Author feature: ‘The Gaia Project’ by Claire Buss

The Gaia Project is the sequel to The Gaia Effect, by Claire Buss

While Martha Hamble gets to grips with being Governor of City 42, Kira and Jed Jenkins travel to City 15 but they are not prepared for what they find. Corporation are tightening their grip on those who don’t conform, threatening to split families and reassign the natural born children. With Gaia weakened, the group of friends must try to find a safe place to live and help the spirit of the Earth recover but everything stands against them. Will Corporation succeed in their tougher regime or can Kira and her friends find a new home?

‘I’m worried about Jed,’ Kira said as she faced the multi-screen in front of her. It was meant to be synth-caf with the girls but lately it was physically difficult for them to all be in the same place at once. As it was, only Dina had linked in to the comm. They were still waiting for Ruth and Martha to appear.
‘Why? What’s happened? Has he been getting into more fights at work?’ Dina sounded sincere but she was fiddling with something off camera, her attention not fully on Kira or the conversation.
‘Oh no, nothing like that, he’s just not himself. And he has a meeting with his boss today. He thinks they’re going to force him to get a new partner but he says he can’t think about it, not since…’ Kira trailed off.
‘Not since losing his sister and Pete.’ Dina had stopped whatever she was doing and was looking straight at Kira. ‘You’ve done everything you can for him you know. Grief is a difficult thing for people to process.’
‘But it’s been months. So much else has happened.’ Kira looked at Dina with pleading eyes. ‘I need him. I need you, all of you. I feel like I’m always all on my own.’
‘I know, I’m sorry. There’s so much to do here, I never seem to have a spare five minutes.’ Dina looked away from the screen, her attention momentarily elsewhere. ‘Huh. Thought I saw a bee.’ She turned back to Kira. ‘We’ve got bees here, did I tell you?’
‘Yeah. I’ve been thinking I should come out to Camp Eden. Bring Grace with me. It would be good to see Max again, have a look at what you guys are getting up to out there. Visit the bees and everything.’ Kira tried not to sound too desperate, but she wanted a change of scenery. Besides if there were bees at Camp Eden, maybe Kira would see Gaia as well.
‘Yes! You should totally come. It would be great to see you.’ Dina was grinning widely at the camera. There was a shout behind her and she whipped her head round, half rising from the chair. ‘Oh wow – sorry Kira, I’ve got to go. They’ve spotted something in the trees, some kind of cat. It’s so exciting. Catch up with you soon.’ The connection went dead.
Kira sighed at the blank screen in front of her. So much for synth-caf with the girls. She was about to turn her comm link off when Martha’s face blinked into view.
‘Sorry I’m late. I can only stay for five minutes but I wanted to drop in and say hi to you all.’ She looked puzzled. ‘Where is everyone?’
‘Hi Ma. Dina had to go, they found a cat or something. And Ruth, well, Ruth hasn’t turned up yet,’ Kira replied, glad to see her friend but annoyed that she was already getting ready to bail.
‘That’s odd. Ruth didn’t tell me she had other plans. At least, I don’t think she did.’ Martha frowned. ‘Kira, I am so tired. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going half the time. I’ve got another meeting in a few minutes, more problems with supplies and I have no idea how we’re going to sort this one out.’
Kira took pity on her friend. ‘You’ll figure it out Ma, you always do.’
‘Thanks, Kira. Look I’ve got to go but let’s try and have dinner soon. We should get all the kids together as well. Ruth said Lucas was trying to crawl yesterday. I can’t believe how much time has flown by.’ Martha gave a little wave and disconnected her feed before Kira even had chance to agree to the dinner plans. It didn’t matter anyway, they were always saying they would make plans but somehow never found the time to actually put them in the diary.

 A Bite of... Claire Buss
Q1. The phrase ‘hopeful dystopian’ seems like a contradiction in terms, but with your Gaia books you have pulled it off. What gave you the idea to approach Armageddon with a smile?

I believe that we, the human race, are in trouble if we don’t wake up and do something about our wasteful and harmful attitude towards our planet. The Earth will have another mass extinction event – it’s inevitable, the question is whether humanity will still be there on the other side. Thinking in post-apocalyptic terms is dark indeed but what if we can imagine a benevolent spirit of the Earth who wants to help us if we can only help her? That’s where the hope comes from, maybe we still have a slim chance to do the right thing.

Q2. There is a lot of talk about work/life balance these days. Just how does the mother of two small children fit everything into just twenty-four hours a day?

Haha! The simple answer is, I don’t. The children come first in everything I do which makes having a regular writing schedule very difficult. I have a paper diary so I can jot things down I need to do when I have some spare time but I don’t get stressed if I can’t achieve everything on the list. It can always roll over to the next day. I have a one-page plan on my laptop outlining the projects I want to complete by the end of the year so that helps keep me focused. I try to work on different social media platforms on different days of the week so I don’t get overwhelmed and I have a few daily posts that I regularly make so that my online presence is consistent. Writing is important to me so I make the time to do what I need. I often joke that I go to work once the children go to bed!

Q3. We know you are a baker, so tell us about your favourite cake to bake. And eat?

I’m a purist. My favourite cake is a Victoria sponge, light and fluffy with delicious strawberry jam and buttercream filling with a dusting of icing sugar on top. I use my Nana’s recipe (8, 8, 8 and 4), a bowl and a wooden spoon – none of this mixer malarky.

Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with her debut novel, The Gaia Effect, setting her writing career in motion. She continues to write passionately and is hopelessly addicted to cake.

You can find Claire Buss on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.


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