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Why the Great Depression?

A reader asks, "I'm curious as to why you chose to set the Order of the Air books in the Great Depression. There aren't many books that are."

Oh good question! There are several reasons this setting appeals to me. (Melissa will have to answer for herself.) First of all, the atmosphere of the Great Depression is very much like today -- a time of rising tensions, economic instability, and social unrest following major changes in the way ordinary people live. It's a horrible time, frankly. Every newspaper, radio and newsreel is blaring hate or news of the terrible things people are doing to one another, with leaders to Left and Right shouting hard-line sound bites about no compromise. Meanwhile, people are starving. Millions are unemployed or faced with debts they will never be able to repay while their children go without doctors and face no better prospect tomorrow. Meanwhile, the wealthy elites enjoyed an ever increasing range of expensive consumer goods, shopped for colleges to produce the new elite -- the College Man -- and lay down in droves for the newest status symbol, psychoanalysis.

And yet we survived it. The world survived the thirties and the decade that came after, and the world that was built was better for it. And some, though not all, of the individual survived it. People survived purges Left and Right, ethnic and racial violence on a scale never before seen, not to mention the displacement of millions, and ongoing poverty and coming wars. People survived by working together, by taking care of each other, by giving what they could and by trying to do right. And some survived by becoming predators.

I wanted to write about these choices. I wanted to write about people facing the kind of challenges we do today and that we will face in the coming decade and explore how good people can get through them by making good choices. I wanted to talk about how to be a hero here and now, how to save the world when you don't have magic swords or Ancient superweapons. I wanted to talk about how people heal from heartbreaking things and go on, a little broken, but stronger where the breaks have healed. That's Mitch and Stasi, Alma and Lewis, Jerry and Iskinder. And it's us.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 13th, 2014 11:37 pm (UTC)
I agree about the parallels. The scenes in the most recent book, with the right wing secret society were really uncomfortably reminiscent of some political groups today.
Aug. 14th, 2014 04:00 pm (UTC)
Pelley is a real person, and the Silver Legion really existed. Yes, many of the things it espoused are here today, and it's not at all surprising to see elected officials from particularly Pelley's strongholds of support in the upper Midwest saying the same things to the grandchildren of the same voters. Michelle Bachmann, anyone?
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )