Sophie Littlefield has quickly become one of my all time favorite people. I was lucky enough to meet Sophie, Juliet Blackwell, and Rachael Herron almost a year ago, at Romantic Times. Basically, we ran into each other a few times drinking (as one does, at Romantic Times), and they said, “You are are ours now, Nicole.” I’ve never been so happy to be claimed.
Sophie is brilliant, outrageously talented, and hilariously funny. Her Bad Day crime books are gritty and riveting, and she recently came out with a YAÂ novel, Banished. Now, however, she’s coming home to mama with the release of her own urban fantasy novel, Aftertime.
So let’s welcome Sophie to the Emporium! Here’s her guest post, and she’s been generous enough to offer a contest, the details of which I’ll post at the end.
I was at Target today with my daughter, waiting in line to pay and listening to her describe the essay she is writing for her English class titled â€œThe Use of Metaphor in Ayn Randâ€™s ANTHEMâ€, when I received two emails in a row. **
The first was from Nicole, inviting me to be a guest on this blog (yay!)
The other was from my friend Meredith Barnes, a fantastic young agent Iâ€™ve gotten to know in the last year or so. Iâ€™d been whining to Meredith that I didnâ€™t feel very inspired lately, so she wrote me back a list of words meant to inspire me (â€œyou might use these as metaphors in the pithy posts youâ€™re about to writeâ€ she suggested). The list included: Onion, Horse, Gastrointestinal Tract, Fate, and Shopping. ***
So here, without further ado, courtesy of Nicole and inspired by Meridith â€“ â€œMetaphor in AFTERTIME.â€
Onion â€“ In the book AFTERTIME, most of the nationâ€™s crops and plant species have been wiped out by bioterrorism. The failing government seeded the land with an engineered plant called kaysev, which provides full-spectrum nutrition and keeps people alive â€“ but an all-kaysev leaves people hungry for variety. When, after several months, plants from Before (including the humble yellow onion) begin to return, they are met with great joy as a symbol of rebirth. (Incidentally, the second book in the series is titled REBIRTH and will be out in August â€™11.)
Horse â€“ Interestingly, I donâ€™t care for horses. Horses and chickens. I grew up rural so I can tell you with authority that these are not smart creatures. Give me a pig, a goat, a dog any day, but horses â€“ no thanks!Â One of the cool things about writing fiction is that you can make the world WHATEVER YOU WANT. Ergo, in the fictional world of AFTERTIME, there are no horses.
Onlyâ€¦as often goes with my kneejerk reactions, I started to feel a little guilty about my rigid stance. My kids like horses. Horses are pretty. Itâ€™s entirely possible my attitude about horses goes back to a certain unfortunate episode involving a pony ride in 1974. Soâ€¦when I started the third book in the series (HORIZON! Out in March â€™12! Look at me, doing promo!) I put in a horse, as a sort of nod to my own hypocrisy.
In this case, the horse bears a rider with news from the east. Thatâ€™s plenty evocative of legend, right?
Gastrointestinal Tract â€“ So when youâ€™re living in a zombie-ridden post-apocalyptic world, medical care is hard to come by. When I sat around imagining this world, I kept thinking about all the ways that modern medicine has improved our lives. My daughterâ€™s burst appendix and a blood clotting episode would have been mortal without it. My husbandâ€™s kidney stones would have literally killed him.
In the third book, Iâ€™ve introduced a character with an unknown but worsening malady that affects her stomach and appetite. Because there are few doctors, no equipment, and little medicine, all she can do is wait and see what happens to her. So her gastro tract has become a symbol for the greater unknown, which leads us toâ€¦
Fate â€“ I have some fun with religion in the series, if you can call evil cults and power-abusing priestesses and ever-present crises of faith â€œfunâ€. The truth is that I was playing a lot with ideas about destiny and how we, mere humans, can choose our own. Fate and faith are, for me, irrevocably intertwined. (Blah blah blah â€“ I do go on so.) So what symbolizes the Hand of God in the books? Perhaps a little giant sequoia seedling that Cass and her lover stumble on early in AFTERTIME â€“ itâ€™s vulnerable, and yet inevitable.
Shopping â€“ After civilization falls and Beaters start eating people, thereâ€™s no money, no banks, no stores, no commerce. And yet, the human spirit is unquenchable, so before long, commerce renews itself in various forms. In the Box â€“ a walled city where Cass takes refuge â€“ you can trade valuables (nonperishable food, water, medicine, clothing) for drugs, alcohol, sex and more. A form of shopping, yes? â€“ so I suppose that shopping represents the immutability of human behavior: you can give folks kaysev, shelter, even love, but at the end of the day, theyâ€™re still going to want to make a deal.
**My daughter wants me to point out that if she actually called an essay â€œThe Use of Metaphor in Ayn Randâ€™s ANTHEMâ€ she would get docked for a lack of originality. The essay in question was eventually titled â€œThe Middle Ground: An Achievable Utopian Society.â€ I stand corrected!
Thank you so much to Nicole for inviting me, and join the discussion if youâ€™d like your own copy of AFTERTIME â€“ signed by the author!
Thank YOU so much, Sophie! To win an autographed copy of Aftertime, I want you guys to come up with your own “original title” for an imaginary essay of your choice. For example: “Nomming Towards Destiny: Images of Eating in Tempest Rising” or “A Pretty Day For Female Empowerment: How Sophie Littlefield Imagines the Feminine Capacity for Violence.”
Don’t worry, the essay title is just to enter and to make me giggle, so they can be as silly or ridiculous as you want to make them. I’ll pick the winner, at random, next Friday, March 4th.
And if you haven’t read Sophie’s books, believe me–you are missing out! I couldn’t put down her Bad Day series, and I’m so excited for Aftertime! Yay Sophie!