Interview with Chris Gill, Author of Shell
04 Feb 2016
My dystopian debut is set in a future England, where society has been forced to live in a claustrophobic city that sits on the seabed. The United Underworld, or The Shell as it’s dubbed by its inhabitants, has become a crime-filled hellhole where Authorities are rarely around when citizens need them. The story follows Red, a determined 19-year-old who distrusts the government and wants nothing more than to feel fresh air on her face again. But will she ever escape the bleakness of The Shell?
How do you like to spend a rainy day?
I guess the obvious answer is writing. I live in Sydney, Australia, where there are many sunny days throughout the year – so I jump at the chance of a full day putting pen to paper without the guilt of not being outside in the sunshine, hiking or hitting the beach. Otherwise, you’ll find me curled up on the sofa with a mug of green tea and a book. A printed book, I might add.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
Jeff Noon: Vurt was one of the first books that inspired me to want to write fiction.
Suzanne Collins: Let’s face it, she’s the modern day dystopian messiah!
Stephen King: Because he’s the king.
What’s something you’re truly terrible at doing?
Cooking! Which might make the above literary dinner party a bit of a disaster. Let’s hope the wine would compensate.
What fictional literary world would you most like to visit?
Oh wow, that’s a tough one. I guess it would have to be Vurt’s alternate version of Manchester, England. I love the idea of being able to access a different reality by simply sucking on colour-coded feathers!
What’s your favorite song lyric?
“Art is why I get up in the morning, but my definition ends there and it doesn’t seem fair that I’m living for something I can’t even define.” – Ani DiFranco
What’s your favorite quote or scene from Shell?
I’ve always been fond of the first chapter, where we’re first introduced to Red’s resilient nature. In particular, I’m proud of the opening paragraph:
“As Red stepped out of the nightclub, she felt the artificial rain lightly touching her skin. Slowly walking away from the throbbing sound behind her, she pulled her black hood over her toxic green denim jacket and lit a cigarette. While she understood how necessary the rain was, she was always so conscious of how unnatural it felt when it made contact with her. Like she was a piece of genetically-modified fruit soaked in pesticides.”
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
“Don’t underrate simplicity.” The formula to happiness seems to be far less complicated than we often think it is. Surround yourself with the people you love, take moments each day to appreciate the little things such as blue sky and sunshine and always make time for art. Whether it’s creating your own, or appreciating the work of others. That’s what I love so much about Shell’s cover – its minimalism says it all.
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