Author and writer, Christine Soltis is back with us to talk about her latest book release, Reclusive 2038. Read on for a rather fascinating interview on how the futuristic dystopian novel came to be. Be sure to also check out the links provided in the interview and pick up a physical copy or digital download of the novel.
MU: So first, tell us a little about what Reclusive 2038 is about.
CS: Reclusive 2038 is a novel that is set in a kind of hopeless future world where the past mistakes of humanity have led to near destruction of the Earth. From the overuse of resources, to a growing population competing for potable water supplies, on to destruction of protective ozone from air pollution emissions, along with a heightened global temperature and sea level rise, all of these real life issues have led everyone into a reclusive society. People live in gated “safe communities” and are no longer allowed outside during certain times of the day; they learn to fear the sun and are not able to drive. They are called “zoo animals” because they stay inside those gated communities where they belief they are “safe.” On the other hand, the wealthy ones, known as the Elitists, roam free and are considered to be ungrateful and reckless. They took over the remainder of society and industry when the world changed but there are less of them in the actual worldly population. The other group that roams free is a rebel group known as the Renegades. As you can probably guess by the name, they are not very nice people; essentially they are thieves and scavengers.
MU: What was the inspiration behind the plot, characters, and setting of the story?
CS: Well, I have a great love for dystopian fiction such as Brave New World, 1984 and so forth (as there are dedications to these tales within the story). That was my first influence and I always knew I would write my own version of a future we never wanted. I also had my first phase of really reading more of science in 2008, particularly that which dealt with Earth sciences and environmentalism. As I read and learned more and more about our precious planet, I would also listen to the sounds of storms outside that were like no other. Wanting to know more about how the cycles of Earth worked, I went back to school for my Masters of Science in Environmental Studies. This greater form of education helped really cement some parts of the book. Also, when I drove out to California last summer, I really noticed the dried out brown palm trees, fires and saw endless dead, dry desert. This was inspiring, yet bothersome. Then you think about desertification in sub-Sharan Africa and how reckless we have been with disasters such as oil spills, which cover our wildlife in oil, along with the destruction of a great many species…it all comes together quite easily.
The characters themselves though are based on my observations of the evolution of humankind. If you take a look around these days, technology makes it very easy for us to become reclusive. When we are hanging out with our friends, we have our heads in our phones. When we are at home, we are socializing in a way that is easier for us than talking face to face- essentially, we communicate through the computer. Many days, we want to be left alone, and more and more people in society choose not to date or marry; percentages of women staying single are on the rise. Everything about that character type is a parallel to the future of “us.” When it comes to the Elitists, well, they are the celebrities that we love to mock but can’t get enough of. These fascinate us but we are taught to resent them. And then those damn Renegades, well they are everywhere threatening to take away what little we have. They are the scam artists and thieves that you encounter.
MU: Do you have a favorite or least favorite character? Is there a character in the story that you relate to?
CS: Truly, I love most of my characters, if not all. I might even become a little sentimental when something happens to one of them (even though I wrote it that way). While I look at evolutionary trends to create the character, each one I write is not based on anyone I know. Instead, it comes directly from the imagination; I don’t borrow the actual characters from real life. But I can definitely relate to the three main characters:
Linda is reclusive, dull and likes to be alone. She is so filled with fear that change is terribly painful for her. Most people have this side to them, just in differing percentages.
Madeline is young, wild and obnoxious and after a life of pain and only the comforts of wealth, she remains conflicted. She can be sweet, rude, headstrong or just plain agitating.
Her father, Edward, is stern and work-oriented…but the big guy clearly has a great number of walls in front of his secret heart of gold. He’s that guy who can make any career blossom but nothing else, especially not his family life.
If there was a least favorite character, it would be the CONTROLLER, whose name I intentionally put in all caps to make it a bit different and really drive home the point of what his job is with The Company. He is manipulation at its best. Several other characters such as Dr. Cauhn were intentionally named so, as if to say he is a con. Dr. Mentil is another one, because quite frankly, in our current society, a doctor who cyber-simulates trauma to children in order to show them why the world is this future way, would be considered downright mental.
MU: Was there any specific creative process you went through in creating Reclusive 2038?
CS: Writing Reclusive 2038 was similar to when I have written other novels. Idea inception starts with an image or a conversation, maybe even a night of camping. Ideas hits artists like a tidal wave and sometimes even a tsunami though, so a filtering process must be enforced. The idea that repeats itself in my head the most tends to be the one that wins and is written first. Usually, I will jot down some notes and once I decide to start, I just go with it. My self-imposed standard is that a first draft should never take longer than three weeks to complete (with a full time job on the side). But these are just my self-imposed rules and every writer is different. I like to push my limits, as I once wrote a novella in three days as a challenge for myself (this one will be coming soon).
MU: Where do you do most of your creative imagining?
CS: Interestingly, I do it everywhere. I think I’m like a big kid sometimes who still holds onto her imagination and would love it if there truly was a world full of fairies and unicorns that we could physically escape to sometimes. While at work, I might make up a funny story about someone who looks like an assassin and tell others just to give them a laugh. I like to say that I imagine people’s lives are more exciting than they are in real life. When a writer creates a character, they give life to a new person, draw them up a home, a conflict and even love sometimes. My imagination stays with me at all times. If I see something I want, like a new scarf, I might joke that the damn thing came alive like a snake and wrapped itself around my head because It thought I was Medusa. At that point, I must have felt so bad for the poor, confused scarf that I took it home with me. Those stories are usually just for joking and they are so ludicrous that I don’t expect the listener to believe me. I’m far more serious with my literature, but believe any exercise of the imagination is one that is well worth it.
Everything about Earth is inspiring too; I love the ways the trees look outside on a barren, wintry day. The heat of the sun can inspire life or fear. Just keeping my imagination with me at all times is most exciting, no matter what. I certainly do this everywhere, whether it’s being silly or serious.
MU: What message (if any), would you hope people would take away from Reclusive 2038?
CS: We only have one Earth, so it is important to respect it. The interesting part is if you look at the stories of Easter Island, you will see a place that was devastated of resources. The people allegedly resorted to cannibalism to survive. They had no way off the island to find resources. We have just one Earth; where will we go if we destroy her?
People love vacation, they love the beaches and seeing new sights but then they throw cigarette butts on the ground when there is an ash tray two feet away, they pollute, they over-log. We already have ozone action days during the summer where warnings go out to elderly and those with breathing problems to stay out of the heat. I could go on and on about this, but, in short, I love and appreciate Earth and others should too. Don’t turn a blind eye to the most important thing that supports you. Without Earth, we’re nothing. *Side note: Unless they colonize space.*
MU: Where would people be able to find Reclusive 2038? Plug any appearance, links, etc here.
Eljays Used Books in Dormont, PA has several autographed copies of the book.
On Friday, March 15th and Saturday, March 16th, I will be at Horror Realm with Reclusive 2038.
Reclusive 2038 on amazon.com
Thank you again, Tiffany!