The End of the World Blog Hop — Teri Polen

Find out More About the World of The Gemini Connection by Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Horror Fiction Writer Teri Polen During OWS CyCon 2019

Welcome to another fantastic stop in our World-building Showcase blog hop! On this stop, we’re highlighting a story where the world changes or ends as we know it, but you can find a full list of authors and topics on the OWS Cycon website. Let’s dive in!

Welcome Teri Polen!

Before we dive in to the nitty gritty, what is The Gemini Connection about?

Teri Polen The Gemini Connection book cover.

Strains of red splattered over the silhouettes of two men.

Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is. 

On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival. Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations. To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science. As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares. 

When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt. For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists. Evan blames himself. No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing. 

A year later, Simon is still gone. Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation. Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home. Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.

What kinds of climates do your characters experience? Do they see a lot of change or is it always the same? Has your world always had this kind of climate, or has it changed over time?

The climate on Tage has been rapidly declining over the past several years. Because of severe drought, fresh water supplies are nearly depleted. Tage is also experiencing a food shortage due to an incurable virus that’s run rampant through their animal population, and protein is in short supply. There are now early signs that the virus has jumped to their produce. Time is running out for this world.

What do people in your world do for fun? Are there sports, games, music, or other activities they do in their free time?

With their planet on the verge of dying, the people in this world are focused primarily on discovering a way to survive. A couple of years ago, my two main characters had relatively normal lives – sports, hanging out with friends, dating, etc., but Tage’s situation grew critical. If students were skilled in areas that could aid finding a solution, their education was fast-tracked, and they immediately began utilizing their talents.

What kinds of transportation and other interesting technology do your characters have access to? Are they ahead, behind, or a mix of different kinds of tech compared to where we are now?

Compared to our world, Tage is both scientifically and technologically advanced. One of my main characters, Evan, is a Mindbender. He travels into the minds of others and helps them connect thoughts and concepts, and also battles nightmares. Think a cross between Inception and The Matrix. His twin, Simon, is a gifted scientist working on a way to transport their people to a habitable planet—the problem is that it’s several light years away.

Your Process

When you build a world, what is your process like? Do you do a lot of research upfront, wing it completely, or something in between?

I’m something in between. I’ll come up with a concept, and then build around it. The world has to make sense—have its own rules, society, and systems—for it to be believable.

How central is the setting of your story to the story itself? Is it more of an interesting backdrop, or is it integral to the events of the story?

In The Gemini Connection, the setting is integral. Knowing their planet is dying sooner rather than later is one of the motivating factors for my characters. After Simon’s disappearance, it’s discovered that he found a way to save their population. But he’s been missing for a year, and his twin, Evan, is the only person who still believes Simon is alive.

When helping the reader get to know the world you built, what techniques do you use? Do you tend to be upfront about things, or keep the reader in the dark and feed them only bits at a time?

I weave in details. Info dumps at the beginning of a book are difficult to follow and unnecessary. I like to let my characters gradually introduce the reader to their world.

How much of a role does realism and hard scientific fact play in your world-building? Do you strive for 100% accuracy, or do you leave room for the fantastical and unexplainable in your world?

I learned a good bit about quantum physics during research for this story, so there’s a semi-factual base, but trust me when I say everything isn’t hard scientific fact. That’s why I write fiction—I get to make up stuff.

Do you have any specialized training or background from your “real life” that has informed your world-building?

Not one bit.

How do you keep all of the details of your world and characters straight? Do you have a system for deciding on different factors and keeping it all organized, or does it live more in your head?

I have friends that make spread sheets, color-coded files, special notebooks—all helpful, organized ways to keep story details straight and easy to reference. My mind doesn’t tend to work that way. I have a couple of notebooks where I jot down things as they come to me, notes in my phone, notes in the draft—basically, stuff all over the place. Once I’m ready for the final draft, I’ll gather everything and make an edit list based on all of my notes. It’s definitely not the most efficient way, but it works for me.

Did you experience any difficulties while building your world? Any facts that refused to cooperate or inconsistencies you needed to address while editing?

This one came to me pretty easily. A couple of things I had to get creative with scientifically, but it worked in the end. My current WIP? Roadblocks everywhere.

Where can people find you on the web?

Thanks so much for hosting me today! This is my first experience with CyCon, and it’s been a blast. My social media links and purchase links are below—I’d love to hear from you!

Buy Links:

Contact Links:
Website: https://teripolen.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeriPolenAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TPolen6
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16114393.Teri_Polen
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tpolen6/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/teripolen/
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/teri-polen

What reviewers are saying:

 “…hits all the right marks for an engrossing tale with engaging characters.”

“…unique story filled with unexpected surprises.”

 “…intensely beautiful relationships and friendships…an awesome LGBT relationship!”

“…edge of your seat sci-fi with a mystery!”

For more stops on our End of the World World-building Showcase, visit the tour page on the OWS CyCon website. You can also find more great Sci Fi authors and books on our main Sci Fi event page.

Books, Writing

Squire Hayseed Paperback

The paperback for this epic coming-of-age tale is live!

