Children in Hiding is a dystopian trilogy, consisting of Get on Board Little Children, Come on Home Children, and City of Hidden Children. They are available on Amazon. They are set in the Pacific Northwest some 30 years from now, in a future in which an unlicensed pregnancy is a felony.
I asked an acquaintance to read the first book of my trilogy and if she liked it to consider writing a review. A few weeks later, being extremely honest, she told me that she couldn’t in conscience write a review because she hadn’t been able to finish it. There wasn’t enough smut.
I take that as a fine compliment, and I appreciate her honesty. I take it that by smut she means graphic sex. Now I’m as appreciative of the beauty of the human body as anyone, and sex at the right time, place and with the right person can be very enjoyable. But much graphic sex is degrading to both women and men. And my book is a young adult dystopian thriller. I prefer my thrillers to have action, adventure, danger and character development.
Having been a nurse for years, I’ve seen enough unclothed people to destroy whatever mystique sex once had. So I apologize, but if you are looking for smut to share with your young adult reader, you will have to look elsewhere. I’m sure you won’t have to look far.
But I suspect that we all know, on some level, that smut in literature damages both mind and soul.
Tales from the Edge of Sleep
Just released, a book of short stories, drawn from that misty place between sleep and waking, where if you wander long, you may find yourself lost in a world of strangeness.
You may meet the irrepressible Shadowcat, recruiter for the Catmasters Guild, who use cats as weapons. You may hear of a colony of spacefarers who have vanished completely, or encounter a sandwich with a terrifying ultimatum, or meet the last known human being in the universe. You may find that the voice in your mind is not yours at all, or learn that time travel has its drawbacks.
Seven short stories set in the future, and on other worlds, and in this one, which is strange enough when you think about it.
“The Island” was a summer blockbuster released in 2005. It didn’t get earthshaking reviews, possibly because not everyone is a fan of Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. Some called it clichéd, others said it was just a replay of Logan’s Run.
However, I found it a very enjoyable movie.
[SPOILERS] The gist of it was, wealthy people could pay a company to create a clone for them, so that in case of accident or illness, they would have spare parts, such as livers, kidneys, a heart, to repair their own bodies. The buyers were told that the clones were basically unconscious and could feel no pain, so it was a humane process even if spare parts had to be harvested. Of course the catch is that our hero and heroine were clones, very much alive and capable of emotions, because the sellers had learned that unless the clones were allowed to develop and act like normal people, their organs would be worthless.
Well, if you missed that movie, no problem, because we are seeing it played out as we speak by Planned Parenthood. If you’ve seen the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, you have seen Planned Parenthood haggling over the price of organs from unborn fetuses, and referring to them as “product.”
That word “product” was used in the movie The Island to show just how villainous the bad guys were, that they referred to living, breathing, thinking human beings (albeit clones) as “product.”
Well, now we see the same thing happening. You can’t miss it; it’s all over the Internet.
Now Americans get to decide: are we like the company in The Island, closing our eyes to details like murder, sale of body parts, indifference to human life; all for financial gain for Planned Parenthood which is using OUR TAXES (excuse the scream) to support its operation?
Or are we going to stop here, say enough is enough, these are human lives, infants who can feel pain and deserve more dignity than to be categorized as “product” and sold for research purposes?
We are all going to have to stand in front of our Creator one day and answer for what we choose this year, this month, today. I sure hope we choose the right answer.
It’s never smart to be in the villains’ role, we all know what happens to them in the end.
Here is a comment by Senator James Lankford, R-Ok, on this subject. He is a decent human being who I would be proud to vote for if I lived in Oklahoma.
Book One: Get on Board Little Children, will be 99 cents on Amazon from August 8 through 14th.
Book Two: Come on Home Children, will be 99 cents on Amazon from August 13th through 19th.
Book Three: City of Hidden Children, will be 99 cents on Amazon from August 17th through 23rd.
Check out these futuristic dystopian tales of a society not far distant from our own, in which the Bureau of Population Management has seized power to an unimaginable extent, bringing to life Burke’s saying that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. But what effect does that have on the common citizen, who must deal with the fallout from new laws?
And what effect does it have on the children? In Book One, Sophie must flee from her comfortable life to protect her unborn child. In Book Two, Willa’s young daughter has been abducted by the population control police, and she must exert all her strength to recover her and ensure her safety. In Book Three, Willa’s child Katy has grown to adolescence, and must find the courage to face the greed and brutality of those who regard unlicensed children as so much raw material for profit.
