Sanctuary follows Sonny to a militarized city where he’s conscripted into the city’s guard. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that was different from book one?
Some ideas I wanted in my book were things like showing humanity and compassion towards others. Like how Sonny agreed to pretend to be Clara’s son Nathan or sparing a bandits life. Other ideas were defending their home by training the next generation for thinking ahead. The first book was mainly about survival while the second book was about finding a sanctuary and protecting it and its people inside.
I enjoyed the contrast between the sanctuary and the outside world. Was this dichotomy intentional or incidental to the story you wanted to tell?
It was completely intentional. In a dystopian world, it brings out the worst in people. So, it would make sense that certain people would be desperate for protection and supplies to stay alive. So much so that they would be willing to slaughter innocent people for it.
I thought this story had a unique setup and an interesting premise. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
I was inspired by many other stories such as The Walking Dead, The Road, The Last of Us, etc. These stories helped give me an idea of how savage people can be in an apocalyptic world. As for the story, I was inspired by some of Gary Paulsen’s books and Neal Shutterman’s books. Gary Paulsen can make you feel like you’re in the action, especially through the character’s point of view. Neal Shutterman helped me learn that stories can be more interesting if told through different character’s points of view and how their events with the main character’s events collide together can build up excitement.
This is book two in your Dark Days series. What can readers expect in book three?
I’m still developing it, but readers can expect a bigger scale in conflict with forces from the outside world. The Pacific Army is trying to reclaim America by expanding its territory, but with the limited number of soldiers and resources that can take a lot of time and be difficult. The characters are growing up so they can expect romance blossoming among them, some are figuring out their sexual identity. I’ll be developing issues and situations where the characters have to deal with the fact that sometimes there is no right thing to do in a dystopian environment or warzone. I’ll try to set up where they have to draw the line in complicated situations where it’s about right and wrong or it’s about staying alive and keeping your people alive. The main theme of The Dark Days series is about humanity struggling to stay in an apocalyptic world. That can be extremely hard and even impossible at certain times like that. There’s a lot I’m working with, but it’s still in development, so there’s gonna be changes before its release.
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Sanctuary is a fast paces post apocalyptic thriller where war envelopes the world and cities fall apart as anarchy reins and people start killing each other in the streets. What was your inspiration for the initial carnage and war that takes over the world and how does that push the development of the two main characters?
The inspiration was to write something that seemed plausible. The aim was to create a world where the reader would look at the news and wonder if what they were reading was fiction. So instead of having an easily detected outbreak of monsters or aliens, I wanted the process to be very insidious and start from the time that our characters figure out that something is going on. That’s also why there isn’t an omnipotent viewpoint and told from the character’s perspective. The goal was to have the reader right next to the characters and have the reader empathize with their decisions. The model I used was, unfortunately, modern civil war. Enemies are identified and rounded up. People cohere to the social structure that is still intact, put themselves in danger and go to work or school and cling to those they love. So I tried to make my characters realistic and let you see who they really are.
What I like about Sanctuary, and what sets it apart from other novels of it’s type, is that the main characters are minority women. Why did you feel that these characters were a better vehicle to move the story along in a post apocalyptic world?
To tell you the truth, that was probably subconscious. The original idea was just around JJ. I think I was frustrated seeing superficial formulaic women in the action genres. So I glued a few of my friends together and came up with her. Many of her lines are direct quotes. So imaging them in the story allowed me stay within character. Deeta was a logical choice because of the dietary issue, I actually didn’t come up with her until I started writing the opening sequence. I just decided to make her Kashmiri Hindu with a Muslim name. By doing this, she and her family had been marginalized even in their own country. As the story developed, I used her situation as I thought it would play out. When the characters took me into the story, I discovered they were just a little more cautious, more observant, suspicious than an average hero and that gave everything a lot more depth. Sadly, it also allowed me to realistically illustrate how our societies divide themselves along racial and predetermined prejudice under times of stress. That was not intentional when I started it, but if I wanted it to be believable, it had to go in.
There are a lot of modern issues weaved throughout the story, like; terrorism, internment camps, war in the middle east and Korea. What were some thing in the headlines today that made you think it would be a good fit for your story?
