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New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.
The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.
There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.
Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.
Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.
That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.
- Could you please tell us a bit more about yourself?
Sure! I was raised on a cattle ranch in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which is a really beautiful place. In high school I met the boy who would one day become my husband. I went to several colleges before finally getting a degree in psychology, and a master's in social work, which is the field I worked in for many years before I signed a contract with my publisher.
- Why did you choose to write a dystopian book, and what was the worst part of working with this genre?
I love survivor stories, and dystopian books create an atmosphere in which the world has taken on a dangerous, oppressive feel, and regular people (like me!) are forced to survive and fight back or succumb to the powers that exist. There's something honorable and inspiring about that. The worst part? Well, I suppose I should admit I didn't realize what a "dystopian" was before I wrote it. In hindsight I would have been much more concerned about the high volume of great books out there right now. At the time I was just writing a book I thought I'd want to read.
- Did some book/author inspire you someway while you were writing Article 5?
I'm inspired by almost everything I read in one way or another. I love reading contemporaries for their teenage angst, humor, and romantic tension. I love reading fantasy and adventure stories for their ability to pull you from reality and make you see the bigger picture. Although I read this years ago, I think THE ROAD, by Cormac McCarthy is one of the cornerstones of dystopian literature. It’s not fully explained what happened or how the world became that way, it just is, and the characters are forced to deal with it. It got me thinking, what would we do if we remembered what it was like before the world fell apart? If teenagers remembered going to school and hanging out late on Friday night, but now must abide by a curfew and go to a soup kitchen to get their meals? And what if, like many people, they never took advantage of how good things were until they were taken away? Often, we complain about how terrible things are, but if the apocalypse actually happened this year, many of us will be looking back on this time and saying, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I didn’t appreciate all the luxuries that I actually did have.
- If you had a time machine, would you go back in time and change something in your book?
Oh, trust me, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think, "that line's still not quite right, I wish I would have said this word instead of that word..." Such is the curse of the writer, I suppose.
- With which character do you relate to the most?
I identify with all of them at least a little bit. We all have the capacity for strength and kindness and honor, but also rage and cruelty. That being said, I probably relate most to Ember, because like her, I’m a little tenacious, and also like her, I’m a little in love with Chase. But she’s braver than I could ever be.
- Article 5 is the first book in a trilogy. If you had to tell us what to expect from the next book in the series with just one word, what would it be?
- Thank you for answering the questions, Mrs. Simmons! It was wonderful having you here today! <3
Thank you, Beatriz! This was very fun!