***A 2016 Dragon Awards Nominee, Best Apocalyptic Novel***
About the Author:
Marina is a Russian by birth, American by choice and a hopeless book addict. After years of reading and reviewing books, especially in the fantasy and speculative fiction genres, she entered a flash fiction contest with a story that became an inspiration for Chasing Freedom, her first novel. Marina lives in New Jersey with her very supportive husband, three children and four guinea pigs. She works as an accountant by day and a writer by night. Her other interests include hard rock music, action movies and travel.
Freedom is lost, but not forgotten.
In 2040s America, civility is prized above truth, conformity above free expression, and “green” living above basic human needs. Most have given up, too busy trying to survive in a country where life is cheap and necessities are scarce. Yet even in the midst of drudgery and despair, unbroken spirits remain.
Julie is a girl who has everything, including a plan to ignite the spark of resistance. Randy dreams of winning Julie’s love and escaping the emptiness of over-regulated life. Joseph seeks revenge on the system for a family tragedy. Daniel is a young artist, who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Chris is an orphan prepared to do the unthinkable to protect his younger sister.
Whether by choice or by accident, each will take a path on a collision course with the oppressive regime. Will they find the freedom they desire? Or will the cost of defiance prove too high to bear?
Chasing Freedom is a realistic dystopia. No nuclear disaster or zombies or robot takeover, just freedom fighters vs. oppressive government, set in a future world.
I decided on this particular genre in part because this is “what I know.” I grew up in the former Soviet Union. I know how a totalitarian society works, what sustains it and what could make it crack up and fail. I also understand the psychology of people living in such societies, both as rulers and as subjects.
Another part of the attraction for me, as a reader, is that I like seeing characters under pressure. In a dystopian genre, there is always an interesting combination of physical danger (characters on the run from the government agents, or in jail, or in generally unpleasant circumstances) and psychological challenge (temptation to give up, to betray friends, to forget one’s ideals). It makes for compelling stories for a reader and provides unique opportunities in terms of plot lines for a writer.
The main characters:
My novel has two main characters, Julie and Randy. They are partners in leading the Rebellion, and they are also romantically involved. They are very different, both physically and in their personalities, and that’s why they work so well as a couple.
Julie is beautiful, athletic, fearless, and comes from a privileged background because her parents have learned how to work the system to their advantage. Randy is physically weak (there is a reason for that within the story), his mother passed away, and he does not fit in with his friends. He is more quiet and thoughtful than Julie, but has a lot of courage and perseverance. A big theme in my novel is that there are different kinds of strengths, and different kinds of heroes. As time goes on, Julie and Randy get challenged both physically and emotionally. They help each other pull through, in part because of their differences in temperament and abilities. It was important to me to create a realistic couple so that when they are put in extraordinary circumstances, we can identify with them as well as admire them.
I also have several side protagonists because I wanted to show the world through the eyes of the people living in it and the different challenges they face. This allowed me to concentrate on the action and create a more realistic environment without spending too much time on wolrd-building details or excessive political detours that we sometimes see in dystopian fiction.
Obviously, as an author, I love all my characters, but Daniel, one of my side protagonists, was by far the most fun to write. He is someone who, at first glance, is a perpetual victim. He has a serious health issue; he keeps getting in trouble with the law; he can’t be with the girl he loves for a variety of reasons. And yet, he never gives up, always working to rise above his situation and build a better life. He is someone the reader would want to pity, but hopefully will instead come to admire for his tenacity.
Advice for aspiring authors:
Seek out positive information. Look out for writing blogs that give you pointers on how to write better rather than listing endless possibilities of what you might do wrong. Most writers, even successful ones, suffer from self-doubt. Spending your time wondering which rule you might have broken can be absolutely paralyzing. Instead, look for examples of good writing, not to necessarily imitate it, but to learn why it works. Similarly, if you’re looking for critique, a good partner will tell you where you got it right instead of only pointing out errors. This way you can build on the positive, and it will also give you confidence to address your flaws rather than giving up.
To find out more/contact information:
My blog, called Marina’s Musings, should give people a good idea of who I am. I write about different topics, from book and movie reviews to politics to just general thoughts about life. I have a link to my novel (of course!) and also to all my favorite blogs as well as other places where I hang out.
The easiest way to reach me is probably on Facebook because I spend quite a bit of time there. I find the interaction with people from all walks of life and different areas of the country is valuable to me as a writer. In my daily life, between my job and the family, I sometimes get to feel disconnected from the bigger world, and social media, warts and all, helps fill the gap.
Amazon Author Page: