Today I am excited to be part of Monica Leonelle’s Socialpunk blog tour.
Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.
I had to grab Socialpunk after reading the blurb. So when I had an opportunity to interview Monica Leonelle I just had to go for it.
Please give a warm welcome to Monica.
Me: Can you tell us something about the Chicago and setting of the book in Chicago ?
Monica: Yes, the book is set in Chicago. I love the city! It was an easy choice for me to set the book here, especially with the underground subways, which play a pivotal role in the book. Also, Chicago is really a city of snow, glass, and metal. The architecture is inspiring. So that just fit the style of the book perfectly, and it had to be in Chicago for me.
Me: Can you tell us some of your favorite bookshops in Chicago
Monica: I love the Barnes and Noble store on State and Jackson. It’s attached to DePaul. If you love huge bookstores, though, you’ll enjoy this one.I used to spend a ton of time at the Borders on Michigan Avenue, but it’s now a Top Shop. Don’t get me wrong, Top Shop is cool. That said, I’d rather have the bookstore back.
Me: Your favorite restaurant in Chicago
Monica: I love Carnivale, Mercadito, and Zed 451. One of my classic favorites is Custom House on Dearborn.
Me: Which places do you think are ‘must-see’ in Chicago?
Monica: The Bean is a fun one. I love the Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium. I recently visited the Art Institute and there are some amazing paintings there. Also, the Magnificent Mile is very cool. During the holidays, I love love love State Street and the Daly Center. If you come on St. Patrick’s day, go to the parade; the Chicago river is green! And if you want to see the lake, do a boat tour. They are wicked fun.
I could go on, but I don’t want to overwhelm people… let’s just say that I love Chicago and it’s a fun city to visit.
Excerpt #1: Prologue
After playing God for six years with the world he created, he couldn’t control any of his subjects, none at all. Over the years, he had watched them evolve and become the sum of their own choices rather than the sum of his; and for that, he regretted ever giving them life.
A small, blinking red light from just inside his eyelid reminded him of the news they sent him earlier that morning. The company had cancelled his funding and would shut down his project within three months. According to them, the project cost too much and took up too much space, and the inconclusive results couldn’t be published reputably, now or in the future.
Six years of his work, tens of thousands of lives at stake—and he could do nothing to save any of it. He bowed his head, letting his chin rest on the rim of his breakfast smoothie. The smoothie reeked of powder—crushed pills—but he supposed he had better get used to it. He wouldn’t be able to afford the luxury of real food after they canned him.
He closed his eyes and called up the camera view of one of his favorites, number 3281. She fascinated him; he couldn’t deny it. When he had designed her, her pre-teen rebelliousness lit fire in her eyes. A survivor, he’d thought. He’d meant for her to have it all—to grow up, to get married to the love of her life, and to have a beautiful family of her own someday.
But he had only given her sadness so far. Instead of creating a strict father, he had given her an abusive one. Instead of creating a loving boyfriend, he had given her a friend who could never love her. And instead of creating a strong, proud mother, he had given her a meek one, who watched the whole thing unfold and did nothing about it.
He looked at his last and final creation sitting in the chair across from him—his own son, not awakened yet. The law forbade him to have any children of his own, so this boy would substitute.
But he had done the unthinkable with this creation—he had bestowed on it his own thoughts, emotions, and decision-making processes. He’d given the boy his own mind, his own physical characteristics, his own wants and desires.
He had never done so with any of the others because of the dangers of investing too heavily in any one of his subjects. But who could he kid? He had not stayed objective thus far, watching some of his subjects more closely than others, wishing for the happiness of some at the expense of others. He had become an abomination, a monster of his own doing, who had created subjects only to watch them suffer.
He couldn’t forgive himself; not now, not ever. His eyes lingered on the vial that sat next to his breakfast smoothie, that he’d stowed away for the day when they destroyed all his work, his entire world. He would save it, tuck it away for now, for as long as he could protect them. When things spun out of his control, he would drink it and end himself the way he had ended them.
In the ancient stories, gods frequently gave their sons as gifts. Now, he would give his son as a gift to her, number 3281. So she could be happy in her last months on earth, before they destroyed her with the rest of them.