There is no shortage of headlines that could make it into the book. I could go to any of the news outlets and write five chapters. The Orlando shooting is probably the easiest, the the coup in Turkey, the stories coming out of the ISIS held territories, all of them could find a way in. But when I wrote this, I really tried to stay away from actual accounts. So instead of referencing a particular shooting or war crime, I wrote a scenario in a real setting where tensions are high. Then someone or a group of people would act out on those “what I’d really like to do” impulses. Then there would be the retaliation. Then I added random acts that would happen unpredictably without explanation. The scary part was that I really wasn’t that inaccurate.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be out?
I was asked to write a novella for a possible series about an assassin. This one was tough but turned out to be a lot of fun. This character is more imagination than anything else, but she was a ball to conjure up. After reading Sanctuary, a publisher asked me to write the story and for a minority woman to be the lead. And, as these things go, the people that asked for it may be getting out of the publishing business. So I’m shopping it around. The title is Siibay.
Deeta Nakshband, a Connecticut physician is attacked by a local surgeon while on duty in the hospital. Her friend, Janelle Jefferson, has similar experiences in Miami. Both of them become aware of an increasingly violent world as acts of isolated brutality escalate into civil unrest. They grapple with their paranoia as family members and coworkers become dangerously unpredictable. Worldwide, military units go rogue, war begins in Korea and cities implode as people slaughter each other in the streets. Martial law is declared in an attempt to maintain order. People are arrested, detainment camps are set up and interrogations end with tragic consequences as modern civilization crumbles. Deeta and Janelle band together with family friends and coworkers to save each other and find sanctuary.
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Ian Page has written a book that will change the readers view of how the typical apocalypse novels play out. This is unlike anything I have read before. One key difference is the apocalypse is not triggered by zombies, or a nuclear war that leaves the planet desolate. Instead there is a sickness that strikes in what appears to be a random selection of people. It is taking over the world, people and animals. Another refreshing difference is the main characters are not your typical white Americans. The first two characters that you meet are women, Deeta Nakshband, a doctor that was born in India and whose family moved to the US, and Janelle Jefferson, also called JJ, a bodybuilding black women from Bridgeport Connecticut. Both women have military experience. This breaks from the traditional lead characters you find in novels and puts this book in it’s own category from the start. Another key difference in Sanctuary is Ian Page’s ability to write like you are living with the characters. Most books focus on the action and fast track the reader though one action scene to the next throwing in some personal information in-between, sometimes feeling awkward or like you are looking back in time. Page brings the characters to life through their interactions with each other in the mundane day to day activities. Things like making a cup of tea, eating dinner, or working out are all part of the daily interactions that make the characters come to life. You really get to know them as they live and not just a quick bio to push the plot along. This personalization of the characters is what draws the reader in and keeps them turning the page to see how they all interact. I kept wondering, who will make it through this alive.
Some of the other characters in the book are Gary, who is a Buddist monk, adventure climber, and skilled fighter, the couple of Wesley and Hakura, that bring their own set of servile skills to the group, and various other doctors and family members. The world is coming apart all over. There is another world war brewing and hate crimes are skyrocketing. Reminiscent of the internment camps that were created in WWII for the Japanese citizens, Muslims are being rounded up as terrorists and detained for questioning. Deeta’s family tries to hold together despite many losses and terrifying close calls. She realized she needs to get her family and friends to a safe place. All the preparations that her collection of friends have been making are put into action and they set out for what is called the Sanctuary.
Santuary is a realistic contemporary story that plays off many of society’s current fears. Page talks about the conflict between North and South Korea, the conflict in Muslim countries, the fear and hate that infects society all through the world. All these modern and current issues are played out this this complex novel. The underlying message I feel though is that there are still good people out there that want to help others and are willing to do what is needed to keep society from falling into total despair.
If you are interested in modern timelines and current events this is a great novel. It is gruesome in its details at times. The murder scenes are vivid and plentiful. It’s an interesting look into the human mind and how people handle the stress and complex situations that the mass sickness brings out. Ian Page gives readers a glimpse into what humans are capable of, both good and bad. Sanctuary ends in a way that leaves room for a sequel and there is more than enough action left to happen, and many questions left unanswered as the book draws to a close.
Pages: 540 | ISBN: 192504792X
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