Imagine a place in the Year 2054 where gender selection has led to a ratio of boys to girls of 5 to 1.
A place where marrying off your young daughter is the norm, and mothers, rather than rebelling against the system, instead facilitate the status quo and create a process in which boys must compete to win their future mate. Imagine finding the voice to create such a place in your mind and write about it.
Manotick writer Holly Bodger has imagined just such a place. It is the setting of her first published novel, 5 to 1.
Bodger has been harnessing her imagination through the written word since a very early age. She wrote her first book, a two-page novel, at age six as a young child growing up in Manotick, and has been on the career path since then that leads to the official release of 5 to 1 by major publishing house Alfred A. Knopf on May 12.
Advance copies have been getting rave reviews, including from USA Today, which said “5 to 1 is a visual and intriguing masterpiece that opens the imagination and never leaves even after the book is closed.”
“I’ve always known that I wanted to be a writer,” Bodger said during an interview at her comfortable Manotick home, where she has created a writer’s room suitable for an emerging author who is now focused on writing for the teen fiction market.
Although Bodger, who has worked as a technical writer and now in the publishing field, has written in many forms and many styles over the years, over time she realized that her true voice as a writer of fiction appeals to young readers.
“You pour your heart into a book. You have to find a voice, and write in that voice,” she said of the many works of fiction she has written as she has evolved as a writer.
“Everyone has different tastes, everyone likes different things. If it is not rational to you, then you are not being true to yourself as a writer.”
The subject of her new novel 5 to 1, which has a unique structure written in both verse and prose from the different viewpoints of a girl and a boy who are both trapped by the expectations that fall upon them in the society in which they live, did not emerge out of thin air.
About three years ago, she read a medical article on the ethics of gender selection and its consequences on both girls, and even boys, in places such as China and India that practice forms of gender selection, either for cultural, religious or political reasons.
The world that Bodger creates in 5 to 1 not so far-fetched. It’s a complex issue that has become dear to her heart. On her personal website, http://hollybodger.com, besides information about her work as a writer there is also facts about gender selection and a trailer for a film called, It’s a Girl.
“Obviously, I have exaggerated it to make a point, but it is a very serious issue,” she said.
With the completion of her first published novel, at least the process of writing was something that she was familiar with. Now, for the University of Ottawa grad, comes the completely new experience of promoting her own novel.
First on her schedule is a book signing event at the Indigo Bookstore at 125 RioCan Ave. in Barrhaven on Saturday, May 16 from 11 to 3 p.m. After that she has events lined up with other authors in New York and San Francisco on the horizon