Today we welcome Catherine Linka, a member of the class of January 2006 (the class with no name!) the buyer at an independent bookstore in Southern California, and author of A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS.
Avie knows her life is over when her dad “Contracts” her in marriage to raise money for his ailing biotech company. Jessop Hawkins has bought Avie to be his first lady as he runs for governor of California on the Paternalist ticket. But Avie’s lifelong friend and student revolutionary, Yates, believes she is “fearless”, and has the strength to flee to freedom in Canada. As Yates draws her into the underground world of Exodus, friendship turns to passion, and Avie must leave Yates, hoping they can reunite over the border.
This romantic spec fiction/political thriller is set in a contemporary America upended by the deaths of tens of millions of women from a synthetic hormone in meat. Teenage girls are the most valuable and restricted commodity in the country, “protected” by guards, gates and Paternal Controls on phones, internet and media. Avie’s journey takes her from the mansions of LA and Malibu to a hideout in an exclusive escort service in Las Vegas where she learns dangerous truths about who really controls the US government. Pursued by government agents as she heads for the border, Avie’s forced to find the courage Yates always believed she possessed.
Who was your favorite character to write and why.
I tend to love the one I’m with. Right now, my favorite character is a new character I’m introducing in the sequel. I love a good antagonist and he is way too fun to write. I wish I could tell you more, but this guy works all the angles and always has something new up his black leather sleeve.
What was the most difficult element to cut/change during the revision process and why?
Originally, A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS was set in the near future several years after a virus killed 50 million women of child bearing age. You would have thought that when the editor insisted I make it contemporary--oh, and kill 50 million women some other way than with a virus--that that would have completely freaked me out. Technically speaking, it is not easy to kill 50 million women in a relatively short span of time. But I was undaunted. Yes, I am dauntless.
What’s the weirdest thing you googled as research for your writing?
There were two things that I was sure were going to get me followed by Homeland Security: automatic weapons and survivalist blogs. I’m not a gun owner and I’d be the last person you’d ever associate with TEOTWAKI (The End Of The World As We Know It), but now I at least know what to put in a Bug Out Bag.
How did attending VCFA affect your writing?
I changed editors after I wrote A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS, and my new editor does not gravitate towards speculative fiction. Actually, over lunch she basically told me that it usually leaves her flat. However, my writing contains so much emotion that she found herself completely engaged. I think VCFA taught me to connect to my characters’ emotions so that even if I’m writing an action scene, I’m trying to get at what’s going on inside them.
What advice would you give a prospective VCFA student?
Be brave. Be ready to lose all the assumptions you came with and abandon yourself to these uncharted waters. It’s all good.
A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS has been nominated for the Amelia Bloomer Project by the Social Responsibilities Roundtable of the American Library Association-- no doubt more accolades to come!
A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS (St. Martin’s Press, May, 2014)