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As I mentioned in a previous post, Sofia Samatar tagged me to answer some questions about a Work in Progress. This internet meme encourages creators to discuss projects they are working on and get other writers to do the same.

1. What is the title of your book?
I have two titles right now: “At the Table With Kings” and “The Gaia Project”.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
It came from a few places: I had an imagining of someone chuckling at the irony that the farm hands were called “Hands” – the farm workers each had their left hand cut off and replaced with a prosthetic hand. He found this terribly amusing.
I also wondered what we are going to do if the bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) continues. CCD places more than 70 crops honey bees pollinate (almonds, apples, blueberries, and more) in peril. Ladybugs are a beneficial insect that has been nudged out of its habitat by invasive species. Without these two insects necessary for food/plant pollination/production (and how many other insects?) what we eat and how we get it and how much it costs will change dramatically.
I’m concerned that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) are supplying most of the food people get at their grocery stores. (The Ecologist has photos here – be advised, though these photos were taken on “farms,” that is CAFOs, and it is where much of our food comes from, these images may be disturbing.)
I’ve also been interested in what people brought with them when they immigrated. I had read some immigrant accounts of their sewing seeds into the hems of their clothing so that they would not be robbed of their livelihood while traveling to their new home. Which reminded me how important prominent agriculture was to everyone’s survival and how we’ve lost touch with not only agriculture, but our food, how it’s grown, it’s cultural significance, &c. and nature in general. There has been a resurgence, but we don’t grow our own food here like we used to. We’ve become alienated from our food, our sustenance, our earth.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
It probably falls under the science fiction genre heading.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Crikey- I haven’t even written it yet. Do I have certain actors or movies in mind while I’m writing/discussing the novel? No.

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?
Oh goodness, let’s try it: Corporation tries to divert attention from its manufacturing of modified humans as farm labor, post-environmental collapse, by creating a catastrophe – an artificial famine – unless corporate scientist and fringe whistle-blower can get past their philosophical differences and collaborate to bring the corporation’s secrets to light.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
And how I wish this were a serious issue for me. Um, I’d like it to published by one of those awesome presses out there. Do I know? No. Do I wish? Yes. Do I think so? Not really. But we’ll keep hoping. I just want people to have access to reading it and hopefully enjoy it and get something out of it that makes them think and makes the world ripple just that much bigger because they read it.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’m writing “At the Table With Kings: the Gaia Project” for NaNoWriMo this year (starting tomorrow – err, in two hours!) so theoretically I will have written it in one month’s time (future perfect, right?). Of course, that’s kind of like saying the pig I saw in the forest is the same thing as the bacon that’ll be on my table. It might be, but it isn’t.

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
Recently read Octavia E. Butler‘s Parable of the Sower which reminded me that I need to write this novel. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (has anyone seen the film version yet? What did you think? I so want to see it).

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Many things, and people, and books: My friend Sarah who invited me to farm-sit with her two summers ago and there I began jotting down some of these ideas; the book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children fromNature-Deficit Disorder by child advocacy expert Richard Louv; as I mentioned above, reading Butler’s Parable of the Sower inspired me and reminded me I have important work to do; all the Farmers I meet and all the delicious foods they help grow; every time I hear about another corporation putting their greed above the life and health of human and non-human animals and above the sanctity of the earth… that makes me want to scream and rip my hair out and stomp until I split in two, but I’ll try to write about it instead. No easy task putting aside the unfathomable horrific liturgy that runs through my head when I hear of corporate homicide (and the list… I’ll skip it for now) unchecked and without outrage or ramifications… putting that aside and writing is not easy, is what I was getting at; and Sofia and Zachariah just keep being supportive of my writing.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
One of the main characters will be a Hand, and she will wake up out of the drug- and hormone-induced twilight the corporation feeds her and her sister Hands to keep them focused on their farm work (you don’t let expensive beta experiments with patented DNA run around free to think their own thoughts do you? You don’t, or you wouldn’t be in a mega-corporation). And yes, her left hand will have been amputated.

The novel will be written in more than one voice. Right now I have three PoV characters in mind: the Hand, the scientist who researched and came up with the genetic manipulation to create the Gaia Project (aka: the Hands), and a woman from a secret counter-cultural society that tries to infiltrate the corporation and learn if rumors that they created an artificial famine are true.

The first title comes from a part of a poem that came to me in regards to this novel (and no, I don’t yet know the rest of the poem):
Who are you, little mouse,
to come scampering in
and be seen at the table
with kings?

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Rose Lemberg, was tagged by Mike Allen, and she in turn tagged Sofia Samatar, Mat Joiner, Ann Leckie, Lisa Bradley, Amal El-Mohtar, and Bogi Takács. I was tagged by Sofia, along with LaShawn M. Wanak, and Dwight Okita!

I tag Sarah Austen, and Amy Hartsough! Writer of scripts beyond genre (and more) and mezzo soprano (and more)… Ladies, answer us questions ten, please.

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