A new book has arrived on my bookshelf - one which I've moved to the top of my To Be Read list: Kings Of A Dead World, by Jamie Mollart.
This looks to be an absolute corker of a read, so I invited Jamie to tell us all about it. But first, a little but about Jamie himself.
Jamie Mollart runs his own advertising company, and has won awards for marketing. He has taught novel writing for Writing East Midlands and is a long standing guest on the influential writers podcast Litopia. He's a member of the Climate Fiction Writers League, a group of global authors raising awareness about climate change through writing.
His debut novel, The Zoo, was on the Amazon Rising Stars 2015 list and Kings of a Dead World has some excellent early reviews:
‘Mollart’s intriguing and timely premise is executed with verve – Kings of a Dead World is filmic in its scope.’
Alison Moore, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
‘A haunting vision of the near-future with expert world-building and rich complex characters, Kings of a Dead World kept me gripped from beginning to end.’
Temi Oh, winner of the Alex Award
‘This is a frightening, thoughtful vision exploring where power lies when even the act of being awake is revolutionary.’
Aliya Whiteley, shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award
‘Kings of a Dead World intrigued me with its title and had me on page one. Mollart’s dystopian vision is as disturbing as it is brilliant.’
Giles Kristian, Sunday Times Bestselling author of Lancelot
My latest novel, Kings of a Dead World, is set in a near-future world where the resources have run dry and the governments have adopted an extreme solution - The Sleep. Under The Sleep, the majority of the population is placed into an enforced hibernation for three months then woken for one month to live their lives. While they Sleep a single person, the Janitor, is kept awake to look over them.
Elderly Ben is a Sleeper, struggling to survive and look after his wife, Rose, and to try and use the month Awake to experience their limited time together the best they can.
Janitor Peruzzi, on the other hand, has nothing but time, and doesn’t know what to do with it, so he spends his time frivolously, suffering from loneliness and a loss of purpose
As Rose deteriorates and the Creds that they rely on to survive reduce, Ben is forced to resort to extreme measures to keep Rose alive.
At the same time Peruzzi and his fellow Janitor, Slattery, find themselves out in the Sleeping world and are faced with the temptations of people with no-one to answer to.
Put down like that Kings of a Dead World seems very much a novel of the zeitgeist, discussing as it does the effects of climate change, and during the editing process throughout 2020 it felt worryingly prescient at times, but the novel was born from a number of things that have been bubbling in my mind for a long time.
What prompted me to write it?
I wanted to write a post-apocalyptic novel that seemed both plausible and not too far into the future, so that it could allow readers to face the end of the world as something urgent.
The problem with Climate Change is that it is too big a problem for us to imagine, I wanted to bring it right down to the immediate, personal level.
The book explores the idea of personal culpability; on an individual micro level, but also how they have an impact on the larger world.
Research for the novel was a lot of fun - I spent a lot of time reading classic sci-fi and watching sci-fi films. I tend to read around a subject rather than do intense specific research, so I watched Planet of the Apes, Omega Man and a lot of 70’s and 80’s sci fi, I read a lot of Ballard and Vonneghut. I’m not going to lie, I had an absolute blast, and as a result there’s a lot of easter eggs in there.
Keen eyed readers might spot American Werewolf in London, The Shining, Alien, 2001, Escape from New York and others which I’ve forgotten.
During the research phase I was sitting in a cafe with a friend (remember that?) and riffing around what human beings are capable of if there are no checks and balances.
My previous novel, The Zoo, was set in the world of advertising, which I know really well, so this time I had the added challenge of world building. This is the trick to a good novel - you need to know the world inside out and backwards, but only show enough to allow the reader to do the heavy lifting with their imagination.
I ended up using Pinterest to build a visual guide for me to work with, I’m a visual person so found this really useful, and looking back on it now it’s surprising how close the Pinterest board is to the actual world of the book. You can find it here if you’re interested:
Equally music is a really important part of my creative process and I like to build a soundscape that I write to, so Kings of a Dead World has got a whole Spotify soundtrack that includes the music that I was listening to as I wrote and edited the novel, along with songs that appear in the book. If you want to have a listen to my weirdly eclectic playlist it’s here:
While Kings of a Dead World was born out of some very serious concerns about the world and our place in it I set out to write a book which was pacy, fun and exciting to read. If it stays with people after they finish it as well then I will consider that a job well done.