I am very pleased to announce that my new novel, a young adult fantasy set in a future America in the oppressive grip of Christian fundamentalists (who are the story's villains), will be brought out by Green Writers Press in September of this year.  Green Writers Press is a small publisher whose mission is to raise awareness of sustainability and climate-change issues through literature.  Here is the press's fall catalog copy:

Don Bredes's new young adult (YA) fantasy is called Polly and the One and Only World.  His first novel, Hard Feelings, was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults in 1977, a New York Times Notable Book, and a 20th Century Fox feature film.  We are absolutely thrilled to be publishing his new book!  

Set in a much-diminished future America called the Christian Protectorates, a poor country ravaged by coastal flooding, drought, and cataclysmic social upheaval, the story features 15-year-old Polly Lightfoot, a maiden witch of rich heritage and tender ability in the craft.  When the story opens, Polly is forced to flee New Florida, where she has taken temporary refuge to escape a military purge of the country’s infidels, pagans, and followers of false creeds.  With the help of her steadfast familiar, Balthazar, a raven, and her brave teenage companion, Leon, whom she meets on the way, Polly undertakes an epic journey from the deep south to the wild north to be reunited in Vermont with her family and to save her ancient craft from obliteration.

Don Bredes is a versatile, visionary novelist.  His frightening, vividly realized depiction of our stricken land in the stifling grip of fundamentalists offers young readers a galvanizing motive for preventive action.  Not only do readers learn a great deal about witchcraft and religious oppression, but the chilling aspect of an America dominated by hateful zealots in the wake of climate catastrophe presents them with an inspiring challenge--today--to forestall the dire consequences of climate chaos.  Gloomy though Polly’s world may be, her story does not make use of the horrific realism found in dystopian novels like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, or even in Susan Collins’s Hunger Games.  Rather, Polly and the One and Only World gives young readers a vision of a future that will inspire them to appreciate their own freedom and their own capacity to work for positive social and political change.

I'm really excited about this one!  I also expect that in some communities the book’s controversial themes will encounter threats of banning--which does not deter me in the least from publishing it.  This is a novel that will move youthful minds and stir valuable and timely discussion wherever it finds readers.  Watch for it.

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I always love to hear about new thoughtful books by atheists. I wish I had more interest in witches and/or YA fantasy. I hope this one does well for you, Don, and manages to stir up some controversy and get those YAs to think!


Thanks, Susan.  As a sophisticated YA, I expect it will see a good amount of adult interest.  It's a little surprising, really, what a strong audience there is among adults for YA, even the pedestrian stuff, like the Twilight series.  PASSAGE is a good one.

You might have an interest in my suspense/mystery series.  The three novels, COLD COMFORT (2001), THE FIFTH SEASON (2005), and THE ERRAND BOY (2009), are each set in contemporary Vermont and each inspired by a real crime here.  And my sleuth character, Hector Bellevance, is an avowed atheist, although he doesn't make a whole lot of it--unless the subject comes up. 

I might, indeed, be interested in reviewing them for Patheos.com, if they're all available as ebooks and I could read them at my leisure...? I imagine they're not new enough for your publisher to send me hard copies. Or I could do a Q&A with you after reading some of your books.

Thanks very much for your interest, Susan.  The books are available through most libraries, and the last two are available as ebooks, too, I think--though, you're right, they're too long out of print to be available from Random House.  Reviews (including reviews by Marilyn Stasio*) were excellent, even if sales were not.  It's a crowded genre. 

*Marilyn Stasio, NYTBR, May 8, 2005

 The unspoken fear in tiny rural towns with inbred populations is that one of their own might someday snap and start mowing down the neighbors. That fear is realized in THE FIFTH SEASON (Three Rivers, paper, $12), Don Bredes's second novel set in the Vermont border town of Tipton and featuring Hector Bellevance, his unassuming town constable. After 63 consecutive days of rain, sleet and snow, Tipton is ready for a bit of spring sunshine. What it gets is a town father who suffers a meltdown and shoots the sheriff and the town clerk before disappearing into the woods. While Hector doesn't entirely believe that Marcel Boisvert, the town road commissioner, is behind the murder spree, he joins the manhunt for the missing official. What Hector does believe is that seemingly inexplicable outbursts of violence take years, generations even, to fester into a poisonous hatred of one's neighbors -- a position that Bredes argues with grave eloquence in this disquieting novel.

Hi Susan,

What subject matters within atheism are trending right now? I'd love for you to review my work, and I'm in a position to write about almost anything.

That's a new question for me, Andy. I mostly review books or other finished works. I rarely pay attention to the trends per se. What kind of work do you actually do?

Perhaps you'd like to read my blog "Creative Atheist" at Patheos and see if anything you write would be suitable to try as a guest post. I'm open to considering all kinds of posts, if they're well written and well "argued."


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