|Posted by Matt Posner on March 12, 2013 at 5:10 PM|
I'm pleased to welcome today an author who unites politics with dystopian fiction, S.L. Wallace.
Where are you from and how do you like it there?
I was born and raised in Wisconsin but no longer live there. Why did we move? In short, my husband and I believe in workers' rights. When the majority of Wisconsin voters first recalled and then voted in the same governor who busted the public unions, we took a stand. I can't tell you how many times I heard someone say, "Oh the public workers will complain about the changes, but then they'll keep working and they'll get used to it." Since then, some have stayed, but many teachers (like me) and other public workers have left. Some have taken early retirement, some have moved into other fields and some have moved. I've traveled throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. I would much rather live in Canada than in the U.S, but for now, the midwest will have to do.
I'm a loyal teacher's union member myself -- United Federation of Teachers/American Federation of Teachers. So I am totally with you. What do you write and why do you write it?
My first series is a dystopian political thriller. I began writing it shortly before Governor Walker busted the unions, and afterward, it provided a creative outlet for me. In short, I used writing as a way to relax. I am now working on a novel that combines historical fiction with urban fantasy. For me, writing is as easy as speaking, and it's more fun because I can take the time I need to craft my words into something I can share with a wider audience.
Maybe a teacher was "mean" to Scott Walker when he was young and peed his pants in class, or something, so now he's after revenge. (I made that up.) OK, let's get to the happy party. Tell us about one of your books in detail.
Price of a Bounty is about a future in chaos. In the realm of Terene, citizens are divided. Keira Maddock and her siblings, Scott and April, have never known life to be any other way even though their parents remember a different sort of past. Their memories provide Keira with the hope that life can be better for everyone. Currently, however, she is an assassin and thief, an occupation she fell into after being kicked out of her aunt's home when she was only 16 years-old. When she meets a member of the Resistance, Keira's life has the potential to finally change for the better.
Tell us about a book by another author that you admire or that has inspired you.
I'm a part of a number of Indie author groups online. I appreciate the support and help I've received from all of them. One Indie author is very special to me though. He is my husband, Jay Merin, and his first book is an urban fantasy called Unrequited.
How did you become interested in writing dystopian fiction?
The truth is that I had a vivid dream. That is not typical for me, and I woke up thinking, "I would watch that if it was a movie." About an hour later, I was still thinking, "Yeah, I would totally watch that!" So I wrote down everything I could remember, and my story took root. A couple of weeks later, the governor busted public unions. As a public school teacher, that affected me greatly. I went to a meeting and heard a statistic about the amount of money in the hands of the extremely wealthy, versus the amount of money the rest of us have, combined. I remember thinking, "Oh my God! I'm living in my novel."
Yep. The nightmares never stop in the life of the 21st-century public school teacher. Heard of Charlotte Danielson? Nice lady, good book, but evil gotcha-tool. UBD? OMG!
What classics of dystopian fiction are in your mind when you are working creatively?
None. My story is my own. However, I really enjoy reading dystopian fiction. Some of my favorite titles are 1984 by George Orwell and Alas, Babylon! by Pat Frank.
What do you think are the characteristics that make new dystopian fiction relevant for the 21st century reader?
I think dystopian fiction allow readers to ponder serious issues affecting us today without it feeling preachy or personal. It allows us to take a step back and wonder, "Could that really happen?" and "What could I do to make sure that doesn't happen during my lifetime."
What is your opinion of the Hunger Games series?
