Friday, January 2, 2015
Featured Novel: 'It's A Nightmare' by Nicole Quinn
Nicole Quinn's dystopian weird fantasy novel It's A Nightmare (Book 1 of The Gold Stone Girl series) tells the story of Mina, a rogue DreamWeaver who's born in the Off-grid of the Night Mare's Winkin City, a world, where human females are kept as cattle, and licensed as domestic pets. She's found inside a willow tree, alongside lygaeidae hibernating as larva. Mina lives the life of a human-breeder, who discovers that in order to survive, she must change everything.
Quinn believes that women need empowered role models; Mina's story was born at the Women's International Film Festival in Miami, Floida, 2008, where her group's film Racing Daylight won Best USA Feature.The trailer for the winning international documentary featured hundreds of colorful cloth bundles clogging a two river swirl, somewhere in India. The crawl on the screen informed the audience that the bundles weret he bodies of castoff baby girls. That was the moment that made her wonder how she might tell the story, so when the mother throws her bundled baby girl into the water, it's to save her life. Quinn wondered how she might use this story to begin a deeper conversation about the gender war escalating in the world everyday.
Interview with Nicole Quinn
What do you think is the most powerful message you're sending through your works? And how do you portray it in "It's a Nightmare"?
That apathy is complicit. That women have better things to do than fight for their rights to be human, but if you drag us into this fray, expect a battle like you've never imagined. Ecology has been feminized and legislated, reproduction has been feminized and legislated, women's labor has been trivialized, and everyday advertising, which turns women's bodies into products, has set us on a dangerous path to dehumanization. I want humans to know that we're walking it.
Mina is a reluctant hero, but she also cannot believe herself worthless, no matter how much society tells her otherwise. Mina has a strong female role model in Dee-Dee, who, like Mina, had a non-traditional way of finding home.
Why do you describe your novel as "Feminist"?
The dictionary definition of "feminism" is: the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic quality to men.
But I think I've become more of a humanist, as it seems to be the ultimate goal of feminism, by definition. No, maybe a planet-ist, that might be the more accurate aspiration. As Earth's mega-fauna of the moment, we humans, collectively, are heedless of the rights of the planet's other species, living, and maybe living in a way that we cannot yet quantify.
My work is inherently feminist, a female protagonist on a hero's journey. All of my writing passes the Bechdel test, more than two women who talk to each other, about something other than a man.The Gold Stone Girl series is a cautionary tale about how easy it has become to trivialize women, asbitches and whores, as commodities in popular culture. A slippery slope to reclassification as abominations, as witches, as happened in the witch atrocities 1484-1750 a.d., an era which codified the rape culture in which we currently live. How small a step it is to breeder, no longer human, but 3/5 human, as the American slaves were classified, in an effort to rationalize that horror.
How do you portray the "gender war" in your story?
Human females are owned by the Night Mare's government-church. They are leased and licensed as domestic pets, or as sex workers in the Public Herd, or as bait for the Night Mare's monster shows. Throughout the series the Night Mare explains why she chose to demean her own gender, and exactly how she accomplished this subjugation, all of it just a whisper away from our present day.
Here's the trailer of the documentary film that inspired Quinn's book:
Were you influenced by Jane Austen's works in some way?
Absolutely. She wrote about women confined by the parameters of a restrictive world,and its laws. She understood that she was not property, and that she was. All of her heroines marry in the end, but with the radical notion thatthey did it on their own terms. She was dreaming a different world, aworld of partnerships, between acknowledged equals, radical, feminist.
It sounds like the world you developed is surreal, and you said that you've established rules that we might consider "outlandish". Could you tell us some of those rules?
All fantasy is outlandish, and yet if we make a world where the rules make sense inside that world, anything is possible.
In Winkin City everyone travels by screen, portals of energy that deliver information, and act as teleportation units. The screen feed is gathered by Paps, named for the ancient paparazzi, originally a character in a Fellini film. The Night Mare's Paps are random boy babies selected at birth to have camera lenses implanted where their eyes once were. Their tongues are removed to improve their focus.
In Blinkin all girls are circumcised and branded, rules that may seem outlandish, until Boko Haram kidnaps 200 girls and gets away with, until they kidnap 100 more women and children and no body cares. Outlandish, is really in-landish, just nudged slightly to the extreme.
What exactly are Dreamweavers and Dream Drifters? And how are they significant to the plot of your novel?
In the 27th century the rulers, an oil baron and the pharma kings, blow a hole in the side of the planet which precipitates the Great Collapse of Earth's seven continents. When the waters ebbed the half planet continent of Blinkin was what remained, and with it came a new polarity, the Night Mare and the Dream Weaver. The Night Mare co-opted her opposite and she now rules the day and the night.
A Dream Weaver has the ability to make her dreams come true, to travel into them, and to dream for others. A dream is possibility free floating, anyone might catch them, which is why they are outlawed in the Night Mare's Blinkin.
Dream Drifters are heron headed thugs, imported from off-planet to rid the Night Mare's Winkin City of dreams. They're as tall as three men standing on each other's shoulders. Drifters have four foot splintered beaks, scrawny arms, and bird claw hands. They wear sunshades to hide their dream addict eyes, and smelly wool overcoats that drag on the ground. Dream Drifters smell like wet towels left to mildew in the dank and dark. Drifters are the personal guard of the Night Mare herself. Allergic to the the fruit of the planet, Dream Drifters are outlawed from its consumption, to prevent them from growing to ginormous size and rampaging, but that doesn't stop it from happening, because most things in Blinkin are a nightmare. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------