Posts Tagged ‘orphanage’

 

The following interview with James Morcan, co-author of our conspiracy thriller series, The Orphan Trilogy (The Ninth Orphan / The Orphan Factory / The Orphan Uprising) appeared in today’s edition of the prestigious Chicago web publication Gapers Block. You’ll see its interest in the trilogy stems from the fact that Chicago – and, indeed, Illinois – features prominently throughout.

 

GAPERS ★★★★ BLOCK

TODAY Thursday, September 12

 

The Orphan Trilogy’s Chicago connection

By Kathryn Pulkrabek

 

Good spies aren’t born; they’re made. Such is the case for the genetically altered spies in The Orphan Trilogy, a series of international conspiracy thrillers by New Zealand authors James Morcan and Lance Morcan.

Orphan_Trilogy.jpg

Chicago is featured prominently as the site of the Pedemont Orphanage, where 23 orphans acquire the skills to become stealthy, cold-blooded killers. James Morcan was happy to shed some light on how the city’s famed work ethic influenced the decision to begin the story here,  and to discuss whether we’ll see any Pedemont Orphanage alums skulking around Chicago corners in the near future…

Image of James Morcan
Trilogy co-author James

Q: The books of The Orphan Trilogy take place in a variety of exotic locales… Why did you choose Chicago, a city with blue-collar roots in America’s heartland, as the site of the Pedemont Orphanage, the place where it all began?

Even though the orphans in our series were genetically engineered by an extremely wealthy organization, their masters want them to develop “everyman” qualities in order for them to eventually be able to integrate with wherever they go. Being a working-class city, Chicago seemed like the ideal location as soon as we started writing the trilogy.

It’s also a city where the history is evident and the ghosts of earlier generations can be felt almost everywhere — generations who built the city brick by brick and through blood, sweat and tears. It’s not Los Angeles or Las Vegas or Miami. In fact, it’s the antithesis of those cities in many ways. Chicago always struck me as a more traditional American city where hard work is respected more than anything else. The folks I have met from Chicago and Illinois in general seem to me to be people who aim to do things well and with integrity. And those are precisely the values that the head of the Pedemont Orphanage, Tommy Kentbridge, wants to instil in the orphans for them to become the ultimate spies.

Q: What’s your relationship to Chicago? What kind of research did you conduct to create a snapshot of Chicago in the 1970s?

I visited Chicago on my travels not long after leaving high school in the late 1990s. I remember arriving via Amtrak at Chicago’s Union Station at about three a.m. and waiting in the Loop for the sun to rise. I remember seeing the city slowly awaken and then swarms of people arriving for a new day’s work. This experience remained vivid in my mind for some reason, and it inspired a sequence in The Orphan Factory (book two in the series) where Nine, our lead character, is running through the city center at dawn. Being a New Zealander, so much of America was foreign to me at first, but Chicago instantly felt familiar and friendly.

We did have to do quite a bit of research to ensure that late 1970s Chicago, which is when the trilogy starts, was portrayed accurately. We discovered the city has changed a lot with certain communities being quite different between then and now, or in some cases are no longer recognizable.

Q: The Orphan Trilogy shows us that institutions are not necessarily to be trusted, while Number Nine’s individualism is the key to his freedom. Which institutions, organizations and events in particular inspired this view, and who are some individuals you admire for pursuing freedom at any cost?

A combination of things inspired The Orphan Trilogy. Certain events like the bailout of corporations ahead of regular citizens during the global financial crisis and the invasion of vulnerable mineral-rich countries post-9/11, certainly influenced our writing. In recent times, more and more citizens seem to be sensing there must be authorities within governments that are not “for the people,” but actually against the people. More than anything else, we believe that’s why our series is proving to be popular and is establishing a loyal fan base of readers worldwide.

Nine does indeed have that spark of individualism which manifests as rebellion against his masters. Yet he also represents every person who desires justice and freedom. Individuals who we admire and who influenced our themes in the series include Nelson Mandela, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Julian Assange and Mahatma Gandhi.

