Marianne de Pierres

The Peacemaker: Book OneI’m hoping some of my Brisbane friends and readers will join Trent Jamieson and I at the Avid Reader Book Club evening in May.

Details are as follows:

Science Fiction Bookclub – Marianne de Pierres
Monday 29 May 2017
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
In store at Avid Reader Bookshop
Tickets $7.50
Tickets available until 29 May 2017 6:30 PM
 
We’ll be discussing PEACEMAKER and MYTHMAKER, published by Angry Robot Books.
Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an internationally published Australian cyberpunk author with a taste for the dangerous and obscene aspects of life. His work ranges from the sarcastic to the satirical. Links to his work can be found at https://jamiemarriage.wordpress.com

 

Kopievsky-resistanceRebellion is an elemental creature. It takes shape within the air, the water, the earth, and the fire. In the soil of dystopia, the seeds of defiance are slow to bloom, but spread faster than wildfire once it takes root. When the population is oppressed, belittled and degraded, told what to do and who they can be, the only thing left for them is Resistance.

Set in the post-apocalyptic city of Otpor, orthodoxy is expected of everyone; every individual is brought up into an Elemental caste – Fire, Water, Air, Earth – which dictates their position in society in an almost Brave New World level of genetic manipulation. Once you have been placed, you cannot change, don’t rock the boat, observe the status quo. Any disobedience is punished immediately, publicly and violently. The worst offenders, those who spread the crime of Heterodoxy (having opinions against those of the masses) are executed as an example to the rest.

Resistance is a harsh, gut-wrenching story about Anaiya, a top-caste Fire Elemental who has been chosen to infiltrate a resistance cell of lower-level insurgents who have been spreading anti-establishment messages throughout the city; a trend that could topple the fragile balance.

Trapped between the desire to expunge the taint of heterodoxy laid upon her by her insurgent mentor, and the new emotions she feels after her brain is altered to allow her to blend in with other Elementals, Anaiya is quick to lose her sense of self as she attempts to track down the resistance leader, experiment with her new-found abilities, and keep her superiors happy.

Written in an unforgiving and blunt manner, Kopievsky has illustrated a new world of distrust and struggle where even the most basic natural functions are controlled or sterilised. No trees grow within the high walls of Otpor. In such a world relationships are strained and interactions between the castes terse to the point of aggression. Escapism is sought in any way possible and leads to excess; mood altering drugs a normal state of affairs to keep the populace under control.

Characters are written with depths that will no doubt be revealed as the series evolves, with each caste maintaining their own attitudes and slang. Settings are starkly contrasted between the authoritarian bleakness and artistic embellishments, drawing strong walls between those of the establishment and the free-spirited. When it comes to the smaller-scale world building Kopievsky has done an incredible job of establishing both a setting and society that is unique, while at the same time portending of a future that could all too easily become our own reality.

The first book in the Divided Elements series, Resistance a great read for its incredible prose and its unsettling message. When life is oppressive, all we can do is Resist.

 

Bec Stafford

Bec Stafford has a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Queensland. She blogs and interviews for MDPWeb and the Spotlight Report

AlisonBec: A number of important themes run through Refuge: (friendship, loyalty, and self-discovery to name a few). What is the most important thing you’d like your readers to come away with, after having read this book?

A V Mather: If Refuge could be considered a cautionary tale, in the tradition of the original fairy tales, then the Doctor is the witch in the gingerbread house. I wrote the character as an example of how easy it is to be taken in and controlled by someone, when you are lost and desperate. I guess one message is: if a much older stranger seems to be completely captivated by you, if they agree with you and understand you better than anyone else, be very suspicious. They may be leading you somewhere dangerous and some people never come back from those experiences. Even if they are not physically harmed, they can remain trapped there emotionally, just like the children in Refuge.

The story is also about finding your own strength and your own character, regardless of what other people are doing or saying. That is a very difficult thing to do, to back yourself, particularly when you are young and feel you have no real power. Nell discovers that she does have worth, beyond the needs and desires of the people around her, and this gives her the courage to forge her own path.

Bec: Refuge contains some incredible world-building. Can you tell us a bit about your process? Do you draw maps for yourself, for instance?

A V Mather: I do a bit, but they’re mostly just scrawls to orient things in my head.
The world-building is at the centre of the process for me, and I tend to be very indulgent about it. I am that person who notices everything and I have a tremendous curiosity about my environment. I had to cut reams from my first drafts of Refuge because there was far too much description of the world Nell was seeing.

Most of my process stems from an original point of view and then grows outwards. For example, I see it from Nell’s perspective first, experiencing it as she would, and then pull back to the bigger picture. That first impression is very important to me and I find that if I do it the other way around, I tend to lose that original sense of wonder or intimacy. I begin with my imagining of the place — the look, feel, smell — and then follow that up with research. This is mainly if the place or object is based in historical reality, if it’s drawn from a subject that I know little about, or just to feed the imagination with examples.

Bec: The characters in Refuge are so vivid and distinctive that they virtually leap off the page. Can you tell us a bit about the process you went through creating your central characters and their relationships?

Mather-Refuge Official CoverA V Mather: I began writing the story around the characters of Doctor Nathanial Fray and Gideon. Although it might not seem like it to the reader, the story very much grew from the Doctor, rather than from Nell, so I devoted a lot of my time to him in the beginning. I knew that he had to be a psychiatrist and not from the modern era, so I did a great deal of research on the development of psychiatry through the ages. I wanted him to be experimental and tragic and I’ve always been horrified and fascinated by Bedlam, so seemed the ideal place to start.

It’s very important for characters to have their own, authentic voice. This was a challenge in Refuge because so many of them belong to different eras, as well as nationalities. There was a constant danger of slipping into the wrong mode of speech. Keeping them all distinct from each other while having the same conversation proved difficult, particularly when I was racing to keep up with what they were saying in my head. I found it necessary to keep a vocabulary profile for each character, that I could refer to when writing their dialogue.

All the Australian characters have grown from my own experience, but all of the others were researched. The Doctor is from early-mid 1700’s in London, Gideon is an English ‘wharf rat’ from later in the century, Fox is one of the ‘Bright Young Things’ from the early 1920’s, Deuce is from the Deep South in the ‘50’s and Janus is from Queensland in the mid ‘70’s. Mixed in with that are characters like Mary Wentworth, who is from the Doctor’s time but a different social class, and the twins, who originate from Paris in the early 30’s.

The real trick was to make all of that authentic but not alienating. I constantly had to keep my audience in mind when writing the interactions between characters, to make sure that they would be able to follow it.

As for creating the relationships, I think all of them are based on real-life scenarios, if not as true accounts, then at least symbolically. Gideon’s need to confront the father who bullied him, and his need to bully others in turn, is probably the most obvious example of an eternal allegory or trope. You can see examples of it every day in the news, the workplace, or the school playground.
I strove to portray a variety of relationships and show that they don’t have to be perfect, or even particularly wonderful, to be valuable. For example, Nell’s relationships with her grandfather, her aunt and Grace are pretty uncomfortable at times, but they’re worth more than a thousand fake friendships with the likes of Tabby Crane.

Bec: Which of your characters Burns Brightest in your mind and why?

A V Mather: My first reaction is to say the Doctor, although of course I like them all. The Doctor is really the character that the whole story revolves around and without him there would be no Refuge. The first thing I wrote of Refuge was one of his interactions with Gideon and it grew from there, so they are both close to my heart. Perhaps it’s strange, beginning a story by writing the villains but they are so interesting.

The Doctor is brilliant, charming, perceptive and ruthless. A man ahead of his time, crushed by tragedy, who has been given the opportunity to rewrite history — a dangerous combination. He is a master of manipulation and operating on a completely different playing field to everyone else. He represents what happens when intelligence and sensitivity become warped by ambition, guilt and obsession. I very much enjoyed developing his character. One of my early readers said that he reminded them of a spider, sitting in the centre of its web and I like that analogy.
And just quickly, I also love Fox. I would love to be that confident and unflappable.

AUTHOR BIO:

I was born an only child in a remote gold mining town in Canada. My family moved to Australia when I was very young and I grew up on stories of eccentric characters in wild places; of exciting rescues, bears that destroyed helicopters and the silence of wolves.

My life since has continued to take a few eccentric turns of its own, from studying Visual Arts in Northern NSW, to set painting on a TV series, to teaching art at a boy’s boarding school in Central QLD. Through it all, my love of stories — telling, watching, reading and hearing them — grew stronger and eventually I answered the compulsion to write.

I enjoy reading widely across genres and am also interested in art, nature, satire, history, photography, popular culture, psychology, road trips and good stories – real and imagined.

I live in Brisbane, Australia with my husband and a constant sense of foreboding.

AV MATHER’S WEBSITE

Refuge is available now on Amazon for Kindle:

ISBN B01MZDXBQ3

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

 

 

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