2019 Indie Best Award Finalist: IGIST: New Stars.

Shelf Media hosts the annual Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition for best self-published or independently published book. In addition to prizes, the winner, finalists, long-listed, and more than 100 notable books from the competition are featured in the December/January issue of Shelf Unbound.

Ever since her mother disappeared, Emi was a light sleeper. Most nights she lay awake, wondering when the plague would strike. It had ruined most of the planet, leaving the Bygones on Earth restless and without hope. There has to be a way, her father had promised her. A way to escape Earth and observe the wonders of space. A way to defeat the plague and save the Bygones. A way to advance science like her mother and achieve her dream of joining the best and brightest inventors in the universe at the Intergalactic Institute of Science and Technology, or IGIST. As old stars die, new stars are born.

About The Author: L.S. Larson

L.S. Larson grew up in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula in the small town of Forks (known for Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series). After becoming a father of three daughters, L.S., having been inspired by the Tom Swift series, set out to write a new sci-fi series that would not only be entertaining and fun but also show his three daughters and hopefully everyone that they can be a great inventor and make a massive impact. The mission of IGIST is to inspire the future. 

Interview with L.S Larson.

Tell us about your book. 

LL: 200 years in the future, Earth is not so nice a place. A plague has turned the planet into a dystopia, terrorizing the Bygones left on Earth. Meanwhile, humans in the cosmos are opening up new vistas for humanity. The best and brightest explorers and scientists are educated and trained at IGIST, the Intergalactic Institute of Science and Technology. It’s like a space MIT. The story follows Emi, a young woman from the plague-ravaged Earth, who’s determined to study at IGIST and create a cure for the plague. On her journey Emi meets an incredible cast of characters from all over the universe. Readers can go behind the scenes with backstories, concept art, and interviews in the IGIST app.

How did you go about developing this book?

LL: I wrote IGIST to inspire my daughters to study STEM. I noticed that my daughters, nieces, and nephews are obsessed with apps like TikTok and Fortnite, which do a great job of incorporating the technological capabilities of smartphones. By contrast, E-Reading apps like Kindle haven’t really changed since they were invented. As a technologist, I set out to reinvent the digital reading experience with a new medium called the Immersive Novel. This format brings the story to life with photorealistic illustrations, cinematic animations, and Augmented Reality filters. In fact, readers can experience the entire Immersive Novel for free in the IGIST app. As they scroll through the story, readers earn coins, which they can use to collect Character Stickers and other bonus content in the IGIST app. And if readers prefer a hardcopy, they can actually bring the physical book to life with their smartphones or tablets. Since we launched the book and the app, we’ve seen that IGIST gets kids who historically aren’t readers excited about reading. 

What was the experience of writing this book like for you?  

LL: Writing IGIST has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I woke up every morning at 4:30 AM and wrote a chapter then handed it off to my oldest daughter, Kendall, who read each chapter every night after she finished all her homework and gave me her feedback. I also got to collaborate with an incredibly talented team of illustrators, animators, and software developers. We built the IGIST app and created this Immersive Novel together.  

What writing advice do you have for other indie authors? 

LL: My advice is to do the work. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in the Marine Corps was discipline. I attended the University of Arizona on an ROTC scholarship, so I had to be up for training every morning at 5 AM. Getting into this routine really helped me be productive. I’d recommend setting aside a few hours every day and forcing yourself to write during that time.

What are you working on next? 

LL: The second adventure in the IGIST series. You can read a preview of that in Book 1 and follow @igistuniverse on Instagram to see the latest Book 2 concept art. 

Excerpt from Chapter 5 – The Plague: 

Her ears perked, and the hair on the back of her neck stood straight up. She heard it again over the siren and the screaming. It was an awful sound. Wuh-PSSSH, then a loud crack. Again, Wuh-PSSSH, crack!

Jack was still paralyzed. The sound of the plague burst repeatedly like a whip cracking. A hundred feet away she saw it. A dark cloud exploded from one of the cabin doors. The plague was regenerating, with long fractal tentacles shooting out, while multiple rapid explosions expanded the dark cloud. Wuh-PSSSH, crack! Wuh-PSSSH, crack! The dark cloud engulfed several people.

It was the blood-curdling screams in the cacophony of whipcracks and wailing sirens that broke Jack’s paralyzed state. Sweating profusely, she ran back to the bow of the ship. She could hear the sound gaining on her. She grabbed the rail and yelled, “No!” then punched the rail with all her might.

She couldn’t bear to look back. There was no way Jack could get to her precious Helix Cells that she so desperately needed. She had no choice but to abandon them. She climbed to the top bar of the rail, looking toward Torrance Compound in the distance and the breaking waves below.

Her left hand gripped the edge of the railing. She could feel her grip slipping from the blood spilling out of her cuts. She felt a searing pain in her left hand. Boy did it burn. The cloud was upon her. Jack held her breath.

Wuh-PSSSH, crack! She jumped.  

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Article originally Published in the December/January 2020 Issue “2019 Indie Best Award Winners”

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