Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The What If World with Guest Blogger: P.J. Sharon

Win a copy of Waning Moon & 
chat with YA author P.J. Sharon 
today at the Book Boost!

It’s nice to be here with you at Book Boost. What a great site for writers and readers! With all of the cool books you have showcased here, I bet you’re seeing more and more Dystopian novels like mine.

Waning Moon, Book One of The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael takes place in the year 2057. Here’s a short synopsis.

With a global shift threatening to wipe out the Earth's population, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Carmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey into the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities and those of her thirteen-year-old brother, Zephron.

Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he decides to travel with Lily, who has come to his rescue more than once. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put her in far more danger than traveling to Albany with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him. 
So the question is, why are people drawn to both writing and reading Dystopian stories?

Here’s my take. I live out in the Berkshire Hills in a small remote town surrounded by woods. My neighbors across the street are my only neighbors for three quarters of a mile in any direction. We often get together to share a meal, play some cards, and talk about current affairs. 

Waning Moon came about after many discussions about how we would survive a catastrophic global change. It seems everyone these days has concerns about where our world will be in the years to come. With economic insecurity, volatile weather patterns, and threats of terrorism around the world, people have a right to be concerned. I’m not one to live in fear, but I understand why so many people are wondering what the future holds. I think our young people in particular are vulnerable to the pervasive climate of fear in our culture and they are curious about the possibilities that lay before them.

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was one of those stories that was timed perfectly. In my opinion, although well written and engaging, its wild success is more about timing than anything else. It gave young readers a glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world where against all odds, a teenage girl could become a hero with just her wits and a bow. Despite being dark and gritty (two very appealing qualities in teen fiction), the trilogy has all the right ingredients for success. A main character who is an underdog willing to sacrifice herself for her sister, a romantic triangle, and an action-packed series of events that push the envelope of acceptable societal behavior. We look on, horrified as if watching a train wreck, but wondering if we have it within ourselves to go so far as to kill to survive.

The term Dystopian has come to be associated with “post-apocalyptic” stories of doom. But literally it translates to a utopian world gone terribly wrong. Today’s story tellers have taken it one step further and added a sci-fi element, often incorporating beings like zombies and vampires, or aliens and genetically engineered teens. Yet the common thread seems to be the old stand-by theme of good vs. evil. Whether it’s a big bad government agency or a zombie apocalypse, dystopian stories hinge on the collapse of all we know and the human fight to survive or overcome whatever challenges we face. 

Dystopian stories like Lois Lowry’s The Giver, or Meg Rossoff’s book, How I Live Now, tend to focus more on the natural progression of a world spinning out of control. Whereas series like James Patterson’s Maximum Ride and Scott Westerfields’ Uglies trilogy lean toward the sci-fi bent.

My trilogy falls somewhere in between. Since it takes place about forty-five years in the future, there will be many recognizable places and technologies in play, but make no mistake, I believe we are on the brink of some major global changes and that the landscape of this world will be drastically different in the near future. 

I’m sure technology will progress to include contraptions not yet imagined, but other changes may send some of us back a hundred years. I like to think we have the ability to change for the better—that the coming generations will find a way to adapt and that salvation of our planet and our species is possible. 

I see myself as what is now being called an apocaloptimist—someone who believes the world is falling apart but thinks it will all work out fine in the end. That’s why, in my Dystopian world, Lily Carmichael is a healer, while her brother is a life-taker. That fundamental conflict lies within each of us and I believe our future hangs in the balance. 

The Chronicles of Lilly Carmichael deals with that conflict. Of course, there is also a budding romance, some big sacrifices that will have to be made, and an action packed adventure that will include a pair of loveable wolves. I hope you’ll join Lily and Will as they embark on this three part journey. Waning Moon is only the beginning. 

So, tell me, what do you all think of Dystopian lit? Do you have a favorite?

A Note from the Book Boost:  Thanks for joining us on short notice today, P.J.  We appreciate the opportunity to share your book and thoughts with our readers.  I try not to think about the future too terribly much as I'm a worrier by nature and would probably make myself sick if I zoned in on the "what if" too much.  Instead, I try to make each day the best and I'm working hard to have a positive outlook on life despite the sadness of our world's news.  Wish you the best with this series.  It sounds amazing!     

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PJ Sharon said...

Thank you for having me. I always say, "expect the best, but plan for the worst." All any of us can do is make the most of each day and try not to worry about things that are beyond our control.

Nana Prah said...

Great post PJ. I was going to leave a comment anyway, but the chance of winning a copy of waning moon is a bonus. I grew up in Albany so you had me at Albany. Actually the term Dystonian interested me. The story sounds cool and I'm sure I will enjoy reading it.

PJ Sharon said...

Hi Nana, I'm thinking you meant "dystopian" but wouldn't it be cool to start a new genre of "dystonian" stories about prehistoric cavemen and the gals they love. LOL. Oh, I'm thinking Clan of the Cave Bear:-) It's already been done.

I enjoyed my field trips to Albany for the research in Waning Moon. Since I'm only an hour or two away, it was cool driving the back roads and thinking about places Lily and Will might stop along the way, or how they would best get in and out of the city.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you win:-)

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Really enjoyed the post, PJ. Thanks! I have the book and LOVED it! When is the next book coming out?

PJ Sharon said...

Thank you, Stacey. Western desert is due out in June. So glad you liked Waning Moon:-)

Donna Coe-Velleman said...

Hi PJ. I like how the sister and brother are opposites. Sounds like great tension.

Nice post. Keep up the good work.