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December 12, 2011

J. Gabriel Gates: Divisions Lead us into "Dark Territory"

Posted by Katherine

J. Gabriel Gates is co-author of DARK TERRITORY and its upcoming sequel, GHOST CROWN, books one and two of “The Tracks Series,” and author of the highly-acclaimed teen horror novel THE SLEEPWALKERS. Here he talks about differences: between people, and fact and fiction.


If you’ve watched the news lately, you’ve probably seen a lot about the “Occupy Wallstreet” protests.  Demonstrators are accusing Wall Street’s wealthy investment bankers of ripping off average Americans, many of whom are unemployed, losing their homes, lacking health care, or otherwise struggling.  At the same time, critics of the movement accuse the protesters of trying to start a class war.  Now, more than at any time in recent memory, there is major tension between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in our society.

The characters in my new novel Dark Territory, book one of “The Tracks” series, face a very similar conflict.  Working-class teen Raphael used to be best friends with his wealthy kung-fu classmate, Zhai.  But when Raphael’s dad dies in Zhai’s father’s factory, they trade their friendship for animosity.  A few years later, Raphael and Zhai have become leaders of rival gangs and use their martial arts skills to battle one another.  Raphael and his Flatliners gang are fighting for survival and for a fair shake in life, while Zhai and his privileged Toppers struggle to defend their pride and property.  When Raphael falls in love with a girl from the rival gang, the tension between the two groups threatens to explode into a full-blown war.

As the characters in Dark Territory have learned, there are so many things in this world that can divide us: from our race, gender, political party, religion, or nationality, to what neighborhood we live in or what kind of car we drive.  Even how we dress can make us feel separate from other people.  It’s very easy to focus on these differences, to look at people who we don’t understand and say: “I don’t trust you.  And I’m going to hurt you before you get a chance to hurt me.”

 But there is a more important question than “how are we different?”  It’s “how are we the same?”

Isn’t everyone really more similar than they are different?  We all want to be happy.  We all want love, friendship, a home, enough food to eat.  We all want a chance to have our voices heard, a chance to be happy, a reason to hope for the future.

Wouldn’t it be better if, instead of bickering with one another and pointing fingers, these different groups could come together to overcome their problems and make things better for everyone?  Wouldn’t it be better if we could find a way to be a little less selfish, to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes for a minute and try to understand their point of view?  Instead of fighting to get everything we can then struggling desperately to keep it, isn’t it better to work hard, enjoy what you have, and share what you can?

In Dark Territory and its upcoming sequel, Ghost Crown, there is a supernatural evil looming over the small town of Middleburg.  This dark force is powerful enough to wipe out both gangs and everyone else in its path, and the two groups must find a way to work together, using every bit of their martial arts ability, cleverness, and spiritual power if they have any chance to defeat it. 

“The Tracks” series and its message could not have come at a more appropriate time in history.  I only hope that we, like the characters in Dark Territory, are up to the challenge.    

For more information about J. Gabriel Gates, check out his website: