They’re always happy.
Rory James has worked hard all his life to become a citizen of the idyllic city-state of Beulah. Like every other kid born in the neighboring country of Tophet, he’s heard the stories: No crime or pollution. A house and food for everyone. It’s perfect, and Rory is finally getting a piece of it.
So is Tate Patterson. He’s from Tophet, too, but he’s not a legal immigrant; he snuck in as a thief. A city without crime seems like an easy score, until he crashes into Rory during a getaway and is arrested for assaulting a citizen. Instead of jail, Tate is enrolled in Beulah’s Rehabilitation through Restitution program. By living with and serving his victim for seven years, Tate will learn the human face of his crimes.
If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. Tate is fitted with a behavior-modifying chip that leaves him unable to disobey orders—any orders, no matter how dehumanizing. Worse, the chip prevents him from telling Rory, the one man in all of Beulah who might care about him, the truth: in a country without prisons, Tate is locked inside his own mind.
Hey guys! This Q&A is part of the Bliss tour. If you’d like to read my thoughts on the novel, I posted a review here 😀
1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?
Heidi: Creepy’s good. Also, Unsettling.
2. What would you say inspired you to write it?
Lisa: I love dystopias and always have. I think they show us people at their worst, but also people at their best. I’ve always wanted to write one.
Heidi: This was Lisa’s idea! We’d just finished KING OF DUBLIN and were looking into doing another project together. Lisa said she had an idea that she’d written the first thousand or so words for, and that beginning is what became BLISS. But I’ve always been a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories and dystopias–I even did an entire course on them in college–and it’s been a blast to find a co-writer who likes to write them as much as I like to read/watch!
3. What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist?
Lisa: Rory, one of our MC’s, is very much the everyman character. He’s just a hardworking guy trying to make a better future for himself. And it’s through Rory that the reader gets to discover that horror of this apparently perfect society. I think I think that Tate, too, is very relatable once his motivations are revealed. As for our antagonist — he’s every slick politician in the world, who smiles and shakes your hand while stabbing you in the back.
Heidi: For Rory, the goal was to write a person like you and me, a person who doesn’t look too closely at their lives and their impact. As a person day to day, he’s essentially good, but without being vigilant, he can inadvertently wind up enacting evil. That’s one of my favourite themes.
4. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
Lisa: A few times. Normally I’ll go and start another project, just for fun, until I’m ready to work on the one that’s stalled. Usually I just need a break.
Heidi: Yep. Actually I’ve been blocked on a couple of projects lately and Lisa and I wrote a Daddyplay story and that helped a lot! I also take some time to just read for fun, which usually helps me get back into the creative mood. I never realize it at the time, but whenever I’m blocked writing, I stop reading too. The minute I start reading again, words start to flow.
5. Your all time favorite book?
Lisa: NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR. Although, this changes every week. I can’t possibly pick a favourite. I could probably narrow it down to a few hundred, though, if I had to.
Heidi: I loved NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro.
6. What made you pick that one above all others?
Lisa: It has everything. Such a powerful book, and such a flawed character in Winston. Also, it goes against everything that we would like to believe. Fear triumphs love. It’s a book I first read as a teenager, and I get something new out of it every time.
Heidi: It’s powerful. It has relatable, flawed characters. It’s unassuming. You don’t realize how special and significant it is until suddenly it hits you all at once and then you’re sitting there weeping with full-on grief for fictional characters facing fictional injustice in a fictional world.
7. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
Lisa: That would have to be the epic fantasy novel I stated when I was twelve. It’s still going, with no end in sight. Also, it’s terrible.
Heidi: Well, that would have to be Flesh Cartel no question. It’s almost 400k words, 19 separate releases, and took two years from start to finish to write, let alone edit and market and produce.
8. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Lisa: I don’t think so. I’ve always been a writer, running off to play in my imaginary worlds. It’s just recently that I’ve discovered you can get paid for doing it.
Heidi: I’m so much happier. Like Lisa, I’ve always written things, but I never thought I could ever make a career of it, or I thought that if I wanted to make a career of it, I’d have to not write the stories of my heart. Surprise! Now I do both!
