Anna North on Finding a Narrative Space Between Dystopia and Utopia
In Conversation with Mitzi Rapkin on the First Draft Podcast
First Draft: A Dialogue of Writing is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with fiction, nonfiction, essay writers, and poets, highlighting the voices of writers as they discuss their work, their craft, and the literary arts. Hosted by Mitzi Rapkin, First Draft celebrates creative writing and the individuals who are dedicated to bringing their carefully chosen words to print as well as the impact writers have on the world we live in.
From the episode:
Anna North: Something I thought about a lot when I was writing this book is that I didn’t want to write another dystopia. My first novel, America Pacifica, is a dystopia. And I really had a lot of fun writing that; it’s climate fiction. But I didn’t want to write another book like that, especially now. I wrote this before the pandemic, but even before that, the world was dystopian enough. I didn’t feel like I wanted to do that. My appetite for dystopia has become less and less over the years.
It’s not like the book is a utopia either, obviously—it describes a society that’s very bad for a lot of people. But I did want to put a society within a society, and that’s the Hole in the Wall Gang, that really offers a lot of freedom and a lot of joy and a chosen family and people that work together and care for each other. They obviously have a lot of problems and they fight, and the Kid’s plans are not always the best plans, and Ada makes some mistakes. But part of what I wanted to do was really show this group of people creating their own society that actually in a lot of ways could be something to aspire to.
Anna North is a journalist and a novelist. Her journalistic work currently focuses on reproductive health and the politics thereof. North is the author of three novels, Outlawed, America Pacifica and The Life and Death of Sophie Stark. She is also a senior reporter at Vox. She grew up in Los Angeles and lives in Brooklyn.