Description:Lieutenant Colonel Nik Zhukov is just like any other desensitized seventeen-year-old living in the year 2076. At least he likes to think he is when he isn’t busy eliminating threats to national security, breaking up terrorist organizations, and trying not to get blown up. It’s all in a normal day’s work for one of the military’s top dogs, and he’s never disappointed. Never failed. Never lost sight of his dream of making it to the elite force, even as each new job forces him to see just how morally corrupt his leaders are.
On the verge of promotion, Nik is dispatched to the underground city beneath the icy Seattle tundra, his final mission handed down directly from The Council. It should have been a simple in-and-out, but the underground is full of dark secrets and he soon finds himself swept into battles, lying to his best friend back east, and growing a bit too close to the rebels he was sent to spy on.
Nik realizes too late that he’s broken the number one rule within his ranks; he’s allowed himself to feel normal for the first time in his life. He might be able to turn the job around, become the soldier he was once was, except for his growing attachment to the rebel leader. A guy. Yet another first for Nik. It’s a mistake he pays for dearly when he learns The Council’s true intentions for the city.
It’s never ‘just harmless fun’ when you’re a government dog, not when The Council holds the leash. Nik knows there are some lines you can never come back from crossing, and he’s forced to choose whose rules to play by. He races toward the invisible divide, aware he’ll be called traitor by both his nation and by his friends. Aware that even the right choice can be deadly to make.
About Amanda Cyr:
Amanda Cyr is a tea-loving freelance journalist, viral content curator, and debut novelist. She studied creative writing at Seattle University, where she developed all sorts of opinions before becoming a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. She is currently represented by Kimberley Cameron of the Kimberley Cameron & Associates Literary Agency.
Growing up, Amanda moved around a lot. She began writing to make the transitions easier and make up for her lack of friends in middle school. An awesome professor in Medford, Oregon tried to convince her to pursue writing professionally, but Amanda was deadest on a law career. It wasn’t until an unpleasant professor in Seattle, Washington told her she was a terrible writer that Amanda really committed to the idea of getting published, mostly just to spite her professor.
When Amanda’s not hunched over a laptop she enjoys sleeping, video games, Netflix binges, and wrestling with her two polar bear dogs. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she spends her days hissing at the sun and missing Seattle. Her least favorite things include the mispronunciation of her name, screaming children, and California.
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I love Seattle. Rainy season and all, I love Seattle. I moved there in 2009 and recently migrated south to Los Angeles (poor life decision right there), but before getting dragged away from the Pacific Northwest, I was inspired to do something I’d never done before—integrate a real-world setting into a story.
As a sci-fi writer, closeted fantasy enthusiast, and lover of apocalypse theories, I’m big into worldbuilding in a way that serves the story, not the other way around, so I’ve always endeavored to drop my characters into a massive, wall-free sandbox (not a beach, beaches are silly) I can sculpt as necessary. Picking a concreate, you-can-actually-visit-and-touch-this location was a risk I didn’t care for because it felt like I was forcing borders on my characters’ world/options. I suspect part of my aversion to committing to a real-world setting lies in my nomadic upbringing.
Then, suddenly, I ran… and there was Seattle.
It took a couple years and more scrapped story concepts than I’d care to admit, but I finally discovered the underground. Yes, believe it or not, Seattle has a city beneath it and I managed to unknowing live a few dozen feet above it for quite some time. Upon closer inspection a la guided tour, I was obsessed. Even with its dank air and condemned zones, the underground space seemed limitless. I rushed home and paired my new obsession with the “global cooling” apocalypse theory I’d stumbled on a few days prior, throwing in a demanding protagonist who’d haunted my nightmares and short stories for ages.
I kept waiting to hit the wall, or maybe plummet into a pitfall I’d failed to account for, but after deciding everything north of Des Moines would be uninhabitable by the year 2076 and committing to a solid outline, I found it delightfully challenging to cherry-pick inspiration for my new world based on how I predicted political hierarchies, travel, cultural traditions, economics, foreign relations, and everything else “current” would be affected by such a disaster.
There were times during the early drafting days that I outright hated the manuscript, usually right around when I’d drop in mention of a building or street in Seattle I was familiar with. On more than one occasion, I considered doing a quick Ctrl+F and renaming all of my real-world settings to safe, fictional ones. I pressed on, though, because this was something new to me and I felt like I had to see it to the end, if only for the sake of saying I’d branched out and grown as a writer before hurling my laptop off the roof. As I immersed myself deeper into my characters and the storyline, the world gradually changed—It became someone else’s. It all felt so active, but subtle at the same time. Effortless, but meticulously connected to and mindful of the story.
Zhukov’s Dogs began as a writing exercise; three years later, it’s become my debut novel.