At 16 years old in her Rio de Janeiro home, M. Mariz had a very vivid dream about a boy invited to live on an advanced and hidden planet. The dream stuck with her after her move from the Brazilian capital city to Southern California, where she brought it to life in novel form. The Chosen of Gaia was released last September in paperback and eBook.
The Chosen of Gaia tells the story of 15-year-old Albert’s move to a new world of mind-boggling technology and intriguing peers. Overcoming his fears enough to ignore a few suspicious details in the beginning, he soon must find strength to challenge authority when his family is thrown into a scandal threatening to tear them apart and erase their identities.
Readers should prepare for adventure, humor and suspense in this fast-paced tale of a “normal” family striving for their place in a “perfect” world.
Mariz is a lawyer in addition to her many artistic talents, but writing has taken over as her greatest passion. She writes screenplays and novels in both Portuguese and English. She has multiple plays and sketches featured in theaters, including a teenager play that was performed by young Brazilian celebrities all over the country, and has written many other plays for different Brazilian companies. She lives with her husband in Orange, California, where she is constantly developing ideas for new stories to tell.
Take a few minutes and read the first chapter of The Chosen of Gaia, which M. Mariz has generously shared with the LA Books Examiner. Be sure to share it with the YA readers in your life.
Reprinted by arrangement with Marcela Mariz, from The Chosen of Gaia by M. Mariz Copyright © 2012 by Marcela Mariz.
Sunday. The warm weather combined with the soft breeze of the early morning seemed to be holding the promise of some new and exciting adventure.
This was definitely the time for a change – a wave of boldness filled Albert’s lungs.
He was fifteen now, an age when things could finally start happening, if he could rise to the challenge.
Maybe he just needed to rely more on Ruth and ask for a “social intervention”. For the last couple of days they had been renting the beach house, his twin sister had learned kite surfing, won a hiking competition and even took to the sky in her first paragliding flight.
There she was on the ocean... swimming with her new friends... while he was sitting pathetically on the sand, wearing too much sunscreen, and holding an old book that he wasn’t even that interested in reading.
“Albert?” a soft voice interrupted his thoughts. The kindest voice he had ever known belonged to the sweetest person he could imagine – his mom, Sarah. “I’ve called your name more than five times already, but you didn’t even blink. Is everything okay?” Her bright green eyes were fixed on him, trying to decipher his thoughts.
“Yeah, I was just thinking about... this book. It’s very interesting...” he feigned.
He knew he couldn’t hide much from her, but there were a few things that he just preferred to keep to himself.
“I brought your lunch!” offered Sarah, handing him a plate with some chips and a hamburger.
“Uh-oh... Do you think Dad made it right this time?”
Hesitantly he grabbed the burger, while his mom sat next to him.
“Well... it’s better than the last time...” she said, glancing at Albert’s dad, Victor Klein, grilling in front of the house. Although clouds of dark smoke poured out of his makeshift grill, he seemed confident in his own performance. “Isn’t your dad the best?”
“He definitely should be prohibited from any kind of food preparation,” said Albert, his eyes frozen on his plate. His dad didn’t use to dedicate too much of his time to family events like these, so he would try to show a little support and appreciation. After a deep breath, he gathered the courage to take his first bite. Although his gag reflex was almost instantaneous, he had to disguise his difficulty in chewing and swallowing it, after noticing his dad’s glance. Albert gave him a quick thumbs up, and Victor smiled back, proudly.
“Soap seems to love it!” Sarah pointed to their basset hound, happily devouring a cooked patty that Victor had inadvertently dropped on the floor.
“Soap?” repeated Albert, discreetly spitting the food in a napkin. “He eats Ruth’s makeup and even my dirty socks! He doesn’t count!”
Sarah couldn’t hold back a smile; Albert definitely had a point. That same week she had already caught the dog eating lemons, red peppers and her toothbrush.
“Wait—what’s going on...?” Albert gasped, staring at the ocean.
The water seemed to rush away from the shoreline, as if sucked down a bathtub drain.
“Oh my God, Mom...” Albert stammered. “It’s a tsunami!”
A warning siren sounded. Lifeguards blew their whistles and yelled evacuation orders. Surfers started to swim back desperately. Parents ran looking for their children and children started to cry. Total chaos.
Sarah grabbed held Albert’s hands, in shock.
“Come on, we’ve got to get out of here!” instructed Albert, helping his mother to rise.
Albert scanned the horizon for Ruth. She was standing still, frozen, as if hypnotized by the retracting water.
“Ruth!” screamed Sarah.
“I’ll help her, Mom, go stay with Dad!” Albert instructed.
But it wasn’t easy struggling past the flow of people fleeing the beach. Like a terrified herd, they stampeded over everything and everyone in their path. His body seemed to be dragged by the others and a few times he ended up thrown on the sand along with crushed coolers and chairs.
When he finally got a hold of Ruth he knew it was too late. A colossal wave, perhaps thirty feet high, was roaring towards them. If they tried to run they would only make it a few steps. So he just stayed there, with one arm around her. His sprinting parents arrived just in time to join their embrace, and they huddled together, waiting for the water to wash everything away.
But it didn’t happen. The beach houses and palm trees were knocked down. All the people and their possessions left on the beach were washed away. But not them. When the tide had settled and the Klein family reopened their eyes, they found themselves completely alone on the sand. Alone, except for a gray-haired black man, just a few steps in front of them.
