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Title: Hope's Daughter
Author: Melanie Cusick-Jones
Published: December 2011
Life should be simple for Cassie.
For the small population of Earth survivors who live on the Space Station Hope everything they do is planned and scheduled, down to the cyclical food menus, their roles in the station, even how many children they have.
Despite rigid controls directing her life, Cassie feels more out of synch than ever and worries she won’t find a place for herself within the station community. Perhaps that’s because she’s hearing things inside her head that can’t possibly be real. Or maybe it’s the regular elopements of her peers, heading off to a romantic future in the Married Quarter of the space station, whilst she’s never even been attracted to a boy – no matter how hard her best friend Ami pushes them at her. Then there are the odd questions her work placement partner Balik keeps raising. His questions are just as troubling for her as his distracting smiles and eyes that seem to see inside her.
As Cassie draws closer to Balik she finds that everything else in her life begins to shift. He tells her things that call into question the system they live within. She can't believe he is right, but at the same time she finds it hard to deny the sincerity of his ideas. Could there be a connection between Cassie’s problems and Balik’s questions? The truth will drag them both to a terrifying and deadly conclusion beyond anything they could have imagined.
Thanks for stopping by, Melanie. When did you first know you wanted to write?
I’ve always enjoyed tinkering with ideas and creative writing, starting odd little stories here and there, but nothing serious. I recently found typed drafts from my ‘vampire phase’, which came after I read Bram Stoker in my mid-teens – they were certainly good for a giggle :)
More than a writer, I’ve always been a reader. It was only when I finished university (having spent four years reading!) that I got the chance to wonder whether I could write a novel myself. And so I started and stopped, tinkered and typed and after several years finally finished the first book I was happy for people to see.
Tell us about Cassie's character, and do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Cassie’s a little like me, I suppose, which isn’t exactly unexpected – I think most people have at least a little of themselves in their characters. Outwardly she tries to be confident and show she’s in control, which is certainly like me – even though that’s not always the truth! I’m sure her internal procrastinating about some issues in Hope’s Daughter will bother a few readers, but again, I definitely do that a lot: I’m not someone who likes to talk through problems, I tend to roll them over and over, round and round until I work through them in my own head - only now and again do I want to talk about them. For Cassie, she’s scared she’ll seem out of place or weak if she shares her fears, which I think is understandable.
In many ways, who I am now is more like Balik: interrogating ideas and systems, turning them around down to the smallest details to understand the bigger picture – it’s something I have to do for my ‘day job’ and have used the same approach in my writing as well.
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
The variety of genres and books I read certainly influences what I write about and probably my style as well. As a child I was encouraged to read anything and everything, and I still do. This means I’m influenced by non-fiction and academic writing as much as the fiction authors I read. I think your experiences from life and work also influence you – people you meet and how you view the world are big parts of what you write. I feel I was lucky in many aspects of my life: family, home environment, education; I find it interesting in writing to examine what happens when you change some of the things many of us take for granted.
What was the first book you read that took your breath away?
The earliest one I can remember is Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger – it was one of my first ‘read alone’ books to help you develop confidence as a reader, so it still had some pictures, but was a ‘big girl’ book. Even now I recall being disturbed by the story to some degree – it is an unusual idea and if you read it now, quite brutal if you treat it realistically. The illustrations of when the humans wake up with bird wings, and them flapping unhappily outside the windows of their house are still vivid to me. I think that is the mark of a great book: one that keeps you thinking about the story you’ve read, wondering about the characters and not wanting it to end as you reach the last pages.
What three things could you not live without?
My family would be the most important thing – you share your happiest and best times with them. These days my laptop is also one of the three – it’s where I do the vast majority of my writing, although I also use notebooks regularly for jotting ideas and short pieces for the books I’m working on; but I find myself on Goodreads and blogs and looking at so much stuff on the laptop – I find it hard to imagine how I’d do so much without it. A third thing…? Probably water.
Chocolate or vanilla?
For such a straight-forward question, this is quite tough and took me a while to work out. I’m going for vanilla though, because with the exception of ice cream, I’d always be tempted by the crème brulee or panna cotta before the chocolate fudge cake on a dessert menu!
What are you reading now?
I’m reading The Power of Six at the moment, having just seen I am Four recently (very behind the times I know). I wanted to know what happened next and I’m enjoying it so far. I’m also re-reading / editing my second book The Rainbow Maker’s Tale, which takes up a lot of my reading time, so that’s it for me.
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