I am absolutely thrilled today to welcome to the blog Kristen Simmons, author of Article 5. If you were here last week, you may have seen my gushing review -- I loved this book! If you haven't yet read it, I hope this convinces you to do so! I know I would have been ;) Actually, maybe I have time to squeeze in a re-read....
Could you give us a brief description of what to expect in Article 5? What's it about?
Sure! Here's the writeup from the book jacket:
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC have been abandoned.
The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statues.
There are no more police -- instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior -- instead, there are arrests, trials and maybe worse. People who get arrested don't usually come back.
Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. That life in the United States used to be different.
In the three years since the war ended, Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs -- like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes -- and how to pass the random home inspections by the Federal Bureau of Reformation. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statues. And what's worse, one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings... the only boy Ember has ever loved.
What was the inspiration behind your book?
The wheels for A5 actually started spinning several years ago, when I went to the local bookstore and came across a group of people who were protesting the release of a children's book. It got me thinking: of course they had the right to protest whatever they liked, but what if they succeeded? What if they were able to ban a book from a major seller on the grounds that it was against someone’s beliefs? And what if it didn’t stop at books? What else could you ban based on its perceived offensive nature? This led to bigger questions – what other freedoms could we lose if someone found them offensive? What if the Bill of Rights was dissolved? What rules would be implemented in their place? It all sort of fell into place from there.
Article 5 deals with some heavy subject matter and the characters go through their share of traumatic experiences. Do you think your work as a mental health therapist helped with some of the journeys you created?
I've learned a lot from my career, but perhaps the most important thing is the incredible tenacity of the human spirit. In the mental health field we often see people at their most difficult moments. Our job is to help them rise up, reclaim their strength. Witnessing someone recover after they've stumbled is the kind of thing that changes the way you look at the world.
When I write, I'm aware of the mental health of my characters -- they've been through some traumatic things, and as a result, are dealing with some pretty hefty emotional consequences. Things that anyone might feel after experiencing what Chase and Ember have. But they're resilient. Like with anyone struggling with a hardship, there is hope, as long as they can learn to trust and support each other.
I understand that you were in the marching band in high school... that's awesome! Do you think any of those skills were transferable to writing?
Of course! Music reaches us on a level little else does. It spurs creativity, gets us thinking about things differently. I don't have any proof of that, but I bet you a cup of tea it's true! Plus, I had so much fun in marching band - the camaraderie, the discipline, learning to deal with how other people viewed me because of it - they're all experiences I wouldn't trade for anything.
Are there novels that you would recommend to fans of Article 5?
I'm part of the Apocalypsies, which is a group of 2012 YA debut authors, and ALL of their books are going to be fantastic. I mean, some really intriguing, exciting stuff is coming down the line this year! Read them all!
And finally -- because I have to ask -- Twilight or Harry Potter? (Don't worry, this is a totally safe place! No curses will be thrown.)
Don't make me choose! I actually love them both! Twilight for the romance and tension and Harry Potter because, come on, it's Harry Potter! I so wish I lived in his world!!! (Perhaps minus Voldemort)
Thanks for letting me visit Sonia! This was fun!
Anyone still here? No? I can't say I blame you! Intriguing concept? Realistic, resilient characters? It sounds about right. I definitely recommend this one to everyone! Thanks so much to Kristen for being here today!