Monday, November 21, 2016

Realm Explorers Part CXVII: Visit The Valley of Slaves with Laura Frances

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:
Laura Frances

Title of book and/or series:
This is book one. The series and book two are yet to be titled!

Brief summary of the story:
There is no sun. There is no moon. There is only gray—the smog belched from coal-fueled factories. The Workers silently shuffle to their assigned posts. The Outcasts watch from the alley walls. On every corner, a Watcher stands stone-faced, a rifle in hand. This is the only life that exists. Beyond the mountains is a dream. But dreams are foolish in a place like this.

Hannah has spent nineteen years dodging Watchers and doing as she is told.

Do not look Watchers in the eye. Don't give them a reason to notice you.

But when she wakes to the valley exploding in revolution, Hannah is forced onto a dangerous path, where nothing is what she believed. Suddenly freedom is in her grasp, and the way there requires working with the men she once feared.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
Slave is set in a deep valley filled with factories and blanketed in smog. The residents of the valley have never seen the sky. It is a maze of dank alleys and bordered by high mountains.

If we were to visit the valley as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
I would recommend never visiting the valley as a tourist. In fact, it would never happen. The residents of the valley are a hidden people. No one enters or exits unless they are a Watcher or an expert needed for a factory.

What dangers should we avoid in the valley?
Don’t do anything to draw attention to yourself. Better to keep your head down, mouth shut, and eyes on your next step. Watchers are everywhere, and they don’t need a reason to kill you.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in the valley?
I hope you like plain oats. Workers are fed oats and dehydrated apples every day for lunch. Dinner will come from your cabinet of rations—probably a can of beans.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in the valley?
Only the Watchers have weapons. An assault rifle and a pistol strapped to their leg. Both require a fingerprint to use, so good luck trying to take one.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to the valley?
Workers walk. Technology is mediocre at best. There are some advances, like print scanners and whatever is needed for the manufacturing of goods. But the Workers rarely utilize it themselves. As far as animals go, the mountains are rumored to be filled with beasts. I don’t recommend trying to escape.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in the valley.
Sleep is nice. Staring at walls in the silence of your unit might be soothing. Really anything to try to mentally disconnect from the events of the day and the reality of life in the valley.

What is the political or government structure in the valley?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
The valley is governed by a panel of five leaders. They are called the Council. No one sees them, but occasionally they address the Workers from the speakers. The residents are policed by Watchers. They are the ones enforcing curfew, performing executions, and overseeing the daily labor.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I live in Japan, just a stone's throw from China. I am occasionally told I ought to wear a mask, because the pollution is high, blowing in across The Sea of Japan and The East China Sea. I watched a documentary some time ago about the high levels of smog in certain areas of China. One little girl was asked if she had ever seen stars. She said no. This stuck with me. The story is also in some ways inspired by my lifelong struggle with social anxiety. Fear, and becoming free from it, is a major theme in Slave.

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
There is a theme of finding our humanity and working to understand life from one another's perspective. Society is becoming more segregated, and I hope by this story that readers will be inspired to fight for one another...rather than against.

Author Autobiography:
Laura Frances was born in Heidelberg, Germany as a military brat. She grew up in Springfield, Missouri, and now lives in Osaka Prefecture, Japan, with her husband and two children. Slave is Laura’s debut novel.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book? 
You can download to Kindle here! For the moment, that is the only option. But I am releasing the print version very soon!

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to the valley.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world, in Realm Explorers Part CXVIII!
-Annie Douglass Lima

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