Tomorrow, you will be activated.
That’s when Aden Polydoros‘ debut novel Project Pandora will take you to into a electrifying world of teen assassins and government plots. The novel follows Tyler, a teen whose cuts, memory lapses, and strange perks start to form a harrowing picture. When he meets a girl named Shannon in the same predicament, the two begin a search for answers. But too much curiosity raises red flags and it’s not long before Tyler and Shannon must get to the agency behind their strange transformation before the agency gets them.
If you’d like to meet the story’s villain, check out our exclusive excerpt from the novel!
We recently had a chance to ask Aden Polydoros a few questions about the worldbuilding, characters, and inspirations for Project Pandora, plus a few life lessons about writing and publishing. And if that’s not enough, we got a killer, character-specific playlist out of it! Take a look below!
What were some of your inspirations for the Assassin Fall series?
I took inspiration from real life events. The brainwashing aspect of the plot was strongly inspired by Project MKULTRA and the experiments performed by Donald Ewen Cameron. While researching the American eugenics movement for the novel, I stumbled across an article about the Lebensborn program, which became another influence.
Who was more fun to write: Your protagonist, Tyler, or your antagonist, Hades? Which character was your favorite to write overall?
When I first began Project Pandora, Tyler was my favorite character to write because he was the first character to enter the story and one who, personality-wise, I feel like I put the most of myself into. I still feel the most connected to him, but he isn’t my favorite character anymore.
At first, I didn’t want readers to relate to Hades. He was just supposed to be a villain. However, when I began revising the novel and fleshing out his character, Hades became my new favorite character and the most entertaining one to write about. I think what makes him the most interesting POV to write from is that, unlike with Tyler, Hades’s actions aren’t governed by morality or even rationality.
Tell us about the conspiracy-based books or movies that you love!
For books, I greatly enjoyed The Maze Runner by James Dashner and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
With movies, I like The Bourne Identity, The Matrix, and Inception.
As highly-trained secret weapons, your characters have a lot of talents. If you have their badass skills and could use them as you see fit, what would you do?
I would become a crime-fighting vigilante! *clears throat* I mean, enter fighting competitions and target shooting contests. At the very least, I would walk around at night without worrying about being mugged.
Project Pandora is your debut novel. Was there anything surprising you learned about yourself or the writing process on the road to publication?
I learned that writing a book is more difficult than I thought. I had written one other book before Project Pandora and gave up querying it, but with Project Pandora, I persevered and it paid off in the end. Little did I know, getting a book deal was only the beginning of the publishing process. I didn’t realize how much time and effort went into editing. Now, I have even more respect for authors than I did before.
You mentioned on Goodreads that you like to listen to music while writing. What bands or songs helped you power through Project Pandora?
My favorite genres are metal and rock. I listen to my favorite bands while writing, but different songs for different characters. These were some of the main songs I listened to for each character. I tried to choose songs that I think fit the characters in some way, or at least their temperaments. For Elizabeth, that meant listening to softer rock. For Hades, it meant blasting out my eardrums.
Fleetwood Mac: “The Chain”, “Gold Dust Woman”, “Rhiannon”
The Cranberries- “Promises”, “Ridiculous Thoughts”, “I Still Do”, “Waltzing Back”
Tool- “Forty Six & 2”, “Schism”
A Perfect Circle- “Rose”, “The Outsider”, “Passive”, “Orestes”
Seether- “Given”, “Diseased”, “Fur Cue”, “The Gift”
Godsmack- “Serenity”, “I Am”, “Realign”, “Awake”, “Spiral”
Slipknot- “Duality”, “Wait and Bleed”, “Before I Forget”
Rammstein- “Ich Will”, “Stein um Stein”, “Ich Tu Dir Weh”
You’ve also mentioned a work-in-progress online. Can we get any tidbits of information on that?
Of course! I’m in the process of revising a gothic horror story for a young adult audience. It takes place in Massachusetts in 1949, and is about Garnet Hightower, a descendant of witches who is cursed to destroy everything she touches. When she meets a young Polish immigrant obsessed with finding the creature that helped him survive the horrors of the Holocaust, they get dragged into a conflict between dark entities that feed on human suffering.
I’m also working on a high fantasy and a contemporary sci-fi/thriller, also YA novels. As for the Assassin Fall series, I’ve written the sequel to Project Pandora and an accompanying novella and will soon be editing them.
Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight— Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.
Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control?
In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down—before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass…
About the author
Aden Polydoros grew up in Long Grove, Illinois, the youngest of three children. Aden’s family moved to Arizona when he was in second grade. As a kid, he spent much of his time exploring the desert near his home. When he wasn’t searching for snakes and lizards, he was raiding the bookshelves of the local library. As a teenager, Aden decided that he wanted to be a writer. He spent his free time writing short stories. He was encouraged by his English teacher to try his hand at writing a novel, which inspired him to begin PROJECT PANDORA. The YA thriller is set for publication with Entangled Publishing in Summer of 2017. He is represented by Mallory Brown of Triada US.