Q: The trilogy’s first novel, The Ninth Orphan, is being developed as a feature film. Any chance that you will shoot on location in Chicago? Which actor would you like to see cast as Number Nine?

The Ninth Orphan film adaptation will be shot partly in Chicago and Illinois. Other locations will include Paris, Beijing, London and Manila. We have the perfect actor in mind for the lead role, but as we are also film producers, we learned long ago never to mention an actor’s name until negotiations are complete. Sorry if that sounds evasive…I guess the film industry and spy fields have much in common!

Q: The orphans are endowed with some amazing genetically enhanced abilities. If you could give yourself such an ability, what would it be?

Mentally speaking, speed-reading would be handy, as would being able to speak a large number of languages. Physically, I’d love to be a martial arts genius like the orphans are. As we mention in the novels, though, their advanced DNA is only one side of the equation, and these orphans are certainly not super heroes or anything like that. That’s just the “nature” side. There is also the “nurture” side, which is where their comprehensive education comes in. Having gone through the traditional education system and finding it laborious and uninspiring, it was fun to write about a more accelerated form of education inside the Pedemont Orphanage.

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For the full article go to Gapers Block: http://gapersblock.com/bookclub/2013/09/12/the_orphan_trilogys_chicago_connection/

The Orphan Trilogy 3-in-1 box set is available via Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BGGM05U/

 

Happy reading! –Lance

 

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As America – or President Obama at least – seems intent on attacking Syria, I’m reminded of a quote from The Orphan Factory, book two in our conspiracy thriller series, The Orphan Trilogy. In it, Omega Agency Special Agent Tommy Kentbridge asks a young Nine, the ninth-born orphan, “Why else do you think we are permanently at war in various regions all over the world?”

Perhaps the question would be better directed at Obama?

President Barack Obama

Obama soon to announce a new offensive?

Kentbridge, who is Nine’s mentor and the closest thing to a father figure the lad will ever know, also asks, “And why is it the citizens of this country, one of the richest on earth, get poorer each year?”

Good questions – even if we, the writers, say so ourselves!

Here’s some more from The Orphan Factory:

Special Agent Kentbridge had long-since realized America was not the unified country most people thought it was. Due to his position, he was aware of the extremely fragmented, corrupt and sick state of the nation. He also knew that sickness was entirely due to the conflicting agendas of the various shadow organizations that had infiltrated most Government departments and agencies. Within each power group – be it Congress or the Military-Industrial Complex – there were huge divisions as each of the secret factions strived to be top dog.

The Orphan Factory (The Orphan Trilogy, #2), is available via Amazon as a Kindle ebook via: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008M9WWKW/

 

Happy reading!Lance & James

 

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Books 1, 2 and 3 in our conspiracy thriller series The Orphan Trilogy (The Ninth Orphan / The Orphan Factory / The Orphan Uprising) have retained their average Amazon reviewer rating of 4.6 out of 5 Stars.

The novels merge fact with fiction, illuminating shadow organizations rumored to actually exist in our world. They reveal a shadow government acting above and beyond the likes of the White House, the FBI, the Pentagon and the NSA. There’s a poignant, romantic sub-plot, too, which possibly accounts for the trilogy’s popularity with female readers.

Plot summaries and average Amazon reviewer ratings (out of 5 Stars) for the three novels follow:

4 Stars

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056I4FKC

The Ninth Orphan: An orphan grows up to become an assassin for a highly secretive organization. When he tries to break free and live a normal life, he is hunted by his mentor and father figure, and by a female orphan he spent his childhood with. On the run, the mysterious man’s life becomes entwined with his beautiful French-African hostage and a shocking past riddled with the darkest of conspiracies is revealed.             

