Monday, 15 April 2013

Jeff Norton, Author of Metawars 2.0:The Dead are Rising - interview and review by Julienne Durber

Ahead of the release of Metawars 3.0: Battle Of The Immortal
I'm interviewing Jeff Norton, author of the Metawars books
Scroll down to the end of the interview is my review of
Metawars 2.0: The Dead are Rising.

Jeff has kindly donated a signed copy of
Metawars 2.0:The Dead are Rising
Leave a comment to be entered into the prize draw, tweet and repost on FB to be entered twice more
(you know the deal.)
Giveaway closes on 1st June. Winner's name will be posted here.

Welcome to Demention, Jeff, and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed about Metawars 2.0:The Dead are Rising - a book I enjoyed a great deal.

Thanks for having me!  I love the Demention blog, so this is a real honour!

When I read book 1, Fight for the Future, I felt that it relied quite heavily on the technological elements and was worried that the technology it references would start to feel dated.  In book 2, The Dead are Rising, the story seems to breathe more and we are drawn further into the real world, and while the technology is still present you touch much more on the characters and their situations.  Was this a conscious change of direction, or had you always planned it that way?

The series is anchored in technology, specifically the interface between the real and virtual worlds, but that’s not what the books are about. For me, the entire four-book MetaWars saga is a coming of age story for Jonah and Sam.  I want the reader to feel as though we’re growing up alongside both of them.

In the first book, I had to set up the rules of both worlds.  But once those rules are established and understood, I was free to focus more on the characters and their growth and development. 
Without giving too much away to those who haven't yet read it, The Dead are Rising treads some quite sinister paths and looks further at the issues of mortality and loss that you touched upon in the first book.  How important do you feel it is to underpin your stories with such weighty subjects?

MetaWars is about choice. It’s about choice and consequences, which is fundamentally about morality.  I don’t shy away from weighty, serious issues because the characters are grappling with defining their own moral code across two very confusing worlds. In this book, I tackle everything from gang membership to suicide and explore one recurring question: does the end justify the means? 

I want my readers to always question and interrogate their own moral code as the books evolve.

And have you had to tone down any of the darker aspects to suit your readership?

If anything, I’ve dialled up the drama and with it the terrifying consequences to certain choices that the characters make.  This book, The Dead Are Rising, is essentially the exploration of the chilling consequences to one impulsive choice that Jonah made at the end of the first book.  He chooses to save the ‘life’ of his dead father, and the entire population of the digital dead.  In doing so, he unwittingly grants the dead a new form of consciousness.  This book investigates how far someone who knows they are dead (in this case, Jonah’s father) will go to be alive again and how far someone who mourns for the dead will go to keep them ‘alive.’

In terms of the audience, I think younger readers can handle a lot more than we adults give them credit for. The very essence of adolescence, the process of moving from childhood to adulthood, is an incredibly dark process as your childish beliefs are (sometimes painfully) replaced by real-world experiences.  I think young readers can relate to this experience, and older readers can remember it viscerally – which is why I’ve always maintained that MetaWars is for readers aged 9 to 90!

You also play very effectively with the morality of the characters, leaving the reader to decide the merits of each character's situation and the decisions they make.  Did you find it hard to stay away from the traditional 'authority figures = bad, rebels = good' dystopian paradigm?

It was a very deliberate choice because I think it’s more honest. Each of us is the star of our own movie and we look at the world through our own moral lens. Every terrorist thinks he’s a freedom fighter. Every authoritarian figure believes he’s doing the right thing.  It’s far too easy in contemporary dystopian literature to play into the tropes and conventions, but it’s much more fun to upend those conventions – and much more reflective of human nature.

In The Dead are Rising, even more so than in Fight for the Future, you look at the negative side of people relying on the Metasphere as an escape from reality.  Do you worry that the virtual experiences we have today could have a similar negative effect as they become more advanced?

I’m no Luddite and I love technology, but yes, I am very concerned that as the world turns online for connection and communication that we risk alienating ourselves from the real world.  I’ve based MetaWars on the ten 'meta trends' that I believe are shaping our future and meta trend #10 is the what I call the 'virtual bubble'.  It’s the idea that whenever we engage with the internet, we enter a virtual bubble – effectively leaving the real world behind. You see then whenever someone checks their iPhone while walking down the street, they’re suddenly not paying attention to the real world and thus susceptible to bumping into someone, walking into the path of a bus, or having their £500 portable computer nicked.  Author William Gibson called it ‘cyberspace’ and I do think that the more time we spend away from the real world, the less time we spend thinking about or caring about the real issues facing our real world. 

And finally, can you tell me a little about book 3?  When will it be out?  And can you say anything about the fourth book?

If book 2 is about the rise of the digital dead, then book 3 is about the war between the living and the dead. It pits Jonah against his father in a very emotional struggle over the rights of the living and the ‘reborn’ digital dead. It’s the most emotional book yet, and I guarantee will make you cry at the end!  MetaWars 3.0: Battle Of The Immortal publishes 1stMay, 2013 from Orchard Books.

I’m currently writing the fourth and final book now and it’s called The Freedom Frontier.  It’s about survival and sacrifice. I don’t want to give too much away, but when the world suddenly changes on Jonah and Sam, they find themselves alone in a terrifying new reality.  The book explores the nature of their relationship against the backdrop of a threat they never saw coming.

Jeff Norton, thank you very much.

Thank you! It’s been a real pleasure to catch up.

To find more information about Jeff Norton visit

And my review: Metawars 2.0: The Dead are Rising follows directly on from book 1, Fight for the Future, but Norton takes the story to a new level.  Jonah Delacroix is still embroiled in the battle for control of the Metasphere - the virtual world that the internet has become - but his journey takes him to emotionally dark places where he has to question both the consequences of decisions made in the first book and the motivations of both his allies and his enemies.

As well as expanding the characters established in Fight for the Future, The Dead are Rising draws us much further into the real world that Norton has created and seeds planted in the first book begin to blossom.  This extremely believable world provides a realistic, three dimensional anchor for the Metasphere that was perhaps lacking in Fight for the Future.

I only liked Fight for the Future, but I love The Dead are Rising and can't wait for MetaWars 3.0: Battle Of The Immortal.

Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a signed copy of Metawars 2.0: The Dead are Rising

Thursday, 4 April 2013

A Fractured book birthday!

Today is the official publication date of Fractured in the UK, the sequel to Slated: time for some more happy dancing!

Isn't it pretty? (in a dystopian kind of way :O)

To celebrate, over on my website you can enter for a chance to have a character in the third book named after you; there are also copies of Fractured up for grabs. This is on here.

I've also blogged on book 2 trials and tribulations, and celebrations, too, over on Notes from the Slushpile. This one is here