Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Author Interview: Joelle Anthony discusses Restoring Harmony

Please welcome Debut Author Joelle Anthony to Dystopian August!  I reviewed her novel RESTORING HARMONY earlier today, and called it "cheerful dystopia".  Read on too see why Joelle intended it to be that way.

In RESTORING HARMONY, Molly has several skills – playing the fiddle and knowing how to tend a garden are two - that help her survive, and yet she can’t count money. What are some of your own skills that might help you survive in Molly’s world and what are some gaps in your skill-set that might make it tougher?

I’m quite good at cooking and making things out of ingredients as opposed to prepared foods. In Molly’s world, that’s all you’d have to cook with and I could definitely do it because I’m already doing it. I’m also pretty good at chopping wood and stacking it, although felling trees is not in my repertoire! Also, I can knit, so if we could get wool, I could make us warm sweaters.

I can’t sew, and I think that would be extremely useful in Molly’s world. Also, I’m a vegetarian and couldn’t kill anything for my cats to eat, so they’d be on their own in that regard.

Was there a particular reason why you chose the year 2041 for the future setting of the book or was it just a random date?
There was nothing random about it. I carefully calculated it, along with the date of the economic collapse (2031). In fact, my book took so long to write/sell/publish, I ended up having to add five years to it. Originally it was set in 2036.

It was really important to me that there were three generations in my book with different experiences in regards to The Collapse. Molly’s grandparents are the ones who can’t wrap their brains around it because they grew up in a time of wealth, abundance, and indulgence, plus technology and they are angry about their losses and feel like life is unfair which makes them totally unable to cope. Then there are Molly’s parents who saw what might happen and prepared for it. While they miss the lifestyle of their youth, they have dived right in and made the best of the situation. And then there’s Molly and her siblings who have only really known life after the collapse and it’s just life to them. They don’t have any nostalgic feelings for what they missed or feel cheated in any way.

In a previous interview, you state that you’ve never read a dystopian novel and in fact did not set out to write one. Does having your book classified in that genre make you any more interested reading some dystopian novels? If so which ones would you like to try? If not, why does the genre not appeal to you?
Ummm…well, I have tried reading about two or three novels classified as dystopian, but I really can’t get into them. The truth is, I’m naturally a cheerful person, and while I don’t only read fun and light books, I don’t really like dark things either. Another reason is that when something scares me, it sticks with me for my whole life. When I was a kid, my parents never let us watch horror films, but VCRs had just come out and so we all rented them for our birthday parties. My girlfriends loved horror films and I can still remember scenes from Happy Birthday To Me (or whatever it was called). That was thirty years ago and it still scares me. I try not to bring scary things into my life if I can help it.

Some people have told me that Restoring Harmony isn’t that dark, and others have told me it scared the tar out of them because they think it could really happen. It didn’t scare me while I was writing it because my husband and I are kind of like Molly’s parents, but sometimes if I think about it as a real possibility, I start to feel a little frightened. Overall though, I think it’s a story about family and hope, and not that dark. That’s why the dystopian label sort of surprised me.

Your bio mentions your two cats Miss Sophie & Miss Marley. What can you tell us about them? We love cats here!
Sophie is a southern belle and came from Tennessee with us to Canada. When I first “met” her, my husband had given her a home about two years before and she was still very, very skittish and didn’t like to be picked up. Over the years, she’s mellowed and become a lovely, friendly cat. She can even purr now and she couldn’t when I met her.

Miss Marley is our rescue kitty. Last year our sweet orange kitty, Grinder, passed on, and the year before we’d lost our tabby manx, Mr. Fatboy, so suddenly Sophie was an only cat. I wanted to get a kitten (or two!), but my husband believed in getting older cats who needed homes and while we debated it, Miss Marley crossed our path and ended up coming home with us. She’s one of the sweetest things, but we think she’d been abused because it took months to get close to her even though she would go crazy with happiness to see us every time we walked into a room. After a year, she’s settling in nicely and she and Sophie get along fine too. They make me happy every day.

I’m intrigued that you were in a movie with Keanu Reeves. Did you get to meet him? Any particularly fun acting stories you can share with us?
Oh, sure, I met him because we were all kids then and the movie set was a lot like a party and the actors were very friendly with the special extras. I was nineteen and he wasn’t much older (4 years, I just looked it up). It was a nonunion film, which just goes to show you how early in his career this was, (I think it was his second movie) so we didn’t get paid much, but I was one of the “special extras” which meant I was in the school play and “one of the close friends” of the main characters so we got to go the “big” party. It was crazy fun, but honestly, it was never really like that again on a set except when I was in What the Bleep Do We Know? That was a fun movie because tons of my friends were in it with me. Usually, making movies is super, super boring!

Thanks for having me. These were great questions.

Thanks for stopping by Joelle!

Find out more about Joelle Anthony and RESTORING HARMONY at her website.


ibeeeg said...

This was a fantastic and interesting interview.
When I read the part about horror flicks and how the Happy Birthday to Me still affects Ms. Anthony my mind went directly to my horror flick experience when I was in high school The Shining...a terrifying flick...I could not handle it so I forced myself to go to sleep (I was at a friend's home for a sleep over). To this day...no horror flicks for me. Cannot handle them.

Lenore Appelhans said...


I don't watch horror movies generally because the imagery sticks in my head too!

Zibilee said...

I think it's really neat that Anthony decided to include several generations in this book, and think that that this is something I'd really like to read. Thanks for the great interview, Lenore! This is a book to watch out for!

bermudaonion said...

I see why the book is cheerful - so is the author. How cool that she was in a movie with Keanu Reeves!

Peaceful Reader said...

I loved this book and enjoyed reading Ms. Anthony's thought process. Adding three generations was perfect. I don't watch scary movies either-i don't like being scared at all.

Lenore Appelhans said...


It definitely is a big plus, though we don't see much of the parents.

So cool!

Peaceful reader,
I can do some types of scary, but supernatural horror is usually out for me.

Joelle said...

Thanks for having me. And, Lenore, in earlier drafts, Molly's mum and aunt were in it a lot more at the beginning. Alas...they got left on the cutting room floor!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Joelle - I can imagine it helped the pace to cut the parents scenes. I personally didn't miss them :)

Shelley said...

I think the dystopia rage has its roots in the fact that people dimly perceive the power giant corporations have over their lives. This fear gets transposed into various keys by various writers....

Lale said...

Great interview- I agree that you asked some fab questions. Joelle's answer about scary things sticking with her really stuck with me because I'm the same way- my brother showed me the James Bond film with the sharks in the swimming pool when I was about five, and I still can't go in the sea without being perpetually terrified!

Serena said...

she was in a movie with Keanu Reeves! Jealous! I loved this interview and getting to know this cool author. Thanks!

Christy said...

Great interview - I feel like my survival skills are minimal, but cooking is one thing I've got going for me. Restoring Harmony sounds like a book I'll have to check out.