The Separation follows Finn as he struggles to live in a world that separates the sexes and removes children from parents. Did you know where you were going when you started writing or did you let things happen organically?
This novel is actually part of a trilogy. I am currently working on the sequel, “United.” I had this great idea and created three stories based on the characters and storyline. Of course, some of the plot was initially simply outlined and then fleshed out significantly during the actual writing process. I am proud of this book. I think it touches on topics that are universal and of great interest to society today.
This book has a unique resolution to a real overpopulation problem. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
I wanted to address issues that are of great urgency in society today. Without bringing any of my own politics into this interview, I think the novel touches on provocative themes and pressing problems in society today. I won’t reveal all of them because I don’t want to give away the book. I feel this, above all my other work, is a must read. But, overpopulation is a real issue and I think this book addresses the topic head on.
Because the sexes are separated in the story, this makes for some great ‘worlds colliding’ type moments. What was your inspiration behind Finn and Angela’s relationship in the novel?
Their relationship is based on the fact that men and women are going to be different and have viewpoints on the separation (and on life in general) that are not necessarily identical. However, men and women do need each other in many respects. They complete each other in their own complex way. I wanted their relationship to reflect that.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on part two of this trilogy—-“United”–which will be out early in 2019!
In the distant future, there is a separation of the sexes at birth for the good of society. Financial needs, above all else, have led to such drastic measures. The Separation is the story of the life of a male named Finn. The book traces his life at birth and continues past his “education” as well as beyond the time when he ultimately learns of the opposite sex. What will result from the revelation of a female society? Finn may wish he never found out. This is a story of the consequences of needs, desires and answers to questions that sometimes should not be asked.
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It’s the 22nd century and the world is overpopulated and under-educated. To combat this, the government has decided that male and female students will be segregated for their first 22 years of life. They will have no knowledge of the opposite sex or of their parents. Finn is a brilliant and questioning student, but his intelligence leads him to test boundaries and break rules. When he enters the real world he meets Angela, and they have a son, Leonardo, who awaits the same fate of separation. But Finn cannot let go of his son that easily, and he begins to tread on very dangerous ground…
The Separation by Thomas Duffy is a dystopian speculative fiction novel. Duffy has written a story with a fascinating premise, and some hefty themes are handled deftly by the author. Topics of religion, sex, gender and class are woven through the narrative, and many of the questions posed are philosophical ones such as ‘what is really important?’ and ‘what constitutes a ‘good’ life?’ There are interesting reflections on the complexity of human desire, governmental control, finding meaning in the world, and whether career or love is more important–all of which feel quite relevant in today’s world.
Finn makes for a very likeable hero, behaving in ways which are extremely relatable and understandable considering his circumstances. Duffy has written an empathetic protagonist, which isn’t always the case with dystopian fiction, and I was really rooting for him throughout. Some of the other characters, including Angela, remain quite one dimensional which limited me in really believing in, or caring about, her relationship with Finn. I would have liked some more well rounded female protagonists, but perhaps this was a technique used by the author to represent how detached the sexes are.
The book is written mainly in the third-person limited narrative with the focus on Finn, but we get insight into Angela’s thoughts and feelings too which helped me to feel slightly less detached from her. The writing is full of dialogue and at times it is weighed down with exposition—unfortunately, this made a lot of the dialogue feel quite heavy handed and not particularly natural. I particularly struggled with the conversations between Finn and Angela which were lacking in real emotion. Again, this could have been a mechanism used by Duffy to portray their stunted development when it comes to relationships/the opposite sex and communication. Despite this, the narrative moves at a fairly steady pace. I enjoyed watching Finn’s misdemeanours unfold, and there was plenty of action and intrigue to keep me turning pages.
Overall, this is a fascinating addition to sci-fi/dystopian fiction which might leave you in a slight existential crisis! It throws up profound questions about what is truly important in life, and if this sounds a little too intense, there are also lots of unexpected twists, turns and excitement to keep you on your toes.
