NEW YOUNG ADULT PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR THAT DISCUSSES MENTAL HEALTH AND THE MORAL ETHICS OF PURSUING A UTOPIA
In Generation Annihilation, Is “utopia” possible if achieved at one group’s expense–or extinction? Award-winning author Tracy Hewitt Meyer takes readers into the twisting, dark secrets of an abandoned lunatic asylum in her upcoming novel, Generation Annihilation [BHC Press, October 10th, 2023].
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Seventeen-year-old Shaun Treadway is desperately trying to escape his terrible home life. Fearing that his abusive stepfather is one outburst away from killing his mother, Shaun sets fire to his childhood home with his stepfather inside, literally burning down his old life. He flees to his mother’s hometown in West Virginia, seeking a fresh start, but stumbles into a much worse fate when he discovers Blackthorn Peak Lunatic Asylum.
Wandering the grounds of the seemingly abandoned asylum, Shaun meets the elusive and intriguing Cass Rutherford. Shaun’s relief at finding a friend his age in a strange town is short-lived. When he ignores Cass’ warnings to leave, she runs into the asylum, and Shaun, without thought of consequence, darts in after her. Almost immediately, a needle is plunged into his neck, rendering him unconscious, and he wakes up chained to the floor in a straightjacket. It’s not long before he learns that he’s been taken by Esther Richter, a doctor who is hell-bent on perfecting the archaic lobotomy. Further, she is a member of The Agency group, whose mission is to eradicate Shaun’s generation.
With the help of other teens held captive in the asylum, Shaun must break free from The Agency’s grasp, not only to save himself but to save his generation from The Agency’s desperate bid to create what they consider a utopia.
Suspenseful and bone-chilling, Generation Annihilation is perfect for fans of Stranger Things, The Maze Runner, and Asylum. It will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Generation Annihilation is the first in the Blackthorn Peak Duology.
About the Author
TRACY HEWITT MEYER is the award-winning young adult author of the Rowan Slone novels and The Reformation Of Marli Meade. Much of her work centers around the challenges teenagers face, and she has tackled the tough topics of teen pregnancy, self-harm, and domestic violence. She holds a B.A. in English and a Master of Social Work. When not writing, she works as a mental health therapist for adults and couples. She lives in Virginia with her family and beloved pets, where she is currently working on her new novel.
Generation Annihilation is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BHC Press, and other retailers.
Q&A with Tracy Hewitt Meyer
Award-Winning Author of Generation Annihilation, Book 1 of the Blackthorn Peak Duology
Question: What is an overarching theme in Generation Annihilation? Does this theme show up in your other works?
An overarching theme in Generation Annihilation that also carries through every novel I’ve written is hope.
I gravitate toward darker tones in all my novels. In The Rowan Slone Series, I deal with self-harm, domestic violence, and death. In The Reformation of Marli Meade, I tackle religious cults, parental oppression, and restriction of freedom and identity. Generation Annihilation is no different in the dark tone, with a focus on mental health, murder, and the misguided desire of people in power to create a better world, despite the unethical and deadly way they opt to try and achieve those results.
Despite the sinister tone of these novels, hope is always present and ultimately triumphs. Hope can give the weak strength and make the most dismal circumstances temporary. Hope can, in truth, be a lifeline in a character’s darkest moments.
I weave this theme through all my novels because even the tiniest blip of hope can be incredibly powerful. By reflecting this in fictional characters’ lives, I believe it can transcend into the readers’ lives. Isn’t that the beauty of fiction? Through the characters’ hardships and triumphs, readers can learn resilience, perseverance, and the power of hope.
My characters are flawed, vulnerable, and seemingly weak in many ways. But they all possess hope that life will get better. And in the end, it does.
Q: The main character, Shaun, is quite flawed. Why was it important to you to create such a flawed main character? As a writer, how do you go about making a flawed character likable enough to root for?
I tried to make Shaun relatable. He is a seventeen-year-old boy with impulse control issues, a bipolar and ADHD diagnosis, and a hero complex. He has a history of violence and a future that looks grim. I wanted Shaun to be a reflection of many teens, and people at large, for that matter, because we are all flawed. There isn’t one of us who isn’t. That doesn’t mean that life is hopeless or without the promise of a brighter future. And just because one moment in life is chaotic or plunged in crisis, it doesn’t mean one’s whole life has to be. In Shaun’s case, his flaws lead him to the brink of death, but those same flaws make him a survivor.
Our traits are not black and white, good and bad. We are complex creatures who are ever-changing and adapting. I want my characters to reflect the true human experience.
Even before I became a therapist, I was interested in human behavior. Why people do what they do is endlessly fascinating to me. There is always a reason, and digging until you find that reason can open up a whole new world where there is understanding, acceptance, and change. When I write these flawed characters, such as Shaun Treadway, his relatability makes him likable and easy for the reader to root for him. Once I carve out that path with a character and give a plausible reason as to why he does what he does, despite the oftentimes catastrophic consequences, then he’s the guy next door, the boyfriend, the son, the brother, etc. He is someone we can all relate to.
Q: How does your work in the mental health space influence the fictional worlds you create?
The human psyche is fascinating. Why people do what they do and why they make the decisions they make is a cornerstone of therapy and also in creating believable fictional characters. I love exploring triggers, motivations, and reactions in human behavior, both real-life and fictional. People are complex, and creating fictional characters that reflect that can draw the reader into their journey more profoundly than a superficial character likely will. As authors, we want the reader to root for the characters. Making them realistic and relatable is one step toward doing just that.
Q: How do you draw the line between fiction and your work as a therapist? Have you ever encountered a conflict of interest?
I am very protective of the line I draw between my work as a therapist and my work as an author. For starters, I write in the Young Adult genre and I work with adults only. There is no cross-over there. Further, I take both roles very seriously, and am always cognizant of any conflicts. I don’t talk about my writing with therapy clients, and I definitely don’t talk about therapy clients or reference them or their stories in any way in my writing. Not only would that be unethical, but it would invalidate the important relationship between therapist and client.
Q: You describe yourself as an introvert. Why is this such an important part of your identity?
When I was young, I didn’t know what an introvert was. I didn’t have access to endless streams of information like we have now. I just knew I felt different; that daily existence seemed more of a struggle for me than it seemed to be for others, especially when it came to social interactions as well as sudden and inexplicable irritability. What I didn’t know was that I was overstimulated and needed to be alone.
I think it was because of those younger years where I felt unmoored that I have clung to this part of my identify with a protective stronghold.
As I grew older, and grew to understand and accept my quiet nature, I learned to protect it, savor it, and even honor it. First of all, no matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t change it. I can’t be extroverted. And an introverted life is a beautiful, albeit quiet, life. And I finally learned I have nothing to apologize for, no reason to feel less than.
I am also, like many introverts, highly sensitive (not only emotionally, but to stimuli). I have a so-called sixth sense, a deep connection to my intuition and my spiritual world, and I am an empath, all qualities that can make maneuvering today’s chaotic, loud and busy world a challenge. A simple trip to the grocery store, or a phone call to the insurance company can prove overwhelming to me. But these same qualities are what make me tender, sensitive, compassionate and creative.
In a social media world, honoring one’s introverted self can be a challenge. But I honor that part of myself now. Further, by learning to advocate for my own needs, I hope to help others honor and accept their needs and not be cowed by what we or society thinks we should be. This doesn’t only pertain to introverts but to anyone who feels just a little bit, or a lot, different.