Need some Bliss in your life? Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau are here to tell you how and talk a little about the inspiration behind this story. There is a wonderful contest to enter as well as an excerpt to read.
Hi! We’re Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau, authors of Bliss. We’re touring the web talking about our influences, our writing process, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at our book, and even a sneak peek or two! And what would a blog tour be without a contest? We’re giving away a copy of the first novel we wrote together: King of Dublin!
Here’s today’s look at one of our influences for the Bliss: the history of crime and punishment. And is it rehabilitation or revenge that motivates the law?
Hi! Lisa here. A long, long time ago, I started a thesis at university. It didn’t last long. I threw it in once I was tempted by the lure of full time work, and an actual full time wage. There’s only so long you can survive on two-minute noodles and fierce late night discussions about philosophy. Anyway, I went and got a job, and the thesis was never written.
Had it been, it would have been all about the history of crime and punishment. Specifically, the Panopticon, which was a prison designed by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. The design of the Panopticon meant that every cell could be monitored by a guard in a single, central guardroom. While of course a single person couldn’t be looking at every prisoner in every cell all the time, the prisoners themselves would have no idea when they were being observed and would adjust their behaviour accordingly. This fits very nicely into the Victorian idea that criminals, like poor people, foreigners, and children, were untrustworthy and morally degenerate.
The Victorians knew that prisons didn’t work. You sent a man to prison for a minor offence, and what happened? He met other prisoners inside, and came out with new criminal skills. The Panopticon would prevent fraternisation between prisoners, and prevent them from forming criminal networks they could exploit once they were released. If you couldn’t speak to a fellow prisoner, and if you couldn’t even recognise one once you were outside, good luck getting together for that next big crime spree. Sounds cruel? Here’s the previous method:
It was in Victorian times that society first started to question the point of prison. Was it to punish, or was it to rehabilitate? Interestingly, this is a question we’re still struggling with today, and one that I don’t think we’re any closer to answering.
In Bliss, it’s a question that Rory James thinks the city state of Beulah has figured out: rehabilitation through restitution. Convicted criminals pay off their debt to society with a period of servitude where they are indentured to the person they wronged. Rory is a recent immigrant to Beulah and only finds all this out once he’d the victim of a crime, and suddenly expected to share his home with the man who assaulted him: Tate Paterson.
Tate, another outsider, didn’t look any further than the fact that Beulah had no prisons before deciding to try his luck thieving there. It never occurred to him that there were no prisons in Beulah because they had an altogether more unusual method of crime prevention. In Beulah there is no need for guards, or masks, or chians or Panopticons. In Beulah, Tate’s own mind will become his prison.
They’ll put a chip in his head that will prevent him from being violent. It will make him desperate to earn Rory’s forgiveness, and his praise. It will make him want to serve in any way he can. It will make Tate a happy slave.
And he won’t be able to tell a soul.
Thanks for following our tour! To celebrate our release, we’re giving away a copy of our first joint release — King of Dublin. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for us to contact you, be it your email, your twitter, or a link to your facebook or goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because we won’t be able to see it otherwise! On September 1, we’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win the prize!
They’re always happy.
Rory James has worked hard all his life to become a citizen of the idyllic city-state of Beulah. Like every other kid born in the neighboring country of Tophet, he’s heard the stories: No crime or pollution. A house and food for everyone. It’s perfect, and Rory is finally getting a piece of it.
So is Tate Patterson. He’s from Tophet, too, but he’s not a legal immigrant; he snuck in as a thief. A city without crime seems like an easy score, until he crashes into Rory during a getaway and is arrested for assaulting a citizen. Instead of jail, Tate is enrolled in Beulah’s Rehabilitation through Restitution program. By living with and serving his victim for seven years, Tate will learn the human face of his crimes.
If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. Tate is fitted with a behavior-modifying chip that leaves him unable to disobey orders—any orders, no matter how dehumanizing. Worse, the chip prevents him from telling Rory, the one man in all of Beulah who might care about him, the truth: in a country without prisons, Tate is locked inside his own mind.
You can read an excerpt and purchase Bliss here.
About the Authors
Lisa Henry lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write.
Her writing reflects everything she loves: diverse casts of characters, a sense of history and place, equal parts witty and filthy dialogue, the occasional mythological twist, and most of all, love—in all its weird and wonderful forms.
When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her daughter or sipping a drink at her favourite coffee shop.
She also writes queer-flavoured M/F as Heloise Belleau.
- Chat with her on Twitter using the handle @HeidiBelleau.
Browse her website at HeidiBelleau.com or HeloiseBelleau.com.
Check out her books on Goodreads.
Follow her Facebook and Tumblr accounts.
Or contact her using good old-fashioned email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the entire tour here…