At fourteen, Hayley finds herself with a choice — hang for thieving or become a squire. She knows nothing about the world of knights, chivalry, swords, and horses, but she knows a lot about death. Survival is all that’s gotten her through this world, survival is all she knows to count on. Her entire world is upended when she winds up under the wing of the most beloved knight in the whole country. Ser Gavin is smart, handsome, talented, and not about to put up with her crap.

In this coming-of-age tale, Hayley discovers there’s more to not only the Order of Knights, but the world around her and the strength that lurks inside her heart.

Books, Writing

Stones, Squire Hayseed Excerpt

“I wanted you to be better.

“I’m not!” Hayley shrieked, saltwater smothering her eyes as she whipped her hand through the air. “I’m a pickpocket! A street rat! You scooped me out of the gutter and no…no crest on my clothing, or-or alphabet reciting, or sword training will fix that!”

“Why? Why steal? You had everything you could possibly need here.”
Hayley snorted at that. Everything came with strings attached. He was the one to tell her and now he acted as if she should have just smiled with a jolly pat on her head for the kindly Duchess not letting her starve on the doorstep. Gavin raised up higher, his shoulders squaring him into place for Hayley’s indignity. He looked about to say something, probably scream her stupid, but she beat him to it.

“They have everything! Every cursed thing they could ask for. That stuff,” her voice gurgled with the mass of anger and tears in her gut, “all that I stole, they didn’t even notice. Didn’t care. It was like a-a god damn fly to them for all they care. So what if I stole it? That would…would feed someone like me for a year. And they don’t even care!”

Her rambling words echoed through the small house, pinging off of pots she washed and hung up, through the small bookcase where Hayley would run her fingers over the covers to find the words. It wasn’t her home. It was never her home. People like her didn’t have homes, they had stones. Stones for beds, stones for food, stones for graves.

Books, Writing

Exculsive Squire Hayseed Excerpt

Read an exclusive excerpt before Squire Hayseed drops on Amazon on May 14th:

Not a hero. Not a chosen one. Hayley is only a survivor.

At fourteen she finds herself with a choice — hang for being caught stealing or become a squire. She knows nothing about the world of knights, chivalry, swords, and horses, but she knows a lot about death. In this coming-of-age tale, Hayley discovers there’s more to not only the Order of Knights, but the world around her and the strength that lurks inside her heart.

She was dead. A rotting corpse hanging out of a gibbet. Mulch chewed up to fertilize some mayor’s favorite begonias. Deader than the flattest nail in the kingdom.

The others huddled around the weapons rack, eyes peeled as all the nobs in shiny armor began to bicker over who got the best pig at market. Hayley originally thought this wouldn’t be too hard. A little smooching of the backside, some indiscriminate bowing, and she’d be able to hightail it out from under the Knights’ eyes before sundown.

With one hand cradling the massive welt puffed off her shoulder, she felt the narrowed eyes of guards standing at the only exit to this arena. They looked calm, as if they had all the time in the world. The others paid them no heed, either used to having a few armored men around or thinking it a compliment, but Hayley’s palms itched at the sight. On instinct, her stomach churned if she smelled armor polish.

Out of ideas, her head tipped back towards the wall. Even if her shoulder wasn’t shredded pork at this point, she’d have no chance to climb it. Smooth as a waterfall, the dingy grey stone gave no one trespass. Hayley bit on her lip, about to turn away when she noticed a crack in the bricks. Peering closer, a splash of dirty brown-crimson stood out against the not as flat wall.


Whipping her head back to the scene, Hayley did her best to not imagine all the ways one could wind up smearing blood into a cracked section of stone. There were a lot of options because people were creative when push came to shove. In swallowing down the lump she caught Larissa huffing in a breath and raising her head higher.

She’d been moping since putting her staff back, acting as if Hayley somehow pissed on her family gravestone. Sure, she was the one wronged — the one without any bruises, any abrasions, and somewhere to go back to when this was over. Poor Larissa. Hayley’d offer to light her a candle for her suffering, but she doubted she’d be trusted anywhere near a church…unless it was in a coffin.

Did people like her even get funerals? Or coffins?

Her teeth chattered like vengeful squirrels at the thought. She’d never wondered before, but now she couldn’t stop trying to picture what would mark her grave.

Books, Writing

Hayseed Is Coming

“People like her didn’t have homes, they had stones. Stones for beds, stones for food, stones for graves.”

Squire Hayseed, Chapter Sixteen

Not a hero. Not a chosen one. Hayley is only a survivor.

At fourteen, Hayley finds herself with a choice — hang for being caught stealing or become a squire. She knows nothing about the world of knights, chivalry, swords, and horses, but she knows a lot about death. In this coming-of-age tale, Hayley discovers there’s more to not only the Order of Knights, but the world around her and the strength that lurks inside her heart.

Pre-Order now for only $0.99 before it goes up to $4.99!

Books, Uncategorized, Writing

Free Fantasy Reads

You can get my first YA fantasy novel The King’s Blood for free along with twenty other fantasy books.

The King’s Blood

Can two teens survive an entire Empire crashing down upon them while a shambling army of corpses waits patiently in the shadows? Will the religious fight for and against magic rip apart the world they all became rather fond of? And just how can a fifteen year old take over a throne dangling precariously over the edge of war?