Freelance writer and journalist Jacqui Castle decided to turn her writing talents to fiction, giving us the debut YA dystopian novel The Seclusion. The novel, released in September, has been garnering great reviews.
We asked Jacqui about her inspirations and why she loves dystopian fiction so much.
What books and writers have inspired you?
Many of the greatest dystopian novels were written during times of turmoil, and that has always been a unique fascination for me – learning what certain authors were experiencing in their society when great works of fiction were written. I gained inspiration from some of the brilliant dystopian writers of the past such as Bradbury, Orwell, Atwood, and Huxley. I also spent a great deal of time immersing myself in more modern dystopias such as The Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Divergent Series, The Children of Men, and The Giver.
Why do you think dystopian speculative fiction continues to capture the public’s imagination so well?
There is a reason people are drawn to stories such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Giver, especially during times of turmoil. Is it because they simply have a desire to read about a future that is nothing but bleak and oppressed? No, it’s because of the seemingly hopeless circumstances, dystopian stories often end with a protagonist overcoming significant obstacles and, against all the odds, finding a path for social change.
Most dystopias share common themes, two of which are a search for identity and perseverance in a world that rejects critical thinking and individuality. They often take inspiration from the current society, analyzing and stretching it to the extreme. Dystopian literature allows readers to reflect on pitfalls in society as it is now, but also to see that there are ways in which they can continue to survive, creating a sense of hope in the worst scenarios. Dystopian novels are not meant to be merely dark and depressing, but rather a mirror for us to look at ourselves and our society.
Are there any popular tropes in dystopian fiction you’d like to see retired?
I would like to see fewer dystopian stories in which one specific thing (whether it be overreaching technology, climate change, greed, or fundamentalism) leads to the demise of an entire society. For a society to collapse, it is generally due to a culmination of several different factors coming in from various angles.
What was the biggest struggle in switching from journalism to writing fiction?
Without a doubt, it has been the transition from telling to showing. It was a significant learning process for me to go from presenting information on the page to showing as much through dialogue and action as possible.
Why should we be reading The Seclusion? (Sell the book to our readers!)
The Seclusion takes place in the year 2090. America is run by a Board of Directors, known as the Board, and massive walls have been built on the northern and southern borders – during a time referred to as The Seclusion. In this world, we follow the story of a young woman, Patricia Collins, or Patch.
Patch discovers that her family has a history of rebellion against the government. She then begins to question the history she has been taught, and the motives of the current leaders. The Seclusion touches on many important issues today, including immigration, the dangers of using dehumanizing language, censorship, climate change, and the importance of a free press.
The Seclusion was recently named one of the Best Science Fiction Books of September 2018 by Kirkus Reviews.
Jacqui Castle is a professional freelance writer and novelist. She lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. Castle has been published in a variety of publications, both regional and national, including Mountain Xpress, WNC Woman, Asheville Grit, and Explore Asheville. The Seclusion is her first novel.
Buy The Seclusion now!