Out of the Mouths of Characters: Nona from Pattie Palmer-Baker's 'MALL'

Today is Character Interview Day!  We have Nona of Pattie Palmer-Baker's new dystopian novel, MALL, with us today.  Enjoy!


Interviewer: You were selected to be a main character in the novel, Mall. Were you surprised or were you expecting to be chosen?

Nona: I was very surprised. I have been without an identity for a long time.

Interviewer: Is being chosen something you dreamed of?

Nona: Not really. I wasn’t a character in search for an author. I was living a peaceful life – sort of drifting along, content to listen to the chatter of selected characters.

Interviewer: What did you expect after you were picked?

Nona: Well, I’ve listened to a lot of female characters discuss the plots they lived in. They talk a lot about lost love and found love and sometimes living happily ever after. I thought that was what was in store for me.

Interviewer: What do you think about your appearance?

Nona: I’m a little disappointed. I expected dark hair and eyes and a curvy body. Instead the author made me slim with white-blonde hair. My eyes are light and no mascara on my blonde eyelashes.

Interviewer: In the book, aren’t you are considered extremely beautiful?

Nona: Yes. I have good features, and I guess I stand out among all the other beautiful women. They all look expertly made-up.

Interviewer: The author makes you a ‘mental health practitioner’. How do you feel about that?”

Nona: I admit I was taken aback. I have to learn a lot of stuff.

Interviewer: Really? Like what?

Nona: How to talk to a ‘client’. What medications are available. Things like that.

Interviewer: What are you doing when the book opens?

Nona: I am in a session with a client, and, of all things, I’m bored.

Interviewer: Forgive me for saying this, but isn’t the client talking about    her sex life? That doesn’t sound boring and, anyway, so what? We all get bored.

Nona. Sex is what almost all my clients talk about so yes, it can be boring. And, no Mallites don’t – or should I say aren’t supposed to – get bored, not in Mall where so many kinds of pleasures and nonaddictive drugs – oops, Mallites say pharms – are available. Actually, my client does reveal something pretty startling and definitely not boring.

Interviewer: Oh, do tell.

Nona: No, I would be disclosing too much. Suffice to say the client talks about something against the Mall Code.

Interviewer: Mall Code? What’s that?

Nona: What Mallites live by. You know, things like work at your job, consume, and follow the rules, like always being polite. There’s a lot more, but it would take too long to go into.

Interviewer: Doesn’t sound too hard. Going back to the beginning, does the author explore what your client tells you or does anything else exciting occur in the first few pages?

Nona: All kinds of things happen. We experience a black-out, one of the disturbances that have been plaguing Mall lately. Then a Mall Guard enters the room informing me of my mandatory attendance at a meeting with the Mall Managers – sort of shocking because MHPs never attend those meetings. After that, because I’m the MHP on call, I hear on the intercom that Mall Guards are bringing me an emergency client.

Interviewer: MHP?

Nona: Mental Health Practitioner.

Interviewer: Oh, I see. Anyway, that’s a lot to happen in the first couple of pages.

Nona: You’re telling me.

Interviewer: What was the emergency?

Nona: The guards bring me Sara, the other main character, to be treated.

Interviewer: So there’s more than one main character? Why did they bring her to you? Was she crazy or something?

Nona: Mallites don’t use the term, crazy; instead disordered or deranged. They bring her to me because she amoks, their way of saying she loses control.

Interviewer: What happened?

Nona: She amoks because she thinks she is no longer in her world.

Interviewer: What do you mean?

Nona: She believes she comes from a different world. This is disordered because Mallites believe nothing exists outside of Mall.

Interviewer: Can you describe where it happens and what she does when she, as you say it, amoks?

Nona: No, I not supposed to.

Interviewer: Okay. Well, what do you do after she is brought to your office?

Nona: I offer her a mem-wipe, a process that would get rid of her what I consider false memories to stop her suffering. She refuses and I …
I, well …

Interviewer: You seem upset.

Nona: I guess I am. I should find a way to make her, but I don’t. Instead I go against the Mall Code – in so many ways.

Interviewer: Why?

Nona: I don’t want her to change into just another Mallite. I guess because when she comes into my life, I’m never bored again.

Interviewer: Does this mean you never treat her with the mem-wipe? Won’t her behavior alert someone that she is – how did you say it – disordered?

Nona: Actually, I can’t tell you too much or I will upset the author.

Interviewer: What can she do? The book is already published.

Nona: Yes, but she is the Creator. She could still rewrite it and make more painful things happen to me or she could write a sequel and not include me.

Interviewer: Oh, I doubt that. Anyway, can you tell me anything you do to help Sara fit in?

Nona: It involves a lot such as cosmetic procedures to improve her appearance.

Interviewer: Is something wrong with how she looks?

