What inspired you to write The Island? (novel)
Initially, the fact that I wanted to participate in a dystopian writing contest in my home country inspired me to come up with something original that would fit into a 20,000-word novella without feeling too rushed. This meant I had to cut back on the character development but created a 'hook' - the WTF moment in this book has to do with the famous story of Star Wars. Want to know how that could possibly have a place in a dystopian story? Read the book!
Where does the idea of the Island (the place) came from?
For my plot idea, I needed a secluded place where my dystopian society could develop, and an island was the best choice.
What's life like in The Island? (is it possible to describe this without spoiling any part of the story?)
Life on the Island for the Eastern Islanders is as follows: at age ten, children are supposed to move out and live in the mansion (a place where everybody between 10 and 18 lives) and leave their parents behind. Once they decide to marry, they come back to their native village (called Newexter) and start their own families. They don't stay in touch with their parents at all; dependence on parents is seen as a sign of weakness.
On the western part of the Island is a different society of people and the Eastern Islanders call them 'the Fools'. They never encounter these people, because there is a wall separating one part of the island from the other. Everybody knows that Fools don't believe in their own power; they don't feel the Force within, but they rely on a savior coming to them from the World across the Waters. The people from Newexter thinks the other people on the western part of the island are deluded and, you guessed it, foolish for thinking so.
Why write dystopian?
Because of the writing contest :) but ever since reading Hunger Games and re-reading Fahrenheit 451, I was playing with the idea of writing a dystopian story. I just think the genre is so interesting because you can link up theories about what the future will be like with current world issues and make people think: what if..?
World building is important especially for dystopian novels. What do you think makes people love this particular genre? How hard is it to build a dystopian world?
If you want to build a dystopian world, you have to create a believable reason as to why the world came to be like that. However, I think it is even more important to make sure you understand your characters and give them a suitable life philosophy. The way people in your story act builds the most convincing world of all.
Can you tell us what it's like to be an indie author? A lot of readers have certain misconceptions about indie/self published books, some are reluctant to try them, what's it like? How hard/easy is it?
Well, in my home country, I am a trade-published author. That has its advantages (such as people taking care of promotion for you) but also some drawbacks (traditional publishing is slllooooww...) . I enjoy being an indie author abroad. I translate all my Dutch books into English for publication on Amazon. I can do whatever I like, so no one will ever tell me that I can't publish a particular book because it doesn't match up with the genre I write in - I have total freedom. So that is the easy part. The hard part is that you have to do all the promotion yourself, and it takes a huge amount of time. You want to make sure people discover your work, so you have to work on visibility, and that is tough.
I can totally see why some readers/bloggers are reluctant to try indie authors. While some dedicated indie authors really take the time to double- and triple-check their work and hire an editor as well, some others don't bother and just publish books with bad grammar, spelling mistakes and incoherent storylines - books that would never make it past the gatekeepers of big publishing houses. While some people might not mind reading books with spelling mistakes, I am always irked by it (maybe because I am a teacher of English myself so I have developed hawk eyes for mistakes! I have to stop myself from getting out the red pen sometimes ;)
What's the best part of being an author?
The best part for me is the process of writing. Just sitting down with some cool music on (right now I listen to Sting's 'The Soul Cages' a lot while writing the sequel to The Island) and creating a world from scratch and not worrying one bit about whether people are gonna love the stuff I write. I love writing it, and that's the most important thing at that moment.
The worst part is getting really bad reviews from people who somehow didn't 'get' the story. This has been kind of an issue for The Island, actually, because some Goodreads reviewers accused it of being Star Wars fanfic, which is absolutely, certainly, definitely isn't. I would hang my head in shame if I had to steal characters from other stories to populate mine! There is a clear definition of what fanfic is, and if people claim I wrote that and published it under my name to make money from, it tarnishes my reputation as a writer. But at the end of the day, I can't do anything about it - every reviewer is entitled to her/his own opinion, even if it is based on a false assumption or misunderstanding.
Is there anything you want to say to the readers?
Yes! I love reading as much as I love writing, and so I know that a lot of people are hungry for good books with original ideas that are well-executed and told with a great attention to detail. I vow that I will always try to bring something to the reading world that is new and different, so it adds something fresh and vaulable to what is already out there.
The Island (The Island #1) by Jen Minkman
Published June 1st 2013
‘I walk toward the sea. The endless surface of the water extends to the horizon, whichever way I look.
Our world is small. We are on our own, and we only have ourselves to depend on. We rely on the Force deep within us, as taught to us by our forefathers.
If I were to walk westward from here, I would come across a barrier – the Wall. Behind it, there are Fools. At least, that’s what everyone says.
I have never seen one.’
Leia lives on the Island, a world in which children leave their parents to take care of themselves when they are ten years old. Across this Island runs a wall that no one has ever crossed. The Fools living behind it are not amenable to reason – they believe in illusions. That’s what The Book says, the only thing left to the Eastern Islanders by their ancestors.
But when a strange man washes ashore and Leia meets a Fool face to face, her life will never be the same. Is what she and her friends believe about the Island really true?
Or is everyone in their world, in fact, a Fool?
(Please note: this novella contains a few references to the famous sci-fi movie Star Wars which are pivotal to the plot. None of the characters in The Island are in any way related to the characters in the movie. Leia is named after one of the ancient heroes of her culture/religion.)
Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Jen Minkman was born in Holland, in the town of Alphen aan den Rijn. When she was 19, she moved between The Hague, Salzburg (Austria), Brussels (Belgium) and Cambridge (UK) to complete her studies in intercultural communication. She is currently a teacher of English, career counsellor and teenage coach at a secondary school in Voorburg, Holland. She tries to read at least 100 books a year (and write a few, too!). She is a published author in her own country, and translates her own books from Dutch into English for self-publication.
In her spare time, she plays the piano, the guitar and the violin. For every novel she writes, she creates a soundtrack.
Follow her: Facebook | Twitter
WIN A PAPERBACK COPY OF THE ISLAND BY JEN MINKMAN!
Must be at least 13 years old to enter
Looking for more giveaways, nterviews and other awesome dystopian feature? Check the list below!
Character Interview with Josh + Giveaway: Aberrant by Ruth Silver