I am pleased to announce that the first book of my trilogy, Get on Board Little Children, has been awarded the Awesome Indies gold Seal of Excellence in fiction.
I actually began writing my trilogy as a kind of antidote to Fifty Shades of Gray, the pornographic best seller that became popular a couple of years ago and is in movie theaters now.
An acquaintance declined to finish my book, saying it wasn’t smutty enough. I take that as a compliment, since smut was not my goal. It was instead to reveal, through an exciting and interesting plot, the intrinsic value of the human being.
For Valentine’s Day, here is a page from the book. I confess to a weakness for my hero, Josh, who I offer as a more admirable example of manhood than the misogynistic sadist in Fifty Shades.
Josh, my heroine’s husband, has stumbled into the toils of a woman who wants him as a sperm donor. She tells him: “I’ve been looking for a suitable partner for my project for some time, but it’s been disappointing. The smart men I know are ugly as river rats, while the healthy handsome ones are scarcely able to string a sentence together. I can afford the reproductive permit, of course. That’s not a problem, since I work for the state. . . . But I do need a little help. And you are clearly both intelligent and good looking.”
“I’m flattered,” he said. “But I’m married, you know.”
“Yes. And I think that’s so quaint. It’s charming. Why did you do it?”
“Why? Well, we . . .” He fell silent. How could he explain the bond that held Sophie and him together, woven of a thousand moments: the first moment he had seen her, their first kiss, the confidences they shared with no one else. Her angry defense of him when someone made a racist comment, her care for him when he was sick, the tender moments of lovemaking, down to their wild dash into the unknown, risking everything together. ”It’s a commitment.”
“That is so sweet. She’s a lucky girl. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help me out, does it? Why would she care?”
He frowned at her. To gain time he drank more tea. “Uh, no. She would. Just like I would if it were reversed. We don’t do that.”
She brushed his knee with her foot, a light touch. “She wouldn’t need to know, then. No reason to upset her.”
He finished the tea and put the cup down. “I’m sorry, it’s not possible.”
In a smooth motion she slid from the table edge into his lap, her arms around his neck, the scented curtain of her hair falling around him. “Are you quite sure? Why don’t you think it over for a moment. What would that hurt?”
He tried to pull away without hurting her. She drew closer, clinging, soft as cotton candy, sweet smelling, all smooth flesh and tender lips. She brushed his lips with hers, then kissed him, her tongue flicking to touch his.
He felt as if he were strangling, though part of him swayed to her temptation, desired nothing more than to succumb, seize her in both arms and crush her closer.
He felt dizzy. Of their own volition, his arms went around her and he returned her kiss, crushing his mouth to hers, running his hands up her back, feeling the supple musculature under her blouse. He felt fire burn through him. Before he lost his senses entirely, for a moment he balanced on the cusp of wondering, just wondering what harm it would do, a few moments pleasure, no one need know. Then he thought of Sophie, of the babies she carried, of his promise to her. And that bond that he did not want to break.
With a mighty effort he pulled away from her, lifted her from his lap and stood up. The effort caused a stabbing pain in his arm, and left him gasping. “I’m very sorry. I can’t do what you want. And it wouldn’t be fair to the child – I want to be a father to any child I have. Not just litter the landscape with them and walk off.”
A dystopia is the opposite of a utopia. It is the story of a culture or a world in which something wrong has been extrapolated to an extreme. It’s an imaginary society that in some important way is undesirable or frightening. The novel 1984 is dystopian, as is The Giver.
Dystopias are popular in part because we can rejoice that at least our world has not gotten that bad. We aren’t forced to fight against our friends as in The Hunger Games, we don’t have a government inculcating us with propaganda day and night as in 1984, we aren’t living in a world in which no more children are born as in Children of Men.
But how do we continue writing dystopian fiction once we know that in reality our world has descended to that madness predicted in much of science fiction? When children are torn from their parents in the name of economic progress as in China? When millions of people are displaced from their homes; when governments appear to be watching us and compiling records of all we do? When racial tensions send hundreds of citizens protesting into the streets?
Paranoid much? you ask. Well, perhaps.
But given that assumption, how can we write it, if It is only rehashing reality which is grim enough, if not for us, for many others.
I submit that the difference between real and fictional dystopias is that fiction gives us structure; it provides meaning to a world that may seem to have lost it.
