J.H.R. Lawless is joining us today to talk about their novel, This is the Good part. Here’s the publisher’s description:
You want a democratic revolution? Because this is how you get a democratic revolution.
On the cusp of the 22nd century, the world has long forgotten Liam Argyle, and the former reality show host turned failed rebel couldn’t be happier. Well, perhaps he could—not being locked away in a high-tech nightmare asylum home would be a good start—but he has at least earned some small measure of peace in his forced retirement in the remote English institution. After all the mistakes he made along the way, it’s probably more than he deserves.
But even that peace shatters when past good deeds return to haunt him. He is pulled back into the limelight of the next generation’s fight for direct democracy, in a Solar System ravaged by a century and a half of unchecked corporate power and greed.
On the run, and with old friends and young new allies depending on him to turn their collective dreams of true democracy into a reality, maybe the System hasn’t quite seen the last of Liam Argyle, after all.
What’s J.H.R’s favorite bit?
This is the Good Part is the third book in the General Buzz series—and in a way, this may well be where the series should have started. This is where the slow burn of mounting outrage and rebellion against an inhuman status quo in the first two books culminates, and ushers in an imperfect but objectively better Solar System, run through direct democracy.
My favourite bit while working on the story is probably the one that best brings home that message. As part of an entirely peaceful protest in the streets of London, the septuagenarian protagonist and his crew encounter the new and « corporate-improved » version of the Houses of Parliament: a nightmarish, Disneyfied amusement park mocking parliamentary traditions and traditional democracy as a whole.
I’ve spent the last two decades working in various parliamentary functions, and no doubt due to my own years of experience with the inner workings of Parliament, I found this bit extremely fun to write—not to mention easy. It very nearly wrote itself, since the practice and traditions of Parliament are already pretty dang ridiculous as is.
In This is the Good Part, this inherently absurd nature of parliamentary life gives us a funhouse scene with features such as a big googly-eyed Usher of the Black Rod park mascot, the Haunted House of Lords, Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet bumper cars, the Filibuster carousel, as well as Stone’s Scones snack booth.
In the light of the recent attacks on parliamentary function and authority around the world, my agent and editor team in the U.S. was understandably dubious about keeping any scene involving protest at a seat of Parliament in the book. The scene was very nearly cut.
And maybe that’s another reason why this is my favourite bit in This is the Good Part; it’s a fundamentally fun scene I was able to rework and save, while still addressing the very real and obviously legitimate concerns of the rest of the team involved in making the book a reality.
It’s only a small part of a larger story and theme, but I’m glad the scene survived through to the final print version of the book. Hopefully readers out there will have as much fun reading it as I did writing it, and trying to boil down some of my own experiences working at Parliament into a fun scene in service of a larger story and its deeper democratic themes.
J.R.H. Lawless is a Hugo Best Novel and Astounding longlist nominated author from Atlantic Canada who blends comedy with political themes — drawing heavily, in both cases, on their experience as a lawyer and as Secretary General of a Parliamentary group at the French National Assembly. Their novels Always Greener and The Rude Eye of Rebellion are part of the General Buzz series. They are represented by Rick Lewis at Martin Literary.