by David Hofmeyr
Release Date: July 14th 2015
2015 Delacorte Press
Harcopy Edition: 336 Pages
Genre: Fiction / YA / Action
Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive.
The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury.
And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything.
THE RACE ASPECT OF STONE RIDER
Stone Rider – my debut novel – is a gritty coming-of-age story in which a boy who has lost everything joins a brutal race to win the chance to escape his dying world. The story begins in the wind-swept dustbowl town of Blackwater, where rival Tribes of teenagers ride semi-sentient mechanical bykes and when they join the Blackwater Trail they are thrown out into a bleak and savage wilderness.
The Race aspect is vital to the story. It gives the lead character, 15-year-old Adam Stone, a distinct outer goal: to earn a ticket to Sky-Base, an Ark in Space where the horrors of this cataclysmic Earth can be left behind. Of course, this runs in tangent to his inner need: for revenge, redemption and to become a man.
In a way, the Race is a metaphor. The story is about how we maintain humanity in bleak and trying circumstances. It’s about endurance and willpower and the strength that some people have to continue, to press forward, to stand up and fight. The Race also allows me to put a time lock on the story. To build tension up to the start of the event and to drive the story forward once the Riders have cleared the start line. And it’s a long distance course, which permits moments of quiet, solitude and introspection interspersed between high-octane adrenalin madness.
Inspiration for the Race came from many different sources, literary and cinematic.
The first scene of the book came to me in a dream, but it reflects the opening scene of Clint Eastwood’s PALE RIDER. I saw three Riders coming across a broken landscape like horsemen of the apocalypse, but instead of riding horses they were riding otherworldly bykes. There are also many cues to scenes from Sergio Leone westerns. I wanted the Race to breathe. I wanted fear, blood and dust. I force the Riders through claustrophobic spaces like canyons and then explode them out onto wide plains. I write third person close up, so we see the action from the perspective of the Rider, but I can pull back and give the reader a cinematic feel of the landscape of the Race.
The story pays homage to the peerless Stephen King and his terrifying short story from The Bachman Books, THE LONG WALK. There are also nods to the film HIDALGO. But I drew inspiration from so many sources in my life. Even a cycling book called THE RIDER, by Tim Krabbe, which I loved.
The amazing thing about a Race – and any kind of sporting event – is the unpredictability. There are always stories within the story. There’s the underdog. There’s the odds-on favourite. There are the saboteurs and the cheats. All these elements come into play when you write about a sporting event and they add vitality and complexity to the story and to the characters that populate the world. And of course, the lead character has to draw on the inner strength to overcome the trials and tribulations of the Race. In effect, this metaphor for life shows us the courage and the endurance of people. It reflects a spirit of humanity.
Book Two in the series, Blood Rider, takes the Race idea further. Winter arrives and the characters find themselves caught in even more dire circumstances. The stakes are raised. And, as always, they will have to compete to win, or be left behind.
It’s a race into the heart of darkness. It’s ride or die.