My novel, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED is out now and I’d love for you to read it. The concept of a world where everyone has to pay for every word they speak has a lot of people curious and with curiosity comes questions. I thought it might be helpful to answer a few.
What inspired you to write ALL RIGHTS RESERVED?
In part, I was inspired by the reality that many of us don’t feel free to say what we wish to say. This can be because our ideas aren’t always ready to be articulated, or because the people around us don’t seem ready to hear what we would tell them. It can also be because we are afraid to speak our mind because we don’t think we will be heard, or our heart, because we don’t want to be hurt. For Speth, the main character, the reasons are made external, but the results are the same: communication is difficult and the lack of it is isolating.
I was also inspired by many news stories over the years in which someone has trademarked a word or phrase in a way that seemed extreme to me. In the United States we live in a culture where lacking financial access to good legal counsel leaves many people vulnerable to lawsuits. People can easily be shut down for using a trademark in a way a company doesn’t like, or even for posting a bad review.
Another reason I wrote specifically about words costing money is that I am dyslexic. I didn’t know this for a very long time —I only knew that I was a slower reader than many of my peers. As a result, the “cost” of reading to me is higher than it may be to others. I cannot skim. Every word counts, and they are very valuable to me.
How are words priced in the book?
I don’t go into great detail in the book about the specifics of word pricing because I thought pausing the story to describe the economics of the world would be dull. However, some of the specifics of word pricing are described in greater detail on this page from the U.S. Department of Word$ administration.
Why does your lead character have such a terrible name?
I know I said spoiler-free. Something from the first page of the story isn’t a spoiler, right? Here is what Speth has to say about her own name:
My name was cheap and ugly. Speth. I hated it. It sounded like someone spitting. My parents chose it from a list of discounted girls’ names.
In short, her parents couldn’t afford better.
Is it possible to copyright a word in real life?
No. Words and phrases in the real world can be trademarked, but they cannot be copyrighted. The laws in the world of ALL RIGHTS RESERVED are different.
Why doesn’t Speth make better choices?
Speth has grown up with little adult guidance and, once she chooses not to speak, she can no longer ask for advice or engage in conversation with anyone. This limits her perspective and her ability to work out ideas with other people. Many of her bad choices are the result of having no better options that she can see.