Interview with Gabe

Interviewer: Today, we are interviewing Seer Gabriel, an intermediate Seer at the Institution. How are you doing today, Gabriel?

Gabe: Please call me Gabe. Only The Keeper or my instructors call me “Gabriel,” and it drives me nuts.

Interviewer: Okay, Gabe. Mind if we ask you a few questions about yourself?

Gabe: Nope, that’s why I’m here!

Interviewer: First off, how would you describe yourself in just three words?

Gabe: Nosey, loyal and confident.

Interviewer: Nosey, huh? In what ways are you nosey?

Gabe: Well, whenever Beatrice has a Vision, I like to be there to hear it. Not many people get to hear the details, you see. The Keeper lets me hang around because I’m Bea’s friend, I guess. Sometimes, though, she sends me away. Lately, The Keeper’s been doing it more often than not, like she doesn’t want me to get too close to Bea or something. Maybe I’ll ruin her concentration? I don’t know.

Interviewer: And what does The Keeper do when she’s there, exactly?

Gabe: The Keeper is in charge of making sure everyone’s Visions are recorded and kept on file. When Beatrice has a Vision, The Keeper comes right away. It’s like, somehow, she knows when Bea’s going to get her Vision, even if The Keeper doesn’t always show up for the Visions of others. She has assistants.

Interviewer: Interesting. It’s not very often we’re offered insight as to what goes on in the Institution. It’s kept pretty secret. Anyway, next question: What kind of people do you dislike?

Gabe: I don’t like dishonest people. I hate it when friends keep things from me, or when others lie and cheat and scheme their way through their lives. We have this one Seer, Timothy, who does nothing but cheat his way through our exams, and who knows if he doesn’t make up details about his Visions. I don’t know how he’s earned his raven’s wings, but he did somehow, and it makes me so mad.

Interviewer: If I gave you an infinite amount of money, how would you spend it?

Gabe: I’d probably try to rebuild The City into something that looks a lot nicer and cleaner. It’s a filthy mess after The War. Then again, the whole world is probably a mess, so maybe I’d spend enough to fix up other places as well…if there are many other places. I can’t imagine that there are much more people left outside of what we have. Aside from the Dreamcatchers, I don’t know who else is out there.

Interviewer: Why isn’t the number eleven pronounced “onety-one?”

Gabe: What?

Interviewer: Nothing. Next question. If you were in charge of The City, what would be three things you’d want to change?

Gabe: To be in charge of The City, I’d have to be The Keeper, and I wouldn’t want to wish her responsibility on anyone. There’s just too much to do. But, I guess if I had to answer, the first thing I’d do was make it so that the Seers weren’t confined in The Institution all the time. The second thing I’d do was learn more about The Citizens, since there’s so much I don’t know about them and want to know. Like…why are they so complacent living under the guidance of the Seers? The third, I’d bring down the barriers and open The City up to any other survivors so we can all come and go as we please. What are we being kept from anyway? Maybe I’d like to go on some sort of vacation.

Interviewer: Seers go on vacation?

Gabe: No, but maybe we would if we weren’t barricaded inside The City.

Interviewer: Good point. And our last question of the evening is this: If you could choose to live the rest of your days out on a stranded island with any person, who would it be?

Gabe: Most definitely Beatrice. She’s the only person who gets me, and we’ve been friends for a long time. Ever since I could remember. I know she’s gotten to be really busy with all her Visions and how important they are, and sometimes I wish I could take some of that away from her so she didn’t have to do it all on her own. Maybe being on a stranded island would be the vacation the both of us need.

Interviewer: Thank you, Seer Gabe, for your time today. I know you have your Training Games to go to, so I’ll let you go now.

Gabe: See you!

 

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My Challenge to YA Dystopian Writers

Just before Thanksgiving, I finished reading The Giver with my 8th grade students. This was my first time teaching the novel, though certainly not my first time reading the book. I must have read it at least six or seven times through my schooling, and every single time, it never got old.

What surprised me the most about my experience teaching The Giver was the fact that students absolutely and completely adore it. I’ve never seen such enthusiasm before for literature out of a middle-schooler. My students would practically beg to read another chapter each day, and groan when I had to take a break to teach them the importance of style or metaphors. Even the most disinterested and unmotivated students would eagerly ask what page we are turning to so they could start their reading for the day.

I had to ask myself at the end of teaching this, what I could possibly teach them that they’d continue to have just as much passion for wanting to read. How could I top The Giver? And what exactly appeals to them about the novel that the barrier between their generation and books of any kind was permeated?

If you think about it, the dystopian YA market is huge, with The Hunger Games reigniting the flames of a subject matter that comes and goes. There’s nothing new about dystopians, from A Brave New World to A Handmaid’s Tale, they’ve all made their rounds in and out of popular fiction. But why do children love them so much? What about books that reflect the basest human instincts and behavior appeals to them? Why is it that they are so attracted to end-of-the-world stories?

Personally, I think that when they read about a world where the characters don’t have much of what the readers do have, the children are able to identify more with the struggle. You can ask them to imagine life without the internet for a month and watch the horror register on their face. After that, ask them how the world would be if there was no color. No feeling. No individuality. They will react in much the same way: confusion at how a world like that could exist, and the revulsion held for such a world that has more “withouts” than “withs.”

They will always be curious at how such a world would function because it is my belief that they are probably terrified at these scenarios. Reading about them is like watching a car crash – you just can’t look away. It’s why we keep turning the pages, even when we know that Jonas is eventually going to learn the truth of his community, that Katniss is going to have to face the death and destruction of innocents, and so on and so forth. What would happen if someone set the “reset” button on our world as we know it?

There may be a plethora of dystopians out there, but the truth of the matter is, they won’t ever get old to the readership (be it young or old), for as long as our world is constantly changing and challenging our ethics and morality, there will be books that push the boundaries even more. Children are moldable and vulnerable, and hopefully, they will take Lowry’s lesson about “Sameness,” and carry it with them long after they are out of my classroom. We need to show them how the world would be if you took away their  basic freedoms, challenge their morals and manipulate our social structure.

So this is my challenge to other dystopian YA writers: How will you change a child’s life by showing them a new world gone wrong while keeping them interested in reading?

Make it good.

Theme Song for My Second Book

This is my theme song for my second book. It’s called “Franklin” and it’s by my favorite band, Paramore. Enjoy!

 

Franklin

And when we get home, I know we won’t be home at all
This place we live, it is not where we belong
And I miss who we were in the town that we could call our own
Going back to get away after everything has changed

Could you remind me of a time when we were so alive?
(Everything has changed)
Do you remember that? Do you remember that?
(Everything has changed)
Could you help me push aside all that I have left behind?
(Everything has changed)
Do you remember that? Do you remember that?

So we stand here now and no one knows us at all
I won’t get used to this
I won’t get used to being gone
And going back won’t feel the same if we aren’t staying
Going back to get away after everything has changed

Could you remind me of a time when we were so alive?
(Everything has changed)
Do you remember that? Do you remember that?
(Everything has changed)
Could you help me push aside all that I have left behind?
(Everything has changed)
Do you remember that? Do you remember that?

Taking up our time
Taking up our time
Taking up our time
It’s taking up our time again
Go back we can’t go back at all
It’s taking up our time again
Go back we can’t go back at all
It’s taking up our time again
Go back we can’t go back at all
It’s taking up our time, taking up our time

Could you remind me of a time when we were so alive?
Do you remember that? Do you remember that?