Tag Archives: dystopian

Author Interview: Kate Wrath

Kate Wrath lives in the desert Southwest and writes science fiction and fantasy novels. I’m pleased to welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Kate WrathI’m Kate Wrath. I’m a writer and an artist. I live in the Southwest with my husband, my two girls, and my big dog (he would be upset if I left him out).

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing fan fiction with my friends when I was twelve. It quickly became an obsession, and before I knew it, I was writing my own stories. I had written thousands of pages by the time I started high school, and it just kept adding up from there.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s a difficult question. I know a lot of writers who have different milestones they feel they need to reach to be considered a writer—paying the rent with their writing, getting an agent…. I think I’m more in the camp that I just am a writer, because that’s who I am. It defines me. People who don’t know I write don’t know me at all. I’ve felt that way for so long that I couldn’t tell you when I first thought of myself that way.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Yes! I have just released E, a dystopian novel about a girl who has been “erased”. She’s lost her memories, her family, her whole identity, and she is thrown into this harsh world where everything is set against her. It would be really easy for her to just give up and die, but she won’t. She does what she has to, and she manages to scrape a life together, but that’s only the beginning. Everything she loves is endangered by conflicts that are happening around her, and if that’s not enough, her unknown past is also calling to her. There’s a lot of action, but the story is character-driven, so prepare to get attached to the cast. E is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster ride through danger, romance, friendship, despair, and love in its purest form. I am continuing the story in a second book that I hope to have out by the end of the year.

What inspired you to write this book?

E was entirely subliminal, at least to start with. Most of the time I work off of inspiration. An idea strikes and I run with it. With E, I wasn’t planning to write a novel. I’d been working on another long-term project, and was feeling a bit burnt out on it. One night, I just felt like writing. For me. I had no idea what I wanted to write or what it would be about. Just that it was something new. I sat down with a pen and notebook and began writing, literally not knowing a single thing that would come out on the page. Needless to say, I was a little surprised. For a few days I just went with it, and let the story take me where it wanted. Several days in, I sat down to type it up and thought, Wow, I’d really better figure out where this is going. So I approached the rest of it in a more organized fashion, though I wanted to keep the spontaneity of it, so I allowed myself a lot of freedom, and wrote with a lot of unknowns.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write a broad range of things, but the one thing that is common in all my writing is that it is character-focused. When I read a book, I want to know the people in it, and if I finish the book and I don’t, I feel unsatisfied. Plot is important, yes, but I feel like the most intriguing plots are born out of the intricacies of the characters and how those all play together. I really know my characters—sometimes too well—and I think that my readers will walk away feeling like they are real people. They are complex and they have reasons for what they do, and they’re not the canned stereotypes you find everywhere. I mean, seriously, there is nothing I hate more than the villain who wants to bring misery to the world “just because”, or the hero who cannot be corrupted. I’ve never met anyone that flat, and you won’t meet anyone like that in my novels either.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

E was my working title, meaning it came to me quickly and out of the blue. Several people have commented on it. Peculiar. One letter for a title. Shouldn’t I give the audience more? The answer is: no. I like its ambiguity. It’s a very important letter in my novel—it’s almost too obvious what it stands for. But the truth is it means a lot of things. And I like things that mean a lot of things. J

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There is not so much a message, but there are some important themes. As a writer, I put a lot of thought into the decisions I make in my writing, and it is always exciting when someone really “gets” what it’s all about. But often readers aren’t looking for that stuff. Maybe it makes it through subliminally. But I think that’s the thing about a good story—you can enjoy it on a lot of different levels. With E, I think there is an entertaining read and a moving story on the surface, but for readers who want more, there is definitely more to find.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, not directly. But it would be impossible to write a novel that doesn’t draw on my own life journey, so in a way, yes.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I have to say, recently I read Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, and I was just blown away by all the depths of it, and the poetry of the language. I also adore Suzanne Collins for wrapping up The Hunger Games trilogy the way she did. She didn’t take the easy route, or even the most sellable story, but she said what she had to say, and she did it without preaching. I think the books were so much more powerful and profound for that decision. I really respect that.

