In Meritropolis everyone is assigned a numerical Score that decides their worth to society and whether they live or die. After a young boy is killed because of a low Score, his brother plots to take down the System.
Sounds good, right? Well, this exciting YA Dystopia is on sale for just 99 cents Thursday, November 27 through Monday, December 1.
To celebrate, we are offering a giveaway for an autographed copy and a $100 Amazon gift card—hooray!
Check out this interview with Joel Ohman, the author of the book critics are calling, “The Hunger Games meets The Village with a young Jack Reacher as a protagonist”, then scroll to the end of this post to learn more about the giveaway. Happy reading, and good luck!
Reader Interview with Joel Ohman
Who or what was your inspiration to write about post-apocalyptic, dystopian sci-fi?
I've read a lot in this genre, so I would say it’s a mix of a lot of different things. I really just wanted to explore this question of, "What gives a person worth?" Is it their usefulness to society? Is it because someone loves them? Is it because of how they look? Is it because of their health or ability? As a Christian, I believe that all people have worth, because they are made in the image of God. I wanted to explore some different takes on this question. I think that the post-apocalyptic/dystopian/sci-fi genre was the best vehicle to tackle some of those deep philosophical questions in a fun and interesting way.
Why do you write? Is it for fun, or because you have something you need to say in your writing?
Some writers are loath to say their writing has a message, because maybe they think doing so diminishes their art (not true, in my opinion), but I think that everyone has a message in their writing, even if they aren't as consciously focused on it—and that's a good thing. My message is in my epigraph: "Because everyone matters - Psalm 139".
Why the title Meritropolis?
I wanted a short one word title that was a clever—or at least semi-clever—play on two different words. I like "Meritropolis" because it combines "Merit" and "Metropolis," two words that are great for describing a city where each resident's worth is measured by a score given to them.
In Meritropolis how were the animal combinations decided upon? For example, I know you chose to write about a bion (bull-lion), as well as many other freaks of nature. So what I want to know is how did you decided which animals to meld together and why.
I have a big list of animal combinations that I came up with before I began writing the book, and I tried to work in as many as I could. Sometimes the only criteria was that I liked the way the name sounded. Look for many more in the following books!
Can you tells us about your characters and who/what inspired them?
I am a big believer in John Truby’s approach to building a “character web”, because this deepens the relationships between characters and helps to make each of the characters more complex. Absent building a good character web, it can be all too easy to fall into the not-very-true-to-real-life good-person/bad-person false dichotomy where your protagonist devolves into this I-can-do-no-wrong character and your antagonist is just pure evil. I was very much aiming to show the imperfections and brokenness in each of the characters. My thinking as a Christian influences this to some degree, given that the Bible teaches that we are all essentially the same; we are all sinners—only God is perfect.
Do you have a favorite genre that you like to read?
I read pretty much everything! Fiction, non-fiction, you name it! I am of the opinion that, as an author, I can learn something from almost every kind of writing. Sometimes, it most definitely is a matter of learning what not to do—but, on the whole, I love to read a wide variety of writing styles, genres, etc.
Are there any books that have inspired your own writing?
I read A LOT so there are many different things that have shaped my writing over the years, but I wouldn't say there was any particular book, or books, that I was consciously looking to for inspiration while writing Meritropolis. Looking back though I can definitely see different threads of influence in almost everything I have read over the years that contribute toward making Meritropolis what it is: the strong protagonist of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, the philosophical bent of C.S. Lewis’ fiction, the dystopian setting of Hugh Howey’s WOOL series, and many more.
Are there any authors that have emerged in the last three years that have caught your interest?
Hugh Howey is an author that I really like that has caught my attention lately. I would highly recommend his WOOL series!
Writer Interview with Joel Ohman
Other than an author, who are you?
