Interview With Author Shaun Penney on his Post-Apocalyptic Novel, “The Death of Eve”
My pleasure. The Death of Eve takes place a hundred years in the future. In America, only four domed cities are known to survive after the effects of World War Three from decades past. Unforeseen events from the war have led to the discovery that mostly only male children have been born leading to a decrease in the female population. Efforts of creating women through test tube procedures were carried out only to be unknowingly halted after years of successful results. A military general with a shrouded past convinces the four separate domes to lead a team of doctors and scientists in the research of finding the answers while housing the remaining women in a hidden medical dome for their safety and for testing. The story begins two decades after this hidden fifth dome is created when the last of the women arrive.
Where did you get the ideas for the book?
I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic storytelling. I enjoy all forms of it and one day asked myself, how would a world react if there were only a few hundred women left in a dystopian future? This theme has been utilized in the work of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. My story focuses on a wide scale conspiracy and pits the last remnants of women all under one roof to survive in. Inspiration for my main characters came from the background story I had read concerning the formation and history of the Russian musical act t.A.T.u. I also wanted to introduce a new spin on an old form of combat specifically with katanas. By outlawing firearms in this future I made katanas a special weapon enforced by an elite squad of soldiers known as Sashurai. The blades use electro magnetism to manipulate metallic objects and as a result are much more potent and powerful weapons than their original forms.
A lot of post-apocalyptic fiction is written with a specific warning in mind. Do you feel that your novel is closely connected to events in today’s society and if so, what sort of thoughts would you like it to inspire in its readers?
I did not focus my story to mirror today’s events. I wanted to distance the world we know to the world that is in The Death of Eve as much as possible. I stripped away the main form of federal government and returned society into city states operating through trade and adopting laws that sometimes adapt into each dome. Every storyteller who utilizes a “World War Three” scenario breaks the world down and slowly builds it back up again either making it stronger, or in some cases making it worse. In this future, old racisms die, but new racisms are born. Animal instincts are suppressed only to return in unsettling ways. While there will always be a voice yelling in the society of today, in The Death of Eve, it’s very much a silent whisper.
Which one of your characters do you like the most? Is he or she the one you can relate to most closely? (Personally, I felt I could most easily relate to Mionne, which is sort of disconcerting for me seeing as how she’s practically Evil incarnate.)
*laughs* I like that. A little tough to answer straightforward, but I will say that Jessie was my favorite character all around, who I felt the closest to. She was the most compassionate straight out and made every choice with her heart. Everyone who knows me will say I related to Vanguard because he’s the one with the sword and the hair. But all five main characters have attributes that if all put together would make for a very weird looking me. Even Mionne had a method to her madness. What I have enjoyed hearing is that different people have chosen different characters to like or understand more.
Your book’s title, “The Death of Eve” could be interpreted as referring to the death of one woman in particular, or to the death of all women. Also, Vanguard is a character in your book, a warrior and leader of men, and a vanguard is a term that most often refers to the first line leading an army into battle. Do all your characters’ names carry some special significance?
I originally had attempted a method of naming all my characters so that they would appear androgynous in nature, containing both a male and female set. Those I kept in the end were Daniel (Danielle) and Jessie (Jesse). Carol was chosen because I wanted my main character to be the name of someone whom I’ve never met and to this day I’ve never known a Carol. Vanguard’s name is still a part of a mystery I have yet to unveil as this story is not over. And there is actually a third meaning to “The Death of Eve” as it pertains to Carol herself and the internal struggle she carries with her.
Your book is in part a love story and in a world where most of the female population has gone extinct, sex is used as a weapon and a tool of punishment and manipulation. Was it difficult to depict a real relationship, based on mutual trust and respect, side by side with so much violence?
Absolutely. Not every love story is a simple sell. Characters have to understand and care about each other and push themselves into that state where they’ll do anything to stay together. While this isn’t a “Love at first sight” story, it’s a story of love told through bonding and experience. Love also made the general make the most heartbreaking choices that the reader doesn’t understand until the end, building his history of antagonism with layers of sympathetic qualities. Carol’s love for Jessie was young and naive while Jessie’s love for Carol was focused and nurturing. In this story, there is no “one type” of love between two characters, and that was what made it real in my eyes.
Say the world ends tomorrow. How do you think we’ll all die?
I was one of those people fascinated by the concept that the Hadron Collider could accidentally do away with us. Particles ripping us to shreds would be a pretty gruesome end to the world.
If the apocalypse does come and you can only rescue three books to read over and over again until the end of the world, which books would you choose and why?
GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. A classic case that everything must be made fun of, including the apocalypse.
THE GRAND DESIGN by Stephen Hawking. I need something to read over and over again that I’ll never quite wrap my head around.
PRINCIPLES OF PHILOSOPHY (Mainly the Meditations on First Philosophy) by Rene Descartes. If in the end all you have is yourself and your thoughts, you might as well start at the beginning of doubt.
I know that you’re working on a sequel to “The Death of Eve”. Is it just one sequel or will there be more novels in the series?
This is intended to be a three book series. I am projecting book 2 to be released before the end of the year.
Is there anything you can reveal about the sequel without giving too much away?
Vanguard’s role as a character is increased including more on his history. I’ve left subtle hints in book 1 as to the plot points that will be focused on in book 2. You’ll be introduced to a new character hiding in Stark City. You’ll know more about the structure within Stark Cityand the force behind who controls it and how. Vanguard’s new antagonist makes Daniel’s abilities look like a child’s. You’ll find out more about the Uwemass and what their role is. And someone believed to be dead in book 1 isn’t dead. Thanks for the interview Kim!
Many thanks again to author Shaun Penney for taking the time to talk to us about his post-apocalyptic novel, “The Death of Eve”. If you’d like to purchase the book, or find out more about the author and his novel, you can do that here.