I love the title Chasing Liberty and the name of its sequel, Testing Liberty. They are succinct and carry a dual meaning given your main character’s name, Liberty. Were the titles difficult to come up with or did they come about with the story idea?
My original working title was different. As the story developed, the title Chasing Liberty just made sense. It fit in so many ways. The main character, Liberty, is chasing her own freedom. She is also being chased, hunted throughout the story by the doctor who oversees the Breeder Facility where Liberty is supposed to go.
The names you’ve created in your novel are very interesting. Dr. Supero’s name is obvious and fitting. The names for the groups living in secret are unusual: the Mosheh and the Torva. How did you come up with them?
I put much thought into naming people, places, and groups, especially when I wrote this novel. Most of the names in the story are chosen for a reason and after a bit of research.
Deep ecology is a semi-religious movement that argues that humans are no more important than a plant. Humans, they believe, have become a plague on the earth. Because this philosophy motivates the world governments in my story, I named the cities after key figures in this movement.
As for the names of the secret communities, Mosheh is a variant of Moses. It is given to this group because they lead people out of Aldonia, a sort of Egypt of the day. The name Torva comes from the Latin and means “wild.” The colonists call these wanderers the Torva because of their wild behavior. The Torva call themselves by another name, as readers will discover in Testing Liberty.
I have vivid pictures in my mind of the Maxwell Colony and the Torva. (For some reason I associate the Colony with the third moon of Endor and the Torvah with the Sand People. I’m not sure why I associate your book with “Star Wars.”) What were the inspirations for the lifestyles of the colonists and the Torva?
I love that you have a vivid picture of these groups in your mind. Your associations made me laugh, at first, but now I also see the similarities. The Sand People are a nomadic people who are often hostile to settlers. I didn’t think about Star Wars while writing this, but the Torva share those characteristics. The Torva prefer to live free and travel south to warmer areas in the winter. I had nomadic Native American tribes in mind, to some extent, when I made them a resourceful people who respect the earth and waste little, living simple and efficient lives. The Torva are also very family-centered people, but they have a shortage of women, so they end up stealing women from the colonies to be their brides. The early Romans inspired that idea. They had a shortage of women and so kidnapped the Sabine women.
I based the Maxwell colonists on early Americans and the Americans of today who value faith, family and freedom. They are a hard-working people with strong compassion and conviction. Like the Colony on Endor, they are a resourceful people who are willing to help others. They aren’t, however, as cute as Ewoks.
Did you create the details of Chasing Liberty’s world before you began writing or did you create as needed while your wrote?
I definitely use outlines and research to formulate ideas before I begin the actual writing, so much of the world was developed beforehand. However, once a character comes alive, their sensory experiences develop things the rest of the way. They see, smell, and hear things I hadn’t originally considered.
Innocence is a theme of my current work-in-progress. Liberty remains innocent and hopeful despite the world in which she lives. I think that is what makes her such an attractive character (to the reader and to Dedrick). It also, I believe, makes her heart receptive to the voice of her “friend.” She is a strong, virtuous heroine. What can Liberty teach us about maintaining faith and innocence in a world in short supply of both?
Liberty lives in a society that wants to control not only your life but also your thoughts and beliefs. Not satisfied with this society, Liberty questions and ponders everything. She believes in right and wrong, and that her choices define her. While she sometimes lacks discernment, she seeks to listen to that inner voice and to do what she feels is right, even when it is the harder choice. She has personal integrity that she does not allow to be tainted by the culture around her.
As human beings, we have the responsibility to care for both body and soul. Too often, our culture focuses on the outward at the exclusion of the inward, and pleasure at the expense of goodness. It may be easier to go along with the culture, but it would be wiser to question everything, weighing things in the balance, so to speak. We ought to develop our ability to listen to that inner voice and make the tough choices.
I admit I’ve not read The Hunger Games yet and have read only one dystopian novel other than Chasing Liberty. (I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner.) Are you a fan of other dystopian novels?
Other than 1984 by George Orwell, which I read in high school, I hadn’t read dystopian fiction until after writing Chasing Liberty. Once I finished my story, I wondered what other dystopian worlds were like, so I read quite a few books. I enjoyed the relationships and family dynamics in Matched, Crossed and Reached by Ally Condie. Veronica Rossi, in Under the Never Sky, had some interesting concepts. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions and beautifully crafted sentences of Lauren Oliver, author of the Delirium Trilogy. The Maze Runner by James Dashner was fun, although I couldn’t get into the second book in that series. And I also enjoyed Veronica Roth’s dystopian story, Divergent. I look forward to reading the rest of that trilogy.
What can we expect in Testing Liberty?
You can expect even more action in the sequel, Testing Liberty. The 3-D games mentioned in Chasing Liberty become an important part of Testing Liberty. We will learn more about Liberty, her experiences growing up under the RCT, and how she met Sid. We will also discover more about the Torva and Dedrick’s most uncomfortable encounter with them.
Theresa Linden began writing in grade school as her military family moved from place to place. As an adult, her passion for writing never waned. Her love for faith, family, and freedom inspired her debut novel, Chasing Liberty (World Castle Publishing, 2014.) She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and a local writers’ group where she both hones her writing skills and helps other writers as well.