Dystopian

Glitch in the Machine

Glitch in the Machine - Edgar Swamp

There is lots to love about Glitch in the Machine by Edgar Swamp. I've always enjoyed satire, even if I'm not able to fully grasp the extent to which the author is speaking. 

Floyd is both likable and detestable as he tries to navigate the world that he's just had his eyes opened to. I enjoyed watching him struggle to understand and make sense of all that was happening around him. 

The present day application can easily be seen, but honestly, if you want to close your eyes to it and just enjoy the action packed ride that Edgar Swamp takes you on, it's a fun and exciting dystopian adventure in and of itself. 

Excellent writing, thorough plot, and an ending that left me surprised and content all at the same time. 


Some Bio Information

Edgar Swamp is the author of The Gyre Mission; Journey to the *sshole of the World. His short stories have appeared in Death Head Grin, Macabre Cadaver, The Far Side of Midnight, and Alienskin Magazine. He is presently at work on a new novel, 'Blackout; The Life and Sordid Times of Bobby Travis', a book that endeavors to continue in the tradition of The Gyre Mission: proving Swamp can come up with an overly long subtitle for what could have been a one-word title. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! He lives and works in Carlsbad, California.


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book? 

The Citizen's United ruling had been passed, meaning essentially that a presidential hopeful could successfully buy the American Presidency if they had enough money. Also, President Obama wanted to reform health care while Mitt Romney wanted to eliminate it. I envisioned an America where health care was mandatory but claims never paid; the poor died in the streets (or were killed by health care assassins) while the rich 1% lived in luxury. I thought it would be the ultimate dystopian scenario, mirroring reality with a funhouse mirror..

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I start with a big idea, in this case mandatory health care that never paid out claims, then follow it with the characters. Glitch is from the viewpoint of a health care assassin, a man who is trained (engineered) to brutally murder anyone who can't pay their health insurance bills. I then filled in the most obvious characters around him, a co-worker, a friend, a love interest etc. I always go into a novel with a vague idea of where it is going to go but never really know myself until it gets there. I let the idea play itself out, let it go where it needs to in order for the story to blossom.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work? 

Fans of satire and black comedy tend to enjoy my books rather than traditional fans of science fiction, horror or dystopian fiction. In fact, some dystopian fans were disappointed in Glitch because it wasn't anything like Divergent or the Hunger Games. It wasn't meant to be; this is satire, like Mad Magazine, spoofing reality in a way that makes everyone involved (even the lead character) appear to be an unintelligent, blundering imbecile (until he's needed to kick some butt, then retribution is in order!).

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

This was meant to be a kick in the pants to the health insurance industry as well as the political party that that didn't want there to be health care reform in the US. The book appears as if I am against health care reform, but that is what satire does: it takes the viewpoint of the opposing side so it can expose all of it's flaws with impunity.

The lead character espouses his warped ideals (some of them taken directly from political candidates) and in doing so makes readers hate him because of how cruel and idiotic his belief system appears to be. Through the book he changes as he sees what he is doing to society with his callous acts of violence, but it doesn't matter, you can't fight the machine. It's too big and powerful and the individual is always engulfed in the tidal waste of casual rhetoric and throwaway propaganda.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Jack Torrance, Stephen King's Overlook Hotel caretaker. I think he is misunderstood; inside is a man who really loves his family, even though the ghosts of the hotel convince him to try and kill them. In an alternate reality he succeeds and lives forever in the history of the Overlook. In another reality he fights the ghosts and escapes with Wendy and Danny and they all move to Florida to fight giant alligators in the swamps near Disneyland.

6) How would you describe your writing style?

Stylistically very visceral and comedic. Everything is a joke to me, and I like to pretend I'm being serious when in fact I'm playing around. Glitch (despite everything I've said) isn't meant to be taken seriously. I mean, a 700 pound woman? She wouldn't even be able to walk! The book was meant as a joke, even though the subject matter is controversial. I like poking fun at everybody, myself included. Unfortunately, it appears I'm one of the only ones who got the joke...

