Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Christina Dalcher Interview - VOX

Photo Credit: Laurens Arenas

Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at several universities.

Her short stories and flash fiction appear in more than one hundred journals worldwide. Recognition includes the Bath Flash Award short list, nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and multiple other awards. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia, with her husband.

Where were you born and where do you call home?
I wish I could say ‘in a cabbage patch’ with a straight face, but I can’t, so we’ll have to go with Washington, DC. And home has been so many different places over the years. For the moment, it’s the Land of Styron and Barbecue, which is the extreme north of the American South.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Presenting VOX to audiences in two cities I love — Jerez, Spain and Naples, Italy. If there’s anything that can make a girl feel like a true global nomad, it’s talking to international audiences and navigating the subtleties of languages that aren’t my own.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Grow thick skin. I’m thinking scales, rhinoceros hide, full-body chain mail. If you pick a book—any book from Shelley’s Frankenstein to Orwell’s 1984 to King’s The Stand (all of which I consider perfect), you’ll find one-star reviews. Your book will be no different. Treasure the kudos, let the rejections and criticism roll off your back, and keep on writing.

In your new book; VOX, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
In a dystopian near-future where women live in forced silence, are limited to 100 words a day and are forbidden from holding jobs, a neurolinguist is called to resume her research on a cure for aphasia, only to find herself a minor player in a diabolical project whose aim is to silence all women—and perhaps more than that.

Are there authors that you’re excited to engage/work with?
The short answer: anyone who reads my fiction and doesn’t tell me to take a sledgehammer to my laptop.

The serious answer: I’ve been so very fortunate to be part of a vibrant and talented community of flash fiction writers over the past few years. They inspire me, they pick me up when I’m down, and some of them even publish me. I’m especially fond of working closely with two flash writers-turned novelists (Stephanie Hutton and Sophie van Llewyn) who have shared the VOX journey with me from the very beginning. And they still hang around.

What part of VOX did you enjoy writing the most?
Any scenes that could be called horror were my favorites. Not that I’m into splatter-porn, but I’ve always admired writers who can pull off good horror, who can terrify without seeming trashy.

What book would you recommend for others to read?
Anything ridiculously long (think: Atlas Shrugged, Gone with the Wind, or 11/22/63). That way, if you end up stranded on a desert island, you’ve got quite a few pages to keep you company (with the added bonus that when you start all over again, you’ll have forgotten the first half of the book).

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
That I actually could write a believable teenage male.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Easy! Jean McClellan absolutely needs to have drinks with the monster from Frankenstein so she can ask him exactly how he was able to teach himself language while hiding out in that farmhouse.

  • “You know, babe, sometimes I wonder if it was better when you didn’t talk.”
  • My boys do not wear word-counters.
  • After all, one day my daughter will be expected to shop and run a household, to be a devoted and dutiful wife. You need math for that, but not spelling. Not literature. Not a voice.
  • “You stay cool, now. And think about what you need to do to stay free.”
  • My daughter has been silent all day.
  • “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. That’s what they say, right?”
  • One thing I learned from Jackie: you can’t protest what you don’t see coming.
  • Monsters aren’t born, ever. They’re made, piece by piece and limb by limb, artificial creations of madmen who, like the misguided Frankenstein, always think they know better.
  • My fault started two decades ago, the first time I didn't vote, the umpteen times I told Jackie I was too busy to go on one of her marches or make posters or call my congressmen.
  • “There's a resistance?" The word sounds sweet as I say it… "Honey, there's always a resistance.”
What song always makes you happy when you hear it?
“American Woman” by The Guess Who. It also makes me want to dance around the house.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heartbreak or to have never loved before?
Let’s put it this way: If I were Louise Banks in Ted Chiang’s excellent Story of Your Life (on which the movie Arrival was based), I’d have to think very hard before I made the same decision as Louise.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Scuba dive. A close second would be to learn the Lindy Hop.

What are 4 things you never leave home without?
Key, book, wristwatch, sunglasses. The key, so I can get back in. The book, in case I’m bored. The watch serves as an excellent makeshift compass in the event I get lost, and the sunglasses can be used to make a fire.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
“Holy crap. I’m not twenty anymore.”

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial--this can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. 

Praise for VOX

"Christina Dalcher’s debut novel, set in a recognizable near future and sure to beg comparisons to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale, asks: if the number of words you could speak each day was suddenly and severely limited, what would you do to be heard? A novel ripe for the era of #MeToo, VOX (Berkley) presents an exaggerated scenario of women lacking a voice: in the United States, they are subject to a hundred-word limit per day (on average, a human utters about 16,000). Considering the threat of a society in which children like the protagonist’s six-year-old daughter are deprived of language, VOX highlights the urgency of movements like #MeToo, but also of the basic importance of language.” —Vanity Fair

“The females in Dalcher’s electrifying debut are permitted to speak just 100 words a day—and that’s especially difficult for the novel’s protagonist, Jean, a neurolinguist. A futurist thriller that feels uncomfortably plausible.” —O, Oprah Magazine

“In Christina Dalcher’s Vox, women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day. Sounds pretty sci-fi, but the real-life parallels will make you shiver.” —Cosmpolitan

“Vox is a real page-turner that will appeal to people with big imaginations.” —Refinery29

“Fittingly, this book about women being silenced has got everybody talking and calling it The Handmaid’s Tale for 2018.” —Bustle

“VOX is intelligent, suspenseful, provocative, and intensely disturbing—everything a great novel should be.” —Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Chilling and gripping—a real page-turner.” —Karen Cleveland, New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know

“A bold, brilliant, and unforgettable debut.”—Alice Feeney, author of Sometimes I Lie

“With language crystalline and gleaming, and a narrative that really moves, Christina Dalcher both cautions and captivates. The names that come to mind are Margaret Atwood, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley—had Orwell and Huxley had a taste of the information age. VOX is a book for the dystopic present. It woke me up.” —Melissa Broder, author of The Pisces

“[A] provocative debut…Dalcher’s novel carries an undeniably powerful message.” —Publishers Weekly

“A petrifying re-imagining of The Handmaid’s Tale in the present and a timely reminder of the power and importance of language.” —Marta Bausells, ELLE UK

“This book will blow your mind. The Handmaid’s Tale meets Only Ever Yours meets The Power.” —Nina Pottell, Prima

You can purchase VOX at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CHRISTINA DALCHER for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Vox by Christina Dalcher.


  1. I think you should live alone before you move in with someone else. That’s just something that I always wanted to do, and did.

  2. I think everyone should strive to occasionally do things that scare them!

  3. "What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?" Eat fried shrimp--it is life's greatest pleasure!

  4. Try something you have never done before especially if you think you want like it. Travel!