I’m C.L. Gaber and I invite you to go on a journey with me.
As a journalist for the New York Times Syndicate, my job is to ask questions. One day, I was speaking with a scientist who told me an interesting fact: “Did you know that the human brain doesn’t fully form until you’re 24-years-old. That’s when the frontal lobe gels to put it simply,” she said.
Now, I hear cool facts every single day, but something about that one played in my own mind. Either this fact was a great way for teenagers to get out of any kind of trouble – “Hey, Mom, my frontal lobe isn’t gelled yet” – or it was something deeper. I settled on option two.
Then I began to think, “What if you died young? Would that mean you weren’t fully formed? And in that case…where would you go? Where did they go?” In that moment, I remembered all those announcements when I was in high school, “Benny Smith died last night in a motorcycle accident. Counselors are available.” Counselors were always available at my suburban Chicago high schools, but real answers never were accessible.
But I digress.
“Ascenders” was born – or at least the core of a story – with that scientific fact. My mind must have been dwelling on it because one night in Los Angeles, I had a dream. It was the night before I was doing a one-on-one interview with Cher (you can’t make this stuff up) and I went to sleep in one of those hotel beds that was like a cloud. A dream began to play in my head like a movie.
I saw a girl with reddish brown hair. Her name was Walker. I saw a guy who looked a lot like a young David Beckham. Someone called him Daniel. They were dead, but they were more alive than many characters I saw in movies. They were having an adventure of an after-life in a place that looked a lot like the UP of Michigan. I saw the tall evergreens, the fog, and I heard the rush of the waterfalls. The girl was told that there were rules for this place. “There are rules to live in Michigan?” she said in an astonished voice. She was finally told that her internal GPS was off.
After a near drowning in a lake, Walker asked Daniel, “Why am I still alive?” The answer was so simple. “Because, baby, you can’t die twice,” he told her.
So got up after the final reel played in my head. And I grabbed every single notepad in the room, and fortunately this hotel has great, big, thick notepads. I was trying to be quiet since my husband is a light sleeper and I made it to the bathroom without so much as a toe stub. And from 3 a.m. until dawn, I wrote down everything from that dream. I even wrote most of the first chapter of “Ascenders.”
My only interruption was my husband who finally knocked on the door and asked with concern, “Are you okay? Are you having a kidney transplant in there? And if you’re fine, you better get dressed. You have Cher in two hours.”
In 2015, Ascenders (Book One) debuted on Amazon and recently “Ascenders: Skypunch (Book Two) was released.
I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for the amazing response and soaring reviews. These reviews have humbled me in ways I can’t even express. Along the way, there have been epic surprises including Roger O’Donnell of the Cure writing theme music for our trailer. There are rumblings of turning Ascenders into much more than words on a page. Stay tuned on this page.
This has been an epic adventure that has been made sweeter by talking to you, amazing readers, online and in person. I can’t even begin to tell you how it thrills me to hear things like, “Daniel is mine and Walker is me.” Thank you, thank you, thank you. You’re an author’s dream come true. One morning, I woke up to #DanielisDivine (Twitter hashtag specifically for the book!). Come on! It’s perfect.
By the way, Walker Callaghan is all of us. She’s filled with hopes, dreams, and a reckless optimism that even death can’t put on pause.
As I write this, I’m halfway done with book 3 and book 4 is percolating.
When I sign books, my hand keeps writing some variation of the same thing: Make. It. Count.
With my frontal lobe fully formed and a grateful heart, I try to live by those words each day.
OF THE BOOK