I’m delighted to be today’s host of the Arclight blog tour with a guest post by Josin L McQuein.
First off, I want to say thanks for letting me barge in here and scribble on the walls for a while. I’ll be careful with the rugs and wallpaper, I promise. (Yes, I know it’s not that funny. Don’t feel bad if you don’t laugh; I’m used to it.)
So, you may have heard I have a new book out with Electric Monkey (If not – I HAVE A NEW BOOK OUT WITH ELECTRIC MONKEY!!!) It’s called Arclight, and it’s a science fictiony, post apocalyptic, dystopian mash-up of genres about science and good intentions gone bad.
“Bad” is the keyword here, because we all know a story is absolute rubbish without a villain. Without the whale, Ahab and his buddy Ishmael are basically on a fishing trip. Without Count Olaf, the Baudelaire orphans would have been placed out of danger, and into the care of a loving foster parent. And without Voldemort, Harry would have been an average, unscarred boy-wizard who never spent a single night in a cupboard.
Villains make the story; they’re the axis on which it turns. In fact villains create heroes. There’s no need for heroism if there’s no one to save. But the best ones don’t think of themselves as villains at all. They’re the heroes of their own tales, and if you heard that tale from their point of view, you might even agree.
Arclight has two antagonistic forces, but I don’t think either of them would consider themselves “bad guys.”
The first is the Fade. They’re the monsters in the Dark that have ravaged the world, leaving only one outpost of inhabitable space for humans to occupy. They devour anything – and anyone – they touch. The novel’s main character is a girl who was the only survivor of a Fade attack, and that one encounter left her a terrified amnesiac with a bullet wound and memories of nearly drowning in the murky water where she hid herself until she was rescued. (That is one seriously long sentence, don’t read it all in one breath, or you’ll pass out.)
However, despite the literal darkness that encompasses the Fade and the wreck they’ve made of the world, they don’t believe they’re malicious. And there’s nothing more terrifying than someone who commits horrible acts based on the belief that the horror is justifiable if things improve once it’s over. You can’t sway someone like that.
If the story was told from the Fades’ point of view, they’d see the Arclight as the enemy. A ring of fire stabbing into the night and turning them all to ash and dust. They’d see themselves as advancing their own agendas and saving what they’ve decided is rightfully their world, not the humans’.
The other antagonist is more subtle. It’s one any teenager is familiar with, and that’s the struggle of an adult society that believes youth is synonymous with incapability.
Marina’s a survivor. In fact, every child of the Arclight is a survivor. They’ve all lost someone to the Fade and the Dark, and they’ve all accepted that life still has to continue without the ones who are gone. They’re scared, but they’re strong. Unfortunately, the adults who control their world can’t see that. They see children, and people in need of protection, and that gives rise to an environment of secrets and rules.
To piece together her past, Marina doesn’t only have to face the Fade; she has to find a way to make her protectors understand that she’s capable of taking care of herself and making her own decisions, and that’s a thing all teens have to face.
Of course the adults are doing what they think is best, and if asked, they would profess that belief. They’d never do anything to harm their children intentionally, but respect and responsibility are rarely given – they have to be taken, and that’s a fight, too.
So that’s it. That’s Arclight. Fighting monsters who don’t believe they’re evil, and fighting expectations that are set far too low. Taking sides, even if that means making an enemy out of someone who isn’t a villain at all. Saving the world, whether it thinks it needs saving or not.
I hope you read the novel, and I hope you enjoy it.
Thanks again for letting me stop by.
Look out for our review of Arclight, which is coming soon.