So, my debut novel, a socio-political sci-fi set in a dystopian future Joburg goes live today.
What I thought I’d give you, instead of the on-the-knees begging to pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease read my work, which is what I’m tempted to give, is a glimpse behind the scenes at the rationale and story motivation.
The story of the story.
Callie Baxter is sixteen and growing up in a difficult and confusing city. Things are going wrong, and no-one seems to know or care or be able to do anything about it. Decisions have to be made, actions have to be taken, conclusions have to be reached. She has a nagging feeling that the city needs a heroine, but someone seems to have lost the guide to Heroics for dummies. She wishes that she could just find a real grow-up to ask for answers, but she seems to be the closest thing to grown-up around. Yeesh. And she used to complain about high school.
Sound familiar? Growing up is hard, Callie’s story is mine and yours and anyone’s who has ever realised for the first time that adulthood isn’t all its cracked up to be. Growing up is particularly hard in Joburg. I’m not talking about things like hardship stemming from poverty or unemployment or structural inequality, or violence. This is not because these things are not important, but because I don’t understand them well enough to write them convincingly. What I do understand is that, even without any of the above painful brokennesses, growing up here is hard. There are things, legacies, futures, great moral absolutes, hovering around you that you just weren’t aware of before and have no clue how to deal with. There’s apartheid, and the precariousness of the country, what Ubuntu and democracy do and should mean, there’s personal culpability and how we make amends, there’s the great weight of a future to fix. And no-one you ask gives you straight answers to the really big questions.
Growing up here is also incredible. There is potential here and hope and gentleness beyond reason. Also, this city is really, really cool.
That’s mostly the heart of Idea War, a story about growing up, and how cool the city is, and about learning to make tough calls. Because we need to, every minute of every day, and anyone who promises you different is selling snake oil.
You can’t talk about the big questions in straight answers however, and if your round-about answers are boring, you’re never going to have much of an audience. That’s why Idea War is also about fun. Set against the backdrop of a military occupation and secession of Johannesburg, with an entrenched authoritarian government, the plot follows Callie Baxter and her rebel group. Everyday is a struggle to figure out the right thing to do and then do it, no matter how many CCA tanks you have to take down on the way. When the right thing becomes outing close-guarded military secrets, Callie and her crew are going to have to use every trick in the book (and several that no self-respecting book would associate itself with) to do it.
If you like action, there’s something for you here. If you like biting wit and snappy banter, there’s something for you here. If you like sci-fi and extrapolated dystopian futures, there’s something for you here. If you like this city, and want to see large chunks of it used as offensive weapons, there’s something for you here. If you’re still growing up, and trying to figure out what that means, there’s something for you here. If you like to argue, there is plenty for you here. If you see something, something that I’ve gotten wrong, or could have done better, or have neglected, or that you just plain think is awful, say something. Talking builds stories, and specifically Joburg stories http://violininavoid.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/writing-joburg-a-guest-post-by-abi-godsell/. Leave a message for me here, or on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AbiGodsell) or through twitter (@Cyanseagull). Maybe if your comments are interesting we can have internet coffee, and build better worlds.
Thanks for reading.