by Alex MacDougall
Writer and Worcester State University Theatre instructor, Lisa Kramer, has just self-published P.O.W.E.R, a book the Huffington Post called “an extraordinary example of modern storytelling.” P.O.W.E.R is a young-adult novel that tells the story of a girl with special powers set in a dystopian future. I sat down with Lisa to talk about the contents of her new book, as well as the difficulties associated with publishing a book in an increasingly paperless world.
Lisa Kramer: P.O.W.E.R is about a society where women and girls are not allowed learn to read or write. It’s the near-future where it’s controlled by one figure who does everything in the name of the God of that society. The main character is a 17-year-old girl who discovers she not only has the ability to read without being taught, but to write things into reality. She also discovers many other women have other kinds of abilities. It becomes a story about how do you change the world using these powers, to make the world a better place.
NWS: What were some of your influences in writing this book?
LK: For this story, it was watching the world go kind of crazy in how women don’t have full access to equality, like seeing the story of Malala Yousafzai, fed into the story of this book. It’s a little influenced by the book “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. It’s also somewhat a response to popular dystopian books like “Divergent,” which have a lot of violence. I guess I’m a pacifist, and I’d like to think there are non-violent solutions to the world’s problems, everything doesn’t have to be “girl-beats-up-girl.”
NWS: Were you writing for a certain audience?
LK: It ranges. My 12-year-old daughter has read it, as has her friend, so it’s accessible to middle-grade students, but it also has many mature, political themes. A lot of my readers have been middle-aged men and women, who seem to enjoy it as well.
NWS: How did you go about publishing this book?
LK: It’s published by a small publishing company based in South Carolina, Word Hermit Press. I had been trying to submit it through the usual process where you find an agent, and submit to publishers, but it wasn’t working. Self-publishing is a lot easier, but getting into the top 5 publishers is really hard. I had a friend who had been published with Word Hermit, so I sent it to them and they said OK. It’s somewhat like self-publishing in that I have to do all the promotion and publicity by myself, but they have access to better printing and access to bookstores, which of course is very important.
NWS: Did you do any research for the book?
LK: I did some research about brain activity, and the difference between men and women’s brains. I also did a lot of research in regards to some of the issues addressed in the book. But since it’s science fiction, I was just able to use my imagination for a lot of it.
NWS: What is the overall theme of the story?
LK: The overall theme, I would say, is that everyone has something to offer society, and they can use those powers to make the world a better place, if they’re allowed to.
Kramer will be holding a book signing at Wellesley Books in Wellesley on Feb. 26. at 7 p.m., as part of their Self-Published Author Open House. Check out more about Kramer through her website http://lisaakramer.com/