Oh, I'm afraid you're not going to like my answer. I found the first book difficult to get into because it was written in present tense. However, by about the third chapter, I couldn't put it down. The society and the games held a sort of sick fascination for me. Even though this story has been told before, pitting children against each other in a fight to the death, this was a slightly different way of telling it, and I had high hopes for the trilogy. When I learned what the second book was about, I almost didn't buy it. I thought, "They're fighting again? I just read that story." I had hoped that we would get to see Katniss in a new position, one of being a mentor, perhaps even a mentor for Prim. Now that would have been interesting! After reading Catching Fire, my opinion didn't change. It was basically a rehash of the first book. Then I read the third book and enjoyed most of it even though I don't feel it was as well written as the first. Parts felt rushed and the ending should have ended earlier. We didn't need to know what happened years down the line. Stories are meant to tell a snapshot in time, and the ending felt forced.
I liked the first book, but I have a secret reason: I had a stomach virus so bad that I couldn't eat or drink anything without throwing it up, so while reading about hunger, I was myself desperately hungry.
Tell an interesting story from your writing life.
I'm sorry, I don't have much to tell. I tend to write on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I'm still a teacher, so I'm pretty busy during the week.
Oh, here's one. My students know I write, but I refuse to tell them my pen name. I have many strong readers in my class of 4th-6th graders who are capable of reading my books, but that doesn't mean they should. I've explained to them that I write for a general adult audience and that I don't want them reading my books until they're at least 16 years-old.
I write under my own name, but my students mostly are oblivious even though they could look me up if they wanted. Another story?
Yes, here's another. I've really enjoyed connecting with other Indie writers. It's a fun field, and I've read two books written by Indie authors to my current class as well as to my past class: Willow Crossing by Rhodora Fitzgerald and Corie, Universe Feeder by Walter Eckland. Both authors were willing to do interviews with my classes, and my students also wrote them letters. During the Interview with Walter Eckland, the students learned he was in Florida, and someone asked if he bought his orange juice at the grocery store or if he picked fresh oranges and squeezed them himself. His response was something along the lines of preferring those unhealthy crunchy orange snacks to real oranges. A couple of weeks later, he sent the class a package of "oranges from Florida" in the form of Cheetohs and orange Reese's Pieces.
Tell an interesting story from your non-writing life.
When I was growing up, there was a miniature grandfather clock that sat upon the fireplace mantle in the living room. I can't recall where my parents displayed it prior to moving to that house when I was five, but suffice it to say, from my earliest memories, that clock was on the mantle.
In high school, I avoided using the upstairs bathroom to get ready in the morning. I don't know exactly why. Perhaps I woke up earlier than my mom and younger brother, or maybe I just didn't want to compete with them for the use of that room. Dad always took the early shift at work so he was long gone by the time I woke up.
What do my bathing habits have to do with the clock? Every day, I walked past that clock on my way to the downstairs bathroom and checked the time on my way past.
One day, I noticed that the time was wrong. It unnerved me a bit, but I kept on going as I didn't want to miss the bus to school. I figured dad always winds that clock, he'll correct it. But the next day, the clock was still wrong, and the next, and the next.
Then one morning, the clock didn't bother me at all. In fact, I didn't even think about it as I got ready for school and left. Later that day, my brother called a family meeting. We never had family meetings unless there was an upcoming family vacation to discuss. We gathered together in the living room. My brother waited until he had our full attention. Then he pointed to the clock and asked, "Who did that?"
We all turned to look, and nobody said a word.
Then I meekly raised my hand and said, "Um, I may have?"
All eyes turned on me so I felt I had to explain.
"Well, it's been bothering me all week, but it didn't bother me at all this morning, and although I know I looked at it, I don't remember that," I said in a rush.
The clock had been turned around to face the wall, and although I'm not known for sleepwalking,we could think of no other explanation. Apparently, I decided to fix the clock problem in my sleep.
What would you like to say to potential readers to finish this interview.
Please, be true to yourself, do what you believe is right and speak out for others who have been wronged.
Here are places to look up more information about this author.
S.L.'s blog: http://CrossroadsOfHumanity.blogspot.com
FB author page: https://www.facebook.com/author.slwallace
Book links at Amazon:
Book links at Smashwords:
Canvas Skies https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/286579
Heart of Humanity https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/286593