This summer, award-winning author Joan Gelfand delivers a fast-paced, fun, and edgy summer beach read, entitled EXTREME (Blue Light Press/First World Publishing). Set in a high-risk gaming startup, peopled with world-class skateboarders and power-hungry executives, worlds collide when a Hollywood producer comes calling. Enter Hope Ellson, a talented, driven woman who has fought her way up in the tech industry.
EXTREME follows the journey of a startup—an idea from a pair of skateboarders to build a site that can withstand a global audience, finally to crisis management. Featuring a dynamic pair of quirky founders, coding geniuses, fans, and hard-nosed deal makers, EXTREME is complicated by an app built on scrappy code, unresolved love affairs and the tension between authenticity and commercialism.
When Silicon Valley CEOs and recruiters turn to the topic of “who’s innovating,” one name always comes up: Hope Ellson. What Hope and her partner (and ex-lover) Doug Wiser pulled off at Topia—one of the very first companies to break through from a geeky to a global audience—is the stuff of legend. For the past year, Hope has been collecting a fat paycheck at Manuserve. When Arthur McKnight, startup kingpin recruits her, Hope’s sure she landed her dream job: FearToShred.
Before making a job offer, Arthur tells Hope how he discovered two rock star boarders—Jeff Price, whose star rose when a YouTube clip of his 18’ jump between two rooftops went viral, and Julie Tang, gold winner at the X Games—working on the FearToShred app when Jeff and Julie started sending out quirky challenges on Twitter: execute 360s and ollies under a full moon; catapult over a creek wearing neon ski goggles. Skaters, surfers and cyclists post videos of themselves shredding cool tricks. Now CEO Arthur envisions a future for FearToShred: a reality show on The Action Network, with Jeff, Julie and other extreme sports stars as judges. When Arthur confides his concerns to Hope that Jeff and Julie don’t have the chops to expand the site to satisfy The Action Network’s viewership, Hope recommends the best engineer for the job: Doug Wiser.
Tracing the rapid transformation of a skater app into a real-time craze and a big-league company, EXTREME offers insight into how a startup grows and how it’s vulnerable to dying before its prime. The novel also draws readers into Hope’s battles as a woman in the testosterone-heavy tech world, aggravated by relentless pressure to meet ambitious goals, clashes of titans, and working closely with a man she used to sleep with. Yes, Doug’s married and Hope has a steady beau, but are their feelings really in the past?
As Arthur moves closer to closing a mega deal with TAN, trouble hits. When a rogue challenge results in a tragic death, the site crashes. To keep its followers and investors, FearToShred needs to fix its glitches and prove its quirky challenges can be safely pulled off by anyone—even Hope, the company’s uber Product Manager who’s willing to take one for the team, but is FearToShred worth the risk of losing her life?
About the Author: Joan Gelfand’s reviews, poetry and stories have won the Cervena Barva Fiction Award, The Chaffin Fiction Award, and three Pushcart nominations. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rattle, PANK! Chicken Soup for the Soul, Prairie Schooner, Levure Litteraire, Voice and Verse and the Toronto Review. Past President of the Women’s National Book Association, Joan founded a national writing contest, is an active member of the National Book Critics Circle, and a juror for the Northern California Book Awards. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Adam Hertz, a Silicon Valley veteran.
Extreme: A Novel
Blue Light Press/First World Publishing
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Original Trade Paperback / $21.95