Now Available for free
with kindle unlimited!
It is the thirty first century - over two hundred years since the Fall, when the solar system was left devastated by a huge pulse of energy from the sun that fried everything electrical. The remnants of the human race, descendants of those who survived when the towering cities fell, eke out a fragile existence on an Earth where life has been twisted and warped by the radiation and where the Solanists - a dark and brutal religious cult - hold sway.
In this savage, ignorant world, one family tries to protect their mutated daughter, a demon in the eyes of the world, something to be feared and hunted. Their only chance lies with the enigmatic and dangerous gunslinger known as Crystal Eyes, the deadliest "demon" to ever travel the land. Only with her help will they evade the Solanist preachers who hunt for them, but she has her own hunter - the greatest preacher of them all on a quest for revenge.
There were several sources of inspiration behind Crystal Eyes. The character herself was most directly inspired by a wonderful photograph by Steve McCurry - a stunning portrait of an Afghan girl, taken in 1985, who had the most amazing eyes (wikipedia article on the image). That's where the idea of a girl with crystal eyes came from.
The nature of Crystal Eye's character, the archetype of the lone, powerful warrior, is drawn from a multitude of places. From the movies; a childhood spent watching Westerns with my dad, with many Clint Eastwood films. And from literature; Jon Shannow, from the Jerusalem Man series by David Gemmell; and Rolande Deschain, the Gunslinger from Stephen King's awesome Dark Tower series.
It's fair to say that the Dark Tower books were the biggest single influence on the story, for no other reason than I loved them and they made a big impression on me.
The only other character who's inspiration came from anywhere notable is Matthew Clarkson, the Preacher, whose genesis lies in a song by Bruce Dickinson called Son of a Gun from the Tattooed Millionaire album (YouTube link to the song). The lines "The preacher laughed, the preacher cried, he loaded bullets as he smiled, the congregation sat and wondered, would they live or would they die?" have stuck in my mind for many, many years.
Initially, he started out as a straightforward zealot, killing in the name of a blind, fundamentalist ideology, but over time he evolved away from that slightly 2-dimensional trope and gained a motivation, and a humanity, that wasn't there to start with. A similar thing happened with Crystal - again, she started out as just the taciturn warrior, riding out of the desert with a six-gun in each hand, but her history filled itself in as I wrote, giving her some much-needed vulnerability (she was, frankly, just too badass to start with!).