Title: Enslavement (One Bright Future, #1)
Publication date: October 31, 2014
Publisher: Rebelight Publishing Inc.
Author: Melinda Friesen
“One world. One currency. One bright future.”
That’s the promise made by OneEarth Bank after a global economic collapse–but only for those who accept the insertion of a commerce chip.
When Rielle’s parents refuse to comply, government officials tear her family apart. As punishment for her parent’s crimes, Rielle is forced into a Community Service Contract–a legalized form of slavery–and sold a wealthy, abusive banker.
The Banker’s secrets hold the key to Rielle’s freedom, but will she risk prison or even death to escape and search for her family?
Melinda Friesen writes novels for teens and short stories. Her contest winning short stories have appeared in various periodical and an anthology. Enslavement, book one in the One Bright Future series, is her first novel.
Hello WS Momma Readers Nook. Thank you for inviting me to share today!
What inspired you to write your first book?
Overwhelming thankfulness. Five years ago, I sat, watching my daughter play piano. I was feeling so grateful that my daughter had this opportunity to hone her talent because many, many people in the world never get the chance.
And then, this thought popped into my head—what if it was all taken away from her. What would it be like to have that talent and then to have the opportunity to express it snatched from you? That is where Enslavement began.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Good question. I really don’t know, but I can tell you what others have said. One of my writing instructors told me that some of my writing has a Kafkaesque feel to it. Once, I put a piece of my writing into one of those Facebook quizzes where it promised to tell you who you write like—I got Stephanie Meyer. Margaret Atwood is my writing hero so I’ve gone over a couple of her novels with a fine tooth comb to learn everything I can from her. One reviewer said that Enslavement reminded her of The Handmaid’s Tale, which was a huge compliment. So, there you have it—a Kafka/Meyer/Atwood kind of style.
How did you come up with the title?
I went through several titles. The original was Silence, but I scrapped that. Next came The Fear of Drowning which I didn’t keep because I thought it might be too abstract. I finally settled on The Enslavement of Rielle James. However, my publisher felt it was too long, so they shortened it to Enslavement. The series title: One Bright Future was my publisher’s idea. I didn’t love it at first, but it’s grown on me.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I never want to feed my readers a message. I want to get them to ask important questions and discover the answers for themselves. I hope Enslavement prompts the reader to ask, what is freedom? Why is it important? In order to have human rights, we have to be human, so what does it mean to be human? Who have we dehumanized in our society? How far would you go to protect your freedom and the freedom of others? I’ve had readers come back to me and tell me that the book frightened them because it all seemed so plausible. We see these stories on the news and always think, “That couldn’t happen to me.” But, it could. And it has happened to people just like you and me.
How much of the book is realistic?
In terms of the scenario—the dehumanization of a segment of the population—Enslavement is realistic. You need only open a history book to see that this has happened over and over. The most familiar to most people is the dehumanization of the Jews in Nazi Germany. This is not the first time such a thing happened and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No. I based the story in some sociological reading I was doing at the time. I was heavily influenced by John Pilger’s Freedom Next Time.
What books have most influenced your life most?
The Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes—My first exposure to sci-fi, and it blew my 10 year old mind. I loved Star Wars and Buck Rogers and Star Trek. I didn’t know I could read about stuff like that.
The Science of God by Gerald L. Schroeder—Fascinating and changed the way I think about God.
The Holy Bible—My anchor.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee—Absolutely broke my heart. I’d never been so emotionally moved by a novel.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer—Awakened my imagination after many long years without reading when my kids were little.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
That’s easy. Margaret Atwood. She’s already my mentor, she just doesn’t know it. I scour her books for writing advice. I’ve read about her career and tried to take similar steps in my own.
What book are you reading now?
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I have friends from my writers’ group who have just released or are soon releasing YA novels. I’m rooting for them and hoping their books do fabulously. Go Suzanne Costigan and Jodi Carmichael!
What are your current projects?
I’m working on a short story about Nina Hayes, one of the characters in Enslavement, as a thank you gift for everyone who leaves a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I’m also working on my eleventh novel, a post-apocalyptic. I like to try new things with my writing, so this time I’m writing from a male POV, which has been really interesting. It’s strange being inside a male mind, but it’s illuminating.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I have two very supportive beta readers and I have an excellent writer’s group. My beta readers have been my cheerleaders. One of them just contacted me about one of my other novels, Solar. She said she liked Enslavement and all, but I was still working on getting Solar published, right? These little kicks keep me moving forward.
