Series: Slip #1
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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Someone must die before another can be born...
As sea levels rise and livable landmasses shrink, the Reorganized United States of America has instituted population control measures to ensure there are sufficient resources and food to sustain the growing population. Birth authorization must be paid for and obtained prior to having a child. Someone must die before another can be born, keeping the country in a population neutral position at what experts consider to be the optimal population. The new laws are enforced by a ruthless government organization known as Pop Con, responsible for terminating any children resulting from unauthorized births, and any illegals who manage to survive past their second birthday, at which point they are designated a national security threat and given the name Slip.
But what if one child slipped through the cracks? What if someone knew all the loopholes and how to exploit them? Would it change anything? Would the delicate resource balance be thrown into a tailspin, threatening the lives of everyone?
And how far would the government go to find and terminate the Slip?
In a gripping story of a family torn apart by a single choice, Slip is a reminder of the sanctity of a single life and the value of the lives we so often take for granted.
Someone must die before another can be born
Guest Post by David Estes
Thanks, Michael, for having me on your awesome blog to talk about the inspiration behind my new YA dystopian novel, SLIP!
As the title of this post suggests, my new novel is about a dystopian world of population control. In the futuristic world I created, food and resources are scarce and government scientists have determined the “Ideal Population” to ensure survival. The Department of Population Control is established to enforce new population control laws designed to maintain the Ideal Population. Essentially, in order to have a child, the hopeful parents must receive a Birth Authorization which can only be issued when someone dies, thus keeping a stable population (Population Neutral). The story follows one family’s journey as they try to protect the birth and life of an unauthorized child, who manages to slip through the cracks in the system, becoming a wanted fugitive of the entire country.
Honestly, after completing my most successful dystopian series, the Dwellers/Country Saga, which has sold nearly 30,000 copies, I had NO intention of writing another dystopian novel. I wanted to do something different, and I did, writing a book about the witch apocalypse called Brew. However, all that changed when I read Inferno by Dan Brown, the 4th book in the bestselling Da Vinci Code series. In Inferno, a psychopath tries to kill millions of people all because he believes the world population is growing too fast and will eventually destroy everyone. He believes his cause is noble and that he’s saving the world. To me, what was interesting about the read were all the facts and figures presented by Brown about the dangers of unchecked population growth and the potential negative impacts on the world we live in. It’s an extremely thought-provoking book and I found myself thinking about population growth and what would happen if the U.S. decided it needed to place limits on births, similar to what China has done. First off, what would cause the government to feel so threatened that they would pass laws controlling population? And then: what are the worst-case-scenario laws they might pass and how would they enforce them? As I was thinking, a single line popped into my head, the one from the title of this post: “Someone must die before another can be born.” Wow. Right away, I knew I had something powerful, a seed concept that, if executed well, could be awesome!
The second most important aspect to consider were the characters. Initially, I thought it would be cool to do a single point of view of a boy who had somehow slipped through the cracks in the system (hence the title of the book, SLIP), and follow his journey to find his place in a world that doesn’t want him, a world that truly believes he never should’ve been born. Again, powerful stuff. However, although that probably would’ve worked well, it’s been done before. Similar stories have been told, and as my readers know, I don’t like to settle for telling a slightly different version of a familiar story. So I took a different approach.
The word “family” kept resonating in my mind, like an echo. Family family family… Who brought this unauthorized child into the world? Who were the parents? Did they have any other children? And what would the child’s birth mean to them? Suddenly, my one-dimensional idea had many dimensions. It had depth. It had something more. The story was no longer about one child, but about an entire family, their struggles, their successes, their great losses. It meant something.
I took a huge risk taking this approach, as it breaks the mold of a typical YA novel in many ways. When my agent and I tried pitching it to a major Big Six publisher, they loved the concept and gladly accepted a full manuscript. YAY! This was going to be HUGE! Or…not. The editor loved the book and said, “SLIP is probably the most advanced writing of David’s that I’ve read. It has a great hook, varied layers of plot and action, and is very character driven. Unfortunately, after talking it over with others here, the consensus is that it’s not actually a YA novel. There isn’t a teenage narrator or voice until Chapter 14, and even then Benson’s unique life has left him fairly serious and mature. Despite the fact that it eventually features teenage protagonists, so much of this book is very adult, with adult narrators, characters, and themes which would best comp to adult novels, both literary and sci-fi. And, while it might be possible to edit the book into a YA novel, it wouldn’t be right for this story, and none of us wants that.”
My first reaction was extreme disappointment, but over time that’s morphed into excitement. A MAJOR editor thought my concept, writing, and book were REALLY GOOD! It just didn’t fit into some arbitrary mold that they wanted it to fit into. That’s the beauty of the world we live in today. A book doesn’t have to “fit the mold.” Books can crossover generations and genres, and STILL be read. I don’t need a publisher to help me. SLIP is a perfect example of that.
I hope you enjoy the world I created in SLIP, one I hope (and pray) will never come to pass! Happy reading!