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

To entertain, but also to discuss topics that are trending and tie random subjects together to create a whole network of possibilities. A friend accused me of combing the Internet for conspiracy theories and putting them all together for this book. Actually, most of the things mentioned therein are either real (such as toilet-to-tap technology) or I made up myself (experiments on homeless children to see if they could be transformed into serial killers) or ideas inspired by other writers of dystopian fiction (sugar being modified and used as a means for population control...an idea I believe I came up with from seeing Soilent Green. Two different things, but 'inspired by' nonetheless). In the end it's only entertainment, but with a message and a moral. The message is up to the reader to decide, and the moral is 'always do the right thing and justice will prevail' even though that is a bunch of hooey! The house always wins, people! It's not rocket science!

The Institute

The Institute - Kayla Howarth

Societies tend to be very frightened of anything new or unknown. 

Dystopian authors have used this to fuel their writing fires for many years. The Institute is a marvelous example of how this can be done in an exciting and hopeful way. While the main character, Allira, is struggling against an oppressive and fearful government, she becomes more and more hopeful throughout the book that the situation can and should be changed. 

I love the smooth blending of intrigue, action, suspense, romance, and the importance of family throughout the work. It's impressive to be able to touch on so many aspects of life and maintain a happy balance and an easy-to-follow plot. 

Allira is extremely easy to relate to and despite her human quality of saying and doing the wrong thing at times, she is easy to love. Tate is a fun character that I hope to see more of in sequel. And, although I know I should hate him, I'm pretty fond of Drew. 

This was a book that I very much enjoyed reading. I flew through it in one sitting and was immediately ready to start on the second. Much to my dismay, it wasn't available yet. 

Needless to say, I'm anxiously awaiting the release of the sequel!


Some Bio Information

Kayla was born and raised on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. She still resides there with her husband and son, working part time while working on her writing.

Her love of reading and movies inspired her to start something she never dreamed possible: writing her first novel.

When she's not working, looking after her son, or writing, you'll most likely find her hosting her own dance party in the kitchen while she does the dishes (where her husband will argue that more dancing is achieved than clean plates.)


Q&A

1. Where did your idea for this series come from? Or do you keep your inspirations a secret? 

I was driving home from work one night, and drove past an estate that had a huge fence around it. I wondered what kind of people lived there and then my imagination got ahead of me and suddenly I was thinking they could’ve been forced to live there for some reason. The story grew and adapted many times before I ended up putting pen to paper… or in my case, fingers to a keyboard.

2. Who is your favorite author?

I have to say it’s Suzanne Collins. I’m like fan girl embarrassing when it comes to The Hunger Games.

3. Describe the perfect writing environment. 

I have a favourite spot on my couch where I can put my feet up, with my laptop on my lap and coffee on the table next to me. I also have my favourite spot at the library and if it’s taken when I get there I can’t concentrate! I end up stalking my spot until whoever is there leaves.

4. When did you decide you wanted to become an author? 

This one is hard to answer. I have always loved writing stories (especially in high school) but stopped when I became an adult and needed to get ‘a real job’. I decided to write a book as part of a challenge where I had to do 30 things before I turned 30 last year. By my 30th birthday I had written “The Institute” and was close to finishing my first draft of “Resistance” - I got addicted and just wanted to keep on writing!

5. What do you and Allira have in common? 

Allira is everything that I am not, and everything that I want to be. I admire her strength and ability to stand up for what she wants/thinks is right. I wish I had the guts to do that.
We do have one thing in common though: We are both horrible in emergency situations. There is a scene in The Institute where Allira is explaining that she once stood by and watched her pet goat run into an electrified fence. That story was based on me, watching my dog run onto the road in front of an oncoming car (don’t worry, the dog is fine!). I froze in panic and just watched it happen!

6. Are you currently working on a sequel? 

“Resistance” is in its final stages of publishing and is due for release on April 1st 2015. The final installment of The Institute Series (“Defective”)  is currently in first stages of editing and is due for release in July 2015 (hopefully).

7. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be? Or have you already been there? 

I was lucky enough to travel the US and western Europe just after high school, but was planning a return trip to Europe with my husband when I fell pregnant with out son. The plan to go to Lapland in Norway is still there, we just don’t know when it will happen! (We want to go to the Ice Hotel and see the Northern Lights.)