Carolyn O’Neal earned second place in The Hook’s 2013 Fiction Contest for her short story Silent Grace. “It’s the story of what happens to natives when they have to contend with the exploitation of tar sands and the pollution of their river, their main fishery,” she explained. “Being able to eat your local food is a big deal.”
Now O’Neal, an Ivy resident, has written a novel, Kingsley. She had a book-signing event at Over the Moon Bookstore in Crozet in November.
Kingsley, set in Charlottesville and the Peninsula, tells the story of a 14-year-old boy who faces a situation resembling the colony collapse syndrome occurring with bees, O’Neal said. “I looked at what’s happening to bees and said what if that happened to humans. The bee collapse is mysterious because it manifests itself as the worker bees flying off from the hive and leaving the queen and eggs to starve. Anybody with a Y chromosome dies. So it’s all women left. Kingsley is a boy who is saved.”
O’Neal is a cancer survivor. “I understand having a disease that’s scary. The problem is found in reptiles and amphibians and fish. It’s believed to be linked to pollution, all the artificial ingredients we have, and pesticides. We consumers need to take responsibility for all the pollution.”
O’Neal herself has one child, a son, now 23. “If he were threatened, I would do anything. What would make me change my behavior? It was my child.
“Kingsley survives because his mother is resourceful and unscrupulous. She’ll do anything to save him. Some things are not up-and-up, but in the end he’s alive.
“I did a lot of research on what it would be like for women if men disappeared,” O’Neal said. “So many tools are built for men and stronger hands. A lot of things would have to be retooled. It’s a disaster for women if men disappear, perhaps from endocrine disrupters we are finding in rivers and lakes and alligator and frogs. It’s scary.
“I got the idea when my son was 14. I watched him and his friends playing video games and I got an overwhelming feeling that I don’t want anything to happen. I started to write.
“Kingsley faces women adversaries who figure out how to reproduce without men, so they don’t want him around. They want to keep it that way. I say it’s a science fiction and young adult book. If you like Hunger Games and Margaret Atwood you’ll like this. Young adult is doing what [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry did. You talk about the world in a fanciful way. I’m able to bring up issues of gender.”
O’Neal said she’s happily married and does not want to get rid of men. “That would be a horror!”
“What influenced me as a writer was that we read aloud every Harry Potter book. [J.K. Rowling’s] writing influenced me. The writing gets more mature so it’s essentially an adult book. Rowling has done a great service in bringing reading back to childhood, especially for boys. I wanted to write a book for young people because that’s where the [environmental] change is going to be.”
She said her husband and son both like the book. “It’s not anti-male or anti female. It looks at disease.”
The book, self-published, went through two professional editors. “They were tough. I really worked on it. It’s 80,000 words, 258 pages, the size of the first Harry Potter book.” She hired a professional designer to do the cover. Meanwhile, she’s hopeful about the book’s reception, noting that the recent popular movie The Martian also started as a self-published novel.
She paid for editorial costs with a Kickstarter campaign and sold 100 books. Kingsley is available on Amazon and from Over the Moon. The e-book version costs $2.99. In print, it’s $15.99.
I really enjoyed this book. Lots of fascinating environmental impact information with interesting characters and plot surprises.
Thanks for publishing this thoughtful review of Carolyn O’Neal’s thought-provoking book, which I couldn’t put down while reading. I recommend it highly for those concerned for the environment, those who are not concerned but perhaps should be, and those who want an exciting read.
Many thanks to the Crozet Gazette for interviewing me and telling readers about my novel, KINGSLEY, available at Over The Moon Bookstore in Crozet and on Amazon.com. I have found so many treasures at Over The Moon. The bookstore is located right next to Crozet Pizza. It supports local authors and stocks plenty of bestsellers. Please stop by.
I also want to let your readers know that KINGSLEY will soon be an audiobook. It should be out by spring on audible.com. I love the narrator. His interpretation of Joyce is spot on. A combination of Paula Dean and Attila The Hun!
Finally, I am excited to share with your readers some big news. The sequel to KINGSLEY will be out in November, 2016. Just in time for next year’s holiday shopping.
I would love to hear from anyone who has read KINGSLEY. What did you think? Feel free to drop me an email at [email protected]. Let’s talk.
Happy New Year!