Today we're hosts on the awesome Chapter by Chapter book tour for Lisa T. Cresswell's book "Vessel."
We raved and reviewed the book here, but it's also available for purchase at all the links below!
Lisa's one of our favorite authors we've hosted many times here, so it's been awesome to be apart of this from the cover reveal, to the review, to the blog tour! We even managed to get a mini interview, which was supposed to be a guest post, but morphed in an interview with all the questions I asked, lol!
We've tried to address this once or twice on Twinja Book Reviews, but haven't read or reviewed many books with the subject matter. What was the motivation behind creating a main character of sexual abuse, and how do you think you handled/addressed it?
I didn't set out to write a book about a character that had been sexually abused. I don't even think I planned to write about a person of color when I was originally plotting the book. I just knew Alana was a slave and sexual abuse is one of the things that often happen to female slaves. It was a part of her experience, part of what made her the person she is, so it had to be a part of the story. I don't personally enjoy reading graphic descriptions of violence or sexual abuse, so I tend not to get into the nitty gritty details when I write. And I don't want to sensationalize sex and sexual violence in my writing by giving it center stage if it doesn't serve the story.
I guess I tend to think of Alana's story as being more about her recovery than her victimization. She's about as beaten down as a person could be and yet she finds the strength in herself to live. I don't have firsthand knowledge about what it's like to be a survivor of sexual abuse or slavery, so I sincerely hope that I've handled the subject carefully and with respect.
What world building went into Vessel? What inspired your dystopian world, and were there any parts about the lore a reader might miss?
I had a lot of fun with the world building, trying to imagine what would happen if most of the Earth lost its power sources. I studied anthropology in college and I'm fascinated by cultures and how the environment plays a part in the development of cultures. Our planet has the largest population it’s ever had right now.
I would say that's because of our technological advances in farming and animal food production have enabled us to feed huge masses of people, but how many people are not working in food production? In the densely populated cities, there are a lot of us who don't make food. We consume it, right? So you've got a whole bunch of people who are very dependent on a small group of people to feed them. You don't think about your dependency because you can go the store every day and buy food, if you've got the money, but what if those farmers couldn't transport it to you? Then where would you be?
The scenario in Vessel is that a massive solar storm has destroyed our communications and transportation abilities. We've lost all our data because it was all electronic. Most people don't know how to feed themselves and there's a huge famine, which kills most of the population.
The story actually takes place a generation or two after the storm. Life has reverted back to practically medieval times. The culture accepts multiple marriages because it's economically advantageous and the Sun has become regarded a deity because it's caused so much havoc. The fictional religion in Vessel is a whole 'nother story! So often in human history, we've seen how religion has been perverted to serve the interests of those in power and in Vessel, it's reach a whole new level of creepy.
I don't know if there's anything a reader might miss. I just hope the story makes them think a bit about their world and all the technology we take for granted.
You created a woman of color main character, but you made her intersectional. Was there a reason you choose not to stop at one?
This is a tough question to answer because it wasn't a conscious decision on my part to further marginalize Alana. Like I mentioned earlier, Alana is a slave and slaves are often horrifically abused. It's always a combination of physical and mental, and too often sexual. I'd like to point out that slavery still exists to this day, even though we'd like to think of it as a history book chapter. And overwhelmingly, slaves are people of color because most people on this planet are people of color.
Writing Vessel and researching slavery made me want to do something about it, so I'm donating a portion of my proceeds from the sale of the book to the International Justice Mission to fight modern day slavery. You can read about it on my blog via #EndSlavery
As for Alana, I hope she's a well rounded character with scars and a past that make her human like all of us. That's what's most important to me.
This is a personal question XD One that we've analyzed from reading your books, that we must know.
Why do you make the best boyfriends? ;p
I just try to write the kind of book boyfriends I would like to meet. I don't believe in insta-love. I don't believe in falling in love with someone you've got good reason to hate. I don't believe abusers are attractive. Those tropes never ring true to me. I just try to make my fictional relationships like real life relationships - a little awkward, bumpy at times, funny, sweet, and humanly flawed. I tend to like the artsy types, so there's usually a little of that too. I'm glad you like them.
Thanks for taking the time to host me on your blog Twinjas! You rock!
About The Author
Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play "The Queen of the Nile" at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that's why she went on to become a real life archaeologist?
Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press.
Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!
"This tour has been brought to you by Chapter by Chapter Book Tours"
Check out the giveaway for the e-book as well!