My writer’s group, the Anita Factor, is fabulous. Full of published authors, they are so knowledgeable. I learn oodles from them, not to mention their role as writer’s therapy. Only other writer can truly understand all the sacrifices and hardships of this calling.
Do you see writing as a career?
Five years ago, with my kids getting older and about the time I started writing, I went back to school. I started taking classes part-time. What did I put down as my major? You guessed it, Physics! I was aiming for a career in medical radiology. In the spring of 2014, I came to a crossroads and I had to make a decision between my education and my writing. With my husband’s encouragement, I chose the writing. From a financial standpoint it was a stupid decision. I was sick over it for a month. From a passion standpoint, it was the best decision in the world. I will be poor, but happy!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Only a typo on a certain page. I had five years to nurse my baby. It was time to wean her. Honestly, I can’t look critically at the book anymore. I love what it is. It’s more than I could have hoped for when I set out to write it. It belongs to readers now, not to me.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always enjoyed writing. But, to answer this question I’m going to focus on how my interest in fiction writing originated. I remember the day, the weather, where I was sitting the moment it happened. It was 2009 and I was hitting the Twilight pretty hard back then. I tuned in to Oprah to watch an interview with Stephanie Meyer. She said something in that interview that shocked me. She said that she told herself stories all the time, didn’t everyone? Oprah confirmed that most people do not tell themselves stories.
My mouth fell open. What? I thought everyone did that too. It’s why I get so irritated when my husband talks to me in the car. I’m busy telling myself stories and looking in people’s windows wondering what their lives are like.
So, I gave it a try. My first attempts never went anywhere. They’re still on my computer, unfinished. Third try was the charm. I wrote the first draft of Enslavement in five weeks.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Of course! Here’s how it all begins:
DOZENS OF BANK SECURITY OFFICERS in black uniforms and dirty boots shout orders and tramp through our house.
Crouching beside the sofa, I clutch my two-year-old sister, Alyssa, to my chest and shield her eyes. I stroke her back and tell her lies. “Shhh. Everything is going to be okay.”
Officers swarm up the stairs. Others search the living room and kitchen.Drawers are dumped. Spoons, forks, spatulas clatter onto the tile. My grandmother’s china is flung to the floor. It pops and shatters and crunches under their feet. A crystal vase tumbles from the top shelf. I jolt as it explodes into a thousand glittering shards.
From the bedrooms, thuds and crashes rake my ears, splintering wood and clanking metal hangers. We’ve made their search easy. Dad already traded away most of our belongings. A few family treasures, now in pieces on the floor, were all we kept. But they would’ve gone soon too. Hunger trumps sentimentality.
My fifteen-year-old brother, Silas, sits on the sofa and stares at the floor. He jams his white-knuckled fists against his ears.
Mom kneels beside Dad, sprawled unconscious on the living room floor. She brushes her quaking hand over the gash on his head where they clubbed him for trying to protect us. A thread of blood winds around his ear and soaks into the ivory carpet.
An officer grinds his knee into Dad’s back, fixes a plastic zip-tie around his wrists. He grabs Dad by one arm and drags his limp body through the front door. Mom’s glassy gaze follows him, her hand hovering over the blood-stained carpet. She looks down at her red fingers, her face shiny with tears.
Another officer digs his fingers into Mom’s shoulder and hauls her upright. He pins her arms behind her back and snaps a plastic cuff around herwrists too.
Mom in handcuffs—why? My parents are not criminals.
“Please.” Sobs convulse Mom’s shoulders. “Please—please let me say goodbye.”
Alyssa wrestles away from me. “Mommy!” She reaches her arms out to Mom, clenching and unclenching her tiny fists.
“I love you so much.” Mom’s voice trembles.
The officer lifts his chin and indifference flattens his features. He clutches her elbow, mumbles “filthy Resistor,” then pushes her toward the door.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My biggest challenge is definitely beginnings. BEGINNINGS! The bane of my entire existence. It’s not that I struggle with where to begin. I know exactly where my story starts. It’s how to begin that gets me. You know, that amazing opener that instantly intrigues the reader. I mentioned one of my manuscripts above, Solar. Solar is lamed by my beginning. I’ve had literary agents say, “Great premise, but the beginning didn’t pull me in.” I entered it in a novel contest and got shortlisted. The feedback I received from the adjudicator cited the beginning as it’s greatest problem. Frustrated sigh.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have to pick one favourite? Sorry, I just can’t.
