Ann Aguirre is a national bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, two cats, and one very lazy dog. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Dr. Who. She writes urban fantasy (the Corine Solomon series), romantic science fiction (the Jax series), apocalyptic paranormal romance (the Ellen Connor books with Carrie Lofty), paranormal romantic suspense (as Ava Gray), and post-apocalyptic dystopian young adult fiction.
How the Apocalypse is Like Cupcakes
To make cupcakes, you need flour, sugar, leavening, eggs, milk, and flavoring, which can come in many varieties like vanilla, chocolate or ground almonds. The apocalypse is the same way. Generally, it’s not one single event that causes everything to fall apart. War, famine, disease, global warming, manmade pestilence, bio-plagues, chemical weapons, pollution, radiation — as you can see the possibilities are rather endless. And in the fictional sense, at least, dystopian fiction can be every bit as delicious as the dessert referenced above.
I’m always profoundly uncomfortable discussing my work in more than abstract terms. The book should stand or fall on its own merits, and therefore, my awkward enthusiasm for a work I’ve created serves no purpose. However, for a review that says everything about ENCLAVE, this is the one to read. Ms. Holland is far more eloquent on the subject of ENCLAVE than I could ever be, but this is my favorite quote:
“…the action and violence are balanced with a deep sensitivity. Deuce wants to be a cold huntress who only focuses on her objective, but her heart gets in the way. She wants to save lives, even the lives of those that the leaders have deemed useless, and she has some serious moral questions about how much mercy she can afford to show before she jeopardizes her own survival or the welfare of her enclave. The fighting scenes are all the more exhilarating because they have an emotional core to back them up: Deuce may have fun fighting, but she doesn’t fight for fun. She’s always defending someone–the children, or her partner, or herself.” —All Consuming Books
Recently, in an interview, I was asked why I chose a post-apocalyptic world for my YA debut. The answer is actually two-fold. First, I wasn’t sure I had the voice to write a beautiful contemporary in the vein of Jennifer Echols, but I wanted, quite desperately, to write a YA. So I decided if I couldn’t do a compelling young protagonist in this world, I’d invent one. Which brings me back to why dystopian?
I’m a child of the eighties, and we saw filmstrips about what would happen if the bomb dropped. Sometimes we had nuclear drills in addition to fire and tornado. When I think about twenty small children huddled under their desks in case the Russians let one fly, well, it’s rather absurd, isn’t it? But that sort of fear shaped my psyche, so that’s definitely a contributing factor. The other reason? Well, I’ll just quote the interview I did with Karen from For What It’s Worth: “I think it’s because they’re uplifting. No, seriously. You take a world in utter disarray. Things are incredibly bleak. Then a hero arises, someone who has the desire and drive to succeed, no matter what. And this person changes his or her world in some fashion. How can that message not be incredibly valuable to young adults? I think it lends hope that there can always be brightness, no matter how dark it seems.”
For me, that’s the absolute crux of the matter. People need to believe they can make a difference–that one person standing strong can turn the tide. It’s easier to demonstrate that in the Razorland world, but that example of internal fortitude will serve readers (of all ages) well. I wanted to take a run at telling that kind of story, and I’ll close with Publishers Weekly’s thoughts on the matter: “In her first young adult novel, Aguirre (the Sirantha Jax series) has created a gritty and highly competent heroine, an equally deadly sidekick/love interest, and a fascinating if unpleasant civilization. This series is likely to hold considerable appeal for fans of The Hunger Games.”
I was thrilled they called Deuce “gritty and highly competent.” Did I succeed entirely with ENCLAVE? Only readers can be the judge of that, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think. What are your favorite dystopian novels and why do you love them?
Ann Aguirre | www.annaguirre.com