Lise Haines Guest Post and Giveaway

Posted July 22, 2010 by Emily in Uncategorized / 48 Comments

Lise Haines

By: Lise Haines
Author of GIRL IN THE ARENA  (Review)

I was talking with a 16-year old girl the other day who lives in a pretty chill suburb. In fact, it’s so chill, so safe, that it’s been named the most boring town in its state. And I asked her to answer this question: If you were going to rate the world on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the most peaceful place imaginable, 10 the most violent, and you had to rate our planet as a whole, what number would you give it? She thought for a moment and said: “Eight. I wouldn’t want to lie to you. It’s definitely an eight.”

Last night, I saw INCEPTION and honestly, I can’t wait to see it again. I’m a movie addict and this one is visual perfection. I love the idea of dreams within dreams. And it’s cool that it conveys a message about confronting our demons. But there’s something else that’s undeniable about this film. Around all the gorgeous visuals and beautiful faces and dream weaving, there’s a whole lot of straight-up violence.
It makes me wonder if we’ve always had this much violence running amok in our subconscious life; if only a full measure of violence leaves us thoroughly entertained; if this is just part of big movie making now; if this is about paying tribute to other films like Blade Runner; if all of the above are true; or if I’m just taking things too seriously again. I do that sometimes.

When I was first working on GIRL IN THE ARENA, I was one of those people who had to turn away from most graphic/violent movie scenes. I’m not like that now. In order to understand the neo-gladiator culture I began to write about, I had to keep my eyes open. I didn’t understand, for a long time, why I was writing about such a violent world. In fact, I kept thinking the whole thing was pretty nuts. Hunger Games didn’t exist then, and I continually asked myself why I was writing this crazed book.

Finally, I just got excited about working in unfamiliar territory, where I was taking a lot of risks. And eventually, I began to understand that I was saying something about the impact of violence on our culture, especially on the way young women relate to, and interact with, a violent world. As I’ve written before, some of this came from the fact that tens of thousands of young American women have gone off to fight in foreign wars in the last decade. And if you add this to the intensity of some of the video games, what we see on the internet, 9/11…

So, after I saw INCEPTION, I began to think about my conversation with the 16-year old. If the world is an 8 to her, it really makes you think in a whole new way about what it’s like for a young woman in Afghanistan or the Gaza Strip or Somalia. I’ve trained myself not to look away like a whole lot of people, and for so many of us, the way to do that is to numb out a little or even a lot. And sometimes, we use that numb feeling when we watch the news, in order to know what’s happening but to not get entirely crushed by it. All of this makes me wonder how you would rate the world on a 1 to 10 violence scale, and exactly where you think we’re headed.

LISE HAINES is the author of three novels, Girl in the Arena, published in the US and the UK (Bloomsbury) and in Turkey (Alfa-Artemis Yayınevi); Small Acts of Sex and Electricity (Unbridled Books), a Book Sense Pick in 2006 and one of ten “Best Book Picks for 2006” by the NPR station in San Diego ; and In My Sister’s Country, (Penguin/Putnam), a finalist for the 2003 Paterson Fiction Prize. Her short stories and essays have appeared in a number of literary journals and she was a finalist for the PEN Nelson Algren Award.

Haines is Writer in Residence at Emerson College. She has been Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard, and her other teaching credits include UCLA, UCSB, and Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She grew up in Chicago, lived in Southern California for many years, and now resides in the Boston area. She holds a B.A. from Syracuse University and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Author Website
Publisher’s Website

Win a paperback copy of
By: Lise Haines
Synopsis:  It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a gladiator’s daughter steps into the arenaLyn is a neo-gladiator’s daughter, through and through.  Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family.  Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator.  Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules—and the GSA—can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn’s seventh father, he also captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him… For fans of The Hunger Games and Fight Club, Lise Haines’ debut novel is a mesmerizing look at a world addicted to violence—a modern world that’s disturbingly easy to imagine.

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48 responses to “Lise Haines Guest Post and Giveaway

  1. OMG! This sounds amazing! How have I not heard of it yet? If I don't win it's going right on my wishlist (okay, I'm putting it on my wishlist right now anyway!) : D

  2. I love all the Gladiator type movies. Spartacus was an awesome show. I think a female Gladiator would be a really interesting take. I'd love to read this book!

  3. Keeping your eyes open and taking risks is brave, and I feel I should do the same with my writing. Thanks for all the great points and the lovely interview!
    Girl in the Arena sounds incredibly fascinating!

  4. I have to agree–we are more insulated to violence in the US compared to other parts of the world (like Israel, for example). Great post, I've been looking forward to reading this!

  5. I'd probably give it an 8 also, but some counties are a definite 10 while others would probably be a much safer 5. Interesting that a 16 would have such a strong opinion of the world as a whole.


  6. This post is so interesting. I think that part of why I enjoyed Hunger Games so much is because it did explore the possibility that people could become so hardened to violence that they would have no problem watching live people kill each other on television. The impact of violence on a culture is such an interesting topic, and I'm interested to see what Girl in the Arena has to say about it.

  7. That is a very interesting point the author made in her guest post. She's right too, if an American girl rated the world at an 8, I can't imagine what some of the people in other parts of the world could be thinking. There are so many other countries plagued with war and violence that the citizens have to live with every day of their lives. Thanks for the guest post and the giveaway. It sounds like a good book.

  8. What an insightful way to go about writing. I know for writers a story will usually pop out of something that interests them or sparks an idea in their brain, but to dive into an area you don't really even like (but learn to! that's good) is a brave thing. And it paid off! I haven't read this one yet but would love to. Sounds like Haines knows what she's doing.

  9. I agree, the violence is too much. Young women are faced with fighting or being prey. Neither is ideal. I hope your book helps make people realize how mean our world can be. (and what we can do to fix it)

  10. Ky

    Great comments on desensitization, Lise. I know I generally separate myself from the reality of news casts and war updates. I'm very excited to read your book and I'm so glad you continued writing it even when you thought it was crazy to delve into a violent world!

    Excellent guest post, Emily. Keep 'em coming!

  11. I loved how you talked about Inception, violence, and your initial difficultly in writing violent scenes. I'm reflecting now on movies and books that I've read recently, as well as our society and I have to agree with a lot of the conclusions that you've drawn or the questions that you've pondered. I'm looking forward to reading your book!

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