Writing a Dystopian Past, a guest post by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Although the future of YA dystopian fiction in fall 2019 seemed as bleak as the novels’ futuristic worlds, editor Amy Fitzgerald at Carolrhoda Lab told my new agent, Jacqui Lipton, that she wanted to publish a book in this genre. “I don’t have one,” Agent Jacqui said, “but I have a historical novel that may fit.”

My historical novel Torchis set in Communist Czechoslovakia, a country that doesn’t exist today (it split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993), but in 1969, the people of this nation could only watch helplessly as books and record albums disappeared from library and store shelves, their favorite newspapers were shut down, and their favorite musicians, actors, and writers imprisoned or silenced. A year earlier, the same people enjoyed a brief period of freedom known as the Prague Spring, one of many joyful rebellions that took place around the world in 1968. But on August 21, the Soviet Union invaded to crush these shoots of freedom and democracy . Soviet troops occupied Czechoslovakia and installed a hardline government that reversed not only all the reforms of the Prague Spring but also every move toward liberalization during the previous decade.