Monday 17 June 2013

Interview with Zoe Cannon author of The Torturer's Daughter

The Torturer's Daughter by Zoe Cannon. 4/5 (Review)

When her best friend Heather calls in the middle of the night, Becca assumes it's the usual drama. Wrong. Heather's parents have been arrested as dissidents - and Becca's mother, the dystopian regime's most infamous torturer, has already executed them for their crimes against the state.

To stop Heather from getting herself killed trying to prove her parents' innocence, Becca hunts for proof of their guilt. She doesn't expect to find evidence that leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew about the dissidents... and about her mother.

When she risks her life to save a dissident, she learns her mother isn't the only one with secrets - and the plot she uncovers will threaten the lives of the people she loves most. For Becca, it's no longer just a choice between risking execution and ignoring the regime's crimes; she has to decide whose life to save and whose to sacrifice.

It's easy to be a hero when you can save the world, but what about when all you can do is choose how you live in it? THE TORTURER'S DAUGHTER is a story about ordinary teenage life amidst the realities of living under an oppressive regime... and the extraordinary courage it takes to do what's right in a world gone wrong.


About Zoe
Zoe Cannon writes about the things that fascinate her: outsiders, societies no sane person would want to live in, questions with no easy answers, and the inner workings of the mind. If she couldn't be a writer, she would probably be a psychologist, a penniless philosopher, or a hermit in a cave somewhere. While she'll read anything that isn't nailed down, she considers herself a YA reader and writer at heart. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and a giant teddy bear of a dog, and spends entirely too much time on the internet.

Stalk Zoe on:
Her Website.


When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Honestly, I can’t think of a time when I didn't want to be a writer. I've been writing for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up I spent most of my time with my nose in a book, and writing my own books seemed like a natural extension of that.

Who are your influences?
Madeleine L’Engle has been a huge influence for me. She’s proof that just because a book is written for a young audience doesn't mean it should be simplistic. Her books have always felt magical to me, full of ideas and wonder and a sense of what matters in the world. I think that’s because of two things: the depth and complexity of her stories, and how (I suspect) she wrote a lot of herself into her books – what drove her, what mattered to her, how she saw the world. I try to include both those elements in my own writing. Orson Scott Card is another influence of mine – I read a lot of his books when I was younger, and I think it’s where I got my love for stories that are full of philosophy and moral dilemmas.

Who is your favorite author? what is your favorite book?
It’s hard to name my favorite author – there are so many to pick from! But if I had to choose just one, I think it would be Lois McMaster Bujold. Her science fiction is good on so many levels – her stories are smart and well-thought-out and just plain fun. As for books, I have three tied for my favorite right now. There’s Benighted by Kit Whitfield, a complex and thoughtful urban fantasy set in a world where almost everyone is born as a werewolf. There’s Warchild by Karin Lowachee, a sci-fi novel with amazing characterization, going deep into the main character’s head as he tries to find a place between his native human race and the aliens who raised him. And there’s Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, a story of friendship in World War II that will not only make you cry but has one of the most interesting character voices I've ever seen.

What do you like to do when your not writing?
I spend a lot of my non-writing time reading. I love books – if I didn't, it wouldn't make much sense for me to write them! Other than that, I like to play computer games, poke around on the internet, and hang out with my husband and dog. My life is pretty boring, really. :) But my books have more than enough excitement for me.

What inspired you to write The torturer's daughter?
I love dystopian fiction – that’s the main reason I write it. But beyond that, I wrote this book because I wanted to see what dystopian oppression would look like in a place that wasn't an exotic future, but was instead someplace just like our own world. I wanted to see what it would be like if one of the villains of the dystopian world, a woman who tortures and executes anyone who questions the regime, happened to be an ordinary person with a life and a family… and what would happen when her daughter was forced to confront the things that her mother had done.

Which of the characters you've created is your favorite?
That’s a tough decision – but I think I’d have to say Becca. Especially now that I've written the sequel to The Torturer’s Daughter. When I sat down to write the sequel, I had some idea of how she had evolved between one book and the next, but I didn't fully appreciate the person she had become until I actually started writing. Even though I know she’s entirely a creation of my own imagination, there were times in the sequel when I just wanted to hug her and tell her how proud I was of her.

Do any of your characters remind you of yourself?
I don’t think I've ever written a character who was based on me, or who reminded me of myself more than not. But I put bits of myself in most of the people I write about, often without realizing it until after the fact. I can see myself in Becca’s contemplativeness, in Micah’s idealism (you’ll meet him soon!), and even in Raleigh Dalcourt’s sense of conviction.

How many books are there going to be in the Internal Defense series?Right now I have five novels planned, as well as two novellas, although that’s not a hard-and-fast number – a story might not work out the way I planned, or another addition to the series might show up demanding to be written. Not all the books will be about Becca and the other characters from The Torturer’s Daughter, either; although the next book, Necessary Sacrifices, will be a direct sequel to The Torturer’s Daughter, I also have plans for stand-alone novels within the series that will explore different characters and different aspects of the world.

What is your favorite thing about writing?
The best thing about writing, in my opinion, is that it lets me take the stories in my head and share them with other people. There’s something magical about that process – how you can start with something that doesn't exist anywhere except your own mind, and turn it into something that complete strangers can experience.

Are you going to stay in the dystopia genre for future projects?
I have ideas for several more dystopian novels, both in the Internal Defense series and in different but equally dark worlds. I've always loved dystopian books, so it makes sense that so many of my ideas fall into that genre. But I also have some non-dystopian stories planned – although everything I write tends to contain darker elements, no matter the genre.

When is the sequel Necessary Sacrifices out?
Necessary Sacrifices will be coming out on July 15th!


  1. Awesome book cover! I'm popping over to Amazon to check it out now! :) Congrats Zoe!

  2. This is a great interview! I think I can identify or connect more with character I read that I can almost feel the author has put parts of themselves in. I bet it's an emotional process because the you would see your flaws and strengths staring at you in the face,

    Thanks for the interview!


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