He approached and looked them each in the eye, one by one. Then he announced in a deep voice:
“You have been chosen.”Albert woke up. His red hair was damp with sweat that had trickled onto his forehead. Trying to control his quick breathing, he looked at the alarm clock on a very organized nightstand: 5:30am.
It was so insanely real, so rich with details and emotions, even his thoughts in the dream were so... genuine.
As Albert got up and his feet reached for the floor, a dog’s sharp cry broke the absolute silence of the room.
“Sorry Soap!” whispered Albert, immediately caressing the dog, as an apology for squashing him.
“Quiet!” complained Ruth, sleeping across the hall... through their open doors he could make out the pile of clothes, cosmetics, purses and books on the floor around her bed. How could she live like that? He wondered.
He stumbled out towards the balcony followed faithfully by Soap.
The sun was beginning to rise, and the sky had that typical pale blue early morning color. Albert grabbed the old beach chair that was leaning against the iron bars, opened it and sat, taking a deep and reassuring breath.
“Another weird dream... that makes five now,” he thought, caressing Soap’s ears. Was the unconscious side of his brain trying to send some weird message with that dream, he wondered? Or was his conscious side just simplifying something that he already knew: life sucks.
Albert glanced at the sky, then sat up, startled, and rose from the chair.
The pale blue had been completely overwhelmed by reds. He rubbed his eyes. Still red! He stepped back, one foot and then another, but failed to notice Soap was once again in his way. He lost balance, and while he fell his arms smacked loudly against everything around him. Ruth woke up immediately and screamed. Soap barked instinctively.
For a few seconds Albert remained lying on the floor, with half of his body inside the bedroom, half in the balcony.
“Soap, come on! You have to stop following me like that...” complained Albert, as the dog licked his face.
His parents wondered into his doorway, looking tired and disoriented. Victor, his black hair stuck up in a fauxhawk, clutched a tennis racket defensively. Suddenly, an alarm went off and Victor spun around, swinging the racket in the air.
“Calm down guys, calm down! I fell down... that's all,” explained Albert, getting up to turn off the alarm.
“Oh, really? That's all?” retorted Ruth, entering his room. She had only just jumped out bed, but her long red hair still looked perfectly brushed. “Next time please make sure to knock over the other half of the bedroom so you can wake up the neighbors too.” She set on the edge of his bed.
“Don't make a big deal out of it. It was already time for us to wake up. Besides...” Albert stopped for a moment, glancing at the sky one more time. “You have no idea what just happened. The sky was red a few minutes ago. Totally red.”
“You need to stop watching those scary movies, Albert,” advised Ruth.
“It has nothing to do with movies...” Albert denied.
“Yes, it does. Horror movies make you lose your sense of what's real,” said Victor, placing the tennis racket on the floor. “So, was it the same dream again?”
Albert nodded, then turned to face a drawing on the wall. He grabbed a pencil on his nightstand and carefully retouched the thick eyebrow of the face that kept appearing on his dreams. “Yeah... same situation and that same guy...”
“Did he say something different this time?” asked Sarah, intrigued.
“No, Mom, but... when I saw the red sky, I heard his voice in my head... saying... Gaia.”
“I'm starting to get worried about you, kid.” Victor passed his hand through Albert’s hair. “Go get dressed for school. I'll go take a shower...”
“Today is the big day!” celebrated Sarah, kissing Victor.
“You are going to watch the ceremony, right honey?” Victor locked Sarah in his arms.
“I'd never miss out on my hubby getting a medal from the mayor!” she replied.
“Astronomer of the Year!” exclaimed Ruth, picking up a crumpled newspaper page from the nightstand and pointing to a photo of Victor. “Sounds pretty huge, Dad, so huge that I should be going too.”
“You are going to school, young lady!” stated Victor, leaving the room.
“So, Mom...” Ruth pulled her mother down to sit next to her on the bed. “Can I move downstairs now that Albert is losing his mind? I could seriously have a stroke next time he wakes me up like that.”
Ruth’s exaggerated tone provoked a laugh from Sarah, but it trailed off as soon as she noticed Albert’s anguished expression. “You know, son, your grandpa told me about ‘red skies’...”
Sarah never hid her fascination with her father. She always proudly described him as intelligent and caring, deeply in tune with nature. Sadly, she had lost her parents at a young age, but she carried on their love for all living things, tending to her garden and volunteering at several animal shelters.
“My dad used to say that red skies are a sign that big things are coming...” Sarah continued.
“Big things are coming? That sounds good! Maybe girls will finally let you talk to them, Bro...”
Ruth gave him a punch on the shoulder.
“Maybe...” Albert smiled, thinking of the possibilities. “The sooner you get dressed, the sooner you’ll find out.
“Gaia could be the name of the lucky girl!” Sarah encouraged him, flashing her contagious smile.
“The lucky nerd girl...” retorted Ruth, leaving the bedroom to get ready.
Reprinted by arrangement with Marcela Mariz, from The Chosen of Gaia by M. Mariz Copyright © 2012 by Marcela Mariz.
Read Chapter One is a special feature at Frank Mundo's LA Books Examiner where authors, from emerging to bestsellers, share an excerpt of their newest books.
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