Author Holly Raynes’ story behind dystopian novel “Nation of Enemies”

Over the past several years, one of the most popular genres of books has been futuristic dystopian novels, with books like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” selling millions of copies and garnering hundreds of thousands of dollars off of their movie releases. This past year, new author Holly Raynes has released “Nation of Enemies,” a dystopian story taking place in 2030’s America where safety has completely overcome privacy.

Photo Courtesy of Harper Collins

"Nation of Enemies" was released in the summer of 2015 and explores the difficult balance between personal freedom and safety.

Growing up, Holly Raynes lived in three different states and a total of nine different houses, her family almost constantly moving. She hadn’t considered writing until her fifth grade creative writing teacher inspired her to write. “Since I moved around a lot, I’ve forgotten about a lot of the schools that I went to. Because of that, I’ve forgotten all of my old teacher’s names, except for his. He had us call him Victor, and he was an ‘out of the box’ sort of guy,” Raynes said.

After going to college, where she majored in screenplay, Raynes decided to enter one of her scripts into the Massachusetts Screenwriter Competition. Her screenplay was about a man who could tell when someone was going to die simply by touching them. It was so well written that producers in Hollywood contacted her, praising her work, however, they didn’t actually want the screenplay she wrote. “I was only 27 at the time, and I had no other screenplays written. So they told me to call them when I wrote another one,” Raynes said.

People want to feel protected, but then you have to trade liberty for protection. That is a very slippery slope.”

— Holly Raynes

Because of her success with screenplays, she decided to try writing novels as well. “Writing screenplays helped my ability to write novels. They’re both basically the same thing. They both have three acts, and climaxes at roughly the same time. The only difference is that novels are longer,” Raynes said.

After deciding to write novels, she started to write what would later become “Nation of Enemies.” Three years later, she had finished and decided to take the “traditional route” for getting published. After roughly four months, she got a call from an agent who she liked, so she signed with her. A few months later, her agent lined her up with the publisher Harper Collins, who agreed to publish her debut novel.

My hope is that this book will make people pay attention to the world around them, and to think more about the future.”

— Holly Raynes

“Nation of Enemies” tells the story of an America in which almost all civil liberties are lost. All of America is injected with a MedID, a scientific device that has people’s medical history and chance of disease in the future on it. Everyone’s health is judged on a scale of 1-100, and unless you have a 75, it is impossible to get a job, which leaves millions in poverty. Then, a large scale terrorist attack that has killed millions starts a civil war in America, that continues throughout the story. “People want to feel protected, but then you have to trade liberty for protection. That is a very slippery slope,” Raynes said.

The novel is paced well, with a slow beginning before ramping up towards the middle of the story. The story is told from several different view-points, but each character in the novel is somehow connected to one another, leading to well crafted writing and intertwined plot lines.

“Nation of Enemies” is a well crafted, dystopian thriller that’s themes parallel many of today’s problems in America, which makes the story even more relevant. “My hope is that this book will make people pay attention to the world around them, and to think more about the future,” Raynes said.