4.7 Stars

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008M9WWKW/

The Orphan Factory: This coming-of-age spy thriller novel is a prequel to The Ninth Orphan. It’s an epic, atmospheric story that begins with twenty-three genetically superior orphans being groomed to become elite spies in Chicago’s Pedemont Orphanage and concludes with a political assassination deep in the Amazon jungle. Embark on another frenetic journey with Nine, the ninth-born orphan, as he goes on the run across America.                                               

5 Stars

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BFC66DM/

The Orphan Uprising: In this sequel to The Ninth Orphan, Nine’s idyllic lifestyle is shattered when his son Francis is abducted by operatives in the employ of the Omega Agency, the shadowy organization that once controlled every aspect of his life. Desperate to find Francis before Omega can harm him, Nine soon finds he’s up against his fellow orphans – all elite operatives as he once was – who are under orders to kill him on sight. He must call on all his former training and skills.

4.4 Stars

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BGGM05U/

The Orphan Trilogy: This controversial, high-octane thriller series is available via Amazon as a box set (3 books in 1) at a discounted price. It explores a plethora of conspiracies involving real organizations like the CIA, NSA, MI6 and the UN, and public figures such as President Obama, Queen Elizabeth II as well as the Clinton, Marcos and Bush families. The trilogy also contains the kind of intimate character portraits usually associated with psychological thrillers.

 

Happy Reading! — Lance & James

 

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Our thriller series The Orphan Trilogy dominates three of the top five most popular conspiracy fiction books listed in Goodreads.com’s favorite Intrigue Book Lists – alongside Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan BrownAngels & Demons by Dan BrownThe Orphan Trilogy by James MorcanThe Ninth Orphan by James MorcanThe Orphan Factory by James Morcan

Conspiracy Fiction    677 books    —    293 voters

The Orphan Trilogy 3-in-1 box set comes in at #3 on the list while The Ninth Orphan and The Orphan Factory come in at #4 and #5 respectively.

Jurassic Park by Michael CrichtonThe Ninth Orphan by James MorcanThe Andromeda Strain by Michael CrichtonThe Hunt for Red October by Tom ClancySphere by Michael Crichton

Best Technothrillers Ever    346 books    —    266 voters

The Ninth Orphan occupies the #2 spot in the Best Technothrillers Ever category.

The Ninth Orphan by James MorcanTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Boys from Brazil by Ira LevinFalse Impressions by Sandra NikolaiThe Zombie Room by R.D. Ronald

Tight Plot Novels    22 books    —    25 voters

It goes one better to finish at #1 in the Tight Plot Novels category.

The Orphan Uprising by James MorcanAgainst The Tide by John F. HanleyFiji by Lance MorcanIce Station by Matthew ReillyPatriot Games by Tom Clancy

Best Action-Adventure Novels    265 books    —    251 voters

The Orphan Uprising, book three in the trilogy, tops the best Action-Adventure Novels category. Our historical adventure-romance, Fiji: A Novel, comes in at #3 on that list (above). The Orphan Uprising is also #2 in the Most Violent Action Novels category (below).

Wild Hearted by Lea BronsenThe Orphan Uprising by James MorcanBurden of Sisyphus by Jon MessengerMonster Hunter International by Larry CorreiaStorm Front by Jim Butcher

Best violent action novels    65 books    —    124 voters

(The above listings are current as at 29 August, 2013. They change daily).

There’s a ton of recommended reading on Goodreads.com’s favorite Intrigue Book Lists. For the full list go to: http://www.goodreads.com/list/tag/intrigue

 

Happy reading! –Lance

 

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This week’s review of our coming-of-age spy thriller The Orphan Factory (The Orphan Trilogy, #2) in Chicago web publication Gapers Block has thrown the spotlight on Chicago.

Chicago, the ‘City of the big shoulders’ as hometown poet-made-good Carl Sandburg once called it, is home to the twenty-three orphans who are raised in Chicago’s Pedemont Orphanage. It’s not just any orphanage. It’s home to genetically-engineered orphans who are raised to become the deadliest intelligence operatives the world has ever seen. Their purpose? To help the clandestine Omega Agency achieve its dream of establishing a New World Order.

