Today I welcome Sarah Dalton to my corner of the internet. She has a new book named The Blemished that instantly intrigued me. The premise is about a society that has been engineered to be perfect ... for almost everyone. The story revolves around a 'blemished' individual's plight through a dystopian future where the beautiful live a charmed life over those less engineered.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m twenty-eight and British. I grew up in a remote part of the countryside amongst many animals, meeting lots of crazy country-side folk, yet I think I am a city person at heart. I’ve been writing seriously for around three years and have had some success with short story writing, however, novels are what I am far more interested in.
At what point in your life did you realise you had a story to tell?
Possibly always… I used to write terrible soap opera style bits of a novel and read it to my friends at school. They loved it. But I fell in and out of love with writing and it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I became a more serious writer.
If you had to give an elevator pitch about your new novel, The Blemished, what would it be?
What did you want your readers to gain from reading The Blemished?
Firstly, escapism. Isn’t that what everyone wants from a book? But also a new perspective on the world, any aspect of it no matter how tiny.
It would be remiss not to discuss the correlations with Gattaca; how does your novel deviate?
Gattaca was a little before my time but when I did some research it came up. I didn’t watch it until after I’d finished the book. There are two main similarities – the idea that parents can buy genes for their children and the classification of people who have genes considered ‘invalid’. But that’s where it ends. The Blemished tackles many other themes and in more depth, such as poverty, segregation and lack of purpose. I concentrated on what effect genetic cloning would have on an image obsessed and patriarchal society. It is as much a commentary on celebrity culture and the beauty industry as it is on genetics. I thought about how cloning would affect women and took it from there, although that isn’t to say that men will not also take something from reading the book. Gattaca seems to concentrate on intelligence and physical strength and the only female character in the movie is both genetically flawed and really quite boring, it seems predominantly interested how cloning would affect men. I’ve flipped this.
I like your premise and story's focus - sounds compelling!
I've always thought that if the majority of people were attractive (relative to society's present perception), that ugly people would be perceived as attractive. Do you agree?
Yes and no. There is a biological reason to find people with symmetrical features and a slim body attractive – these features are indicative of a healthy mate. You could argue that this instinct is something which can never be overridden. Personally, I think humans have evolved to be far more intelligent to be controlled by basic instincts (aside from the obvious!) and as long as our world continues to be complex, artistic and over populated there is really no reason that the human race cannot concentrate on the intellectual. I think, or like to think, that in a world where the average person is considered physically beautiful that personality and intelligence would become far more important. Perhaps then physical attributes would become so secondary that they are barely noticed. Or maybe I am being far too optimistic…