The blog is currently on hiatus, but I still have a few posts scheduled here and there because no matter how busy, crazy, crazy busy or totally exhausted that I might be this month with the paperwork, the cleaning, the furniture buying & assembling and the move... I want and NEED to share some things with you all!!
And one of the things that I REALLY NEED to share with you is my love for 5 to 1 and its author, Holly Bodger! I do hope to get to meet her at BEA with some luck! She was fantastic on assuring I got an ARC from NG and she was so nice to agree on coming over here for an interview!
Welcome and thank you so much for visiting my blog, Holly! Feel free to grab a cupcake and sit anywhere except where the two mini-dragons are!
- First off, I want to start asking you how did you end up writing a dystopian novel set in the Indian subcontinent? We don't get as much fiction written about India by a non-Indian author and even less a dystopian!
The story was inspired by a journal article I read about the effects of son preference and gender selection in countries such as India and China. Once I started to think about what is going to happen in these countries in the future, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I initially put the idea aside because I didn’t think the world needed another dystopian novel (even though I don’t really consider this book dystopian but I knew others would). When I realized I would not get the idea out of my head until I wrote it, I decided to just go for it. The rest is history!
- As someone that has been part of an Indian family for a few years and spent time in India and living the society from the inside, I love all the lil touches that make the book so realistic, like the different names for the family members and the like, how much reseach did you do? Anything very interesting or curious that you learnt but didn't end up using?
I did an insane amount of research and probably used only 5% of it in the book. I would have loved to go on and on about all the beauty and the ugly of India, but I needed to stay true to what Sudasa and Kiran would notice and so I had to leave a lot of that out. I also had to keep reminding myself that this Koyanagar had separated from India because they wanted to fix things, and so it would not have made sense for them to keep all the laws and customs of India.
- I love how your story was told in dual POV and how we get to see the two sides of the story and how the main characters see each other. Was that always part of the plan for the story or did it happen later as you were writing or editing? If so, who was the sole POV you started with?
I wrote the book entirely as verse from Sudasa’s point of view first. It was only when I was told that something was missing that I realized I needed to add Kiran, too. At the time, it had never occurred to me to write a half-verse, half-prose book, but now that I’ve done it, I can’t imagine it any way else!
- Your descriptions of Indian food and clothes and jewelry are fantastic! Have you worn a saree yet or do plan to? Your favourite Indian food? I do hope you'll get to try cheese naan soon!
I have not yet worn a sari, although I have a friend who says she’s going to put me in one soon! I do own a salwar kameez, a kurta, several dupattas, several pairs of juttis, and tons of Indian jewellery. I eat curry probably once a week (more often after Christmas and Thanksgiving since I love TURKEY CURRY!) My lack of cheese naan really deserves some kind of attention from a national foundation. J But don’t worry, I am going to be in New York several times this summer and I’m sure I’ll find it there!
- I love how your book uses a dystopian setting to explore big and important issues as feminism and gender equality. It seems like this world started as a way to protect the women from the horrible treatment that girls still get to this day in India, but those good intentions go awry pretty soon and oppression of the other gender is not a better option. I wonder how did you decide to turn the tables to make us see how wrong gender inequality is?
I did this for two reasons. The first was because the reality of gender selection is that countries such as India and China will soon find themselves without enough girls of marriageable age. As of 2011, India had 7 million more boys than girls under the age of 6. Fifteen years from now, that means there will be 7 million boys who can’t find a wife or partner. The girls who marry will have their pick of boys which is why I imagined them all ending up with the rich ones, thus gaining more riches and power for themselves.
The second reason I did this was because I felt like there were already enough people yelling about gender inequality from the rooftops and yet their words have been falling on deaf ears. I wanted to show the situation in a different way; in a way that shows that this will hurt boys too. That is the real crux of the situation: gender equality helps everyone while gender inequality hurts everyone.
- I'm a big fan of mehendi/mendhi and when I saw your cover I was in insta-love! How was the process of the cover? Were you involved at all or was it a stunning surprise for you too? Is there a particular meaning on the fishes drawn in the palms?
I am going to be interviewing my cover designer as part of my book launch blog tour and plan to ask her these same questions. I really had no idea what to expect and was extremely surprised when I saw the first comp of the cover. I’m guessing that she used the fish because of Kiran’s poem at the end, although I like to imagine that she knew I was a Pisces and wanted to incorporate that. J
- The ending of the book was quite open and although I'm sure it could stay as a standalone, I must confess to hope and wish for a sequel to see what else is there in this world! Might we be getting lucky? If so, will it be a proper sequel, a companion novel?
I would love to publish a sequel to this book. I always imagined it as a two-parter: one part in Sudasa’s world and the other in Kiran’s. I have also been thinking about the idea of a companion, however those thoughts are mostly still inside my head!
Thank you so very much for all your answers, Holly! Be sure to check your pockets and bag so neither dragons or sheep try to smuggle out! Take another cupcake for the way!
Mmmm, cake. You know the way to a girl’s heart!
5 TO 1 by Holly Badger
Publishing date: May 12th 2015
Knof Books for Young Readers
In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.
Sudasa, though, doesn't want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.
This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view-Sudasa's in verse and Kiran's in prose-allowing readers to experience both characters' pain and their brave struggle for hope.
About Holly Bodger:
HOLLY BODGER has a BA in English Literature and has spent her entire career in publishing. She is an active member of RWA and is a 2013 Golden Heart finalist in the Young Adult category. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.