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Writers Inspiring Change featured book review: Broken Dreaming: A Broken Series - Book 1, by Neal Solomon

Broken Dreaming: (The Broken Series Book 1) by Neal Solomon is a dystopian and coming-of-age thriller. In the wake of a global meltdown, society seems to have morphed into small encampments or groups of survivors, where people are living the simple and idyllic life, whether farming, mining or otherwise, they live off the land, they have strong community ties and a leadership hierarchy that is shared by everyone who comes of age - however, they are segregated and do not interact with other communities. In this we find Ramsey, a young man who has rarely ventured far from his group, but who is experiencing bizarre dreams of a place and people which he cannot reconcile. This stirs him, raises questions in his mind, and eventually, along with his closest friends, they head out of the encampment to explore the world beyond, searching for answers to questions plaguing them - if not simply, the power of curiosity. They soon discover that the world is not what they have been told, or taught, nor even the small box they have existed in for their entire lives. Out there is danger. Out there they encounter a creature so brutal and terrifying that it drives them to find out why it exists, how it exists, who created it; and at every juncture, as they meet more people, as they endure life and death encounters, the mysterious threads begin to slowly unravel as they discover that their paradisal lifestyle back home is anything but that. This story shows us that the cultural threads of the past, even if decimated by war, can easily survive and endure and become the very fabric for a new society of slaves and masters. Recommended reading.

Review by International Writers Inspiring Change

About Neal Solomon

What inspired you to write? 

I've always enjoyed stories but when I was younger I didn't think I could write a full length novel so I just never tried. It wasn't until I left my job and between jobs, I was feeling much more creative and had many stories in my head that I wanted to get out. This story in particular started by wondering what it would be like to meet myself from another reality. I then started wondering what that reality would be like and how growing up in a different reality would affect who I am. I like the post-apocalyptic genre so I thought that would be the different environment I could explore. Ramsey, the main character, was loosely based on this idea. 

What Inspired your book?

One of my favourite stories and video games is Final Fantasy Tactics. I put several ideas from this game into my book. Anyone who knows the game will recognize names like Mustadio and Ovelia. The characters of Ramsey and Darren are takes on Ramza and Delita from that game. The setting of the game and the book is very different, but I wanted to pay some homage to one of my favourite stories in my writing. The names were initially place holder names but I grew connected to them and didn't change them. I also wanted to write the post-apocalyptic genre a little different from what I know. Generally, it's a genre in a very desperate world. Often there are zombies, and other humans killing each other for resources. I wanted to show a better view of humanity. It starts out very peaceful. No one is fighting each other. Most are isolated by surviving peacefully in small communities. Everything is more than what it seems at first, and the heroes of the story uncover what is really happening along with the reader, but it doesn't take away the fact that the world in Broken Dreaming is not a cut throat, violent world. There is violence. There are lies and manipulation and secrets, but people in general are kind. 

Regarding Ramsey as the main character - I wanted him to be a normal person. He is helpful, he is kind and often unaware of what is going on around him. He's a young farmer because that is how her grew up. He's not particularly gifted at anything. He's just a nice guy. I like the idea of the protagonist not being super human (aside from maybe being very handsome, but this is fiction and main characters are good looking!). Over his story arch in this book and the series that follows - this is the first of a series of four books - I wanted to show how his actions affect the world around him without violence, without being the smartest person in the room, but just by being kind and trying to empathise with others. You will have to wait until the final book to see how successful I am at conveying that, but that is my intention.

The other two main characters I did use more standard science fiction tropes. It's fun and I like that, so I wasn't going to reinvent the wheel here. Darren is smart in a way that only science fiction can do. Ally, the third main character, is a butt kicking girl with ADHD. Both were very fun to write.

What are you aspiring for as a writer?

So writing has become a hobby for me. I enjoy it. I work full time and have a family so I can't put as much time into it as I would like, but if we are talking about aspirations... sure, I'd like to make a living from writing. I have many stories in my head, so I could write and write everyday and spend my life doing that. If I ever sell enough books to quit my day job, you bet that's what I'd do! I'd be lying if I said I didn't also dream of my story becoming a movie. I picture it as a movie as I write it. I think each book would make an awesome movie. I have also created a board game based on the book. It's a prototype right now. it plays well and it a lot of fun. I'm still trying to figure out how to make the game into something real that I can sell and put out into the world. I have very limited time and resources to make this happen so it's moving slowly right now. I hope to get it out one day. I have more books and games to make based on them.  

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