Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
All it takes is one spark to ignite the flame of liberty.
Six months have passed since Dana and Kenny parted. Forced to live as a wanderer, Dana discovers a crashed drone and learns of the chaos within Dystopia and what President Klens has planned for the resistance. Realizing that she must go back, Dana acquires the help of a seventy-year-old man and an old friend. Upon her return, she finds that rebellion is in the air as the government continues to eliminate dissenters.
Forced to disguise herself, Dana searches for the resistance to tell them of President Klens’ plans. After a few run-ins with the officers and narrow escapes from Colonel Fernau—his obsession with her growing each day—she learns that the people of Dystopia yearn to be free from their oppression. What they need is a leader. Knowing that everyone she cares for will never be safe so long as the government reigns supreme, Dana must decide how far she is willing to go achieve freedom.
Interview with author Janet McNulty
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Liberty’s Torch is the final book in the Dystopia Trilogy. It focuses on the character of Dana as she must face a choice: to return home from her exile and face certain death, or remain where she is and live. The problem is: People she cares about are dying and being hunted by the Dystopian government. Dana is unable to sit back and watch them die.
Much of the book focuses on her sneaking back into Dystopia and evading capture by the authorities. At the same time she must regain the trust of those she abandoned; all of which leads up to a big climatic ending where Dana will make the ultimate choice: life or death.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
I got the idea for the book from current news events. I tried to keep politics out of it as I want Dana’s struggles to be the main focus. However, I have come to realize that in our modern world everything we do is tracked and can easily be traced. My concern is that personal privacy is being lost. Also, it isn’t that hard for someone within the government, police, or even the kid down the street to look up every record of your life, copy it, or steal it. How does this work in the world of Dystopia? Every citizen has a chip implanted in their arm which tracks and records their movements.
When I came up with the idea of Dana’s character, I decided to take my concerns about privacy and wrap it all in an Orwellian landscape. I happen to be a fan of his books anyway. I believe that most people like to be left alone to live their life as they see fit. Dana encompasses that. She grew up in a world where her actions were controlled, but all she wants is to be left alone.
How long did it take to write the book?
It took me about six months of serious writing. What I mean by that is for six months I locked myself in my office away from distractions and concentrated only on writing the books in the series. I had the idea a good year before I started writing. It was one of those ideas you get and you set aside for later. But six months of writing every day for ten hours a day is the time I spent on this book and the other two in the series.
Why do you think dystopias are so popular?
I think the dystopian genre is so popular because have a genuine concern that they might find themselves in a world where they aren’t free or that the world they know will disappear. I also think people like the dystopian genre because it focuses on one individual character, or a handful of characters, who see the problems in the system and challenge it. The lone wolf type who challenges the overbearing government force. Sort of a David and Goliath type story. People like stories about an unlikely hero who challenges the system just to save the ones they love. Dystopian type stories tend to be personal while tapping into a genuine fear that most people share.
Who is your favorite character?
Karl is my favourite character in the books. He is a bit crazy, or an eccentric old man who takes a liking to Dana. Though he is also handy in a fight and a force to be reckoned with.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
Before I start writing anything I create an outline. In the outline I write down who the main characters are, their traits and personalities, and their motivations. After that I make a general outline of the story. Usually the outline is very general, but sometimes I am able to outline actual chapters. I have learned that mapping out the storyline and character helps me start a project and stay focused. Of course, while writing, the story sometimes changes. But hat’s okay and is to be expected.
In writing the Dystopia Trilogy I originally was going to have Liberty’s Torch be set in the desert wastelands. My thought was to have the final showdown between Dana and Colonel Fernau in what they call the wastelands. But as I thought about it, I realized that it wouldn’t work. Instead, it would have been better to have Dana go back home and make a choice, but also learn something about herself. Besides, then I would have the challenge of sneaking her in and evading capture.
How did you come up with the cover?
I figured the cover ought to reflect the story so I decided to portray a scene from the book. That is what you see on the cover. Dana standing before a crowd demanding her execution.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Whine I was in high school I liked to write short stories. Most of them were garbage and I threw them away. However, I liked telling stories. Also during that time I had an idea for a fantasy novel and that was when I realized that I wanted to write. Of course, I put it all on hold while I went through college and struggled to get a job, but my desire to write stories never waned. Now whenever I get an idea for a book, I jot it down and save it.
What are you favorite books and authors?
That’s a tough one. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve always liked George Orwell and his 1984 is a favorite of mine. But I also like J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I am also a fan of Harry Potter. Yes, I like Harry Potter. Sometimes I wish my school days were as interesting as his. But I found the stories fun and enjoyable.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on a science fiction series. It is more of a space opera, or an adventure story in space. The basic storyline is that four people from earth—from different time periods—are transported from their home to an alien ship. Once there they learn that there is this weapon that can destroy entire solar systems and they are needed to stop it. Okay, that is the general, and most basic storyline. The series is called Solaris. I hope to have the first book published in 2014.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
My advice is to just write. If you have an idea for a book, then write the book. Don’t let people talk you out of it and don’t give up on it.
Karl approached the shabby, metal home with caution. They had come upon it moments before. “Stay here,” Karl had told Dana and Kenny. “Richard is a bit paranoid. He doesn’t like strangers.”
Dana and Kenny watched from a distance as Karl crept to the door. Carefully, the man raised his fist and rapped on it. Immediately the cocking of a rifle filled the air.
“Who goes there? State your name!”
“Karl? I don’t know any Karl,” said the faceless voice from inside.
“It’s me, you idiot,” said Karl, “I’m Karl. The one who built the generator you use to power this place.”
“Nobody knows about that,” yelled tha man, “Only one man does. Some fool of a an inventor who looks an awful lot like you.” Suddenly, the man stopped speaking. A metal slab lifted slightly as a face peeked out. “Karl?”
Karl stared at the face peeking out at him.
“Why it’s you! You’re him!” The door to the home opened up as a man with wild, white hair and a beard stepped out embracing Karl. “You’re the crazy inventor who made my generator.”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
The two men embraced in a friendly hug. Thinking it was safe, Dana and Kenny left their hiding place. Immediately, Richard raised his weapon pointing it at them.
“Stop! Stop!” Karl stepped between them. “They’re with me.”
“With you?” Richard eyed Dana and Kenny a moment. “You mean I can’t shoot them?”
“No,” said Karl.
“Oh, fine. All of you inside now before the satellites find you. Come on, don’t dawdle.”