L.K. Below wrote Hellish Haven to bring her love of Orwell’s classic 1984 into the modern day…or near future, as it turns out.
She reads as obsessively as she writes and likes to Tweet about both at @LBelowtheauthor.
Two lives. Two realities. But only one truth.
The Senator reigns all-powerful in a manifested picture-perfect world. No worries. No wars. Only the unspoken threat of oblivion if you step a toe out of line. On the other side of the divide, the rebels face a debilitating war against an invulnerable robotic army. Every day is a struggle to earn back their freedoms. Freedom to feel. Freedom of speech. Freedom of thought.
Sergeant Grant Baker is pivotal to the war effort. But ever since his wife’s abduction, he’s been walking around in as much of a daze as the Senator’s brainwashed citizens. Then Eva reappears—without memories of him or their son. And he’s willing to do anything to keep her. Even if it means jeopardizing the war.
Eva doesn’t know which side to believe. Her predictable life as a single nurse, or the man claiming to be her husband. All she knows is she needs to discover how to end the war, quickly. If she doesn’t choose sides soon, she may lose the man—and the life—she never knew she wanted.
Available at Kensington Books
Influenced by the Masters: On Incorporating Classic Fiction into Modern Books
When I was ten, I was taught by a teacher who worshipped books. While in her class, I read A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens), Watership Down (Richard Adams), and several fictional chapter books about the sinking of the Titanic. And these were only the books I read while within the confines of her classroom for reading period. During recess, I would sit beneath a sturdy tree and delve into whatever fantastic fiction caught my fancy. She must have seen in me a kindred spirit because, when the year was done, she told me:
Never stop reading.
That fantastic and clever past teacher of mine is the reason behind my love affair with classic books. When I left her class, she passed along her wisdom to me by recommending I read more classic books.
I started with Jack London and Mark Twain. From there, the sky was the limit. I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. My father and I read The Chronicles of Narnia to each other before bed, and it helped me to become less nervous when reading aloud in class.
I didn’t discover George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four until high school, but it has remained in my top five list of classic books ever since. I breezed through the book, through Winston’s struggle with oppression, his love affair with toeing the line of what the government deemed possible.
I guess by now, you can guess that Orwell’s book heavily influenced my newest release, Hellish Haven. Orwell’s themes are timeless, but in these days filled with technological security and little privacy, they are especially potent.
Like most things when I set out to do them, I took those themes to the next level. In Hellish Haven, the government doesn’t merely monitor you; through a widely-administered suggestion-enhancing drug, the government controls the populace’s very thoughts. Through this drug and the constant subliminal messaging and propaganda, citizens are made to feel as if they are happy. Their careers, their marriages, every aspect of their lives is chosen for them. Even when a war rages only blocks away, they don’t believe it exists.
One of the things which spoke to me the most about Orwell’s book was the act of erasing a person from history. Records of traitors were wiped clean from the archives, as if they were never even born. But, as I read these passages of the classic book, I thought to myself that it wasn’t absolute. The people those traitors left behind, the people who they touched in some way, they would remember.
So I took the idea and pushed it further. I’m good at that.
In Hellish Haven, traitors aren’t only wiped clean from the records. Their families, their colleagues, their friends are made to believe they never existed. The electronic photographs displayed on the wall are purged of their image. Children are believed to be artificially inseminated or adopted. The person’s thoughts and deeds are erased from history.
And that, I consider to be the ultimate punishment. The ultimate horror.
I’m an author, so I like to think my words and ideas will be around long after I’m gone. My goal, and I suspect the goal of many writers, is to touch people. To make the reader think. To give them strength on the days they feel their weakest. To help them forget about their troubles for a time, if that’s what they need, or to help them challenge the aspects of their lives which make them unhappy.
I developed my love for books early in life, and for that I’m grateful. Because I can’t imagine being the same person I am today without having read books like Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty Four. Just like I can’t imagine not writing them.
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