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Intolerance and totalitarianism: interview with dystopian author, Katherine Blessan

Updated: Mar 22

For the love of dystopian fiction, we enjoy finding indie authors who are building dystopias on the page! This month I chatted with Katherine Blessan, a friend of mine and a fellow dystopian writer. I quizzed her about the first in her series. It's called T for Tolerance...

What is the premise of T for Tolerance and what inspired you to write it?

The premise of T for Tolerance is all about what happens when the concept of tolerance is twisted so far that it becomes totalitarianism. I was inspired to write it during lockdown, when I was considering writing a refugee story, then pondering how I could incorporate write-what-you-know into a refugee story. At this point my protagonist came to mind. She’s a young adult with a strong Christian faith (much like myself) who’s mixed-race (my own children have the same ethnic mix of Indian and white British) and encounters a world where speaking out truth that is considered ‘offensive’ by the majority can lead to your rights being taken away. This would then become a reverse refugee story with a young woman from the so-called ‘safe democratic’ nations having to flee for her life and freedom.

Dystopian young adult novels often have a strong female protagonist. What can you tell us about yours?

Sathya is a seventeen year old feisty young woman with a twin sister, Naomi. She’s outspoken and truthful (the name Sathya actually means truth) and clashes with her sister, whose compromise in the expression of her faith doesn’t sit well with Sathya. Sathya has to learn to balance the desire to be truthful with the willingness to suffer for expressing that truth and to push through the doubts that overcome her on the journey. She’s also got a great sense of humour and is a loyal friend.

The novel is set in Britain in 2041. Why did you choose that year and setting and how do you think it lends itself well to the dystopian genre?

I’m trying to imagine a world not too dissimilar to the one we’re in now in terms of cancel culture and intolerant thinking (from both sides of the political spectrum), but a few years off in terms of what the consequences of that way of thinking could be. It lends itself to the dystopian genre as those in power think that they’re implementing a good society where intolerance is unacceptable, but by doing so they’re shooting themselves in their own foot and creating more intolerance!

This is the start of a new series, what are the plans for future books and where can people find T for Tolerance?

I’m in the process of writing the sequel Ripples of Rebellion, which will be where

Sathya and her friends start working in a coordinated way to rescue people fleeing

from the ‘tolerance agenda’. I’m unsure yet what the rest of the series could hold, but

I’m open to as many books as it takes to tell the unfolding stories that emerge!

You can buy T for Tolerance anywhere good books are available including

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