My name is Joel Ohman. I am 32 years old, married to my best friend, Angela, and have 3 kids, ages 5, almost 3, and 6 months. My writing companion is my 130lb Bull Mastiff, Caesar (who's asleep on the job most of the time, to be honest). I am a Christian who likes to talk about the good news of Jesus Christ. I do volunteer work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and also with my church in Tampa. I am a serial entrepreneur, having founded a number of different startups in the web space. I am currently the President & CEO of 360 Quote LLC and Real Time Health Quotes LLC, and we own a lot of different web properties, one of the most popular ones being our workout website/iOS App/Android App for WeightTraining.com. You can learn more about me at JoelOhman.com.
What is the most surprising thing you learned while writing?
One of the most important things I learned is maybe not all that surprising, but definitely important—the value of an editor. I worked with 3 different editors while writing Meritropolis. Each of them provided extremely valuable feedback and advice that was instrumental at various stages of the book writing process. The book that is available for purchase now is a much better book than it would have been without the expertise of my editorial team.
What are you doing to market your book now?
Right now I am concentrating on getting my book in front of as many of the awesome book bloggers and book reviewers out there as possible. Meritropolis is fortunate to have received a large number of 5-star reviews on both Amazon and GoodReads, and I am definitely hoping this trend will continue. I also recently started working with Emlyn Chand over at Novel Publicity, and she has been great, so I am excited to see what she can do!
What are your views on marketing your book through social media such as Twitter or Facebook?
I believe that social media can be an effective marketing technique if done the right way. The key is that social media is primarily about building relationships and about delivering something of value. We all know those Facebook friends who incessantly clog up our newsfeeds with pleas to join their health and wellness MLM—don’t be that kind of author! That being said, I do think that Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, etc. can be a great way to meet other readers and authors and discuss fun and interesting things. Hopefully that will lead to more exposure and more book sales, but coming across as too salesy or pushy is something that I definitely aim to avoid.
What are your thoughts on getting bad reviews?
Everyone has different tastes in what they like to read, so I don't let bad reviews bother me too much. No matter what your favorite book is, you can almost be guaranteed that it will have many bad reviews on Amazon from people who just didn't get out of it what you did—that's fine. I do try to stay objective and see if there might be something I can learn from the criticism to become a better writer, if not, then I just move on and don't worry about it.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Take the first step! Just do a little at a time. If you decide writing is important to you then make time for it, be consistent, and read a lot.
Do you have any advice for authors who are considering the self-publishing route?
I am not one of those authors who will say that self-publishing is the best choice for every single author, but I am absolutely glad that I went this route. I love that I can fully control and fully own my work, but I would encourage anyone who self-publishes to try and adhere to the following advice:
1. Don’t be a cheapskate - be willing to pay for a professional editor, a professional book cover designer, etc. It boggles my mind that people will spend hours upon hours writing their book and then just take a few minutes to throw some clip art and stock photos together to “design” their book cover. Don’t. Just, don’t.
2. Work with professionals - by this I simply mean to not overly rely on friends, family members, and co-workers, all of whom will likely just tell you what you want to hear. You need someone who is not afraid to point out the problem areas in your book and provide an honest critique. You already know that your mom is going to say she loves your vampire-Scottish-Highlander-billionaire-love-triangle-in-space book that you wrote, so don’t even bother asking her for feedback. Instead, pay someone who does that kind of thing for a living...
3. Sell, sell, sell - If you are a self-published author and you are not actively involved in sales and marketing for your book—which is essentially your mini-business—or you are not paying someone else to be actively involved in the sales and marketing of your book, then you are not maximizing the reach your book can have. As uncouth as it might be to say this, writing is only half of what is required to see success as a self-published author. Yes, you need to write a good book, but you also need to effectively market and sell your book (either by hiring someone, or doing it yourself, or both).
What books would you would recommend to aspiring authors?
Here are some books that I highly recommend for all authors to check out:
- Wordsmithy - Douglas Wilson
- Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
- On Writing - Stephen King
- The Anatomy of Story - John Truby
- The Fire in Fiction - Donald Maas
Now enter the giveaway