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DJ: Hi Aliya! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Aliya Whiteley: Hi, and thanks for hosting me! I write mainly speculative fiction that can include science fiction, fantasy, horror and the weird, as well as literary fiction every now and again.
DJ: What is The Beauty about?
Aliya: It’s about the end of the human race. A disease has killed all the women, and the men are living out their lives with no hope. In one small community in rural North Devon, one of the youngest men notices strange mushrooms sprouting on the graves of the women. Then these mushrooms start to take on familiar forms…
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Beauty?
Aliya: John Wyndham’s ability to evoke growing strangeness was a huge influence, as was Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy. I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic tales, so that whole genre was floating around in my mind.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Aliya: Nathan, the young man who first discovers the mushrooms, is a storyteller, and he really loves his job. He tries to keep the memories of the women alive for their husbands, fathers, sons, but he is aware that his stories keep changing. He can’t help it. When he starts to tell the group about the mushrooms, he uses his way with words to influence them, and this creates tensions that lead to violence. He’s a very slippery narrator! Readers have to make their own decisions about the morality of his actions.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Beauty like?
Aliya: The Beauty is set in a real place called The Valley of the Rocks, which is on the coast of North Devon, UK. It takes place in the near future, so nothing is obviously different from our world right now, except for the devastation to humanity caused by this terrible disease. I grew up in Devon and visited The Valley of the Rocks many times; it’s a very atmospheric, almost bleak, place. It feels other-worldly. I hope it did it justice.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Beauty?
Aliya: I always wanted to write a post-apocalyptic novel and so the whole thing was so much fun for me. In particular, I loved being able to really go free with language, and use it fully. Nathan embraces the power of words, so I could too.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Aliya: It’s a book where you can absolutely apply your own meaning to it, so people rarely say the same thing about it, at least to me! I hope it leads to discussions about power, nature, humanity, and gender. And about stories, and why they are so important to our understanding of who we all are.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The Beauty? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Aliya: No, I don’t plan in advance at all, so I simply starting writing and let the story unfold. I find it’s a lot fresher when I let it surprise me.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Beauty that you can share with us?
Aliya: I really like the bit, early on, where Nathan accepts that he’s not in control of his gift. He says, “Stories are as slippery as seasons; it’s beyond my power to make either stand still.” It ties change in the natural world to change in the realm of storytelling, setting up what lies ahead. Change is coming, in lots of ways, for the group.
DJ: Now that The Beauty is released, what is next for you?
Aliya: Titan will be publishing my next novel, The Arrival of Missives, in the US in the future, and I’ve got some other things lined up for 2018 – check out my blog for more details.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Aliya-Whiteley/e/B0034P9Y28/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1515322377&sr=1-2
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Beauty that we haven’t talked about yet?
Aliya: That it’s not the only story in the book! The Titan release also includes a new novelette of mine called Peace, Pipe: a narrator who’s been quarantined after a disastrous space mission starts to hear a voice in the walls – is it an alien presence, or merely gurgling pipes? It’s about how we could establish communication with very different life forms, and how difficult it would be to reach any real level of understanding.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Aliya: Thank you! I hope readers enjoy the book.
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*** The Beauty is published by Titan Books and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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About the Book:
Somewhere away from the cities and towns, a group of men and boys gather around the fire each night to listen to their stories in the Valley of the Rocks. For when the women are all gone the rest of your life is all there is for everyone. The men are waiting to pass into the night.
The story shall be told to preserve the past. History has gone back to its aural roots and the power of words is strong. Meet Nate, the storyteller, and the new secrets he brings back from the woods. William rules the group with youth and strength, but how long can that last? And what about Uncle Ted, who spends so much time out in the woods?
Hear the tales, watch a myth be formed. For what can man hope to achieve in a world without women? When the past is only grief how long should you hold on to it? What secrets can the forest offer to change it all?
Discover the Beauty.
About the Author:
Aliya Whiteley was born in Devon, UK, in 1974. She writes novels, short stories and non-fiction and has been published in places such as The Guardian, Interzone, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Black Static, Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as Fox Spirit’s European Monsters and Lonely Planet’s Better than Fiction I and II. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice, and won the Drabblecast People’s Choice Award in 2007.
Her novella for Unsung Stories, The Beauty, was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award and a Sabotage Award, and appeared on the Honors List for the James Tiptree Jr Award. Her writing is often violent, tender, terrifying and funny. It has garnered much critical praise and provoked discussion. Other published works of hers include a collection of short stories, a novel from Dog Horn Publishing, and a blackly comic crime novel from Macmillan. Further details can be found on her website and she tweets most days as @AliyaWhiteley.