Learning from dystopian characters

I often get asked why I chose to write post-apocalyptic/dystopian books and, though there's no real answer since I didn't actually decide to write in a certain genre, I love dystopian fiction and can see its many merits. For me the fascination with the genre lies in the characters more than in the setting - which might sound strange, considering how important world building in dystopian literature is. But what really draws me in is reading about the characters' struggles and see them discover their strength and overcome their fears. It makes me think about the strength in each of us, what we're capable of and what we really need to survive.
Many of us will never have to forgo food and water for days, or live without daylight and electricity. Sometimes dystopian books make me wonder what we really need? How many of the things we're using every day are really necessary and not just something we're using out of habit or because we're too lazy to look for alternatives?
Do I really need to drive everywhere with my car? Do I need that third cup of coffee?
I always thought I couldn't live without meat. My mom had always cooked with lots of meat, and when my husband and I moved in together I kept up that habit. It was something I thought I needed and couldn't live without, but then three months ago I (and the husband too) became vegetarian and you know what? Breaking a life long habit wasn't that difficult and I don't actually need meat. I think in today's society it can be liberating to forego certain things - not because you have to but because you want to. And inspired by some post-apocalyptic settings, I'm thinking about other things in my life I could live without. We'll see which habit I'll lose next!
Of course, I might have to reconsider my vegetarian ways if I ever became a zombie, but until then...

Are there any things in your life you thought you couldn't live without and then suddenly did? Or is there something you want to do without in the future?

Btw, I'm having an international ARC giveaway on my blog if you're interested!


SJ Griffo said...

Yes, I thought I'd never be able to live without bread and cheese. Then I discovered I was gluten and casein intolerant and had to give up both. Then I started on the Paleo diet and eliminated all grains and sugar. At first it wasn't easy, but now I don't think about those foods anymore.

We are in the process of paring down our belongings and living as simply as possible. We don't have smart phones or brand-new electronics, and someday we will live on the road in an RV.

I too write dystopian fiction. (For adults.) I too love to create characters who struggle, not only with basic needs, but with ideas and ideologies. I think history is cyclical, and my writing is really about the big-picture struggles of good vs. evil and freedom vs. tyranny.

Artemis Grey said...

I will forever and always love writing/reading dystopian stories for the same reasons you've listed. I just can't help myself, even though I've been told that right now it's a very difficult sell to prospective agents and publishing houses.

As for what I thought I'd never be able to go without but suddenly did: BREAD Okay, I don't have to go entirely without, but I've had to go gluten free. I'm Irish/Italian, so facing the 'loss' of bread was like that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where they're trying to explain that he's a vegetarian and the mom is like 'Lamb, I'll cook him lamb. Lamb's not meat.' Yeah, I was like, there can be no life after bread. But then I discovered that my body will not shrivel up and decay without the consumption of an entire loaf of bread :)