     

If reader response is anything to go by, Chicago-ites seem to resonate with The Orphan Factory. Not surprising given their hometown figures so prominently in this novel.

The novel’s prologue sets the scene. Have a read and enjoy…

 

Prologue

An old vagrant hummed tunelessly to himself as he warmed his bony hands over a fire he’d lit minutes earlier in a drum long since blackened by perhaps a hundred such fires. Certainly more fires than he, or any of his street cronies, could remember. He stopped humming when, across a busy thoroughfare, a gravel-voiced busker began reciting poetry.

“Stormy, husky, brawling,” the busker rumbled. “City of the big shoulders.” He was reciting verse from the works of hometown poet-made-good, Carl Sandburg. The poem was appropriately titled Chicago. “Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.” The busker, a long-haired Vietnam veteran whose only concession to his military past was his VSM service medal which he still wore with pride, looked directly at the old vagrant opposite.

The vagrant imagined the busker smiled at him, though he couldn’t be sure in the fading early evening light. Even so, he flashed a toothless grin in the other’s direction.

Soon, the old man was joined by half a dozen street pals. All homeless like him, they appeared like disheveled ghosts out of the shadows, attracted partly by the warmth of the fire and partly by the busker. They listened intently to the poet’s words that flowed effortlessly from the busker’s mouth. Words that painted images so vivid in their minds it was as if the men were watching a kaleidoscope of their own youth.  

“Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,” the busker continued. “Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs.”

Several passersby paused to listen, but none bothered to drop a donation into the hat that lay at the busker’s feet. Finally, as the busker finished his recital, a business executive threw a quarter into the hat without breaking stride. Encouraged, the busker launched into another Sandberg poem.

Listening to the busker delivering further verses about his beloved Windy City, the old vagrant couldn’t help but note the irony: there wasn’t a breath of wind on this still Chicago evening.

The vagrant’s parents had always assured him the city’s misleading nickname had nothing to do with the weather. His mother had insisted the Windy City label came from the longwinded speeches given by the city’s Nineteenth Century politicians, while his father claimed the moniker had been mischievously bestowed by competitive New Yorkers in their attempt to win the World Trade Fair of 1893.

To add to the contradictions, even though it was February, it was an unusually mild winter’s evening. The vagrants gathered around the fire warming their hands did so more out of habit than necessity on this occasion.

Chicago’s streets were busy and the mood downtown was fairly upbeat. President Jimmy Carter was due to visit the city and greater Illinois the following day. Word had spread: the President would be here soon, and come hell or high water he was going to receive a right, royal Illinois welcome.

As Chicagoans went about their business, hurrying home after a long day at the office or heading out to sample the city’s nightlife, none were remotely aware of the sinister, Nazi-like experiment taking place virtually under their noses.

Despite the experiment’s seventy five million dollar price tag, only a select few knew about it. Those in the know did not include the city’s Mayor or any state politicians; at Federal level, not even the President knew about it.

The experiment was taking place in a laboratory in the concealed basement of a renovated warehouse just off North Michigan Avenue. Seven pregnant women were in various stages of labor in the lab that served as a makeshift maternity hospital.

Like some Orwellian nightmare, the women were giving birth in clockwork-like fashion, almost in unison.

Small teams comprised of doctors and white-coated geneticists assisted the women. A specialist induced latecomers. In the lab’s far corner, two suited men looked on expectantly.

The numerous personnel in attendance were all in the employ of the Omega Agency, a recently formed and highly secretive outfit which would one day become the world’s most powerful shadow organization.

Supervising the eerie experiment was Omega’s own Doctor Frankenstein – better known as Doctor Pedemont, the brilliant biomedical scientist responsible for the radical science behind it. Over the past few years, with the help of his team of geneticists, Doctor Pedemont had painstakingly selected the fetus’ genes from thousands of sperm donations combined with the genes of his female subjects. The donations had come from another medical experiment referred to as the Genius Sperm Bank.

