As the last of the Clones trilogy is finally published, I thought back to when I first got the idea for the story.
For some reason, I can remember it exactly! It was quite a few years ago, we were in our previous house and I was ironing in the kitchen, looking out at the buds appearing on the magnolia tree, when the idea came to me to write about a group of people who felt isolated and different from the rest of society. And it grew from there.
I decided my ‘outcasts’ would be a group of teenage clones created for medical purposes. At this age, they would be ambitious and enthusiastic as they struggled to gain the rights they felt they were due, but too young to have adult status, leaving them even more vulnerable.
The story is set in the near future, so there was plenty of scope for possible technological developments. As it is a novel for young adults and teenagers, I felt I could also include an element of fantasy and imagination.
At first I thought that the book would trace the story of the clones (Labs) fighting for their independence, and would end when they won equal rights with ordinary humans (Non-Labs). But as I wrote, I realised that this point would only be the beginning of their story. How would different people react to them? What kind of prejudices would they face? And also, how would the Labs themselves react to their Non-Lab counterparts? Would they have their own prejudices?
In book one, Mirror Image, Ruby, the Non-Lab orphan who befriends the escaped Labs, asks Pellier, a rather laid-back Lab musician:
‘How do you feel about… being created in that way?’
‘How do you feel about being created in the way you were?’ he shrugged. ‘I’m here, I don’t really think about it.’
However, another Lab is less than happy with his situation:
‘And we have to sit here quietly waiting to see if (the Non-Labs) are going to be gracious enough to grant us our rights! Grateful for any crumbs they toss out way!… The Centre wasn’t all bad, you know.’
‘They were creating us as spare parts for their own people!’ she protested.
He nodded slowly, ‘Yes, but they were able to create beings of a much higher standard than their own flawed species. Think of it as a springboard for a future, perfect race. Don’t you want to be part of the new world?’
In book two, Altered Image, a break away group of Labs, the Radicals, continue to nurture the idea that the superior, artificially designed beings should be the rulers. They set about creating the perfect person through experiments in altering and improving normal humans. One of the Radical team explains their work to another ambitious Lab:
‘In our earlier research (to design the perfect being) we considered intelligence levels, talents, physical fitness… but humans are often far behind other species when it comes to the senses and physical attributes… we are selecting the most highly developed attributes from other living species… and transplanting them into our subjects… Just think of the being we can create!’
Finally, in book three, Perfect Image, the Radicals are growing more powerful and turn their attention to creating their version of the perfect society, loosely based on Plato’s Republic. Two young Hybrids are discussing the possibilities:
‘In an ideal society each person would make a positive contribution… in a capacity suited to individual skills.’
‘So, everyone can choose what they want do?’ she asked.
‘Their whole design would make them suited and content in the role they were given.’
‘So, the intellectually gifted people… would be the ones to govern the country?’
‘That would make sense, wouldn’t it?’ he replied.
He gave a short laugh, ‘Democracy hasn’t exactly worked so far, has it?’
As I finished Perfect Image, I thought of the main characters and where they would go next. It seemed strange that I would not be writing about their next steps, I’d been involved with some of them for three books! In that time, some of them now had their own children! At the end of the final book, the future looked positive for most of them as they found their feet and made more independent choices in their new way of life.
But the Clones trilogy has always been a story that could possibly happen in the not too distant future. And in reality, there will always be crossroads, with a choice of paths to take. With this in mind, I let a few of the more volatile characters escape to continue their own personal quests…
And as the Clones story ended, I began to gather ideas for something that is destined to make a huge impact on our lives in the future– Artificial Intelligence!