Six Questions For Heather Anastasiu About Her Series Closer Shutdown
Heather Anastasiu's heroine has fought a good fight against the corrupt government that holds human thought hostage by controlling people's brains with computer chips, not to mention she's finally getting the hang of her new telekinetic powers. But Zoe isn't done fighting yet. In the last in the author's Glitch trilogy, Shutdown, Zoe and company must take down the evil Chancellor. Today we asked the author about the finale and what it's been like writing a world filled with superheroes over the course of three books.
The "Community", where your Glitch trilogy takes place, seems pretty spectacular — no pain or war. But the trade off is a world where your very thoughts and emotions are controlled. I don't know too many people that would willingly give up their identity even if it meant eradicating the negative parts of living. What brought about the Community in your series?
I’ve always been fascinated by the interplay between personal identity and all the forces around us that would seek to force us into cookie cutter compliance — be it peer pressure, the emphasis on living the so-called American dream, or you know, an evil dystopian government ;) For me, the Community was just a symbol of all these other real-world pressures that keep us from living to our full potential. It’s easy to fall into a kind of drone-like existence with the repetitive schedule of wake up, go to school or your job, commute home, watch tv, go to bed, wake up the next morning, wash, rinse, repeat. We can live months or even years half-asleep like that. What I was most excited about in writing this trilogy was getting to depict the process of waking up — with all the delights and difficulties that being awake and fully engaged with the world around you can bring.
Zoe's hardware starts to glitch and she becomes self-aware. But beyond this she also starts showing telekinetic powers. Why did you gift her with the ability to move objects with her mind? Were there any other powers you debated giving her?
Basically, when I started writing Glitch, I was tired of reading books where girls were victims who had to be rescued. So I wanted to create a really kick-butt protagonist who had the strongest power of anybody on the planet. Of course I had to give her some weaknesses too, and it takes her the entire series to figure out how to completely access that potential, but making her telekinetic allowed her to be stronger in ways other than sheer brawn. I didn’t think too long about giving her different powers. Probably because I watched X-Men growing up and thought Jean Grey’s was the most epic. Telekinesis just has so many applications and can do so much on a broad spectrum, I know it was a perfect fit for Zoe.
While Zoe's implants are considered 'defective' her glitch allows her to connect with others that are disconnected from the Community's hardware. Escaping the grasp of the evil, controlling organization, she ends up at the Foundation she joins other rebels who attempt to take down the Chancellor — the one controlling the population. Other than Zoe, do you have a favorite 'Glitcher'? Anyone that you would have at your back during a battle?
Hmm, great question! I’d have to say Saminsa because the electric orbs she creates can be used both for offense and defense. As a wimpy, wimp, I’d be all about the defensive ;)
In the series finale, Shutdown, Zoe goes on a suicide mission to destroy the Link system that the Chancellor uses in order to control humanity. This means Zoe must return to the Community. What are her biggest fears when returning to the Community?
I think her biggest fear is failure. She’s failed often enough before, and her worst fear is that all this — the rebellion, her love for Adrien, her fight against the Chancellor and the community — will have been for nothing. By the end of the book everything has gotten so crazy, all she wants to do is protect the precious people she has learned how to love, no matter if it takes the sacrifice of her life to do it.
Throughout the series, Zoe and the other Resistance fighters face the Chancellor, however, this villain rarely makes an appearance. Was the decision not to show this character one you made from the beginning, or is this just how the Chancellor came to you?
It’s true, the Chancellor ended up being kind of an absentee bad guy, but mainly out of necessity. I knew I wanted the Chancellor to be the one driving the future of the Community, but I couldn’t have her and Zoe in close proximity for long, because logistically, Zoe would have just killed her and boom, the book ends before it even begins! But I also figured the Chancellor would be afraid of that as well, knowing that Zoe could kill her so easily, which is why she keeps herself so distant and heavily fortified. So like Voldemort in the Harry Potter books, she just shows up mainly at the end of each book, lol. But also, I tried to make it clear it’s not just the Chancellor herself who is Zoe’s enemy, but this huge oppressive system that is almost impossible to overturn. The Chancellor is powerful, yes, but she’s also a symbolic figurehead for that oppressive ideology.
Writing a science fiction trilogy can be difficult work because a writer must create new worlds that speak to readers. Are you planning on returning to this genre in future books?
Yes, world-building was intense in this trilogy! So much so that I wanted to take a break and write a couple more contemporary stories to give myself a little breather. But after these two smaller-scale books which I’m working on now, I definitely want to return to sci-fi. I’m actually looking forward to world-building again. I have several ideas simmering on the burners :)