Spliced is changing the way we look at humanity (and is now available in paperback!). Set in Philadelphia in the near future, humans have the option to splice their DNA with animal genes, changing their outward appearance and becoming chimeras, people who have animal features. When Jimi, a sixteen-year-old girl, finds out her neighbor and best friend Del is going to get spliced, she is drawn into the chimera world and is forced to make a choice: lose her best friend forever or stand up for what is right. I was able to catch a few words with the novel’s author, Jon McGoran.
Maya Shah: Tell me about Jimi and Del.
Jon McGoran: Jimi and Del are neighbors and best friends. Jimi is the main protagonist of the novel. She is very smart and emotional, but also a bit of loner. She used to have friends, but they peeled away over the years, so she was left with Del. Del’s also a loner, and he’s had a pretty rough road, especially with his family. It’s because of Del’s difficult past that he runs away to get spliced.
MS: Does this strain their relationship?
JM: I don’t want to give away to much. But Del’s choice definitely hurts Jimi because in, a way he’s leaving her. Despite this, Jimi stills feel compelled to help him. She’s really open-minded. But she comes into the chimera world not really understanding the community, and only knows what she’s been told in cautionary health videos. She also knows that being a chimera comes with practical ramifications, like not getting the job or into a college.
MS: What is the chimera world like?
JM: There are many reasons why people get spliced. Some people do it for fashion, especially the celebrities and the rich. These are the people who will get spliced at medical spas in Switzerland. But the chimeras I mostly focus on are outsiders. These people also get spliced for fashion or may even spliced as an environmental protest. If there is a species that’s extinct, people will get spliced with that animal’s DNA so some part of that animal still exists. It’s a statement of solidarity. Poorer people get spliced in an abandoned house, and some guy gives you a genie (a shot that splices you with the animal’s DNA). Since it’s unregulated, sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
MS: In addition to splicing, what other problems exist in your novel?
JM: I was really inspired by North Philadelphia, an area that has a lot of blight. People who once lived in the city left for the suburbs, leaving all these beautiful inner city buildings in ruin. In my book, I do the opposite– now, people who have the means try to live in cities and towns, and the suburbs are abandoned.
MS: The villain of the novel is a group called Humans for Humanity. Can you tell me more about them?
JM: H4H is a religious and political group formed to combat the ideas of chimeras. Their leader is a guy named Howard Wells– he’s a rich, tech mogul. Wells made his fortune with computer implants, which are linked to people’s mind. He is a huge proponent of a law to take away chimeras’ human rights.
MS: What was the inspiration behind Humans for Humanity?
JM: There are so many groups today organized around principles of exclusion. They use these principles to demonize others and preach hate.
MS: What do you want people to take away from Spliced?
JM: I wanted to put forth the most compelling idea but knew I needed a compelling story. When people finished Spliced, I wanted them to first wonder what was in store for the characters, and then reflect on what we are doing to our environment.
MS: Do you have any other novels coming out?
JM: Splintered, the sequel to Spliced, is coming out on May 19th. I am currently working on the 3rd book in the series.
Photo via Twitter.