The motivation behind the Genius Sperm Bank, which had been initiated over a decade earlier, was to advance the breeding of super-intelligent people. The bank was stocked full of semen donations solicited from many of the world’s most intelligent men.

Benefiting from the efforts of some of Omega’s elite operatives, Doctor Pedemont had unlawfully obtained hundreds of samples from the Genius Sperm Bank. Then, taking the best of the sperm donations, he’d artificially inseminated the very women who were now in the process of giving birth. This meant each child that was about to be born effectively had one mother and numerous fathers.

The legalities of the entire operation were of no concern to Omega. Although still in its formative stages, the agency was already above the law.

A tense Doctor Pedemont and three geneticists fussed over the first mother-to-be, a young redheaded woman, as she entered the final stages of labor. The two suits observing from afar waited anxiously as the geneticists used advanced scientific equipment to monitor the birth.

The redhead gave birth to female twins. They arrived six minutes apart. Doctor Pedemont picked up the first twin. After removing the umbilical cord, he placed the newborn baby on a set of scales. “Number Five,” he announced. “Born 7.43 pm. Weight seven pounds, thirteen ounces.”

One of the geneticists recorded the doctor’s findings in a file labeled Number Five. Sadly, this would be the closest the girl would ever have to a real name.

Doctor Pedemont gave the baby to another geneticist then grabbed her newborn sister and weighed her. “Number Six. Born 7.49 pm. Weight seven pounds, one ounce.”

The advent of twins was no accident, of course. Their arrival had been planned for, like everything else that occurred within the Omega Agency.

The next baby was born minutes later to an African-American woman. It was a boy who was clearly of African descent. However, he had a much lighter skin tone than his mother, indicating most or all of the sperm donations inseminated into the woman were taken from Caucasian men.

“Number Seven,” Doctor Pedemont announced. “Born 7.56 pm. Weighs exactly five pounds. A few weeks prem, but is perfectly healthy.”

Because Number Seven was a premature birth, one of the geneticists immediately placed him in an incubator. Number Eight, who was born quarter of an hour later, was a healthy girl of Oriental descent.

When Number Nine was born, the mother, a beautiful dark-haired woman with striking green eyes, reached out to Doctor Pedemont to indicate she wished to hold the boy she had just birthed. The doctor looked around enquiringly at the two mysterious suits who remained in the corner. After discussing it between themselves, the older of the two nodded.

Doctor Pedemont looked back at the newborn’s mother cautiously. “You know you’ll never see him again, Annette?”

Annette nodded forlornly. She fully understood the ramifications of her agreement with the Omega Agency. Doctor Pedemont reluctantly placed Number Nine in Annette’s arms. The baby boy reached out and placed his tiny hand on the ruby that hung from a silver necklace she wore.

“Sebastian,” Annette whispered tearfully as she looked into her son’s eyes. “I name you Sebastian, after my father.”

Anxious to avoid further bonding between mother and son, Doctor Pedemont took Number Nine from Annette and handed him to one of the geneticists who, without ceremony, jabbed a needle into the boy. Predictably, Nine started screaming. His mother looked on resignedly.

Later that night, two more boys and another girl were born. Like Number Nine, all three were Caucasian.

As Number Twelve, the last of the newborns, was weighed, the two suits approached a relieved Doctor Pedemont. They looked more relaxed now. The older of the two, a short, stocky, dapper individual with heavily pock-marked skin, reached for the doctor’s hand and shook it firmly. This was Andrew Naylor, the Omega Agency’s hard-nosed director who was known for his foul temper as well as for his lazy eye, which never quite managed to focus on whomever he was addressing at the time.

“Congratulations, doctor,” Naylor mumbled without even a hint of a smile.

“Thank you,” a beaming Doctor Pedemont responded, taking care to avoid eye contact with Naylor as he found the other’s lazy eye highly disconcerting.