Nona: She’s sort of ordinary. Almost everyone is beautiful in Mall.

Interviewer: So is that enough or do you need to do more so she can pass for a Mallite?

Nona: I have to do a lot more. If I don’t help her pass as a Mallite, she will be apprehended and forced to undergo a mem-wipe. She definitely does not want that and neither do I. Everything we do to avoid being caught – and we do a lot – leads to a chain of events that cause unforeseen consequences. You have to read the book for details. I will say this much. I learn to care about her, something not permitted in Mall.

Interviewer: Why not? Wait, I get it. You fall in love with her.

Nona: I always forget what that means. Something sexual?

Interviewer: Yes I guess you could put it that way.

Nona: No, I don’t want to have sex with her. I … I just want to be close to her.

Interviewer: Forgive me for saying this but so what?

Nona: Only superficial relationships are allowed. My feelings for Sara end up leading me and several others into an involvement with the Junkers, who go from creating serious disturbances in the lives of Mallites to open rebellion.

Interviewer: It seems like Mall is sort of a paradise. Why would anyone want anything different?

Nona: For one thing, many Mallites live for a very long time. Some have to take more and stronger pharms to get that first-time feel when experiencing pleasure. Also, some want to change professions which they aren’t allowed to do.

Interviewer: What? They can’t change jobs? Why?

Nona: I guess because they are so carefully selected and trained for what they do.

Interviewer: What about Sara? Is she trained for anything?

Nona: She insists she is not a Mallite and has no memory of a profession here. I have to think of something so she doesn’t stand out. Everyone is employed.

Interviewer: Did I hear you correctly? There’s no unemployment?

Nona: Right.

Interviewer: Wow! What kind of a job do you find for her?

Nona: Something in the entertainment field. She likes it and is quite good.

Interviewer: Can’t you be more specific?

Nona: I wish I could but no.

Interviewer: You know, Mall does sound like a kind of paradise. I can’t understand why Sara would want to return to her world. Does she try? Or does she decide to accept Mall as her home?

Nona: Yes and no. Again, you’ll have to read the book. I will tell you she’s not happy in her supposed world, and she is not immune to the charms of Mall. Strange, because the longer I’m with her, the less I find life in Mall desirable.

Interviewer: So she does stay. And what about you? Do you find a way to make your life more satisfactory?

Nona: I never said she stays. You have to read Mall to find all the answers to your questions. Now if you will excuse me, I need to get back to the book. Thank you for the interview, and I hope you read the book. 

A Novel by Pattie Palmer-Baker Winner of the Del Sol Most Promising Novel, 2017 

MALL is a sparkling alternate world where everyone is beautiful, employed with enough income to
consume and to experience a myriad of pleasures including drugs, gambling, theater, holographic adventures. No poverty and little or no crime. A lot of sex.

But what about the Mall Code? And what happens when Sara, a 21st century woman, accidentally finds her way into this alien yet familiar world? Nona, a MALL mental health practitioner treats Sara upon her arrival and goes against the Code to help her acclimate. Sara seems to be just what she needs, an antidote to Nona’s secret and growing boredom.

At first Sara desperately wants to get home, and, as she seeks a way out as well as answers about her new reality, Nona begins to see MALL in a new light. Is abundant gratification enough?

Things aren’t all beauty and pleasure. Sara experiences dancing in a dangerous orgiastic dance club on a lower level. She attends a gambling session where people bet on living more years when their “number’s up” and a “passing ceremony,” where Mallites are supposedly resurrected into a new life.
Junkers, outsiders lurking on the fringes of MALL, have been fighting Mall Management’s control by creating increasingly dangerous disturbances. For years they have struggled to discover an exit, based on rumors of those who made it Outside and were never heard from again. Through them Sara and Nona meet someone who might help them escape. They both must make the choice that will change their lives forever.

Who will risk leaving and who will decide to stay?

MALL by Pattie Palmer-Baker was recently published by Del Sol Press and winner of the Del Sol Press Most Promising Book, 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-9998425-5-3.


Pattie Palmer-Baker is a recognized award-winning artist and poet. Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries throughout the Pacific Northwest. Locally and nationally she has won numerous awards for her art and poetry.

An accomplished poet, Pattie had been nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in many journals including Calyx, Voicecatcher, Military Experience the Arts, Minerva Rising and Phantom Drift. In 2017 she earned first prize in the Write to Publish contest, and in 2019 she won first, second, and the Bivona prize in the Ageless Poetry contest.  She has served as the poetry co-editor for VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices and visions.

Del Sol Press awarded MALL first prize for the most promising first novel in 2017.

Pattie lives in Portland, Oregon with her beloved husband and rescued dachshund.

Her website is www.pattiepalmerbaker.com/.

You can follow her at Facebook at https://tinyurl.com/yykrz36e