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Friday 21 October 2016

ℚ♫ Autonomy - Jude Houghton

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Autonomy (, Kristell Ink, Grimbold Books, 565 pages), a New Adult Dystopian Science Fiction novel.

!! PRAISE !!

"Equal parts post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, Jude Houghton's mind-blowing epic tale of humankind's struggle to survive in a critically overpopulated world stripped of all its resources is nothing short of a science fiction masterwork. In the introduction of the 2006 reissue of Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s 1959 post-apocalyptic classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, author Mary Doria Russell described it as “a novel that will change all those who read it.” The same can be said for Houghton’s latest; it’s everything a science fiction novel should be—relentlessly entertaining and thematically profound."
Blue Ink Review  

"The concept of a gamified religion taps into a cultural obsession with instant gratification and validation while also emphasizing the performative nature of faith. However, Houghton's attention to detail doesn't overshadow the novel's emotional resonance. An immersive novel that chillingly predicts a world in which life is something to be escaped rather than experienced." - Kirkus Reviews

"Autonomy is designed to make the reader question the big picture of how economics, politics, and religion interact to influence the actions of the general public... Survival and happiness are rare treats in this gritty tale of world domination by money hungry elitists." - Readers' Favorite

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Jude Houghton; thank you for joining on BooksChatter and for sharing your playlist for Autonomy with us!

What was the inspiration for Autonomy?
"I wanted to write a book that anticipates where the world is headed in the next twenty years, and in doing so, had many sources of inspiration ranging from large macro issues such as global warming, over population, terrorism, the ubiquity of corporate interests in every aspect of government, to more idiosyncratic but equally pervasive trends; smart screens and technologies designed to both limit and enhance our minds, the willingness to abdicate real life experiences for instant gratification and the insidious manipulation of various media.

The actual idea for Autonomy came to me years ago while walking in Manhattan on a baking Summer’s day listening to the Aeneid and having one specific thought related to that epic poem. I remember exactly the street I was on when the thought occurred to me, but never thought I would actually write a book about it or what form that book would take. To give you some idea of how long ago this was – I was listening to the Aeneid on cassette tapes and my earphones were made out of sponge. How Tristram, Pasco and Balmoral cold possibly be linked to the trials and tribulations of Aeneas and the war in Latium would take too long to explain here!"
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Autonomy - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The artist is an amazing graphic designer called Ken Dawson who does a lot of covers for the Grimbold imprint, Kristell Ink. I was drawn to this concept because to me evokes the shining light of Balmoral Murraine’s character in a faceless, overpopulated, overworked world."
Why should we read Autonomy and what sets it apart from the rest?
"This is a great question. The book is in the genre of “dystopian science fiction” – and a very reasonable reaction to that genre is “…but it’s all been done before.” I also think this is a very difficult question for the author to answer, because ultimately the only opinion that counts in this matter is that of those who read it. In that spirit, below are some snippets from reviews that say what sets it apart; both from “science fiction” experts and every day readers."

Dystopian Realm - Blog
This is a world you must experience and a chilling vision of the future. It is a book of ideas and vision. Great dystopian atmosphere. A most worthy addition to the genre.
SF Crowsnest – Blog
I think this book stands out in that it takes dystopia, something that’s been done countless times before and gives it a fresh spin. The fast pace, having the story start early to avoid back-story… and the general atmosphere of the plot and world that just felt different, all make ‘Autonomy’ something unique… Also, if you like strong females, Balmoral is definitely an interesting one. It’s nice to see a woman who has the potential to tear the world apart, without involving swords or guns or any other form of physical force. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good female warrior, but what’s even better, is to see a woman using something other than physical strength to save the world.
Mary Enck – GoodReads
Jude Houghton has captured her characters in a net of fully fleshed, walking, breathing individuals. They really came alive for me as I was reading the stunning world where they exist. I cared about them, feared them, and wanted to run from some of them.
BlainFluff – Blog
…In the end, it was all about the story. The climactic finale had to have plenty of action and drama, given the heightened tone throughout – I was wondering whether Houghton would be able to ramp this up another notch, and I pleased that he managed to pull it off, tying up and bringing together all the elements in the narrative in a satisfying ending. All in all, this is an entertaining near-future thriller with a thought-provoking message embedded amongst all the action. It’s what science fiction does best.
Who is your favorite character or characters?
"My favorite character is, of course, the hero of the book – Balmoral Murraine. From a writing perspective, she practically wrote her own lines, navigating the desperate life into which she was born. I love the way she evolves during the novel. I love how strong she is, despite how much is thrown at her, and how she struggles to find humanity within herself despite knowing there is very little in the world around her.