When I was growing up, I read a lot of different things. My mom read us a lot of the classics, and those were very happy times. I love Shakespeare, for the language, and the many layers, and the great switcheroos. I could talk a lot about all the books I love, and how they have influenced my life, but I can’t say I ever thought much about authors or truly appreciated the craft of their works until I became one myself.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

If I had to choose… I’d say Wendy and Richard Pini (even though I don’t know much about them), because I got my start and found my passion writing Elfquest fan fiction… ah so many years ago. So in a way they are responsible for me becoming a writer.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Me! It took days on end, lots of coffee, and it is a wonder my computer survived. I really think graphic designers must be the saints of all saints. They must have endless patience. Or maybe they just know what they’re doing.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing! Haha, that’s actually a joke because when you go to a writer’s conference you hear that so many times you just want to choke on it. But yeah, really, keep writing. The more you write, the better you get. Also, don’t worry too much about taking advice from other authors (like me), or trying to fit yourself into a box that someone else has contrived. One thing I’ve learned from talking to other authors is that the author experience is different for all of us. Do what you’ve gotta do. Do it why you’ve got to do it. And do it in your own timeframe. Oh yeah, and develop a thick skin, and be as dogmatic as a rabid pitbull, because there is no one else out there (no matter how much they love you) who is going to believe in you as a writer as much as you do. So yeah. Keep writing! Rawr!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you. Authors are not authors without readers. *Big hugs*

E Book CoverKate Wrath
Southwest, USA


Cover Art: Kate Wrath


Book Review: The Children of Men

Book Name: The Children of Men
Author: P.D. James
First Published: 1992

Phyllis Dorothy James, commonly known as P.D. James, was born on August 3, 1920 in Oxford. She studied at the British School in Ludlow and Cambridge High School for Girls. Her father, Sidney James, was a tax inspector.

Due to financial constraints and her father’s belief that girls did not need higher education, James left school when she was 16 years old. She worked for several years before she married army doctor Ernest Connor Bantry in 1941. The couple had two daughters, Jane and Claire, but when her husband returned from World War II, he was mentally ill and was placed in a psychiatric institution. James was forced to be the family breadwinner until her husband died in 1964. She studied hospital administration and worked in the National Health Service from 1949 to 1968.

James began writing in the mid-1950s. Two years after her first novel Cover Her Face was published, she began working in the criminal section of the Home Office in the UK. She continued being a public servant until her retirement. James used her work experience in many of her novels. Much of her work feature UK’s bureaucracies, such as the National Health Service and the criminal justice system.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Literature. She has won several awards for her writing and was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1983. She became a life peer in the House of Lords in 1991 and President of the Society of Authors in 1997. In 2008, she was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame at the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards.

P.D. James is most popular for her detective series starring the policeman Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard. In the 1980s, several of James’ mystery novels were made into television shows and aired in the UK as well as in other countries such as the USA. Her dystopian novel, The Children of Men, was adapted into a 2006 feature film starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine.

Charm is often despised but I can never see why. No one has it who isn’t capable of genuinely liking others, at least at the actual moment of meeting and speaking. Charm is always genuine; it may be superficial but it isn’t false. – P.D. James

It is the year 2021. The world population is steadily decreasing and there is mass infertility. People last gave birth in 1995 and humanity is facing imminent extinction. In desperation, people are treating newborn animals as their babies. The members of the youngest generation, called “Omegas”, are now all adults but are spoiled, violent, and contemptuous of their elders. Nevertheless, they are prized for their youth and are thus treated to luxurious lifestyles and are never punished. The British Omegas are prohibited from leaving the country but workers from poorer countries are lured and made to do the undesirable work then sent back once they reach 60. The old and the sick are considered a burden, with only the privileged ones given care while the rest are encouraged or even forced to kill themselves in a legalized mass drowning called Quietus.

The rich and influential Xan Lyppiatt is the self-appointed Warden of England and has replaced democracy with an egalitarian regime due to the people’s lack of interest in politics. Dr. Theodore “Theo” Faron, a historian at the Oxford University and Xan’s cousin, is approached by Julian, a female dissident who belongs to the group Five Fishes. The group wants Theo’s help in asking Xan to implement reforms before they start a revolution. The rebels want Xan to bring back democracy, to shut down the isolated penal colony on the Isle of Man, and to stop the mass suicide of the old and the infirm. Theo agrees but his meeting with Xan ends up being a meeting with all the five members of the Council of England, the country’s governing body. The meeting is a failure as Xan does not agree with the demands. Xan suspects that Theo’s suggestions come from others and plans to move against the dissidents.