We can frame our dystopian fiction to reveal a theme, sometimes even a hope. We can’t see this in reality, because reality is chaotic. There is no clear theme. We see only the back of the web being woven, only the tangled mass of knotted strings that reveals nothing.
Sometimes we get a glimpse of meaning in reality, as in the true story The Chicken Runs at Midnight. I love that story; it’s a glimpse of the reality behind the knots and tangles.
Dystopian fiction can untangle a small section of reality for us and show us that there is meaning, even if it’s not often clear. It can give us hope even in the dystopic reality we live in.
I am so sorry to hear about Brittany’s ending her life. I am reminded of Robin Williams, who recently made a similar yet very different decision.
What is the difference? Robin apparently suffered from depression, a mood disorder. He had been suffering for years and it seems that one night it became too much for him. Ideally he would have taken a different road: contacted his friends, asked for help, and received therapy and medication for relief. If he had known how much pain he inflicted on all his friends, relatives, and the whole country, he might have stopped and thought again.
Brittany’s choice has also affected all of us, although we don’t feel that we knew her as well. We only knew she was a beautiful young mother with a terrible burden to bear. Many of us have admired her courage. Others can only pray for her, that she may rest in peace and that her family may find comfort.
We would have interceded with Robin and stopped him if we could have. Almost any of us, because we know that depression can be alleviated if not cured. Some of us would have stopped Brittany if we could have, even knowing there was allegedly no cure for her – although doctors have been mistaken before, often, in fact. We would have tried to intercede because we know that we are not the owners of our own lives, we belong to God our creator, and he alone has the right to choose the hour of our death. We do not know what tasks God has for us in the last days and moments of our lives, or who we might influence.
My greatest fear though is that Brittany’s choice will help pave the way for more laws favoring assisted suicide. And when I am eighty-five, and perhaps feeling depressed, will my grandchildren come to me and ask, “Why are you being so selfish? When are you going to take the easy way out, so we no longer have to shoulder the burden of caring for you, paying for your medicines, wasting time talking to you?”
Of course I hope they will have been raised better than that. But that question may still resonate in their minds, and in the minds of the elderly who feel they are a burden. It is an honor and privilege to care for the sick and the elderly, a sign of a civilized and humane society, and we should not make laws that guilt people into choices that lessen our humanity.
I appreciate Terry Wilson’s invitation to follow him on his blog hop. Here is Terry’s website.
The blog hop, titled My Writing Process, covers the following four questions:
1. What am I working on?
2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
3. Why do I write?
4. How does my writing process work?
1. What am I working on?
Currently it’s the third book in my dystopian thriller trilogy, titled City of Hidden Children. All three books focus on a future America (specifically Washington state) in which an unlicensed pregnancy is a felony. The first, Get on Board Little Children, is about a woman who discovers she’s expecting, and she and her husband can’t yet afford the license although they’ve been saving up for it. It’s about the trials she goes through to protect her unborn child from the Population Management police.
The second, Come on Home, Children, is about a young woman who was one of the kids raised in the Children’s Center, which is where the unlicensed kids are taken when the state “rescues” them. She escapes, and has a child, and the focus is on her efforts to protect her daughter when her little girl is confiscated by the state.
The third, City of Hidden Children, is about that little girl when she is older, and begins to learn what happened in her past. It looks at the older teenagers, who are farmed out to factories to work for slave wages. I keep thinking my scenarios are too far out, and then read another news story about the corruption in corporations and government and the widespread trafficking in human beings, and realize anything is possible.
2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
I’ve avoided reading others in my genre lately, since I don’t want to steal anyone else’s ideas. However the future is so full of possibilities, both for good and evil, that there is room for infinite speculation.
I like to make my future reasonable, to have solid rationale for what happens, so I postulate that it all started with a book written by a woman, Deirdre McCallum Moran, titled The Unwanted. Just as Uncle Tom’s Cabin is said to have sparked the Civil War, Mrs. Moran’s book was influential in the passage of legislation making it illegal to have a baby unless you could afford to buy an expensive license. And of course, in typical fashion, legislators didn’t consider all the ramifications and consequences of the law.
I like to think that my books are different in that they focus on the individuals who are affected, rather than a panoramic sweep of society. I like to include pertinent details but not too many. I prefer minimalist literature, haiku rather than epic poems.
3. Why do I write?
Because I enjoy it.
Because I have something to say, Actually when I wrote my previous book, The Ring of the Dark Elves, several years ago, I thought I had said everything I had to say and stopped writing for awhile. Not to mention that we had just adopted two children and were a bit preoccupied for some time.
