About Janet: Ms. McNulty began writing short stories at an early age. That passion continued through college until she published her first book: Legends Lost: Amborese under the pen name of Nova Rose. Since then she has gone on to publish a mystery series, children’s books, and even a dystopian series.
Recently, her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s causing her to visit her grandparent’s and record her grandfather’s memoirs before they become lost. The final result is Grandpa’s Stories: The 20th Century as My Grandfather Lived It. She did this to preserve her family history before it becomes lost.
Ms. McNulty currently lives in West Virginia where she enjoys hiking, being outside, crocheting, or simply sitting around and doing nothing. She continues writing. She is finishing up her dystopian series (the second book, Tempered Steel, is to be published in August 2013 and the final one, Liberty’s Torch, in November 2013).
My Interview with Janet McNulty
(I am bolded, Janet is not)
What inspired you to come up with the universe for the Dystopia series?
Our modern world inspired me the most in creating the world of Dystopia. Today we share everything via Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking site. All of our banking is done online. We conduct almost our entire lives through the internet. I got to thinking about how easy it is for someone to steal your identity by simply breaking into your online accounts. Then I decided what if we existed in an Orwellian—which if you think about it may not be too far from reality—type world, but with our modern technology. That is how Dystopia was born.
You write some on your blog about different methods to make a story more interesting. Can you share any tips on how you elevate your writing beyond the mundane?
The main tip I can share is to write in active voice. Too many modern authors use passive voice (words such as was, were, and anything ending in ing) which make for a boring story. Unfortunately, many think that this is how you are supposed to write because these same boring stories receive great reviews from the public. Proper writing is not taught in school anymore; at any level.
When I edit, I comb through each sentence and think about how I can make it more engaging. Now, sometimes you have to use the word was, and that’s okay. Just use it sparingly. A novel must stimulate the reader and portray vivid action. Anything less makes a person wonder why they bothered reading it. This is what I try to do and urge aspiring writers to do as well.
You write in a variety of genres. Which is your favorite to write? Do you find one more difficult than another?
My favorite genre to write is fantasy. In fantasy you can create anything. Because fantasy is known for having an imaginative landscape, what I write in it does not always have to make logical sense, so long as it fits in the storyline. The beauty about fantasy is that I can create my own creatures and not just the ones people typically think about.
Your heroin, Dana, is a strong young woman. How do you feel that writing strong female characters can help girls today?
I believe that portraying strong female characters helps young girls realize that they are capable of being independent and taking care of themselves. A lot of girls grow believing they need to be passive and not have a will of their own. For instance, I knew someone who believed that women were good for doing housework and doing as they’re told. However, at the same time I read the book Little Women. My favorite character from that book is Joe. While her sisters mostly do as their mother wishes, except for Amy who could be a bit of a brat sometimes, Joe was very strong willed. While everyone told her she needed to be more lady like and find a suitable husband, Joe decided that ice skating was more fun. In an era where women typically married and did not have careers, Joe became a novelist and earned her own living by finding employment. Though, she did eventually fall in love and marry. But Joe’s propensity to speak her mind when others thought she should be silent struck a chord with me.
I tried to take that character strength and make it part of Dana’s personality as well. Though, Dana lives in a different world and is capable of holding her own in a fight. But I believe characters such as Dana and Jo demonstrate for young girls that it is okay for them to have a will of their own; they don’t have to let people use them or control them.
What was your favorite passage to write in Liberty’s Torch?
My favorite passage to write was the speech that Dana gives at the end of the book. Her speech sums up the gist of the entire series. And for her to give it took a lot of gumption on her part. I will not give away the circumstances surrounding her speech as that would ruin the story.
Were you sad to see the end of the series, or were you happy to finally have everything on paper and be done with it?
Ending a series always carries a mixture of joy and sadness. The joy comes from the accomplishment. Whenever I start a new set of books, I am not always certain that I will finish it. Sometimes Life happens, or I get bored with it. Sometimes my writer’s block can be so bad that I won’t look at the manuscript for months or even a couple of years. So when I do finish a series I am elated that I can put it on the self of “finished projects.”
However, I also feel sad sometimes. When I wrote the Dystopian trilogy I spent over a year on it and six month of nonstop writing. When you pour that much of yourself into a project, it becomes part of you and you a part of it. I focused so heavily on Liberty’s Torch,, and the other two books, that when I finished I didn’t know what to do next. But the initial sadness at finishing a series is soon replaced by a sense of accomplishment, and the pleasure of watching people read and enjoy my work.
What projects are you working on in the future?
I am currently working on a science fiction series: Solaris. I have only just finished the first book and started the second one. I hope to have the first book (Solaris Seethes) out in the spring of 2014.
What do you enjoy outside of writing? Any favorite authors or books?
I love to go outside. Mostly I just sit on the back porch of my house, but if I can find a hiking trail I do. If the weather does not cooperate so that I can go out, I do crochet—though most of it looks horrible—and yes, I read. Most of what I read is fantasy, mystery/thrillers, science fiction, or dystopian.
I like George Orwell and his 1984 is a favorite of mine. But I also like J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I am also a fan of Harry Potter. Yes, I like Harry Potter. Sometimes I wish my school days were as interesting as his. But I found the stories fun and enjoyable.
About Liberty’s Torch
All it takes is one spark to ignite the flame of liberty.
Six months have passed since Dana and Kenny parted. Forced to live as a wanderer, Dana discovers a crashed drone and learns of the chaos within Dystopia and what President Klens has planned for the resistance. Realizing that she must go back, Dana acquires the help of a seventy-year-old man and an old friend. Upon her return, she finds that rebellion is in the air as the government continues to eliminate dissenters.
Forced to disguise herself, Dana searches for the resistance to tell them of President Klens’ plans. After a few run-ins with the officers and narrow escapes from Colonel Fernau—his obsession with her growing each day—she learns that the people of Dystopia yearn to be free from their oppression. What they need is a leader. Knowing that everyone she cares for will never be safe so long as the government reigns supreme, Dana must decide how far she is willing to go achieve freedom.
Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed, Janet! Do you have any questions for Janet? Leave them below!