Hello, everyone! Today we are thrilled to host our stop on the official When We Wake blog tour! The third novel from the thoughtful, wonderful Karen Healey, When We Wake is a future dystopian SFF novel about an Australian teen who – thanks to the miracles of cryogenics and modern science – is revived a hundred years in the future following her untimely death. To celebrate the release of the book, we are thrilled to have a very special interview – but not with Karen Healey. Instead, we are very excited to have a quick chat with Abdi, one of the main characters in When We Wake!
Abdi is an immensely talented musician from Djibouti, who is in Australia thanks to a “Talented Alien” visa, and who crosses Teagan’s (When We Wake‘s heroine) path in school. Here to answer a few sensitive questions about immigration, please give a warm welcome to Abdi!
The Book Smugglers: Hello, Abdi, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today – especially about such a sensitive and loaded topic, immigration.
Abdi: You’re welcome. I understand this interview won’t be ‘cast until after I leave Australia?
The Book Smugglers: That’s right.
Abdi: All right. That’s good.
The Book Smugglers: Let’s get started. The Australia of the future is a place of plenty, but also has incredibly stringent policies when it comes to immigrants – in particular, its No Migrant policy means that no foreigners can enter and be naturalized as citizens. As a temporary resident, travelling on a short term visa, what does this No Migrant policy mean to you? How does it affect your family and your future?
Abdi: It means that there are severe restrictions on my time here. I have 48 hours after graduation – or after I have been deemed ineligible to graduate – to leave Australia. It doesn’t really mean a lot to my family. They don’t want to live in Australia. I don’t want to live in Australia. I want to go back to Djibouti.
But many people do want to live in Australia, to permanently move here as residents, and they’re not allowed. Those that actually make the trip anyway are automatically criminalized and imprisoned in refugee camps. That’s concerning.
The Book Smugglers: Your friend, Tegan, has been revived after 100 years of cryogenic sleep – and by some is seen as an unwanted/not-real Australian, that is taking precious resources (and taxpayer dollars) away from “real” Australians. Where do you stand on the question of taxpayer dollars, resources, and immigrants? Should Tegan, or any immigrant, be allowed access to Australia’s borders and resources?
Abdi: First, I would just like to clarify that Tegan is not an immigrant. She is a natural born Australian citizen. That she died doesn’t mean she stopped being Australian – people talk about famous figures in Australian history as “Australian”, even though they’re dead. Tegan’s citizenry undoubtedly continued posthumously, and into her revival.
I do strongly believe that a recognition of basic human rights obliges nations with resources to share with people who have nothing. Whether the revival process is an ethical one, given a vast world population and diminishing resources, is another question.
I don’t know the answer, I’m sorry. I’m glad Tegan’s alive.
The Book Smugglers: There are a number of militant groups in Australia, violently set against immigrants, in particular, the Australia for Australians (A4A) party. The widespread anger towards immigrants and refugees from third world countries, or “thirdies,” is a frightening reality. Can you talk about the people and reactions you’ve encountered during your time in Australia, good and bad?
Abdi: I would rather not.
The Book Smugglers: Really?
Abdi: It is unpleasant to think about.
The Book Smugglers: We respect that. Moving on then – A dirty secret behind Australia’s pristine image is the fact that any refugees who make it to Australia’s shores are thrown into refugee camps – prison camps, really. Do you know about these camps, and what do you think should be done about them?
Abdi: The fact of the camps isn’t much of a secret. Australians know the camps are there. But because the media aren’t allowed in to report on what goes on there, there’s no way to tell those stories, to try and get Australians to understand or empathize. The way the camps are run, what might be happening to the refugees – that’s where the secrets lie.
I think the refugees should be treated like refugees, not criminals. They are currently treated worse than criminals. Criminals get beds and lawyers and running water. It would be more accurate to say that I think the refugees should be treated like human beings, with the basic rights and dignities of human beings.
The Book Smugglers: Which single issue, affected by immigration policies, is the most important to you, to your friends, and to your family?
Abdi: Hm. May I rephrase? You can’t really say there’s a “single issue.” For example, The No Migrant Policy is appalling in a number of ways: it’s a powerful nation behaving contemptuously towards the citizens of other, less powerful nations and getting away with it; the criminalization and imprisonment of refugees is a stunning human rights abuse; it enforces the ideology of what’s-mine-is-mine-and-can’t-be-yours; it punishes poverty and promotes xenophobia.
But the No Migrant Policy isn’t the refugee problem that most concerns my family – in Djibouti, the major immigration issue is simply providing enough support for the refugees that come to us, primarily from Chad. And again, it’s not just a single issue. We don’t have enough health or mental health professionals to meet their needs, for example, and attracting qualified people to Djibouti can be difficult. When it comes to our refugees, finding enough water is an issue, security is an issue, education is an issue – it’s hard. But at least Djibouti’s making an effort.
The Book Smugglers: Thank you, Abdi, for your time and candor. We sincerely appreciate the interview!
About When We Wake:
My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.
Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.
But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.
Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?
Award-winning author Karen Healey has created a haunting, cautionary tale of an inspiring protagonist living in a not-so-distant future that could easily be our own.
You can read more about When We Wake on Karen’s website.
Karen Healey will also be featured in a Live at the Lounge author video chat on March 23 – she’ll be talking about When We Wake with Malinda Lo! Tune in HERE.
The Book Trailer:
Courtesy of the publisher, we have one copy of When We Wake up for grabs! The contest is open to street addresses in the US only and will run until Sunday March 17 at 12:01am (EST). In order to enter, use the form below. Good luck, folks!
Make sure to stop by later for our review of When We Wake!