For today’s interview, we are joined by Thomas Christopher, author of Never Too Far. Welcome to Books and Bindings!
Books and Bindings: Tell us about Never Too Far.
Thomas: Well, it’s set in a future that is much hotter and where gas and oil are running out. In fact, it’s illegal and possessing it is a capital crime. The hero is a sixteen-year-old boy named Joe, whose family is very poor and live in Dust Bowl-like conditions on the plains. One day, he finds a wrecked vehicle that belongs to the authoritarian city-state of Chikowa. And against his family’s wishes, especially his older brother Frank, Joe siphons the vehicle’s diesel and takes off on a treacherous journey to sell the fuel on the city’s black market. Fuel is worth a tremendous amount of money because it is so scarce. Joe takes along a pregnant orphan girl named Mary that his family recently took in. They use a cover story about Mary’s baby being breech and needing a hospital to throw off suspicion. She barely talks at first and hides beneath a big hat she always wears. The relationship that develops between them is one of the big themes, especially after she gets sick. The whole journey leads through a hostile landscape of desert and forests until they reach the city, where they get caught in a dark world of fear corruption they might not escape from.
Books and Bindings: Where did the idea for the novel come from?
Thomas: The idea for Never Too Far came from two sources, really. Several years ago, my wife gave me a book called The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler about the consequences of running out of oil. Around the same time, I also read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I really loved it. It was dark and ominous, but also full of tenderness between the boy and his father. I started thinking about a future where oil was scarce, and global warming had heated the planet, and some kind of desperate journey, like in The Road. I first wrote it as a short story, but I liked it so much that I turned it into a novel.
Books and Bindings: The environment is wide raging in the story— arid plains, deep forests, and a city on a lake. Is it based on any specific area?
Thomas: Yes. Although the country in the novel is a fictional one called the Meshica Union, it’s really based on the geography of the U.S. that stretches from eastern Iowa to the shores of Lake Michigan. I didn’t want to be bound to actual places and cities because I wanted the story to have more of a universal and timeless feel.
Books and Bindings: Who is the audience for Never Too Far?
Thomas: I would say that both adults and young adults would enjoy this novel very much. Fans of dystopian fiction, coming-of-age stories, adventure and suspense would like it as well.
Books and Bindings: Tell us a little about yourself.
Thomas: Sure. I grew up on an acreage near Grinnell, IA. As a kid, I loved roaming all the fields and creeks that surrounded us. We also raised sheep, and I helped birth the lambs. I remember very fondly feeding bottles of milk to orphan lambs in our basement. After high school, I hiked the 130 mile Adirondack Trail in upset New York. And after I graduated from college, I lived out west for a while in Seattle and Montana. I did a lot of hiking in the mountains out there. Then I went to graduate school in Michigan to studying writing and that’s where I was lucky enough to meet my wife. She was the manager of the hotel I was working at. I taught writing and literature for a while at Western Michigan University, Creighton University, and a few community colleges. Then came the birth of our son. I now split my time between writing and chasing after a very active 18 month old boy.
Thank you so much for taking the time from your busy schedule to do this interview with us, it was fun!
Title: Never Too Far
Author: Thomas Christopher
Genre: Fantasy – Dystopia
A harrowing story of love and survival. In a future of scarce resources, where the possession of gas and diesel is punishable by death, a teenage boy and a pregnant girl must save their impoverished family. They risk their lives on a terrifying journey to sell stolen fuel on the black market.