The Ring of the Dark Elves is the story of Sigurd Fafnirsbane, the Dragonslayer, set in the land of Norse legend. What I had to say in that book was simple, summed up in the words of Brynhild: ”To live well and die bravely is all; it does not matter how long or short our lives may be.”
But some years later I realized maybe I had something else to say, since I don’t care much for some of the directions our society is going. And there is a dearth of fiction from a Catholic worldview. I don’t care for “religious” books, and I love science fiction, but I like it to be grounded in the Catholic view of the universe, because other philosophies seem so barren. My favorite books are ones like C.S.Lewis’ space trilogy and Charles Williams’ supernatural thrillers. I hate didacticism, so entertainment comes first.
4. How does my writing process work?
I write when I should be doing housework or sleeping. I work full time as a nurse so it’s hard to fit it in. Sometimes I break down and hire a lovely person to mop my floors every other week. More often I just ignore the floors. I have to stop writing a novel every so often and write a couple of flash fiction stories, because they’re relaxing.
I work on the plot first, because that’s the most important part. If it doesn’t make sense, the book won’t work. And I concentrate on the motivations of my characters, because they are crucial.
Scenes start coming together in my mind, and I’ll take notes on them – on scraps of paper, when I’m falling asleep, at all kinds of inconvenient times. Then I’ll pull it all into one place and start working on it, on one small part at a time, while trying to keep the big picture in mind simultaneously. It’s kind of like trying to juggle while walking though a very noisy and crowded train station.
NEXT WEEK’S AUTHORS:
I’m excited to introduce two other dedicated authors who will participate in this Blog Hop next Monday August 18th. Susan Spieth and Amy Bennett. They will answer the same four questions on their websites. Information for these authors follows:
Susan Spieth speaks from experience. She graduated from West Point in 1985 and served five years in the Army as a Missile Maintenance Officer. After completing her military service, she attended Seminary where she earned a Master of Divinity degree. She is an ordained clergywoman in the United Methodist Church, having served five churches as Pastor/Associate Pastor for seventeen years. Susan and her husband have two children and live in Seattle, WA.
Gray Girl is her first novel, a fictionalized account of her first year at West Point. She blogs on Goodreads here.
Amy Bennett is the author of the Black Horse Campground murder mystery series. She admits shamelessly that she is addicted to books. “I have a lot of books I can’t wait to read. They sit on my desk, like the little next-door-neighbor kid who hangs around on the front porch while you’re inside having dinner with your family. Going for a day without reading leaves me feeling like I haven’t eaten and my refrigerator is empty.”
Amy has worked as a cake decorator, a clerk for a medical supply company, and retail sales clerk for her in-laws’ religious gift shop. She began writing in earnest in 2004. Currently she works at Wal-Mart of Ruidoso Downs (not too far from her fictional Bonney County) as a cake decorator and at Noisy Water Winery (where you can find some of the best wines in the state of New Mexico). Her blog is here.
When writing, especially science fiction and fantasy, we create another world. J.R.R. Tolkien called this process sub-creation. My question is that since Christians already believe in another world all around us, inhabited by denizens both good and evil, are we handicapped in world creation?
It’s hard to write fantasy when the world we live in is so fantastic already, so far from the mundane world of shopping malls, fast food, and monthly paychecks. If I believe that an angel stands at my shoulder, how can I write about elves with a straight face? Unless you are Tolkien, writing about elves as a symbol of something more magnificent and amazing, who really cares about elves anyway?
If I believe in a hierarchical universe filled with saints, angels, thrones, principalities and powers, full of light and shadowed by darkness, it may be hard to get excited about unicorns. Creatures of myth and legend may find themselves crowded out.
I read a fantastic tale once, in which the “what if?” was what if miracles really happened. The miracle in question was something about an apple tree that bloomed in winter. My response to that question can only be: “Duh?” Knowing about the miracle of Lanciano, the tilma bearing the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the undecayed bodies of the incorruptibles, and various miraculous “coincidences “ in my own life, I can only assume that writer had little life experience.
Having an angel possibly reading over one’s shoulder does limit an author’s ability to write about supernatural entities. I’d be embarrassed to write some of those sexy angel novels, and I want nothing to do with the inhabitants of the dark side. My only comfort is that I’m sure my angel has better things to read than my scribblings.
Are we handicapped? Maybe. But our world is richer and deeper than the one we can see with our eyes, and we can take it as a starting point, a springboard to something beyond.