The SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS column on Mondays and Wednesdays is a place at Shannon Muir’s author website showcasing books from a variety of fiction genres, with an emphasis on interviews and guest posts from other authors. One thing Shannon firmly believes in for readers not only to learn about new books available, but about those who craft the tales behind them. As its name implies, SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS weekly column features writers from all genres of fiction who want their potential audience to get to know them, and their works, better.
Today, we look at MALL.
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* Dystopian *
Author: Pattie Palmer-Baker
Publisher: Del Sol Press
employed with enough income to consume and to experience a myriad of
pleasures including drugs, gambling, theater, holographic adventures. No
poverty and little or no crime. A lot of sex.But what about the Mall Code? And what happens when Sara, a 21st
century woman, accidentally finds her way into this alien yet familiar
world? Nona, a MALL mental health practitioner treats Sara upon her
arrival and goes against the Code to help her acclimate. Sara seems to
be just what she needs, an antidote to Nona’s secret and growing
boredom.At first Sara desperately wants to get home, and, as she seeks a way
out as well as answers about her new reality, Nona begins to see MALL in
a new light. Is abundant gratification enough?Things aren’t all beauty and pleasure. Sara experiences dancing in a
dangerous orgiastic dance club on a lower level. She attends a gambling
session where people bet on living more years when their “number’s up”
and a “passing ceremony,” where Mallites are supposedly resurrected into a new life.
Junkers, outsiders lurking on the fringes of MALL, have been fighting
Mall Management’s control by creating increasingly dangerous
disturbances. For years they have struggled to discover an exit, based
on rumors of those who made it Outside and were never heard from again.
Through them Sara and Nona meet someone who might help them escape. They
both must make the choice that will change their lives forever.
Who will risk leaving and who will decide to stay?
MALL by Pattie Palmer-Baker was recently published by Del Sol Press and winner of the Del Sol Press Most Promising Book, 2017.
What a suspenseful journey Mall was—a real “page-turner”-
imaginative with firm command of psychological expression and dialogue!
Pattie Palmer-Baker captures some of the sexual contradictions,
insecurities, and darker motivations of her female characters, and the
complex relationships between women. The “surface” allusions to sex and
violence throughout the story line work well with the superficial world
she describes. Sex all the time—and yet, really, not much explicit
writing about actual sexual encounters—the same for violence. This
tension of content and form works well for me. What gives pleasure? What
gives pain? The many hallways and mirrored rooms give the setting a
creepy fun-house effect and increase the sense of a closed world and
claustrophobic doom. Her descriptions of the Mallites’ physical
appearances and their individual choice of costume in this strange place
is creative—a breath of lightness in this frank examination of our
quandary about the meaning of freedom in an existential existence. What is real? I was “on the run” with Sara for the entire read! And what a turn at the end!
— Cathy Cain, Portland poet and artist
What initially got you interested in writing?
I am a calligrapher and paste paper artist. (Paste paper is an ancient decorated paper technique wherein the artist paints color mixed with artist-made paste on wet paper. Before the paint/paste dries, the artist uses texture-making tools to form designs on the surface.) I wanted to write poems in calligraphic form to use in my collages of paste paper. To that end I took classes and workshops. Writing prose was not on my agenda; however, I wanted to explore the idea of an alternative world, a giant enclosed Mall. I could not do that in my head; I had to write about it.
How did you decide to make the move into being a published author?
I wrote off and on (mostly off) for around twenty years. About four or five years ago, I finally completed a draft and began to revise. I let several friends read one of the revisions, and they encouraged me to try for publication. I submitted to several small presses and entered a few contests. I was shocked when I won the Del Sol Press 2017 prize for the most promising first novel.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
Fiction and poetry express the universal. When they read my work, I want them to take away what is often unexpressed in daily life.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
The revision process.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
The first draft. I find it almost excruciatingly difficult to translate my ideas into those first words on paper.
What advice would you give to people want to enter the field?
Write because a story demands to be told.
What ways can readers connect with you?
Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries throughout the Pacific
Northwest. Locally and nationally she has won numerous awards for her
art and poetry.An accomplished poet, Pattie had been nominated for the Pushcart
Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in many journals including Calyx,
Voicecatcher, Military Experience the Arts, Minerva Rising and Phantom
Drift. In 2017 she earned first prize in the Write to Publish contest,
and in 2019 she won first, second, and the Bivona prize in the Ageless
Poetry contest. She has served as the poetry co-editor for VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices and visions.Del Sol Press awarded MALL first prize for the most promising first novel in 2017.Pattie lives in Portland, Oregon with her beloved husband and rescued dachshund.Her website is www.pattiepalmerbaker.com/.
You can follow her at Facebook at https://tinyurl.com/yykrz36e.