Countdown to 7 May is a massive blog tour taking place at the moment; leading up to the date where a lot of great YA & MG titles are going to be published in the UK. The tour is stopping at a lot of great blogs & you can check out the countdown Twitter feed here!
Today I have the honour of hosting début author Sarah Govett on my blog for a guest post. Sarah is the author of The Territory – what sounds like a gripping dystopian set in the aftermath of an environmental disaster. I’m so excited about reading it! Read on for what Sarah has to say on her book…
LIMITED SPACE MEANS LIMITED NUMBERS
Try to imagine for a moment that it’s forty odd years from now. We didn’t cut back on carbon consumption quick enough so those icebergs went and melted just as all the scientists told us they would. Now half of Britain is under water. The flooded Wetlands are a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying malaria and worse and you obviously can’t grow any food in what’s basically a salt marsh. So everyone wants to live on the remaining dry land, right? But there are far too many people to fit and feed. So how do you decide who gets to stay? Do you value each and every life equally and operate some sort of lottery system or do you recognise that humanity as a whole is better served if we keep the brightest and best as they’re more likely to be able to reverse the catastrophic climate change? And, if you agree with that, how do you find the best and brightest young people to keep around? By exams, of course, exams focused on the most useful subjects – maths and science – I mean they’re the best way of gauging intelligence. Aren’t they?
This is the backdrop against which I decided to set my dystopian thriller, The Territory – teens being forced to sit exams at 15 to see whether they get to stay on dry land or be sent to the Wetlands for a life of misery if not certain death. To make matters even worse, the most privileged kids have a huge advantage as they can upload information straight into their brains through a Node in the back of their necks, bypassing the need to study.
I wrote the book in snatched half hours after the birth of my first child. I’ve always been drawn to accessible novels about big ideas and my biggest influences are probably John Wyndham (particularly The Crysalids), John Christopher (the amazing Death of Grass), Margaret Atwood (too many to name), Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon – if you haven’t read it you need to get a copy, believe me), and more recently Gemma Malley (her thought provoking The Declaration).
I wanted my novel to reflect the horrific pressure exams place on teenagers, society’s elevation of logical subjects above more creative ones and the unfairness of our education system whereby results are as much determined by quality of school as natural intelligence. I also wanted to make myself think about the idea of trying to objectively value or rank people. Which is basically what we do all the time. Whether through exams or differential salaries we decide that someone is worth more than someone else. And then a further issue that has really been brought home to me by becoming a mum – how do you reconcile the admirable desire of a parent to do the very best for their child with the unfairness that resulting differences in privilege can bring?
I hope you enjoyed the guest post as I really did! The Territory will, predictably, be out on the 7th May – so be sure to find a copy should this post have piqued your interest… 🙂 You can follow the Countdown blog tour by checking updates on the Twitter page!