Hi! We’re Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau, authors of Bliss. We’re touring the web talking about our influences, our writing process, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at our book, and even a sneak peek or two! And what would a blog tour be without a contest? We’re giving away a copy of the first novel we wrote together: King of Dublin!
On the tour today, Lisa interviews Heidi:
L: So, a few months ago I emailed you this vague idea I had about a society where chips were implanted inside convicted criminals’ brains in order to turn them into perfect citizens. Or, you know, slaves. What attracted you to the idea enough to agree to write it with me?
H: Well I mean, I’d have written anything with you, pretty much. But I definitely jumped at this idea specifically because of the aspect of control. I love dystopias that look like utopias, where everything is . . . too perfect and there’s something terrible underneath the surface. Your pitch for Bliss had all of that.
L: What is it is that appeals to you about dystopias?
H: I like bleak. I like tension. I like extremes of control and anarchy, both common in dystopias. I like desolate uncanny valley worldbuilding. Basically, I like dark fiction and using a dystopia for a setting gives me free reign to go as violent and harrowing and twisted as I please.
L:. And this is why we work well together! When you imagine the future, are you pessimistic or optimistic about where humanity will find itself?
H: I have bad anxiety, so I have a tendency toward pessimism. Sometimes it becomes hard to tell, though, what’s just in my head and what’s a valid provable fear, so then I begin to doubt my pessimism at the same time? If that makes sense? Realistically, I think the future can go either way. I studied history in my undergrad, and once you get into that, it becomes very difficult to say with any certainty where the world is headed and how and why. The tiniest acts or happenstances or coincidences can spawn the most massive changes, and those simply can’t be predicted–whether they be acts of heroism and altruism and revolution, or despicable cruelty and oppression. We just can’t know. So I don’t feel like we’re moving to a Fated Better Future, or that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
L: Who is your favourite of our MCs in Bliss: Rory or Tate?
H: Tate was infinitely more enjoyable to write because we had the whole mind control element playing into his narration, which lead to some twisty writing and satisfying wordplay. But Rory is definitely the character we get to know better as an individual, and he has a lot of qualities I like in a character. The ethical conundrum he represents is especially ripe.
L: When we write together, you and I tend to go darker than we would on our own. Which one of us is the bad influence? Or do we both get to claim that honour?
H: I think of us like two drunks. If either one of us were slightly more sober there’d be somebody to act as the voice of restraint and maybe fear, but as it is we’re both belligerent as all hell, think we’re ten feet tall, and egging each other on.
L: What are you currently working on?
H: I’m taking a break from darker fiction at the moment and am working on a trans M/M smalltown rom-com, all about a broody anti-social lumberjack and the optimistic meddling hipster who tries to change his life. It’s called “The Burnt Toast B&B”, I’m co-writing with Rachel Haimowitz (yes, THAT Rachel Haimowitzlol), and it comes out next year from Riptide. I’m also working on a moody noir New Adult called “Dead Ringer” with Sam Schooler that has a distinctly 1950s lost youth kinda vibe.
L: I’ve written two books with you now. Why won’t you give my any spoilers about the Flesh Cartel?
H: Nobody gets spoilers for Flesh Cartel. Torturing people with the tension and the fear is just far too enjoyable to let up on. Why the hell do you think we made it a serial?
Contest: Thanks for following our tour! To celebrate our release, we’re giving away a copy of our first joint release — King of Dublin. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for us to contact you, be it your email, your twitter, or a link to your Facebook or Goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because we won’t be able to see it otherwise! On September 1, we’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win the prize!
About Bliss: They’re always happy.
Rory James has worked hard all his life to become a citizen of the idyllic city-state of Beulah. Like every other kid born in the neighboring country of Tophet, he’s heard the stories: No crime or pollution. A house and food for everyone. It’s perfect, and Rory is finally getting a piece of it.
So is Tate Patterson. He’s from Tophet, too, but he’s not a legal immigrant; he snuck in as a thief. A city without crime seems like an easy score, until he crashes into Rory during a getaway and is arrested for assaulting a citizen. Instead of jail, Tate is enrolled in Beulah’s Rehabilitation through Restitution program. By living with and serving his victim for seven years, Tate will learn the human face of his crimes.
If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. Tate is fitted with a behavior-modifying chip that leaves him unable to disobey orders—any orders, no matter how dehumanizing. Worse, the chip prevents him from telling Rory, the one man in all of Beulah who might care about him, the truth: in a country without prisons, Tate is locked inside his own mind.
You can read an excerpt and purchase Bliss here.
About Lisa: Lisa Henry lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
About Heidi: Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write.
Her writing reflects everything she loves: diverse casts of characters, a sense of history and place, equal parts witty and filthy dialogue, the occasional mythological twist, and most of all, love—in all its weird and wonderful forms.
When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her daughter or sipping a drink at her favourite coffee shop.
She also writes queer-flavoured M/F as Heloise Belleau.
Or contact her using good old-fashioned email