9. Was there ever a time, during your work on the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up?
What made you change your mind?
Lisa: Never. That’s the best thing about having a co-writer. You’re not allowed to give up! Also, if something isn’t working, or you’re getting stuck, she can probably write you out of the corner you’ve written yourself into!
Heidi: Lisa is a great cowriter. The books practically write themselves!
10. What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
Lisa: I have a day job as a police dispatcher. It’s either incredibly tedious, or incredibly chaotic. Something within the same ten minutes.
Heidi: I’m a stay at home mom. So my day consists of playground visits and dishes to wash and laundry to fold and hours and hours of mindnumbing kids’ TV because despite my best intentions I most certainly use the boob tube as a surrogate parent, especially when I’ve got a writing deadline.
11. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
Lisa: If you get a bad review, cheer yourself up by reading a good review. For every person who hates your book, there’s another person who loves it. Once your book is out there, it’s not yours anymore. It’s up to the readers to rate it. And — it should go without saying, but someone does it every week — don’t respond to reviews.
Heidi: I actually wrote a whole post about this! Five Healing Alternatives to Lashing Out at a Negative Review
12. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
Lisa: BLISS is a one off. But it was fun to write, so who knows if we’re finished in that world yet!
13. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
Lisa: Heidi and I have just finished writing a short that’s very heavy on the daddy kink. Hopefully that will see the light of day in the near future!
Heidi: It’s all consensual, too, in case you’re one of those people who likes their kink without the dub/non-con aspects Lisa and I often gravitate towards. The main character has a safeword! Which he uses!
1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
Lisa: I want a puppy!
Heidi: A movie of one of my books? LOL
2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
Lisa: Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Heidi: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I re-read it all the time anyway, so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch!
3. Name your favorite fruit.
4. Coffee or tea?
Lisa: Tea. But only Turkish apple tea.
5. Favorite season?
Lisa: Winter. Tropical winter. I couldn’t deal with actual cold.
Heidi: Autumn. Not too hot, not too cold, air is crisp and smells so good, and the clothes are so cute!
6. How about fav time of 24 hours?
Lisa: Any time after 10 pm. My brain works better at night.
Heidi: Early evening seems to be my best time.
7. Were you a boyscout/girlscout?
Lisa: No. I quit Brownies when I was eight and refused to go back. Gluing bits of coloured paper onto an empty jar does not make a pretty vase!
Heidi: Yes I was in Girl Guides up to Pathfinders here in Canada. And then we spent one summer madly fundraising for a camp that got cancelled and thus didn’t see a penny of the money we raised. Boo!
8. Favorite food for breakfast?
Lisa: Toast and Vegemite. Best start to the day ever.
Heidi: English muffin with peanut butter and a big glass of milk. Or crepes with butter and sugar.
9. Latest book you’ve bought and read?
Lisa: A.M. Sexton’s RELEASE. I am in awe of the world building!
Heidi: I’m reading the Sharing Space serial by Nina Perez, which is a really funny and yet still shockingly heartstrings-tugging interracial M/F. So good!
10. Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
Lisa: Interesting old ugly things. Also, old medical text books. They are gruesome and hilarious at the same time.
Heidi: Everywhere I visit, I pick up a fridge magnet. I also have a closet full of shoes and dresses, but I don’t consider those a “collection” in the same way, since I wear them all!
11. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Heidi: Lately I’ve been living for gray.
12. Drama or comedy?
Lisa. I can’t decide. Dramedy.
Heidi: Comedy for the most part!
13. Have a fav quote or personal motto?
Lisa: “Just keep swimming.” Dory, in Finding Nemo.
Heidi: I have anxiety and self-esteem issues, so my go-to is “It’s enough to be benign, to be gentle, to be funny, to be kind.” Stephen Fry.
14. Cats or dogs?
Lisa: I can’t decide again. I have both.
Heidi: Cats, definitely. There are only a select few dogs I can tolerate. (specifically the lazy ones who don’t jump on you or need hours-long walks or break things with their wagging tails)
15. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Lisa: Dinner by candlelight. With plenty of wine.
Heidi: Either! Depends on who I’m with.