To celebrate the release of Rachel’s Story by Leigh Russell which was published on the 6th of April, I’m thrilled to be sharing a guest post by the author.
In a world where food is scarce, the government rules and ordinary people only exist to serve, can there ever be happiness?
As a child, living in a post-apocalyptic world, the only person Rachel can rely on is her mother. But when her mother is killed, Rachel is initiated into The Programme where selected young girls are medicated to make them fertile.
Fearing for her future, Rachel escapes. But freedom comes at a price and Rachel must navigate through a terrifying landscape of persecution to survive.
What is on the other side of the city wall?
Will the repressive government hunt her down?
One thing is certain. Rachel’s world will never be the same again…
To find out more or to purchase the book, go to: https://geni.us/RachelStory_BHB
Why a Crime Writer turned to Dystopian Fiction
A number of people have asked me why I decided to write my first dystopian novel at this stage in my writing career. Given that RACHEL’S STORY is my twenty-fourth published novel that’s a fair question, and I’ve been asking myself the same thing. With twenty-three published crime books, including the million book selling Geraldine Steel series, I am fairly well established as a crime writer. My crime series is continuing, with five more titles scheduled for publication. So what led me to venture into Rachel’s dystopian world, and write my first post-apocalyptic novel?
In many ways, over the past year we’ve all been experiencing life in a different and terrible world. While our thoughts have often strayed into dark places during lockdown, we’ve had additional free time forced on us. Even those of us fortunate enough to continue their jobs from home have saved the time and stress of travelling to work. And no one welcomed the blanket ban on social interaction in the real world, which also left us with unwanted time on our hands. We’ve had to learn to cope with lockdown. For many of us that meant watching more television, reading more books and, for some of us, more writing.
So was it the effect of the pandemic that led my imagination wandering into a dystopian future? Quite possibly. Whatever the reason, the character of Rachel entered my mind one day and led me into her world, showing me a horrific possible future. I’m not talking about walking dead or zombies, or alien monsters from outer space. Stories about those are exciting and often brilliant. HG Wells’ Martians in ‘The War of the Worlds’, is still a powerful and chilling read, even 125 years after it was written, and I’ve been entertained and terrified by twenty-first century The Walking Dead.
In my own books I have always striven to stay as close to reality as possible. To my way of thinking, making my crime novels realistic makes them more frightening. I am horrified by the idea that the dreadful acts my characters commit could be happening in the house next door to mine. This sense of authenticity can help draw readers into the story. Perhaps this is what a reviewer in Canada meant when he wrote that Rachel’s Story seems ‘genuine’ making it ‘the best dystopian I have read in close to 10 years.’ I can only hope other readers will agree.
Writing a dystopian novel is a venture into the unknown for me, but every book we write takes us into the worlds of new characters, and unfamiliar relationships and events. So perhaps Rachel’s Story is not so very different to my earlier novels after all.
About Leigh Russell
Leigh Russell has had twenty-three crime novels published, and her Geraldine Steel crime series has sold well over a million copies. Rachel’s Story is her first dystopian novel. She chairs the judging panel for the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger Award, and is a Consultant Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund. Leigh lives in London, and has two daughters and a granddaughter.