Jean Davis is the author of A Broken Race and a participant in this year’s NaNoWriMo; here is a link to her blog:
Q: What is A Broken Race about?
A: The fortress is home to the last of civilized humanity. The few remaining women live in a vault far below the gardens, the men who protect, manage, and labor, and the walls that protect them all. A virus generations past and inbreeding since, has left average men severely outnumbered by Simples. Humanity, as it once was, is broken.
Outside those walls live the Wildmen, starving, poor, and desperate for the treasures of the fortress. Seeking women to once again fill their ranks with healthy children, and something other than rats to fill their stomachs, the Wildmen launch one last raid. One of their number makes it inside alive.
One-fifty-two is a Simple man. The raid fills his calm and orderly world with smoke and fear, the need for the comfort of his mother, and the promises of a Wildman captive. With his eyes open to the secrets behind the order his always known, One-fifty-two must find the courage to stop being a cog and take hold of the wheel, or the fortress may be the end of them all.
Q: What inspired you to write it?
A: I wanted to write a story where any of the four main characters could be seen as the protagonist or antagonist. All of them are doing what they feel is best for their people, but at a cost to everyone else.
William works to keep the fortress organized so that everyone is fed and taken care of while they try to breed a healthier population, but in doing so, is essentially enslaving Simples and the women. Phillip is one of the Wildmen who needs the resources kept inside the fortress for his own people before they waste away, but doing so means those currently safe behind the walls may be left to starve or be killed. Jack keeps the fortress safe and fathers many children, but he never gets to know anything about them. They grow up to join the living machine that is the fortress, and he does nothing to prevent it. One-fifty-two has an innocent heart and just wants everyone to be treated fairly, but the path he travels to make that happen could bring death to them all. Who is right and who is wrong?
Q: What kinds of themes do you like to write about?
A: My writing tends to deal with people finding themselves, growing and becoming who they were meant to be. I also often explore selective breeding and birth, who has a right to live and why.
Q: What life experiences do you draw from in your writing?
A: Much of my life has been working beside people, getting to know them and understand their motivations and how they think. Not that I use anyone specifically when I create characters, but I do draw on that knowledge quite a lot. It’s the moments in my own life, usually the worst ones, full of loss and hurt that I can really sink into when I need to write dark or emotional scenes.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how do you work writing into your schedule?
A: I own a sign and graphics business. Thankfully, I work from home so my schedule is flexible when the urge to write hits. Not that I don’t have to put in my hours every day, and at night, and on the weekend sometimes, but I can take half an hour in the morning to get do the thoughts that I had from the night before or write a scene or two at lunch in the quiet of my writing office. I get to brainstorm as I do production and if an idea hits me, I can go write it quickly and get back to work. Most of my writing is done in the evening or early in the morning. I wish working from home meant I could blow off work and write all day when I wanted to, but it doesn’t . There are bills to pay and that means keeping my customers happy.
Q: What is your NaNoWriMo book about?
A: A Broken Race was written during National Novel Writing Month in 2009. The next year I went rebel and wrote 50,000 words of short stories instead of a novel. One of those stories was called Interface and in the course of trying to write it, I realized the idea was too big to cram into 3000 words. I set it aside and wrote several other stories to fill up my word count. This year for NaNoWriMo, I’m attempting to create a novel from that short story.
Q: Are you keeping up with the word count?
A: This is my tenth year participating in NaNo, and for the first time that I can recall, I’m ahead on my word count, only by a day, but I’m usually a day or two behind, so I’m enjoying this. It helps that I’m at a point in life – I have help at work now, one of my kids is driving himself to everywhere he needs to go, and I now have my own writing office – where there’s a little less stress than there has been in a long time and that gives me more energy for creative pursuits.
Q: How is your novel different than other post apocalyptic stories?
A: One-fifty-two isn’t the typical good looking hero sort. He isn’t gifted in anything. In fact, he’s got some genetic issues, as do most of the inhabitants of the fortress. A Broken race explores the idea that perhaps abnormality is the new normal.
Q: What have you done to promote your book?
A: Because A Broken Race released just days before NaNoWriMo began, and I’ve been busy with writing this month, promotion has been in the form of guest posts and interviews on various blogs. The employees of publisher I’m working with are also avid NaNo writers so we had planned for a fairly quiet release and will dive into promotion once November is over.
Q: If a virus were to wipe out most of humanity and only one author could survive and keep writing who would you pick and why?
A: Oh my! Good question. *peers at bookshelf* There are so many I would save. I’m going to have to go with George RR Martin. Not only because I have to read how this whole Game of Thrones series ends, but I’m hoping he’s good at bringing people back that we think are dead, like, oh, I don’t know…Jon Snow. And hey, maybe he could write a few of us back from the dead too.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)