There can be no doubt that my latest novel, Peaceful Quiet Lives, has been informed by the ongoing so-called culture wars in America. These culture wars, whether social, political, or religious have been a simmering division in America as far back as I can remember, and in one sense, are nothing remarkable in a western democracy.
However, in recent years, these divisions have become a lot more exacerbated. I’ve also noticed a militant tendency in the language and behaviour of extremists on both sides that is remarkably similar. This militancy, fuelled by social media, television news, and opportunistic politicians, has stirred up some serious unpleasantness. One need only look at the aftermath of the recent US election for evidence.
Let me be absolutely clear: Peaceful Quiet Lives is not a political statement of any kind. It came to me in a strange download in early 2018, whilst writing my (as yet unreleased) Dark Ages set romantic fantasy tale Ravenseed. After getting this download, I wrote Peaceful Quiet Lives purely because I thought it was a good story. I had no political agenda at all.
The central idea – regarding opposite extreme authoritarian states being two sides of the same militant coin – I thought would make an intriguing backdrop for a doomed romance. But I also wanted the novel to be a satire of the worst fears of both sides in the US culture wars. The first half of the novel plays on fears that the US could turn into a religious theocracy. The second half sends up fears that the US is headed for a “woke” dystopia. The novel isn’t so much intended as a warning against both scenarios, neither is it an attempt to lash out in despair at the current problems in America, but rather it is an exercise in absurdity. I hope the tragic lunacy of such a future is inherent within the text, and that as a result, perhaps the fears of both sides will be eased, just a little.
Despite such grandiose ambitions, I hope people enjoy the novel as simply a damn good read.
By the way, the title derives from a couple of New Testament verses; one urging people to live a quiet life and mind our own business (in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4), and another passage urging prayer for those in authority, that we might live peaceful and quiet lives (in 1 Timothy chapter 2). The title is ironic on a number of levels, since events in lives of Sam and Eve are neither peaceful nor quiet.
Here is the blurb from the back of Peaceful Quiet Lives:
Two Nations Under God. Can their love survive in either nation?
Life, love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are a distant dream for Sam and Eve. Their forbidden love falls foul of laws in both nations born from the ashes of the Second American Civil War.
A satire of political and religious fears, Peaceful Quiet Lives is a thought-provoking and powerful dystopian future shock.