My review of An Anatomy of Beasts just went up yesterday, but today I’m really excited to bring to you an interview with the author, Olivia A. Cole!
Some of you might remember my interview with Olivia last year, so I’m very excited to bring you another interview with her! We’re talking all sorts of cool topics–without spoilers for the first book–so you can hear what Olivia has to say about colonialism, Faloiv, and so much more!
I hope you enjoy! (And isn’t the cover just WOW?!) Plus, stay tuned for a really fun giveaway at the end!
Olivia! It is so great to have you on my blog once again after our interview last year. To continue with tradition (as last time, you described A Conspiracy of Stars in a haiku), will you tell us a little about An Anatomy of Beasts in haiku format?
|A Conspiracy of Stars||An Anatomy of Beasts|
|She knows only this:|
Home, a place with a red sun
Air too hot to breathe.
Her future is set –
The possible paths too few –
Until secrets hatch.
Her people balance
Already on the brink of war…
She must pull them back.
|Peace arrives too late.|
A girl and her people break
The past is heavy
And comes crashing through the sky –
Names and faces new.
What began far off
Is closer than imagined:
Who, now, is the beast?
Without spoiling anything from the series, what do you think readers will enjoy the most about An Anatomy of Beasts? I know I’m personally very excited to read more about some of the different beasts on the planet!
The pacing! I don’t want to jinx it since so many people called A CONSPIRACY OF STARS slow (some affectionately; some not so much lol) but the pacing of AN ANATOMY OF BEASTS is a lot faster. The reader knows the world, they know Octavia…now the story just dives in and takes off running. But other than that…ANIMALS. So many animals! So many weird bacteria and ecological balances! No spoilers, but Octavia spends a lot more time in the jungle in Book 2, and I was so excited to delve more into that part of the planet. N’Terra has so many limits…in An Anatomy of Beasts those limits are gone.
To me, one of A Conspiracy of Stars’ greatest triumphs was how the novel really analyzed and took apart the idea of colonialism with its story, and looked at it in a fictional setting that mimicked so many different events from human history. What were you hoping to accomplish in A Conspiracy of Stars by making this such a significant part of the plot, and how did you continue the commentary throughout An Anatomy of Beasts?
“Triumphs!” This is so nice of you to say, thank you, Vicky! I’m not sure what I set out to accomplish, exactly. I think I “set out” to write a book on an exciting new planet and along the way, as the world began to take shape in my head, I realized that the people who lived there were called the Faloii, and that humans – especially with an old white human in charge – would do predictable human things, particularly that old white human. And I couldn’t allow those predictable things to turn into the story that has become predictable in both Earth history and science fiction history. I sure as hell knew I wanted this world and this story to be different from Avatar, and even from Fern Gully, which I hold dear. A Conspiracy of Stars is “an alien book” in which humans are the aliens, and I wanted to make that clear from the beginning. As far as how this whole thing continues throughout An Anatomy of Beasts, I think the conversation extends into “when it comes to settler violence, whose responsibility is it to stop that violence?” And the answer should always be “the settlers.” On Faloiv, human beings are first guests, and then parasites. Octavia realizes that she is responsible for other humans, that they are responsible for each other and the damage they do. Fern Gully has its white savior themes, but one thing it does right is that the human dude is active in dismantling the machine he once participated in powering. In a setting like Faloiv, humans need to take up a similar role and Octavia knows that.
In our last interview, you hinted at Octavia gaining more agency in An Anatomy of Beasts. I’m really excited to see this, and I think her story throughout the series is so powerful and has the ability to empower teen girls–especially teen girls of color. Where do you feel her agency stems from and what were you hoping to accomplish with this?
Yes! Octavia is making moves in Book 2. In Book 1 (and before it) she was focused on her own goals and, like everyone else, believed the history that had been taught to her. Now she knows the truth (some of it…🤔) and she is beginning to understand what she must do if she wants to keep the planet from being destroyed. I think truth and context provide her (and maybe anyone?) with more agency because you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been, a fact that Alma understood before Octavia. The difference now is that Octavia sees that “where they’re going” is a lot different than planned, and Alma isn’t entirely comfortable with that. Everyone’s individual worlds have changed, and the world of Faloiv is literally changing around them now that the consequences of violence are beginning to unravel. Octavia is rational. To a fault, one might say! And that is what’s spurring her into action. She sees the writing on the wall and her mama raised her to know what to do.
And finally, something I’ve been curious about for quite a while, if you were on Faloiv, what would you want to do the most? It could be meet someone, explore somewhere, or eat something, but I’m so curious to know what secrets Faloiv harbors . . .
If I had a day on Faloiv, I would want to go to the deepest part of the jungle and just…listen. I may not be able to hear like Octavia and certainly not like the Faloii, but the ecosystems on this planet are so complex that I imagine it’s never silent. There’s a scene in An Anatomy of Beasts where Octavia and her friends are deep in the jungle at night and they see the way the animals and plants work in partnership…it’s so beautiful. Everything is interconnected and there is soo much that I wish could go into these books that has nothing to do with plot! Just marveling over the way this planet survives on cooperation and how the Faloii oversee it. It’s really special.
That one question about colonization really hit hard, and I really do love that aspect of the story so much! Olivia does this so well, and Octavia is such a kick-ass character ahhh!
Plus, omg that world!!! I wish I was better at art because I would make SO much art inspired by this series and the beautiful jungle landscape.
If you enjoyed this post, make sure to let Olivia know on her social channels! Till next week!
More About the Book
A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole
Hardcover, 432 pages
January 2nd 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.
But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.
An Anatomy of Beasts by Olivia A. Cole
Hardcover, 432 pages
April 16th 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books
In the forty years since the Vagantur landed on Faloiv, the planet has existed in a tenuous peace between the humans who live in the enclosed community of N’Terra and the Faloii, the indigenous population. But after uncovering the shadowy secrets of the Council’s newly elected leader and helping a kidnapped Faloii man escape, sixteen-year-old Octavia knows that conflict is looming. Her discovery of a separate population of humans—including her grandparents—only serves to show her how out of touch humans are with reality on Faloiv.
Then the Faloii discover the N’Terran’s latest experiment: an artificially weaponized creature, and Octavia realizes that it’s up to her to prevent her people from causing any further destruction. More determined than ever, Octavia and her friends set out to understand the scope of humanity’s history. However, nothing can prepare them for the full weight of what they discover about both their home on Faloiv and the Origin planet. And as she learns to control her ability to communicate through the Artery, the network that connects everything on Faloiv, Octavia must act to change her people’s future before the natural balance on the planet shifts forever.
More About the Author
Olivia Cole is an author and blogger from Louisville, KY. She is the author of the New Adult series PANTHER IN THE HIVE and a Young Adult series, including books A CONSPIRACY OF STARS (2018) and AN ANATOMY OF BEASTS (2019). Her essays have been published at Bitch Media, Real Simple, the LA Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, and others. Olivia is the creator and curator of the all-women science-fiction themed art show KINDRED. She teaches creative writing at the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts.
Olivia is represented by Regina Brooks of Serendipity Literary Agency.
Look at this beautiful map! Enter the giveaway below where one lucky winner will win swag forAn Anatomy of Beasts, including
- this lovely map!
- a gorgeous art print (see the first picture in this post)
This is open to residents of the United States and will end next Wednesday! Good luck!