Thursday, August 9, 2012

Author Interview: J. Gabriel Gates previews Blood Zero Sky

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 J. Gabriel Gates whose novel BLOOD ZERO SKY comes out with HCI Books on October 1, 2012.

Here's the summary:

A new revolutionary war brews in what once was America. 
Unprofitables are banished to work camps to pay off their credit. Other tie-men and women look on apathetically. Fair is fair. Everyone knows you shouldn’t use more credit than you are worth to the Company. They turn their attention to the next repackaged but highly coveted N-Corp product on the market, creatively advertised on the imager screens that adorn virtually every available flat surface. All the while, their mandatory cross-implants and wrist-worn “ICs” keep them focused on the endless cycle of work and consumption to which they are enslaved. 
May Fields—the CEO’s daughter—would like to believe she is above all that. Head of N-Corp’s marketing team, the young woman who has almost everything anyone could want spends her days dreaming up ingenious ways to make workers buy more of what they already have and don’t need. Even before May discovers that the Company is headed for its first financial loss in thirty years, she is feeling the stirrings of dissatisfaction with the system that has given her everything she’s ever wanted . . . except the freedom to be herself. 
When she is kidnapped by a member of the Protectorate—a secret order dating back to the American Revolution—May is suddenly faced with the frightening truth of what the Company’s greed has done to our most basic human rights. Will she embrace who she is and join the battle to restore America’s democratic freedom, or put her blinders back on and return to her safe and passionless life. 
More prediction than fiction, Blood Zero Sky is a riveting, nonstop, and suspenseful gaze into the looking glass, destined to rise with the zeitgeist of our times to become the anthem of a generation.

The cover:

And the interview:

Why do you think people are drawn to "dark" stories?
I think some of it has to do with the fact that most of us in the Western world live unnaturally easy lives. Evolutionarily speaking, humans are supposed to be out hunting for wild game, scrounging for berries, planting and harvesting crops, defending ourselves against warlike tribes. Fast forward to today, where we live in a world of unprecedented safety and abundance. Somewhere deep inside ourselves, we still sense that life is just as urgent as it was for our ancestors, but it’s harder for us to put our finger on the meaning of it all on a day to day basis. I think dark stories remind us of the urgency of our existence: no matter how far we come, humanity is still a force of order, reason and love facing off against a void of chaos, disorder and anarchy. Dark stories remind us of the stakes of a battle most of us have forgotten we’re fighting.

If your book had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Ooh, tough question. I’m going to have to go with Bombtrack by Rage Against the Machine. They’re hardcore revolutionaries with some thought-provoking lyrics and that would fit pretty well with the themes of the book. Plus it’s hard to listen to Rage without getting fired up. I hope Blood Zero Sky will get people fired up, too!

What fictional character from another book would your main character chose as his/her best friend and why?
This one might be counter-intuitive, but I’m going to say that May from “Blood Zero Sky” would buddy up with Dagny Taggart from “Atlas Shrugged.” A lot of people think of that book as a right-wing manifesto, but I see it as a repudiation of the corporate cronyism that left wingers like myself and other folks from the Occupy movement are also fighting against. When you really get down to it, I think that when you get past the divisive rhetoric, people on the political right and the left are both concerned with the same thing: returning power to the people, as opposed to keeping it in the hands of a government that has become a blatantly corrupt oligarchy. Whether you blame the government that’s been corrupted, or the wealthy corporations and individuals that corrupted them, the problem is the same. As for May and Dagny, the two characters really have a lot in common; they’re both hard-ass, no-nonsense women who get stuff done and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and they’re both fighting to restore proper equilibrium in a society that’s fundamentally out of whack. You can see the world of “Atlas Shrugged” eventually winding up like the world of “Blood Zero Sky” – so I think the two books are similar.

What are your top 5 Dystopian lit recs and why?

In no particular order:
I like “Atlas Shrugged” for the reasons I mentioned above, (although as a Christian, I don’t subscribe to all its views.)

“Brave New World” and “1984” – they’re classics! And whenever a book remains relevant for as long as these have – and becomes even more relevant with time, you know the author hit something special.

“Hunger Games.” Yeah, I know—a pretty typical answer at the moment. But I just read them and I liked them, okay?

Finally – and this is probably my favorite – “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. This book is incredible. The stark, sharp simplicity of the writing is stunning, and the story itself seems to call up from one’s collective unconscious a time when humans lived in a terrifying state of anarchy. The book seems to confirm a dread I never knew I felt: that humankind arose from this chaos, and is destined one day to descend into it again. It’s amazing. One of the best compliments I ever got was when someone compared my writing to McCarthy’s.

What's on the top of your to-do list before the world ends?
Well, I’d like to get married and have a baby or two. The best things in life are the simplest, right? I think on my deathbed, I’ll be more concerned with the love I exchanged with those around me than the boxes I stamped on my passport or the objects I accumulated with my money.

Oh, and it would be fun to go skydiving, too.

How does your novel stand out from others in the genre?
One way is that it features a gay female protagonist, which is a character that I felt strongly about portraying.

The other way it is different is that it deals very directly with major questions that our society is grappling with right now: how do we reform a corporate system that is basically organized greed, in the context that Capitalism is the best financial system humankind has come up with so far? How do we take our government back from special interests which don’t have the will of the people at heart? A lot of dystopian books deal in a symbolic or tangential way with things that may come to pass fifty or a hundred years from now, whereas Blood Zero Sky deals with things that are happening now, at this moment, all around us; it poses questions that we urgently need to answer NOW. For that reason, it’s going to be really interesting to see how people react to it. I’m pretty sure some will love it and probably just as many will despise it. But either way, if it gets people to think, then I’ll have done my job.

Thanks J!

Add BLOOD ZERO SKY to Goodreads
Check out J. Gabriel's website:
Follow him on twitter @JGabrielGates


Unknown said...

Love the sound of this book! The cover is awesome and if the theme song would be by Rage Against the Machine then that's even better!

Thanks for sharing :)

What's Hot?

Zibilee said...

I loved his answer to the first question, and had never thought about that before! That coupled with the premise of the book makes this one to watch out for!

roro said...

how did i know know of thisd book. how
. gr8 interview

Christina said...

Gay female protagonist in a dystopia? WISHLIST POWERS ACTIVATED.

Supposedly this is on NG. If so, I'm breaking my ban and requesting. Honeybadger don't care.