Friday, August 24, 2012

Author Interview: Bethany Hagen previews Landry Park

For my spotlight on upcoming dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction series, I interview authors with novels coming out in the genre in 2012/13. These are exclusive first looks at exciting new works. Enjoy!

Today I have Bethany Hagen previewing her epic debut novel LANDRY PARK which comes out with Dial/Penguin in Fall 2013.  Entirely too far away for a book I want to get my grabby hands on right now.

Here's the summary: 

LANDRY PARK, pitched as "Gone with the Nuclear Wind,"is set in a world ruled by the lavish Gentry, who force a people called the Rootless to handle the nuclear material that powers their large estates. When a Gentry girl is attacked, sixteen-year-old Madeline Landry can't escape the rumors of revolution and retribution circulating through the ballrooms--and the city's new golden boy, Captain David Dana is at the center of them. Soon, she finds herself forced to choose between her duty and her desires, her ancestral destiny and her conscience.

And the interview:

Why do you think people are drawn to "dark" stories?
Edward Burke believed that the sublime was rooted in darker emotions like fear and uncertainty, and that the sublime reading experience was one of the highest reading pleasures that could be attained. I think we enjoy that captivation that comes from books that touch upon the sublime via these darker themes. I think we also crave books that force us to examine ourselves. We want books that take us to the borders of civility and conscience, books that strip down human nature to its barest forces. Is love stronger than fear? Than anger? Is love stronger than survival? It might sound silly to think, "What would I do if forced to kill other teenagers on television?" Or, "What would I do if I was forced to burn books for my job?" but there's so much value in asking ourselves about these scenarios. I know my husband and I have had serious conversations about what point it is acceptable to shoot a bitten partner in a zombie outbreak.

If your book had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Oh, goodness. This is hard because I have so many! One of my original theme songs, as it were, was "The Royal We," by Silversun Pickups. I love the sense of urgency within the song and the lyrics are pretty much perfect for Landry Park.

What fictional character from another book would your main character chose as his/her best friend and why?
I think Madeline and Fanny from Mansfield Park would have a lot in common. They are both very internal thinkers and they both quietly maintain their sense of dignity and integrity in the midst of people who value neither.

What are your top 5 Dystopian lit recs and why?

1. The Hunger Games because, well, obviously!

2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. More than 1984 or Fahrenheit 451, this book--even across eighty years--still presents to me the most prescient analysis of the causes of a dystopia. Why would a government go to the trouble to burn books when people forsake them on their own to have orgies and soma holidays? Or to watch shows about housewives throwing chairs at each other?

3. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. This was the first dystopian novel I ever read, and I can still feel Ellie's terror as she discovers her country was invaded while she was on a camping trip with friends.

4. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I think this broke ground in using the idea of dystopia to shed light on contemporary gender issues, and showing how those issues could cause a society to regress so dramatically.

5. The Children of Men by P.D James. This was one of the eeriest dystopians I ever read, because the world was so close to ours, and yet so chilling in its acceptance of its own imminent death. The book layers personal tragedy over global tragedy and ends with the faintest ray of hope.

5. (part B) Speaking of bleak dystopians with not even the faintest ray of hope, The Road. I wanted a Zoloft afterwards.

What's on the top of your to-do list before the world ends?
Visit England, lay on a beach with crystal clear water nearby, and finish crocheting the blanket I started three years ago.

How does your novel stand out from others in the genre?
I wanted my characters to live lives that were beautiful, pleasurable and leisurely. I wanted a book that combined the feelings in a drawing room with the wars outside (to borrow from Virginia Woolf.) So we have corsets and dashing uniforms side by side with nuclear physics and dehumanizing poverty.

I also felt like heroines in these types of novels are often able to make an easy decision (as in, by the end of the first book) about how which side they're willing to take in the upcoming inevitable conflict, even though it takes them THREE whole books to decide which boy they like. Apparently deciding which boy to kiss is harder than restructuring your entire economic, political and historical perspective. Now, there are dystopian books I LOVE and ADORE in which the heroine is quickly able to come to grips with the fact the All-Knowing Benevolent Government is actually evil and kills kittens with laser-equipped cows or something. But I also wanted to write a book that explored just how difficult it is psychologically to break with what you hold dear. For Madeline, all of that security and rootedness is in the form of her ancestral home, Landry Park.

Thanks Bethany!

Visit Bethany's website:
Follow Bethany on Twitter: @Bethany_Hagen


Christina said...

This sounds super fantabulous! :)

Bethany Crandell said...

Eeeps!! This sounds SO good!! I'm a sucker for kitten killing governments.

H. E. Griffin said...

*Wails* I don't wanna wait a whole year:0(

Rachel said...

Are there ARCs yet? ;-) Love Bethany and can't wait wait wait for this book! Great interview, ladies.

AKKA Karate OP said...

This will be known as the book that changed the very history of the world! As the next generation is born, they will not only be named after the characters but the very book itself. Our very culture will be rocked to it's core and mixed into the blender of awesomeness that is Bethany.

Zibilee said...

Oh, wow, her answer to the first question just blew me away! This books sounds like something that I would be VERY interested in. Thanks for sharing this with us!