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Book Reporting: This Expat Author’s NEW “Urban Fantasy” Story Is Really About MOTHERHOOD – By Expat Andrea McKenna Brankin

(images: Marshall Cavendish and www.natashaoliver.com)

In The Evolved Ones: Awakening, released this July 2019 by Marshall Cavendish Editions, humans have developed special powers and are under siege by those who wish to study these powers and take them from them.

Full of action, pain and suffering, which is at the heart of one of the main character’s special gifts, the book tells the story of Rox, a 40-something woman who is trying to recover her memories from the last four years. (Watch the video below.)

At the time the book idea was created, its author – American-born Natasha Oliver – was a mother of two girls, living in Singapore and having a hellish time getting her youngest to sleep. “She would scream and she would not sleep, so I didn’t’ sleep,” Oliver told attendees at a recent book launch at the National Library in Singapore.

Perhaps it’s not at all surprising then that one of the themes of the book is motherhood. Namely, how could its heroine Rox forget her kids? Clearly, only an evil deed could erase such important memories! Going through her own mother-related trial, author Natasha felt this was the perfect way to begin the first story in a planned three-book series: create a tale in which it was possible to escape motherhood without having it be the mother’s fault.

Because The Evolved Ones features special beings in an urban setting, it falls under the Urban Fantasy genre, explained Natasha, who previously attended Goddard College’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing programme.


More about the Books

Despite internal conflict amongst the EOs (Evolved Ones), their main goal is to simply survive and, someday, thrive. Others want to put the EOs’ powers to work for the government, which in its own way, wants to make life better, too. But, for whom and at what cost?

This is an especially a valid question, considering the plot twists involving covert operations groups, hospital prisons, experimentation centres and filthy rich EOs who sleuth around in high-end combat circles and multimillion-dollar helicopters and planes.

Of course, it’s only book one in The Evolved Ones’ trilogy, so there will be time to figure out who are really the good girls/guys versus the bad ones. Is it really going to be that simple? Not likely, says Natasha. With such strong female characters on both sides of the fight, you may even find yourself rooting for more than one.

More about Natasha

Natasha started the National Library event held 22 September by saying she always wanted to be an author but knew it made no money. Then, she had dreams of being an FBI agent. When her head cleared, she ended up going into Human Resources. However, writing over six years produced this first book plus a plan for the other two.

Now living in the U.K., she shared that she takes time between her daughters’ ballet and soccer practice to write, as well as negotiating a few hours on Saturday mornings with her husband so she can bang out a few thousands more words at a time. The method is paying off, as she is in the middle of editing the second book, The Evolved Ones: Sacrifice, scheduled to be published in July/August 2020.


Natasha also revealed to the book launch crowd that several of the characters’ names are from people she knows, mostly those who had a big influence on her writing the book or her life. She acknowledged several women from the Singapore Writers Group, including Singapore expat writer Alice Clarks-Platts, who wrote the thriller The Flower Girls, which was released this year as well.

The question of research was posed to the writer during the Q&A session and she spoke strongly of not liking to spend too much time on research. However, one of the places where research emerged as an important part of developing the narrative was for the descriptions of the pain, suffering, death, resurrection and recovery of Rox.

Since her power is healing, Rox has to go through the excruciating pain of things like getting shot or drowning. The experience of Rox dying and coming back to life had to come from somewhere was based on Natasha’s research into this heavy topic. Drowning, for example, is called the “silent killer” because drowning victims make no noise – refuting the common notion that they splash around and scream. Rox shows none of that when she drowns at the hands of an experimental doctor.

For the reader, feeling the pain along with Rox – as she dies in agony only to be pulled back to life, again and again – is intense. Frankly, it’s mind-blowing how anyone could endure this and want to keep on going, as Rox surely does.

Book one sets up the story about how Rox will get help to find her family. (Spoiler alert: They are located in…. Singapore!)

To find out how (s)hero Rox gets to that point, you’ll have to read the book. The Evolved Ones: Awakening at stores around Singapore, including Books Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City and Times Bookstore at Marina Square. You can also buy it through Amazon and BookDepository.com.

About Andrea McKenna Brankin

Andrea McKenna Brankin is a journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the HCSA Dayspring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.

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