Pages: 306 | ASIN: B078YRNM8M
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To Never Know depicts the story of Steven and how he is affected by his life choices and forces beyond his control. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The story is loosely based on the time period I was in high school up until the time I reached my mid-twenties. I always wondered what life could have been like had I taken more risks when I was a teenager. I was in Florida at the time of 9/11 and right as it happened, I wondered if any of my friends or acquaintances had been affected. There was no Facebook back then so it was more difficult to keep in touch with old friends and classmates at that time. The idea became a story which I felt should be told regarding love, loss and the importance of taking risks in life. You never know when it will be too late to reach out to someone. Therefore it is so important to make good choices today and always follow your heart. As I wrote the novel, I explored the notion of reaching out to someone who lost a daughter in 9/11. I believe this storyline made the novel more powerful. I hope the reader will be moved.
Steven is an interesting and relateable character. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?
This character is all me. He speaks like me and acts like me especially during the time period the book is set in. I have changed considerably in some respects but most of the dialogue and traits I carry with me to this day.
What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
The moral of the story is that we must move forward and learn from our mistakes. We will make mistakes but we can’t beat ourselves up over them. We must try to value the beauty of life and take pleasure in the little things. I have a fascination for the minor details of life. In the end of this story, lives have been transformed due to the events that took place during the course of the novel. I want people to come away with a feeling that anything is possible if you are just willing to take risks in life.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
The next book is called The Separation and is a sci.fi. book. It was supposed to come out in late August but due to the passing of a friend, I couldn’t make the Booklife contest I wanted to enter so I delayed the release to late November. It will definitely come out then. Expect to be moved. It’s a very thought-provoking story.
Steven Lewis is a young man with no concrete plans for his future after school. For a short time during high school, he wanted to ask a girl named Kelly out on a date but never had the courage to do so. As his life is taken in a different direction than he had hoped, he holds on to the thought of actually getting to know Kelly. Even after several years pass, he is determined to find her again. His quest to know her leads him to a tragic discovery. When he meets her mother, Emily, his life will never be the same. This is a story of love, loss and hope. It is an unforgettable personal journey about the quest for happiness after tragedy.
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Heart Breaker is a dramatic story about one woman’s traumatic and tumultuous life. What was your inspiration for this story?
I had met a girl a lot like Amber during my time on an online “dating” telephone service years ago. She always seemed to have bad luck yet she was very smart and capable of doing a lot more with herself than what she was doing. Her story sort of debunks the lifestyle you see in movies with the “hooker with a heart of gold.” It’s so hard to keep the “heart of gold” when nothing in your life ever goes right. I would like to hope this girl has found some kind of peace in her life. She deserves to.
Amber is an interesting character that is sometimes impulsive and rash. What obstacles do you feel were important to highlight the characters development?
The Amber we meet at the beginning and the Amber we see at the end is a character completely transformed. She has learned the error of her ways in an uncomfortable and heart-wrenching way. It’s important to remember that her decision to do what she does to Jeffrey comes from the way she had been treated. I think we become a lot like the people we are around. Unfortunately, Amber’s abduction by Miguel has negative consequences for her as she ultimately becomes almost as heartless and vicious as he was to her. For Amber to just move forward like nothing had happened to her, that was almost impossible to convey. People always take bad experiences with them for a very long time. She just happens to act on her impulses because of what was done to her.
Was there anything from your own life that you were able to put into the story?
Surprisingly, yes. The forest fire story Amber tells Jeffrey that happened to her as a young girl. That was actually an event in my own life from when I was in the Boy Scouts that I was able to put in the novel. I have had almost as much bad luck as Amber. Some people will not relate to Amber at all. However, I feel she’s totally relatable in my opinion because everybody has had a streak of bad luck in their lives. Hers is just more continuous than the average everyday person. Also, some of Miguel’s suicidal thoughts have some element of realism because they are based on some of the more disappointing aspects of my own life. It was important to see Miguel as more than just a monster. I wanted to add some humanity to him. I hope readers, if they can’t sympathize with him, will understand why he is remorseful in the end.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
“The Separation,” a new sci-fi book, is coming out in November. I’d like to follow that up with a third book for my truly moving book series (which consists of “One Love,” “To Never Know”). Not sure what the story will be. Several ideas floating through my head right now.
Heartbreaker is the story of a down on her luck young woman named Amber. She comes to New York City and gets into more trouble than she ever imagined when she becomes an independent escort. When a client kidnaps her, she begins to value her life more than she realized she could. This is the story of Amber’s journey to overcome her past and present on her quest for a better tomorrow.
