Thursday, December 11, 2014

Michelle Murrain dances with dystopia in FRIENDS WITH WINGS

One of the beautiful things about genre fiction is its malleable borders. A particular genre or trope can swirl into another, allowing the author to create a completely original blend that suits her world and characters. That's what today's guest, Michelle Murrain, has done with Friends with Wings. She explains:

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Looking at the Future
by Michelle Murrain

I've read my share of dystopias. Some, such as Octavia Butler's "Parable of the Sower," are powerful reminders of how far we may well fall. Some aren't realistic enough (cue: zombie apocalypse) to make much sense to me. I have yet to write a dystopic novel, and I don't even know if there is one in me. The grim reality of the trajectory of the human species is enough, for now, to keep me from it. Friends with Wings, my newest novel, however, does have some dystopia in it, and a bit of a view through the lookinglass to the future. 

Trina, the main character, and only point of view character, lives in the Bronx a little less than 90 years from now, in 2102. Her family was forced to move to the Bronx because her neighborhood in Queens flooded from the encroaching sea. Debt has become inheritable, so she works outside of school to help support her parents, who are trying to pay off debts of their grandparents. She won the lottery to go to school, her sister didn't, so she works full time. When her parents die in an accident, in order to repay the debt, she has to "sell her labor contract," which is early 22nd century speak for being sold into slavery.  She's very lucky to catch a berth on a ship leaving Earth. Otherwise, she'd be stuck in a factory somewhere for the rest of her life.

The looks at the future come later, when she's listening to old, delayed, broadcasts from an increasingly distressed Earth, as she is settling in, and learning about the planet Johannes, where she finds herself. But her life, and the bulk of the book, are about survival on a different planet, and her companions, the Eeriv, an intelligent winged species that populate the planet she's on. Earth's travails are a backdrop she lives with, but isn't really in touch with.

Although the dystopic future is not center stage, Trina's direct experience of that world determines her perspective and approach to things. She's practical, strong, persistent, and doesn't take much for granted. She's resilient, determined to survive, and determined to do good for her family. Relatively early in the book, Earth is the past, and can never be revisited. It is, in its way, irrelevant. I think that is as close to delving into dystopia as is possible for me, at least now.

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Learn more about Michelle Murrain on her website
Read reviews of Friends with Wings on Goodreads.
Purchase Friends with Wings on Amazon.