January 12, 2014

Ava Rhodes is not Katniss Everdeen

First of all, let me say I'm flattered that some book reviewers and critics have mentioned The City Center's heroine, Ava Rhodes, in the same paragraph as The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen. This is a huge compliment. Yes, they are young women who rebel against their oppressive circumstances, but that's pretty much where the similarities end.

For the record, this was never my intention:


In The City Center, Ava is designed from her inception to be a symbol of perfection. She's raised inside a modernized center where she's sheltered and pampered, and lives a life of luxury. Ava is borderline robotic because of her programming. While Katniss is living in the worst conditions, starving to death and has been fighting for survival since birth.

Inside the City Center people are pumped up with chemicals and years of indoctrination to keep them unaware and clueless of their prison state, so this should indicate the level Ava is operating from. She's not a wimp, she's like a newborn foal slowly discovering how to use her wobbly legs. To have her escape the City Center, guns blazing, would be totally out of character. Her ascent into heroine-ism is slow and steady, and eventually she wins the race.

Some critics say she's strong at certain points, but then she checks out from time to time. And I say, of course! I don't know anyone who's faith or courage doesn't waver every now and then. Ava's overcoming a long-term internal conflict––the abusive relationship with her assigned partner, James, that's been pecking at her self-confidence and planting seeds of doubt since she was a kid. This might not seem like a big deal to contend with, but in my experience it's usually the 'smaller' stuff that knocks me on my ass.

I'm not writing this to defend my work, but rather my heroine, Ava Rhodes. I wanted to keep her in character and true to her story arc. Sure, the ending might have been a bit rushed. It's my first novel and I was so excited to get it out into the world, I wanted to hurry up and get it done. Also, I wasn't as interested in the specifics of rebuilding the city––that might happen in another novel––I was more interested in Ava's journey from being a prisoner in Plato's cave to a place of awareness and enlightenment.

Hope this clears things up, I feel MUCH better. And so Ava.

Keep writing. It saves lives.