MIAMI COUNTY — The success of trilogies like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” brought dystopian fiction to the forefront for several years, with both ventures enjoying successful big-screen adaptations. Though the genre is no longer dominating the mainstream, it has hardly faded into oblivion.
“The genre became very popular after ‘The Hunger Games,’” said author Kate L. Mary, who has penned more than 30 books, including several set in a post-apocalyptic future. “Traditional publishers are not putting it out much anymore, but it’s still really big in the indie world, it sells really well, and readers are still into it.”
Originally from West Milton and now living in Troy after years of traveling with her Air Force pilot husband, Jeremy, Mary recently released her latest futuristic tome, “Tribe of Daughters.”
As a military wife, Mary found herself turning to writing as a means expressing the creativity brewing in her mind.
“When we lived in California, my husband was gone a lot and our kids were young,” said Mary, who also has lived in Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Oklahoma. “I was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years, and about the time all the kids were ready to go to school full-time, I’d gotten a book deal, had an agent and put my own book out, so it worked out perfectly.
“I just got inspired to write something and ended up finishing a whole book. After that, it was like I couldn’t stop.”
Thirty-three books later, Mary has garnered numerous awards including the 2015 Children’s Moonbeam Book Awards silver medal for Young Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fiction and the 2016 Readers’ Favorite gold medal for Young Adult Science Fiction.
In addition, her novel “Outliers,” was a Top 10 finalist in the 2018 Author Academy Awards for Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction, and a first place winner in the 2018 Kindle Book Awards for Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction.
“I think the first award I won, I was a little surprised because I was new at it,” Mary recalled. “It’s nice to know my hard work is paying off, nice to know that this thing I created that I love so much is appreciated by other people as well.”
“Tribe of Daughters,” which hit the shelves on Jan. 3, explores a matriarchal society in which men exist only to serve the women and defiance is severely punished. It is the only life that the character Wilderness has known. But when Jameson is brought in from the outside to be her husband, everything she thought she knew about strength and love is tested.
As the couple struggles to find their place in the village, they find themselves faced with outsiders who threaten to destroy everything they love, and it doesn’t take long to realize that they will have to work together — men and women alike — if they want to survive.
Mary said she favors the dystopian genre because, “different aspects of human nature come out in a different setting,”
”I like creating a whole world from scratch, and thinking, ‘What would the world be like if it changed from what it is now?’ You get to see what people are made of,” she said.
“I think the first dystopian novel that I read was ‘1984,’ in high school. I liked the whole dirty, gritty world and the control the government had. I also liked ‘Brave New World,” which was not quite as dark, and ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King — I liked the survival aspects of that. I liked all the different backgrounds coming together.”
“Tribe of Daughters” is targeted primarily toward adults, but is suitable for teenagers as well, said Mary, who has written four novels specifically for young adults, as well as a romance thriller, “Collision,” marketed to the demographic she calls “new adults” — college-age readers between young adults and adults.
If the setting of “Collision,” seems vaguely familiar, that’s because part of it takes place in the Dayton area. The book was her first foray into the world of publishing with all its peaks and pitfalls.
“It was published by a small press, but things weren’t going well, so they gave me the rights back and I self-published it,” Mary said.
While traditional publishing might give an author more widespread exposure, it can come at a price — namely, the loss of creative control.
“You have no say in the cover, the prices, etc.” Mary explained. “As a self-published author, I am in control of all things from the cover to editing to how much I want to price it at. It’s a lot more work, but I have more control.”
Mary’s books are available on Amazon, both in print or e-book format, as well as through Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo. She also has donated books to the Milton-Union Public Library and can be contacted through her website — KateLMary.com — or at www.facebook.com/KateLMaryauthor.
Among Mary’s numerous other works are “The Blood Will Dry,” another tale set in the Dayton area, and a zombie series that takes place in Fairfield, Calif.
“Now that I’m back (in Miami County), I’ve definitely been thinking about setting something here,” she said.