by Laura Frances
There is no sun. There is no moon. There is only gray—the smog belched from coal-fueled factories. The Workers silently shuffle to their assigned posts. The Outcasts watch from the alley walls. On every corner, a Watcher stands stone-faced, a rifle in hand. This is the only life that exists. Beyond the mountains is a dream. But dreams are foolish in a place like this.
Hannah has spent nineteen years dodging Watchers and doing as she is told.
Do not look Watchers in the eye. Don’t give them a reason to notice you.
But when she wakes to the valley exploding in revolution, Hannah is forced onto a dangerous path, where nothing is what she believed. Suddenly freedom is in her grasp, and the way there requires working with the men she once feared.
“With one twist after another, SLAVE keeps you hooked until the last page. But the best thing about this book is the emotion it evoked in every scene. I could feel every emotion she experienced, and few books can do that well.”
“Slave is easily one of the best dystopians I’ve read in awhile.”
“I have been trying to find the word that best describes this book. However I can’t think of just one word as it is awesome, suspenseful, spine tingling, edge of your seat, nail biting good.”
CIR: What inspired this story?
FRANCES: The first inspiration for Slave was a documentary I watched on the pollution in an area of China. A little girl was asked if she had ever seen the stars. She said no, and it stuck with me. Second was a song in which one line says: “I’m no longer a slave to fear”. I was a slave to fear for many years, struggling with intense social anxiety. In many ways the theme of this book was drawn from that struggle, though the correlation might not be obvious.
CIR: What was your favorite part of writing this story?
FRANCES: Crying. Truly, I attached to the characters so deeply, because I write from an emotional place. I genuinely cried with them. And that made me feel like I’d written something special.
CIR: What was the hardest part of writing this story?
FRANCES: I think allowing bad things to happen to good characters. One chapter in particular, which would be a spoiler, took me two weeks to gather the courage to write.
CIR: Who is your favorite character and why?
FRANCES: I think it would have to be Hannah, my main character. I wrote her differently than what is typically seen in the YA dystopian genre. She isn’t a hero in the large scope. She isn’t taking over a rebellion or taking down the powers that be. But she is brave and real. Her journey is in many ways internal, finding freedom from fear conditioning. She observes the courage in others and is inspired by their strength.
CIR: What other books, movies or shows might you compare to this story?
FRANCES: When readers hear the words YA Dystopian, they often think of The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Maze Runner. I tried hard to write a unique and original story. The only similarity that comes to mind might be the early setting in Slave. You find an oppressed people laboring to manufacture goods for the nation, comparable to Hunger Games. But even that is quite different.
CIR: What themes do you address in this story?
FRANCES: Fear is a major theme; and becoming free from it. Also finding humanity.
CIR: What message do you hope your readers take away from this book?
FRANCES: That there is always hope. There are stories behind every face we encounter, and we might be surprised by the journey they’re on.
CIR: Is there more coming? A sequel?
FRANCES: Yes! Book two is my current WIP (work in progress).
Note: There is reference to torture in the story, but it is carefully described so as not to be graphic. The concept, however, may be upsetting for some readers.