When I was in high school, we had dial-up internet so slow I couldn’t even use it to chat or check emails, let alone research for school projects. A faster internet speed simply wasn’t available in our area. Neither, unfortunately, was cell phone service. In the world of teenagers today, I would have been a sorry sight.
I made do with our limited technology, with the one local station our television antenna picked up because cable wasn’t offered so far out in the country. I read a lot of books. It shaped me into the person, into the author I am today.
As time went on, more technology became available in my area. High-speed internet. Cell phone signal improved. I started texting and chatting online with friends instead of talking on the phone. I joined the twenty-first century.
Then, for a time, I moved to Iqaluit, Nunavut.
Iqaluit is a small hub just outside the arctic circle. Up there, only one cell phone provider takes providence -- it didn’t happen to be mine. I got rid of my cell phone. What did I need it for, anyway? Everything in town was within walking distance. I communicated with my family down south via the landline or email. I broke the habit of checking my phone every few minutes for a new text. I threw it out entirely.
That far north, internet was established via a satellite connection, and not a very reliable one. Certain times of year, a solar flare would knock out the internet for hours, maybe days. I survived. I read books.
These days, ensconced just outside a small historic down in Ontario, Canada, I’m addicted to Twitter. I check my email four or five times a day. I still don’t carry a cell phone.
But, I must admit, I do watch television. I listen to the radio. I read articles on the internet. I embrace the variety of ways to interact in the modern world.
When I began writing Hellish Haven, a multicultural romance set in a future when the government monopolizes all media channels, it was a knee-jerk reaction to have my hero and heroine reaching for tech. A cell phone, radio communication while on a raid, the internet. But I realized that all of these avenues would be controlled by their enemies. They would be stuffed full of propaganda and subliminal messages. They would, in part, control the populace. Brainwash them.
So Eva, Grant, and the rebels wouldn’t be able to touch such technology.
That lack of communications technology has its faults, too. It makes it more difficult to control timing between military divisions fighting the government. When something goes wrong, the soldiers don’t have the luxury of calling for help. They have to deal with problems on their own. In the bleakest of times, media helps to distract us. Television and books allow us an escape into a life not our own. Music drowns out noises and feelings we would rather not experience.
Without the luxury of that technology, you can’t drown out the sound of bullets just outside your house, let alone the paralyzing fear that the attackers will penetrate your defenses. You can’t forget the gnawing in your belly when you can’t scrounge up enough food. That lack, I think, is what makes the freedom fighters in Hellish Haven all the more brave, all the more strong. If they can continue, day after day, year after year, without even the smallest comfort or distraction, they can overcome any obstacle.
Would you be able to live without those comforts we take for granted? I don’t know if I have the mettle.
Genre: Dystopian Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.,
Lyrical Press Imprint
Date of Publication: November 17, 2014
Number of pages: 72
Word Count: 33,718
Cover Artist: Renee Rocco
Two lives. Two realities. But only one truth.
The Senator reigns all-powerful in a manifested picture-perfect world. No worries. No wars. Only the unspoken threat of oblivion if you step a toe out of line. On the other side of the divide, the rebels face a debilitating war against an invulnerable robotic army. Every day is a struggle to earn back their freedoms. Freedom to feel. Freedom of speech. Freedom of thought.
Sergeant Grant Baker is pivotal to the war effort. But ever since his wife’s abduction, he’s been walking around in as much of a daze as the Senator’s brainwashed citizens. Then Eva reappears—without memories of him or their son. And he’s willing to do anything to keep her. Even if it means jeopardizing the war.
Eva doesn’t know which side to believe. Her predictable life as a single nurse, or the man claiming to be her husband. All she knows is she needs to discover how to end the war, quickly. If she doesn’t choose sides soon, she may lose the man—and the life—she never knew she wanted.
Acting as vanguard for the injured squad, Grant turned a corner and froze. A hulky man carried a limp woman over his shoulder.
Grant automatically reached for his gun. Even if they weren’t yet across the divide, he couldn’t stand idle as a man accosted a woman. Or worse. He aimed the rifle at the criminal. “Set her down nice and easy.”
The man froze. He glanced over one meaty shoulder, his unshaven mouth set in a scowl.
“Set her down, or I’ll shoot.”
A gold tooth flashed as the criminal grinned. He hurled the small woman at Grant and dashed for the slim space between two buildings.
Grant moved without thinking. His gun clattered to the ground as he lunged forward to catch the woman before she split her head open on the sidewalk. He grunted as he caught her with her weight against his bruised forearms. He shot a flickering glance her way. A riot of brown curls obscured her face. He set her gently on the ground.
He dashed for the opening the shady figure had disappeared into, but saw no sight of the man. The delinquent was long gone.
Ashland panted as he jogged to Grant’s side. “What happened?”
If Grant never heard that question again, it would be too soon. He shook his head wearily. “Mugging, I guess.”
“They still have those here? I thought the Senator brought an end to violence.” Ashland drew sarcastic quotes in the air as he spoke.
Grant didn’t bother to answer. He turned to the woman and where his squad was now gathered. A horrified private glanced from the woman to Grant and back again. “What do you want us to do with her…sir?”
If they left her, the Senator’s people might find her and stick her back in the pen with the rest of their brainwashed sheep. Then again, that same goon might double back to continue what he started.
He crossed to the woman and crouched to lift her into his arms. Her tangled hair fell away from her face. He nearly dropped her. “Eva?”
Frantically, he pressed his ear to her chest. Her breathing was shallow, but her heartbeat steady and strong. He clutched her tighter. He couldn’t believe it.
He’d found his wife.
About the Author:
L.K. Below wrote Hellish Haven to bring her love of Orwell’s classic 1984 into the modern day…or near future, as it turns out.
She reads as obsessively as she writes and likes to Tweet about both at @LBelowtheauthor.