I am also a big fan of the minor characters, and in this respect Mr. Glass is my favourite. He only appears for about a thousand words or so, but his attitude so clearly captures everything the Autonomy is about that I think he’s great. I like the way he is married to someone he can’t stand, but can’t do without, how he hates the world, but at the same time has a fleeting moment of compassion that ultimately changes the Autonomy.

In general, one of the things I found exciting about writing the novel was mentioning someone that I knew would play a bigger role later on, because then I could hardly wait to get there. Uni Su was like that. As soon as the great Steel Ball player appeared, this man who’d come from nothing in Sector 2 to become one of the most famous athletes in the world, I knew we had to meet him up close. I remember falling asleep dreaming about it, just how cool it would be to meet Uni Su; what he would be like, what he would say… when it eventually happens, it is one my favourite parts in the book and I loved writing it."
Who would you recommend Autonomy to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"This book is an attempt to stare at the world head on, and ask the question; where are we headed? For anyone curious about what a world dominated by technology and large corporations looks like, this may be of interest. Some reviews have cited that the book has graphic violence and is gruesome in parts. However, as a writer, I tried very hard not write anything violent for the sake of it. There is certainly nothing in the violence I have portrayed that isn’t happening in the world today. However, it is not for young readers!"
What is your writing process?
"Writing is difficult. There is no way around that fact. Every time I sit down to write, I am reminded of how tough it is. Tough to find the time - away from a real a job and in many cases, the family - tough to have the conviction that what you are doing is worthwhile, and tough to put something on the page that doesn’t make you cringe five minutes after writing it. Here are some things that capture my process, and make it just a little easier.

Stephen King, in On Writing, challenges the would be writer to do just two things. Read a lot. Write a lot. You cannot write without doing both of those things. He suggests 1,000 words a day. 1,000 words a day delivers a first draft in three-four months. It’s not easy to deliver on that commitment but hey…I began by saying writing was tough.

There are times when the characters stop talking to you, and times when a promising plot fizzles on the page. The danger is running into an extended period of writer’s block. Margaret Atwood has the best answer to this. Hold your hand in the air and do not put it down again until you have a sentence to write. Then see how long the block lasts. Once the ache sets in, it’s never long, believe me.

I saw an interview with Terry Pratchett towards the end of his life. He was talking about the difficulty of writing, and he said that the thing you have to realize is that a good idea is the easy part, that translating that idea to the page and making it come alive is the challenge, and as a writer, it shouldn’t be easy, and you have to confront that head on, every time. Ideas are like tinsel, anyone can have an idea, it's what you do with it that's the important thing.

And finally, often I find my head with characters, plot jumbled, trying to remember what someone said, or who did what to whom. This I guess is my piece of advice. Expect that, and don’t let it frustrate you, and power on. It will come. As one of Raymond Chandler’s characters said, My head is as fluffy as whipped cream, but not as sweet. I think that just about sums up how I feel most days. I try to get over it."
What is in store next?
"I have several projects on the go that I hope to have updates on in 2017. I am close to completing a mainstream fiction book, I have another science fiction book partially written, and have also done some work on the second book in The Songs of Seraphina trilogy. In a perfect world, all three would be done and scheduled to be published by this time next year. However, like many other writers I have a very demanding day job and a family whom I always try to put first, so getting all three done and into the hands of a willing publisher within the next twelve months maybe a little ambitious. Still, you’ve got to have goals!"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"My house has several pets running around. In no particular order, Daisy, the German Shepherd [pic below], absurdly entitled, but endlessly helpful, especially when it comes to cleaning up any food related spillages and bizarrely, raking leaves.

Two hermit crabs, whom to be frank, I don’t have much of a connection with. They only come out at night, the days, are much too bright. A fish. Lots of groundhogs, deer, chipmunks in the garden to the extent that if Snow White walked across the yard, I probably wouldn’t’ be surprised.

The latest addition to the household is a puppy… because we need more pets. He only arrived yesterday and is yet to be named. By the way, my vote on the name is Rufus (the red) but I have already been voted down by my eleven year-old and eight year-old. They want: Korby. Ewwww!"
Hello Daisy! You are beautiful!
Thank you for sharing!

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