The State Secret Police visits Theo and the latter tells Julian about the visit before traveling around Europe for several months to see the continent before it becomes overrun by nature. When he returns, he finds out that the dissidents have continued the revolution by distributing pamphlets and sabotaging wharves and that one of them has been arrested while attempting to blow up a mass suicide facility. Theo also learns that Julian is pregnant. At first, he thinks Julian is just delusional, but changes his mind when he hears the baby’s heartbeat. The group now struggles to keep Julian and her baby safe during their flight.

My first exposure to PD James was via the motion picture The Children of Men starring Clive Owen and Micheal Cain. I found the storyline and concept of the movie to be unique and later, I went on to read the book that the movie was based on. I discovered that the film and the book are rather different. The movie had plenty of suspense and action, while the book delved more into the political makeup of this futuristic England and had long passages of description that perhaps could have been shorter and to the point.

The Children of Men Book CoverThe idea of the Omega generation is chilling. The thought that this was the end of humanity and no more after us, is heartbreaking. I can see some of the behavior of the women in this book in today’s culture. Many people are child-free and do dote on their pets as if they were children, just as the characters in James’ book would push dolls around in prams or christen their cats. After I finished the book, I confess that it was good to see our neighborhood kids playing outside as usual. Global infertility has not quite reached us yet.

Dystopian science fiction lets us see into a dark possible future, but shining a light into those shadows is often a way to avoid the pitfalls ahead. I recommend reading The Children of Men, it is a classic that should be experienced.

Book Review: Logan’s Run

Book Name: Logan’s Run
Author: William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson
First Published: 1967

William F. Nolan (with George Clayton Johnson) penned the original novel Logan’s Run. Later, Nolan went on to write two sequels to Logan’s Run on his own. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, William F. Nolan was an mid-western boy who attended the Kansas City Art Institute and was an artist for Hallmark Cards. In the late 1940s, he moved to California where he studied at San Diego State College and began focusing on writing more than graphic arts. In 1952, he met Ray Bradbury, who influenced him to move to the Los Angeles area. Nolan joined a small group of writers there consisting of Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, known as the “inner core” of the influential “Southern California Group”. By 1956, Nolan was a full-time writer. He has sold more than 1500 stories, articles, books and other works and is the winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Special Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

What if you were not allowed to grow old? That the balance of resources in the world vs human population demanded that everyone die at the age of 21? This is the premise of Logan’s Run, an ageist future society where all children are implanted with crystal palmflowers at birth that shift in color as the child grows up. 0-6 the palm displays yellow. From 7-13 the flower crystal in your right palm would be blue. From 14-20 you would show the color red. On the day before your 21st birthday, your crystal would then oscillate between red and black and on your 21st birthday, it would turn completely black and you would be required to turn yourself in to a sleepshop where you would be put to death with a pleasure-inducing toxic gas.

The story follows the life of Logan 3, a man who has a red crystal in his palm and is nearing his lastday. He is known as a Sandman, a man that tracks and hunts down runners. Runners are those that defy the social law of laying down their lives when their crystal goes black and attempt to find a refuge known only as Sanctuary. When the crystal in his palm begins to oscillate, Logan decides to use his lastday in order to infiltrate the runner underground and discover where Sanctuary is in order to destroy it. He asks for help from Jessica 6, a woman who he believes has contact with the underground. Only the oscillation of his palmflower convinces her to help him, even though he is a hated Sandman.

Logan and Jessica are chased throughout the planet by Logan’s former friend, a Sandman named Francis. He discovers them when they finally make their way to the final staging area before departing for Sanctuary. Francis reveals a secret, that he is the man behind their escape named Ballard and that he is actually in his 40s. Ballard sends Logan and Jessica off-world to an abandoned space colony where Sanctuary actually exists and they can both grow old together in freedom.

