In the world of books, the dystopian genre has made quite a comeback. From hit series like The Hunger Games and Divergent to classics like 1984, the amount of dystopian novels, and the number of people reading them, showed the genre is alive and well.
For author and former Ely resident Shaunta Grimes, her latest novel Viral Nation, the first in a series, is joining the dystopian genre Inspired by authors such as Philip K. Dick, James Dashner, Octavia Butler and Nancy Farmer, Grimes hopes audiences connect with the story.
“What I love the most about dystopian stories is the way they combine really compelling plots with strong characters,” Grimes said. “You can’t have one without the other in this type of book. I am drawn to the idea that in a book, you can really think about the things that are hard to think about in real life. I love the way that they demand world building, but still often stay true to the real world.”
This year may be a good time for interest readers to check the novel out, the sequel, Rebel Nation, is due out next July. In the world of Viral Nation, cities are walled off after a virus nearly wiped out the world’s population. The Company ended the plague by releasing a vaccine and control rations, as well as monitor future timelines to prevent crimes. Clover Donovan, an autistic 16-year-old girl, discovers information that will force her to face The Company.
“When I wrote Viral Nation, I asked myself how I thought the U.S. would respond to an event big enough and bad enough to actually threaten the structure of the country,” Grimes said. “The purpose of the walled cities is to keep the population, however small, in every state – to maintain the integrity and ownership of the union. As I was writing the first draft of my book, a man was executed via firing squad, which inspired some of the justice system aspects.”
The novel features elements of science fiction, realism and more. As Grimes worked to write Viral Nation, one aspect proved to be the most difficult.
“Hands down, the hardest part was the time travel,” Grimes said. “I had to have charts to keep myself organized. Figuring out how to cope with paradoxes and writing them into the story required a lot of thought and preparation. The main character, Clover, has autism, and writing her was also equal parts rewarding and difficult. I wanted people to connect with someone who has a condition that makes it difficult to connect with her. I also wanted to be authentic to the experience of living with autism, which is something I only have second-hand experience with.”
Grimes isn’t sure how far she will take this story, but that she’d like to “Take this story as far as the readers want to follow it.” If readers do connect to the series, Grimes said there are a lot of stories to tell.
“As I was writing Viral Nation, I knew that it was the first in a series,” Grimes said. “It’s a big story in a big world, and there is a lot more to tell. But I didn’t plot out beyond book one, because I knew that if it didn’t sell I’d move on to something else. I didn’t even plot out book one; I just started at the beginning and wrote through to the end. I’ve plotted out book two all the way through, because I’m working with an editor now, and have ideas for a possible book three.”
For more information about Viral Nation, please visit www.shauntagrimes. com. As Grimes hopes to continue the story she started with Viral Nation, most importantly, she hopes her readers want to as well.
“I hope they get a good story,” Grimes said. “I hope they fall in love with my characters and with Nevada and want to read the next book.”