Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Book: A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan was released this past August but I just learned about it this month. (And I had to include the blue cover for the UK release above. Which do you prefer?) The book is also available in ebook format in the US but I am not seeing a UK edition. Hmmm...

Book description from the publisher:

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose— hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire— is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes— or be left without any future at all.
May I just say here that we are getting some quite different fairy tale interpretations these days? There aren't many with a science fiction bent to them--my favorite has always been Tanith Lee's short story "Beauty" in Red as Blood, when, oh WHEN will that one be ebooked for eager readers?--although this one is being billed more as fantasy which may be merely marketing vagaries. No time for science fiction vs. fantasy semantics today especially since I haven't read the book yet and can't really classify it. But I am intrigued. The buzz claims it is dystopian, and yet not, so I am relieved since my personal tastes shy away from dystopian fiction. (I always feel like I am trying to write a paper as I read dystopian since the only science fiction and fantasy ever assigned in my schooling experience was dystopian literature. Killed me on it forever, I think.)

So far the professional and reader reviews for this one are really strong, too, an advantage of not learning about a book until a few months after its release date.

I didn't find a site for Sheehan, a debut author, but I found a great interview with her at The Enchanted Inkpot which I will quote a little below. (And hey, if you click through you'll also see some discussion of science fiction and fantasy, too!)

What was your inspiration for A LONG, LONG SLEEP? How did you decide to write a version of "Sleeping Beauty" set in a futuristic world... and how did your evil Plastine assassin come into play?

A Long Long Sleep was inspired as I had the thought that every parent has while chasing down an errant toddler – "If I could only put you on pause!" Of course, I’d never do such a thing, but I realized, there are people who would. And if so, what would that mean to the person who endured it? Of course, Sleeping Beauty did play a part. I always wondered how someone asleep for a century would reincorporate herself into a world that had moved on without her. About the same time as I was chasing that toddler, I had the good fortune to hear a writer – the screenwriter Blake Snyder – mention the phrase, "Stasis equals death." This meant that if your protagonist does not change his or her situation than it might as well be death. But the phrase resonated, and the book sprang from that.

The Plastine was an element that grew from the Bodyworlds exhibit – human corpses infused with plasticine and paraded around the world for entertainment and profit. It struck me as wholly amoral, akin to the Nazi’s who made buttons and soap out of human remains, so I took the concept a step further, and made that the antagonist. Really he’s a personification of the manipulation that Rose’s parents and that world has inflicted upon human beings. Rose was emotionally created by her parents. Otto was twisted by UniCorp. The Plastine is an extension of that manipulation of man.

--One of the things that really impressed me was how true you stayed to the themes of "Sleeping Beauty" (eg, the sleep as a retreat from the pressures of growing up). It's such a natural fit for a YA audience. Tell us a little about working with that aspect of the tale.

Ah, the joys of a wretched teenage experience. There’s nothing magic in being able to write an unhappy teenager. I was one. The fates have also decreed that I suffer from dysthymia – a consistent low level depression – meaning, among other things, that I’m often tired, and frequently suffer from insomnia as well. I’ve also had a lot of chronically depressed and/or abused friends. Drawing from the recurrent themes of my life to echo the themes of a novel wasn’t difficult at all.

--Have you always been a fairy tale fan? A science fiction fan? How did you go about combining those two genres? Was it a more challenging--or a more natural--pairing than one might expect?

I have adored both sci-fi and fantasy since I was old enough to blink. I fell in love with Star Trek and Doctor Who at four and six, respectively. I adored Diana Wynne Jones since the fourth grade, when a friend introduced me to her. I read faerie tales, yes, but I also read mythology for fun. People in my middle school thought I was mad when I checked out the Mabinogion – the original, not a dumbed down comprehensive of the stories. As far as blending the stories goes, it was easy. Faerie tale blends seamlessly with everything from literary to sci-fi to thriller. Faerie tale and myth is the truth of human experience, and therefore is easily made into a part of everything.

There's more on the site, including a possible sequel and another retelling in the works, so click through to read it all.

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