What happens to the selfie generation without internet?
What would you do without the internet? What would your life look like? Who would you be? Brendan Ritchie discussed this and more when we spoke to him about his upcoming novel, Carousel.
Were you aware of the long tradition of Australian post-apocalyptic literature when you were writing Carousel?
Yes, I was. I have read a lot of that type of literature and I’m a particular fan of John Marsden’s books. However, Carousel is a kind of Gen Y pop-culture take on the genre – it is slightly different to the other post-apocalyptic literature available.
Carousel is set within a post-apocalyptic world, yet it is not purely a survival story but more of an exploration into what Gen Y might do with unlimited time and freedom. It’s as much about the characters finding themselves, as it is about survival.
Tell us a little about what your characters have to do to survive.
The characters – Nox, Taylor, Lizzy and Rocky – have to learn how to live within a confined space that they can’t escape. There are the everyday challenges like finding food that hasn’t expired and dealing with all of their rubbish. But more than this they have to find ways to live a regular life with routines, goals, social interaction and fun stuff like watching movies or playing soccer so that their little society doesn’t crumble. Carousel explores how Gen Y would go through this process.
Why were you interested in writing about modern-day young people who are doing without the internet?
In the book this forces the characters to question themselves, look at who they are, what they think, and where they want to be in life. There are less of the distractions or ways to kill time that the internet can offer. This is really isolating for the characters, but also kind of liberating.
Tell us about your characters’ relationship to art. Are you saying art would be better if we were all offline?
Creating art serves as a survival mechanism for the characters. It helps to keep them sane and to deal with the emotions and issues they experience whilst trapped in the centre.
I’m not sure if art would be better if we were all offline. In a lot of ways I think the internet can really foster creativity. We might be more productive though. Carousel also explores how art can be influenced by our circumstances. For Nox and co. these circumstances are quite bizarre and not being able to jump onto Facebook or YouTube is certainly a big part of that.
Carousel is set in a hybrid version of a shopping centre in Perth. The place is huge – there are corridors and escalators leading to all kinds of shops, food courts and entertainment areas. It sounds pretty cool, but without people the place can be really creepy.
For a first-time novelist it was reassuring to work within the confines of a limited space. But it also sent me a little crazy. I had to stay away from shopping centres when I wasn’t writing.
Is there another book in the pipeline?
There is potentially another in the pipeline – I would like to write a sequel to Carousel that explores what happens to the characters post-Carousel.