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Heartbreaker, by Thomas Duffy, is a dramatic story about a young woman, Amber Robertson. The book opens in Brooklyn on Amber’s 19th birthday. Her birthday is eventful as it is the first time she is arrested (for stealing). While in jail, she meets Missy, another young woman, who has been arrested for prostitution. As Amber and Missy talk, Amber decides that the life of an escort is as good as any other (and could help her earn some much needed money).
Amber starts her business with some online advertising as an independent escort. Unfortunately, she immediately draws the attention of a pimp, Pete. He starts making promises of protection for a cut of Amber’s money. Soon, her landlord, wants to evict her, so she starts renting motel rooms.
Unfortunately, she soon faces bigger problems. She’s kidnapped by one of her clients and starts a sordid love affair with another that eventually makes a sudden turn into something even more frightening.
As you can imagine, this book is complex and not necessarily a feel-good story. Heartbreaker’s protagonist, Amber, goes on a wild and weird anti-heroic arc right from the beginning of the story and the audience can see how those early misfortunes lead to an increasingly painful and tumultuous life. She initially presents as both hesitant and impulsive; constantly not sure about what she wants to do, but will then make a sudden and foolhardy decision.
As a reader, there is some sympathy for Amber. She ends up in pretty bad situations. Anytime things start to look as though they may improve for her, it only gets worse. Yet, she is also frustrating. Her impulsivity sometimes leads her into her worst outcomes. For example, late in the story she takes bold, rash action. Of course, I am avoiding sharing the ending here to prevent spoilers, so you will have to read for yourself to see how Amber’s story fully unfolds.
This story, in its own way, forces the reader to examine the evil that can hide in people. The evil, within the story is almost infectious, capable of spreading from person to person, evolving and mutating along the way as it collides with new lives, who act it out in their own unique way. Amber’s progression through the story seems to demonstrate her methods for confronting the evil in her past and present. It shows how she, like anyone, is capable of becoming somewhat immune to bad acts, bad people, and a bad life. Like so many people, she acts out what she has seen and experienced by replicating pain onto others.
This book is well-written, but I felt there were some issues with the pacing. At points the story seemed to drag out, such as during Amber’s interactions with Miguel and Jeffrey. I think these could have been shortened up a bit without losing any essential character development. Heartbreaker is written for mature, adult readers, who enjoy dramatic characters in intense and emotional situations.
Pages: 184 | ASIN: B017UZDW02
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To Never Know depicts the story of Steven Lewis, and how he is affected by his life choices, his stalled inertia, and forces far beyond his control.
To Never Know, by Thomas Duffy, is a millennialist coming of age drama centered on the late adolescence and early adulthood of the main character, Steven Lewis. The story starts in 1994 in Queens, New York. Steven is in his Senior year of High School. Steven has a crush on a girl in his class, Kelly Brennan. She seems to be interested in him, finding excuses to interact by asking for his notes and a stick of gum. But he never works up the courage to ask her to Prom.
The story skips past graduation and things have changed for Steven. His life continues a downward progression: his grades are not as good at college as they were in High School, he drops out, takes some time off. He tried calling Kelly again, but he could not bring himself to talk to her.
A family friend encourages him to send Kelly a letter, so he does, on September 10, 2001. Keeping in mind that Kelly lives in New York, you can make some good guesses about where the story goes after that, but this story packs a lot more into it, as Steven’s life events continue to unfold.
This story is an exploration of millennialist worries and fears in a post-9/11 life: adulthood with its ever-increasing responsibilities, how to live a good life, intimacy, isolation, establishing one’s self-identity, and the existential fear of death. The story is deeply emotional, with conflicting emotions. The quality of writing is strong enough to convey nuanced emotions and details. There were a few copy editing issues, but none bad enough to detract from the powerful meaning of the story.
The title, To Never Know, gives some insight into the central themes within the story. There is a strain of philosophical agnosticism (not in the religious sense) that there are unknown unknowns in our lives and that tomorrow is never guaranteed. There is also the theme that there are “bells that cannot be un-rung.” Steven cannot go and have the relationship he wanted. We will never know what life would have been like if one thing would have been changed in the distant past, and we cannot know what tomorrow will bring.
This book is good, but really heavy at times. It is intended for adult audiences, and probably best understood by older millennials. There are depictions of sex, death, terrorism, and coarse language. The content of the story takes an odd twist at one point, and the end is unexpected.
Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01K7RYJB6
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