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Books/Poetry/Member Fiction Discuss books or poems you've read or post poems or fiction you've written.

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Old 07-05-2016, 09:36 AM
SmallFlocksMom Female SmallFlocksMom is offline
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Default Wild Children (my dystopian novel)

For many years writing was a guilty pleasure for me, but with my husband's encouragement I started to take it more seriously and currently I'm trying to get published. It also helps now to have an enthusiastic audience, in the form of my two eldest girls (7 and 5 years old) for any children's fiction.

Wild Children is my most recently completed dystopian novel. It is essentially about what happens when basic human rights are dispensed with, "for the greater good", in a post-global-war context - and about how all too easily, a nation can find itself under the rule of a totalitarian regime with very sinister motives.

The main arc follows the fate of a group of 12-year-old orphans who are "discarded" by the government due to their "illegal" birth, and thrust into a survival situation in the wild abandoned land. Friendship, courage, resourcefulness and loyalty help them to survive and make a new life together.

Here's an excerpt:

"It was done. They were alone, all alone in the wild, abandoned space, far away from the orphanage, from Madam Hart’s cruelty, Mrs. Stocking’s care, Mr. Bradley’s instructions. Far away from lessons and bedtime, from unsatisfying but regular meals in the dining hall, far away from the showers and library. Far away from anything that might have given them grief or comfort. It was all over now. A new life began, but the concept was too strange and too grand to grasp at once.

“I think it must be about lunchtime,” said one of the girls, and even without checking the time, she was probably right. They had taken their meals at fixed hours for so long that their stomachs were more precise than alarm clocks.

“Well, we have food,” said a boy – in fact, Jimmy Stone, who was now making an admirable effort to hold up. “We could take out some of it.”

The orphanage, in fact, did provide some food for them to take along: tins of sardines and packets of crackers, canned meat, dried noodles, raisins, some salt… enough for a few days, not more. They were also given a change of clothes, some underwear, matches and candles, some basic medicine and bandages, flashlights and batteries, compasses and maps. Each backpack was topped off by a rolled-up sleeping bag.

“We shouldn’t touch our supplies yet,” Benjamin told Jimmy. “We should try to find something to eat.”

“What, here?” said the girl who had wanted lunch, looking about her rather suspiciously.

“’Course,” said Tom White lightly, “because if it turns out we can’t, we’re in deep trouble, aren’t we? That was the whole point of Bradley’s lessons.”
Now that they were out of school, he figured he needn’t bother to refer to the teacher as Mr. Bradley.

“Where should we start looking, then?” asked Jimmy Stone, picking up a handful of grass, rolling it between his fingers and smelling it, as though unsure whether he should try to taste it or not.

“We should get closer to the river,” said Benjamin. “We’re far more likely to find something there.”

He was a lot less confident than he sounded. He wasn’t at all sure they would find anything by the river. He did, however, dimly understand that at this moment, sounding certain was more important than being certain. It was what everybody needed: one person, at least, who seemed sure of what he’s doing. Otherwise, they would all break down and panic, and that would be the end.

He turned around and started walking towards the river. After a moment, he could hear everybody following him.

The children have never seen a river before. In fact, they have never seen a body of water setting its own boundaries – nothing except the steady, regulated flow of a tap or a shower. Now, right in front of them, there was a river flowing – flowing without any apparent purpose. Not to fill a pipe, or irrigate a field, or produce anything of value to humans. It was simply flowing, sparkling silver under the blue sky, and its banks were green. Benjamin squatted on the riverbank and put his hand in the water, letting the stream flow between his fingers, mesmerized. The river was smallish, but none of them were aware of it. To them, it was immense, and its course stretched west as far as the eye could see.

“Where do you think this river ends?” asked Elisa, squinting at the local map. “I wish we had asked Mr. Bradley which one it is. It could be any of these,” she frowned in puzzlement.

“What does it matter?” snapped one of the boys, David Oak. He always used to look a little aloof, as if he cared nothing about anything in the world. He didn’t look so indifferent now. In fact, he seemed, like almost everyone else, rather scared and lost. “Why should we care where this damn river ends? It’s all the same to us. No matter where you look, we’re in the middle of nothing. A great, big, empty nothing.”

“It might seem this way,” Elisa said patiently, “but by knowing where we are, we can better decide where to go. Even if every direction looks the same from here, there are bound to be differences. Some places will be better than others, you know.”

The boy made a noise of disbelief. Tom, looking at the river, asked something more to the purpose.

“Do you reckon this water is good for drinking?”

“Well, there’s only one way to find out, right?” said Benjamin, scooping up some water in his hand. A sharp intake of breath made him turn in Elisa’s direction. “What?” he said. “We ought to know. It’s important. In case you haven’t noticed, we all have only a small bottle of water each.”

And, having said that, he resolutely brought his face closer to the surface of the river. Small, rounded stones could be seen below the little rippling waves. The water looked perfectly clear, and the smell all around was very fresh. Benjamin scooped up some more water and made a bold swallow. Then another. He grinned.

“Well?” Tom said apprehensively.

“It’s good,” declared Benjamin. “It tastes just fine – a little different from the tap water at school, maybe – but it’s good.” He took another swallow. “It’s better than tap water,” he declared triumphantly.

Elisa gave an almost imperceptible frown and shake of the head, but said nothing. Benjamin understood. The long-term implications of drinking unfiltered water from a possibly polluted area were hardly known. However, what choice did they have? If there was fine-tasting water they could drink without becoming sick on the spot, well, that ought to be good enough for them right now.

“It doesn’t look deep,” said Tom, looking at the river. “We could wade across, make it to that wood on the other side.”

“What for?” asked a girl named Lauren. She had a long, dark, thick plait, and a few strands of hair came loose out of it. “It’s a lot nicer here, I think.”

“Tom is right,” said Elisa. “We’ll do better if we cross. It will be evening soon, and we’ll need shelter and firewood.”

... To tell you the truth I don't have much hopes to get this novel out via the traditional publishing route, because everywhere I've read it says that the dystopian market is saturated. But I'm still glad I wrote it.
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Old 07-09-2016, 12:08 AM
doc doc is offline
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I like your style. Keep on plugging.

The basic premise brings to mind the Hansl & Gretl story-- which was based on the real life problem in The Dark Ages when the cooling weather pattern led to low ag yields and wide-spread starvation: people actually abandoned their youngest children in the forest to fend for themselves.
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:48 AM
SmallFlocksMom Female SmallFlocksMom is offline
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Thank you! I never thought of the Hansl&Gretel story while I was writing, but it really is the same idea, only in a dystopian setting.
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:34 PM
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CountryGuy CountryGuy is offline
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Sounds like a good teaser... Keep at it, lots of self publishing and do something tru Amazon. Might not be a huge "book deal" but a chance to get your story out there and maybe even make a little bit of money.
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Old 07-31-2016, 09:53 AM
SmallFlocksMom Female SmallFlocksMom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CountryGuy View Post
Sounds like a good teaser... Keep at it, lots of self publishing and do something tru Amazon. Might not be a huge "book deal" but a chance to get your story out there and maybe even make a little bit of money.
Thank you. I do hope this book has a future.
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