Like many people, I saw the movie Logan’s Run starring Michael York first before I read the book. In many respects, I liked the movie version a bit better. The people lived to be 30 years old, the “sleep” they were required to do had a religious element due to the participation of “Carousel” where the people were lifted into the air and then exploded. The people were told that the participants were “renewed” and became the young babies that were born later in the city. This made Logan’s doubt about the meaning of their society more believable. Yet, I found value in reading the original young adult dystopia novel from the 1960’s. The book is an obvious reaction to the youth movement of the 1960s when the battle cry was, “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” Many of the themes that now are commonplace in today’s science fiction were first seen in this novel. The book has not weathered time as well as other classic science fiction stories. A world “teetering on 6 billion” seems laughable when we live with a much larger population on the planet today without worry, and yet this is what science fiction is all about. Taking concerns of the current day and projecting them into the future to see what might happen and what solutions we could take…or not take, as the case may be.

Logan's Run Book CoverUnfortunately, there does not seem to be a digital version of this classic science fiction novel available today. You will need to find an old paperback of the trilogy in a used book store. I believe that Logan’s Run is worth picking up if you spot a book. Perhaps one day someone will digitize it so that we can access the story that inspired the famous science fiction movie. Logan’s Run is the first book of a trilogy. Next is Logan’s World and then Logan’s Search. Logan’s Run was made into a famous motion picture in 1976 starring Michael York and later into a network series for one season. In the 1990s it was made into a comic book series twice and now in the 2010s, it is being considered for a large scale movie remake.

Author Interview: Lindsay Leggett

I met Lindsay via twitter where I chat with many fellow writers and authors. I am pleased to introduce her to you here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Lindsey LeggettMy name is Lindsay Leggett and I currently reside outside of Toronto but originate from Northern Ontario. Beyond writing, I am also an editor, marketer, and hobby collector. Some of these hobbies include learning languages and many instruments. It can be a problem.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I can remember. I think my first ‘novel’ was about thieves who stole my cat. It was ten pages and included (horrendous) illustrations. From then on, writing became as big in my life as breathing. Poetry, short stories, epic novels; you name it, and I was working on it. I’ve since learned how to rein in my imagination (sort of).

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I began seriously writing my first novel when I was around twelve years old. All of my teachers were very supportive in this endeavour, and even though that book was never finished, I still use pieces of it in current writing.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Flight is the story of an Ace Harpy Hunter (kind of like a super FBI agent to fight genetically mutated monsters) who is on the run from the oppressive Elder Corporation. After she’s discovered and asked to return to help the threat, she begins to uncover a great secret both within the Corporation, and within herself. It’s an action dystopian with a healthy dose of forbidden love and sci-fi badassery.

What inspired you to write this book?

The original first scribblings of Flight were actually based around vampires (before the new-age vampire craze), but I chanced upon some art with Harpy characters—beautiful creatures with wings and no emotions. This developed into the story of a Hunter with a hatred toward the government and her discovery of a Harpy who’s been living among humans in secret. That’s all I can reveal.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think my writing is fairly visual, with a lot of focus on inner turmoil and the contrast between what we believe is happening with what is actually happening. Add some sarcasm, action, and blood, and you’ve got Lindsay Leggett.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Flight had some truly horrendous first titles. One day, I rode a friend’s horse named Flight, and a lightbulb flicked on. So, my title was actually stolen from a horse.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Flight is very much about realizing who you are and finding what is right for you, even if it might not seem right to your society.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

There is a theme of loss which is related to my life. Flight’s protagonist Piper has lost her brother, which plays a big role in the novel. I lost my father when I was a child, so much of this aspect of the book plays on my own experiences and emotions.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Margaret Atwood has always been a big influence for my writing, as well as Ray Bradbury and Chuck Palahniuk. I think that they are all pioneers in dystopian, Sci-Fi, and experimenting with their work, which has always appealed to me.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

So many writers have been a great support and inspiration through me over the last few years. Meredyth Wood read early incarnations of the book. Maggie Stiefvater has also been a role model for me since her first book came out.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I ended up creating my own cover. I’ve worked with some covers in the past, and I just couldn’t resist when I found this particular photo. It was a lot of work creating my character in the cover, but I loved every minute of it. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to be proud of something you designed yourself 🙂

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up, inform yourself about the industry and the craft of writing, and don’t push too soon.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope my readers love the world of Flight as much as I do, and find themselves in any of the characters. I also hope they love Piper and Asher, and want to see the rest of their story. Also, any of my readers are automatically awesome, so I’d love to say that above all. You are awesome.

Lindsey Leggett - Flight Book CoverLindsay Leggett
Toronto, Ontario, Canada