Kate Morton—The way she weaves a mystery.
Margaret Atwood—The emotion she can pack into a couple words.
John Green—His characters have such a strong voice and he makes me laugh and then cry.
Kresley Cole—Oh, the sexual tension in her Arcana Chronicles.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Who designed the covers?
Melanie Matheson. She’s the resident designer with my publisher, Rebelight Publishing Inc.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Definitely the editing process. Because it was my first book, it needed so, so, so much work. First books are, well, that wet ugly Voldemort thing under the bench in the last Harry Potter movie. I went through a couple dozen global edits and at least that many minor ones. Of what I originally wrote, about ten per cent remains.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned I could get severely discouraged, pick myself up and keep going. I learned I am stronger than I thought.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Have patience. There’s no rush to get your work out there. If I had published Enslavement back when I first tried, I’d be so embarrassed right now. There’s so much to learn. Take the time to learn it, so your book can be amazing.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. Thank you to all my readers who’ve contacted me and encouraged me. I love to hear from my readers, and I always reply to Facebook and Twitter messages.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Research: The technology. I’m a physics student, so I’m not okay with just making stuff up that is physically impossible. I want the technology to be plausible, especially since I’m dealing with a story that takes place only about 40 years in the future. I needed to take what’s cutting edge now and forecast where it will go in the future.
Literary: Balance. Writing is balancing act, too much of one thing and the story suffers, not enough and it still suffers. What is the right balance between thoughts, actions, emotions and descriptions? The balance is tough to achieve.
Psychological: The constant critique and rejection. Nobody’s patting me on the back. I rarely have had anyone say, “Wow, you’re a good writer.” There is never a critique that says, “Well done! Wouldn’t change a thing.” I always dream of that happening, but it never does. Between my short stories and novels, I’ve received over a 100 rejections. Sometimes I feel really disheartened. I have to give myself a lot of pep talks to keep going.
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Host by Stephanie Meyer
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
What genre do you consider your book(s)?
Enslavement is dysopian/sci-fi. I’ve also written paranormal romance, historical, fantasy and contemporary.
Do you ever experience writer's block?
No. Don’t hate me for this, but the ideas come faster than my fingers can type.
Do you write an outline before every book you write?
The only outlines I write before I start my manuscripts are character outlines. I won’t start without having a good handle on my characters. I don’t write plot outlines, but I always know where the story is going before I begin. The story is a mental movie that I have to transfer from my brain to the computer.
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
I’ve never hated something I wrote, but I have harbored a little self-loathing for something I wrote. It’s a short story. You see, I made one rule for myself when I started writing—no vampires! Not that there’s anything wrong with writing about vampires—for other people. It just seemed to me that for a while that’s what everyone was writing, so I thought it best to avoid it. You know where this is going. A couple summers ago, I had this great idea for a humorous short story. Yes, about vampires. I hang my head. So I wrote it. It was actually really fun and I see why people choose to write about the blood suckers.
What is your favourite theme/genre to write about?
Redemption. All my books deal with this theme in some way.
While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?
Always. I get into character when I write. Usually, I push the character to the back of my mind when I get up from the computer. Rielle, my main character from Enslavement, was very polite. She’d hang out and wait patiently until the next time I wrote. I have another character who is much more domineering. She totally interrupted another manuscript and demanded hers be written. And when I finished her novel, she demanded a sequel, so I could, in her words, “Fix it!” Fix the mess I made of her life. She likes to tell me how to dress. Sounds weird, I know.
What are your expectations for the book?
After years of bleeding for this manuscript, of course I want it to go to the moon and back. I expect that it will take a little while to catch on. I’m a new writer and people like to stick with what they know. I’m so pleased that already people have read it and loved it. I expect the One Bright Future series to build with each subsequent book. I expect it will take a lot more bleeding for me to get the attention of readers. But, hey, perseverance is nothing new.
Thank you for stopping by and answering some questions for us Melinda! Good luck with the book :)
Winner will be drawn February 27, 2015
· Two (2) winners will received a signed copy of Enslavement by Melinda Friesen (US/Canada)
· Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Enslavement by Melinda Friesen (INT)