Geoffrey Girard's two debut thrillers offer a unique premise: They tell the same story from two different perspectives. Cain's Blood is aimed at adult fans of sci-fi thrillers, and it follows the story of a former Army Ranger, Shawn Castillo. Project Cain is intended for young adult readers and unfolds through the perspective of 16-year-old Jeff Jacobson. In a guest post, Girard shares a little more about these parallel novels.
Guest post by Geoffrey Girard
] On September 3, Simon & Schuster releases my first two novels. Cain’s Blood is a dark techno thriller for adults. And Project Cain is a dark techno thriller for young adult readers. They essentially tell the same story. But not . . .
Cain’s Blood recounts through a dozen viewpoints (and fairly omnisciently) how the U.S. Defense Department has cloned violent serial killers in an attempt to harness the genetics of violence, and these clones (made from men like Bundy, Gacy, Berkowitz) are in their teens now. Some of these teens are good, some not so much. When the bad ones escape, a troubled and retired Special Ops agent, Shawn Castillo, tracks them down with the help of one of the “good” boys: a 16-year-old Jeffrey Dahmer clone. Project Cain tells this same story, but entirely from the point of view of Jeff Jacobson, the teenaged Dahmer clone.
The original idea (thanks to my agents at Foundry Literary & Media) was that the story was exciting/curious enough that adults would want to read it and also teens. Simon & Schuster agreed with that idea—but not quite like Paramount releasing the PG version of Saturday Night Fever (have I shown my age?) or some kind of “he said/she said” thing between Castillo and Jeff. So, how would they be different?
While they follow the same basic story, the two novels deviate often with specific scenes. Most of what happens in Cain’s Blood would surprise the heck out of Jeff Jacobson. It focuses more on Castillo and his return home from war, and has a lot more scenes with the Bad Guys. These scenes would explain a lot to Jeff (and readers of the teen novel), but they are scenes/developments that are only hinted at in “Jeff’s” book.
Meanwhile, in Project Cain, Jeff gets in adventures and reveals information that don't appear in the adult book at all. These are his own discoveries and trials outside the scope of the main book—teen discoveries and trials.
We/I do not expect readers to read both books. But if you read one and loved it and want more, you can check out the other. There were enough differences put in to make it, I hope, worth your while.
Cain’s Blood is told as a traditional thriller. (“Crichton meets King,” one blurb claims, and I’m happy to repeat it here.) It’s the book my agents first said YES to. It’s the more commercial book, written for the largest audience.
Project Cain is a first-person story from the POV of a teen boy physiologically different from other boys, which offers a special opportunity to do something different with this book for a very specific audience. I’ve been teaching high school English for 10 years at an all-boys school and have developed some ideas on the kind of book a teen (specifically a boy) might like to read. My guys prefer nonfiction, so Project Cain is written in that style. Also, the devices of composition in the novel are those of a teen boy writing a journal, not of an adult author or even a teen girl. Jeff is genetically prone to becoming a sociopath so his communication and delivery are often, at quick glance, stilted, cold, detached. While there are glimpses of a special kid throughout, he’s still gonna tell it his way. The net result is that folks either love Jeff and his take on the world or hate me as a writer. That was a risk/price I was willing to pay for this specific book.
In either case, I hope readers flip through each book and decide which works best for their reading tastes. When in doubt, if over 18, give Cain’s Blood a look. If still in junior high school or high school, check out Project Cain.
Thanks, Geoffrey! Cain's Blood and Project Cain are both out today.