The Novelry Blog

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Writing Dystopian Novels Feb 07, 2021

From the Desk of Polly Ho-Yen

I’ve written a dystopia.

It feels like a confession I have to make. I see their eyes glaze over a little when I tell people because really, right here, right now, why would we want to sink ourselves into a world with an inescapable, nightmarish quality built into its core? 

I didn’t mean to do it, I sometimes say, remembering how it began.

It started with a sentence: ‘Mimi was three the last time that I saw her’. I only knew two things as I blindly wrote these words: this story was set in a world where parenting was being monitored to an excessive degree and the mother, my protagonist, would be separated from her young daughter.

I shudder now to remember how little I knew going in. 

I’d had the idea about parenting being monitored after experiencing school inspections as a teacher. They’d filled me, and my colleagues, with such dread, cloying paranoia and a constant sense of failure that placing a...

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