love to survive, it had to face not only external opposition but their own fears and doubts. At last, I had a world worth fighting for, and a duo worth rooting for.
I sometimes ask myself whether I should plan out my novels more thoroughly before I start writing them. How, I wonder, would FREEFALL have developed if I’d done that? But I trust the creative process. I believe that when it comes to fiction, my intuition knows more than my intellect. And with FREEFALL, I’m convinced that readers will enjoy discovering this story as much as I did.
In the Upperworld, the privileged 1% are getting ready to abandon a devastated planet Earth. And Cam can’t wait to leave. After sleeping through a 1,000-year journey, he and his friends will have a pristine new planet to colonize. And no more worries about the Lowerworld and its 99% of rejects.
Then Cam sees a banned video feed of protesters in the Lowerworld who also want a chance at a new life. And he sees a girl with golden eyes who seems to be gazing straight through the feed at him. A girl he has to find. Sofie.
When Cam finds Sofie, she opens his eyes to the unfairness of what’s happening in their world, and Cam joins her cause for Lowerworld rights. He also falls hard for Sofie. But Sofie has her own battles to fight, and when it’s time to board the spaceships, Cam is alone.
Waking up 1,000 years in the future, Cam discovers that he and his shipmates are far off-course, trapped on an unknown and hostile planet. Who has sabotaged their ship? And does it have anything to do with Sofie, and the choices—and the enemies—he made in the past?
Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). A college teacher by day, he is the author of three science fiction novels for teens and adults: the two-part Survival Colony series (Survival Colony 9 and Scavenger of Souls) and the deep-space adventure Freefall. Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.
Freefall (Amazon): https://www.amazon.com/Freefall-Joshua-David-Bellin/dp/1481491652
Freefall (Barnes & Noble): https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/freefall-joshua-david-bellin/1125685808
Freefall (Simon & Schuster): http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Freefall/Joshua-David-Bellin/9781481491655
Freefall (IndieBound): https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781481491655
Survival Colony 9 (Simon & Schuster): http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Survival-Colony-9/Joshua-David-Bellin/9781481403559
Scavenger of Souls (Simon & Schuster): http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Scavenger-of-Souls/Joshua-David-Bellin/9781481462440