Q&A: Lorie Ann Grover (Firstborn)
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA?
Firstborn sprang from a news article I read concerning gendercide. I was horrified to learn that over 37 million girls are missing in China alone, due to the One Child Policy enacted in 1980. The work of All Girls Allowed and the Global Gendercide Advocacy and Alliance Group provided further chilling information regarding the killing of females at birth. My anger brought my novel to form. I wanted to write a fiction work to bring light to gendercide while declaring the value of our daughters. The dedication of my book is: To firstborn females, may they all be allowed to live.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE SETTING OF THE NOVEL?
Oh, the setting is a high desert! In Western Washington it is a short trip over the Cascades to reach high desert sun and warmth. I have gone on many writing retreats in Eastern Washington, and our family has vacationed in high desert areas, such as Oregon, Utah, and Arizona. I love the starkness, the curving color and line, and the wildlife, especially, the birds.
DID YOU DO MUCH RESEARCH ON GENDER ROLES WHEN WRITING THIS NOVEL?
I did research on cultures who assign, or declare, females to work and function as males whenever there is a shortage of men. In various groups, these women perform the role of men their entire lives for the benefit of their society. That fascinated me, and I found it to be a fresh concept for my fiction. My character wouldn’t be hiding her sex, but she and her community would be denying its existence.
I also researched ancient Sparta. There I found the practice of removing young boys from families to send them to harsh military camps. That became the perfect life experience to test my female, living as a declared male.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR MAIN CHARACTER AND THE CHALLENGES SHE FACES IN HER COMMUNITY ATTEMPTING TO PASS AS A MALE?
Tiadone is firstborn female, a first to be declared male by the oppressive, ruling Madronians. Her father chose the declaration to avoid being forced to leave his newborn daughter to die in the elements. All believe her femininity is removed by the amulet she wears about her hips. Nearing puberty, Tiadone readies to serve the community by guarding the Perimeter with her bird and other boy patrollers. There she must exhibit all the bravery and strength of a male. She must play the game under the harsh treatment of the rulers and the ostracism of the other patrollers. All the while, her body is maturing and her femininity is growing harder to suppress. She searches for religious truth, her purpose, her identity, and her worth.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU?
As a co-founder of Readergirlz we’ll be planning the next Operation Teen Book Drop while keeping everyone up to date on the latest and greatest young adult releases. Plus, as a co-founder of Readertotz I’ll continue suggesting the best board books for our youngest readers.
I have several novels at different stages of the publishing process waiting to emerge. And because of my life experience with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and cancer, I’m writing an early memoir. But then, I also enjoy writing board books! A Big Hug for Little Cub will be released from Scholastic in the first week of January. So many projects waiting to take flight with Firstborn!