Apr 2, 2012

Guest Post: Kate Avery Ellison

Kate Avery Ellison, author of Frost, recently offered up her opinion as to why the dystopian genre is so popular.

Why is dystopian fiction so compelling to fans of the young adult genre
Delirium. Matched. Divergent. Legend. The Selection. Under the Never Sky... Dystopian fiction is hot right now. The Hunger Games is topping the bestseller lists and racking up hundreds of millions at the box office. Stories of grim future governments are selling like hot cakes. It feels like everyone is fascinated with this genre, particularly YA readers.
What makes it so compelling?
Dystopian fiction depicts scary, future worlds with extreme and controlling environments, societies where SOMETHING HAS GONE HORRIBLY WRONG, although sometimes the citizens of the world—or some of the citizens, anyway—don’t know it. Instead of a utopia, a “perfect world,” it’s the opposite.
I think people like dystopians because they’re like train wrecks. We’re fascinated at the twisted mess humanity has become in these hypothetical, futuristic settings. But also, I think it’s more than that. Dystopian fiction has that brave element of discovery or curiosity or courage—that moment where the main character realizes that there’s more to the world that what she’s been told her whole life. And she has the tenacity to learn more, and ultimately to fight back.
I discovered the dystopian genre when I was a little kid. I read The Giver and a few obscure H.G. Wells stories, and I was immediately hooked. I’ve been itching to write one (or twenty) ever since.
My newest book, Frost, is more fantasy than dystopian, really. But it does share a number of elements of the genre. The main character, Lia, lives in a frightening, dangerous world. Her environment is highly controlled—resources and production are strictly regulated, the Elders are in charge of everything, and fear is used to keep people in line. Everyone is afraid because monsters lurk in the woods, and that terror controls people. Safety has become the ultimate virtue, and there is a lack of compassion and empathy for outsiders.
In Frost, Lia makes a choice to go against the mindset of her society, a mindset that warns her not to endanger herself or have contact with people who are different. And when she defies the system and chooses to help an outsider, she begins a journey toward courage, wholeness, and truth.
For me, there’s just something very cathartic about a character who discovers the truth and breaks free from an oppressive environment. That kind of journey is at the core of the dystopian genre, and I think it’s what has me so in love with it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Avery Ellison loves long walks, late night phone calls, and reading while it rains. She thinks ice cream cake is the perfect combination and she has a love/hate relationship with the sultry climate of her hometown, Atlanta. FROST, her third book, is a YA fantasy/dystopian tale about love in a frozen, monster-infested wasteland. FROST is available in both ebook and paperback versions.

If you’re interested in checking out FROST, you can find it at these places:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Frost-The-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B007Q4LLWE
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1109825221


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