Naylor’s companion, Special Agent Tommy Kentbridge, patted the doctor on the back in congratulatory fashion. “Well done,” Kentbridge said. Tall and ruggedly handsome – physically the polar opposite of Naylor – the special agent was one of Omega’s young stars. As a field operative, he had the sort of record most agents twice his age would be proud of. Although only in his early twenties, Kentbridge had been assigned to manage the products of this agency experiment. Like it or not, he would be the nearest to a father any of them would have.

It was a long-term experiment and no-one knew exactly what the outcome would be. The experiment was known in Omega circles as The Pedemont Project

 

The Orphan Factory (The Orphan Trilogy, #2) is available via Amazon as a Kindle ebook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008M9WWKW/

For more info about The Orphan Trilogy (The Ninth Orphan / The Orphan Factory / The Orphan Uprising), go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/SterlingGateBooks

 

Happy reading! –Lance

 

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In this week’s edition of Chicago web publication Gapers Block, Book Club reviewer Kathryn Pulkrabek says:

Reading, writing, and espionage? It’s back to school for 23 genetically-altered orphans being trained as cold-hearted assassins as part of the shadowy Omega Agency’s Pedemont project in The Orphan Factory by James Morcan and Lance Morcan.

Beginning in a Chicago warehouse in the 1970s, this prequel to the Morcans’ The Ninth Orphan recounts the origins of Number Nine, the spy who will eventually rebel against Omega and live life on the run. The inclusion of actual events (such as the Jonestown massacre and Bill Clinton’s presidential election) lends authenticity to the story, while the ease in which they are manipulated by Omega shows that seeing is not necessarily believing– an eerily relevant lesson in our media-saturated world.

The Orphan Factory (The Orphan Trilogy, #2) is available via Amazon as a Kindle ebook at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008M9WWKW/

It’s one of several young adult novels reviewed in Gapers Block’s Book Club this week. To view them all go to: http://gapersblock.com/bookclub/2013/08/20/in_the_the_book_of/

 

Happy reading! –Lance

 

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After decades of accusations that the conspiracy theorists are nutters, the US Government has finally admitted the famed Area 51, in Nevada, does exist.

Wfm area 51 landsat geocover 2000.jpg

A satellite image of Area 51

The top secret cold war test site adjoining Nellis Air Force Base, northwest of Las Vegas, has long been fodder for speculation the authorities have covered up reported sightings of UFO’s and aliens. Until now the government has denied its existence.

Nellis Air Force Base

Now a newly declassified CIA document confirms the existence of Area 51. The document states the contentious zone was used as a testing range for the government’s U-2 spy plane during the Cold War.

However, there’s no mention of the controversial Roswell incident, which UFO believers claim was an alien space ship that crashed in New Mexico in 1947 and not a weather balloon as the authorities insisted. Supporters of the theory allege that Area 51’s hangars were used to hide evidence of alien bodies recovered from the ship.

The CIA asserts government secrecy surrounding Area 51 was simply about ensuring a new spy plane – the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft – remained hidden from prying Soviet eyes. Plausible considering it was designed specifically for high altitude snooping on the Soviets.

The report explains the “tremendous increase in reports of unidentified flying objects” as an “unexpected side effect” of high altitude testing of the U-2. Also plausible considering the U-2’s silver wings reflected the rays of the sun.

However, that doesn’t explain the Roswell incident or the many other reported UFO, and indeed alien, sightings in and around Area 51 over the years.

It’s easy to dismiss the reports as the ramblings of zealous conspiracy theorists. However, in the wake of the US Government’s belated and official admission that Area 51 does exist, maybe those reports shouldn’t be dismissed quite so readily.

We visit Area 51 and Nellis Air Force Base in The Orphan Uprising, book three in our conspiracy thriller series, The Orphan Trilogy. Be warned, it raises more questions than answers – questions we’ll probably never know the answers to.

The Orphan Uprising (The Orphan Trilogy, #3) is available via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BFC66DM/

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