INTERVIEW + GUEST POST by Angela R. Watts: Worldbuilding Dystopians

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Hey everyone! ICYMI, Angela R. Watts' gritty, heart-pounding dystopian, The Divided Nation released this week and is now available on Amazon! I had the great opportunity to do an interview with Ms. Watts about her newest release, and she wrote a great guest post concerning the worldbuilding process for dystopian novels! Without further ado...

1) What inspired you to write The Divided Nation?

Years ago, I started a roleplay, and it went really far (soo many words and late nights), but the roleplayer ditched me after handing me the story rights. I tried to let it drop. It stung remembering it. But the characters didn't leave me. So I listened to God, changed a lot about the story, characters, etc, and wrote it!

2) Which characters were your favorite (or most challenging!) to write?

I adored writing Gideon, Alex, Rene', Nate...all of them, haha!

One challenging character is Alex Thompson. A Christian in the crossfire constantly, he's made me ask hard questions. How much faith would I have in the darkest of situations? Could I love God after losing loved ones? The things he faces really challenges me because his faith never falters!

3) How do you hope The Divided Nation impacts its readers?

I want it to inspire them that even though we are all broken sinners, there is a purpose for each of us. We cannot fulfill that purpose without God. We can't run from that truth, either.

This novel isn't for the fainthearted. It is for the hungry. The searching. The afraid. The broken. And I pray that my readers see a bit more of the light along the crooked path once they put this book down.

If this interview whet your appetite for a new book, make sure to check out The Divided Nation (The Infidel Books, #1) on GOODREADS and AMAZON. Also worth mentioning? It's only $0.99 for Kindle right now, so make sure to snag a copy!



The United States has fallen. Three years after the 2024 presidential election and the declaration of martial law, the nation is at war against itself. Gangs battle, civilians struggle for survival, and officials of the United Nations  thrive. West Johnston, heir to the most powerful ganglord in the country, refuses to continue the family legacy. But, in order to defeat his father, he must become him: bloodthirsty and willing to do whatever it takes for control.

West gains control by helping fellow gangsters, Nate and Simon, when they form an alliance with one of the last remaining townships in America. After years of surviving and winter fast approaching, Springtown is in desperate need of supplies from the two teenagers. When the town leader’s daughter, Rene’, is kidnapped by an unknown rival, Nate and Simon risk their reputations to save her and the town they now love. But without help from West, their rescue mission will fail.

Told in multiple bold, abrasive narratives, THE DIVIDED NATION steps into a future where brotherhood bonds must be stronger than iron to survive a broken world, and faith without courage is dust in the wind.


Onto the guest post!

Dystopian is a wild setting. Maybe you think of factions when you hear dystopian. Maybe you think of a maze. Maybe you think of a small town in Florida (c’mon, please, someone get that reference). Dystopian is one of my favorite genres because of how familiar and UNfamiliar the settings can be. You can get as imaginative as you’d like without, say, having to make up magic systems.

The Divided Nation, The Infidel Books #1, is a dystopian series taking place in the US during 2027. I tried to push the idea away for a long while. “It’s too hard!” I whined to my mom. “Dystopian takes so much research and worldbuilding and I’d better wait till I’m older.” Well, God had other plans, obviously. My problem, if you couldn’t tell… I was limiting myself. A lot.

Fiction isn’t meant to limit the author. Dystopian doesn’t have to be some impossible genre. I let it intimidate me because, surely, I’d have to take a class on tech if I wanted to write it, right? Wrong. Dystopian is a fun, eye-opening genre to plot, write, and share. Here’s why.

Research Doesn’t Have to Be Agonizing

Research. The one word that many authors cringe over. I cringed over it. I didn’t want to write a whole series because of it. Pathetic, right? Well, dystopian isn’t actually something you have to take courses for.

Dystopian is basically scifi. Not contemporary. This really cleared my mindset. I had more freedom to write than I thought! I didn’t have to write essays on world government! I did, however, do research. But not in the way you think. My advice… remember what you’ve already learned. I was taking a government class last year and it had lots of basic information on America’s judicial system and rights from early days. I logged all that away. I also researched and refreshed myself on other world views, like Islam, and other small scale things, like how gangs work, how bigger gangs are dealt with, smuggling across borders, etc.

On the surface, I didn’t do a ton of research, but I did enjoy “small” research sessions. I asked Google and my police officer senseis different questions (about guns… poisons… etc). Research can be kinda fun if you don’t limit yourself all the time.

In the end, I took what I knew, refreshed, and learned about things I didn’t know. But this wasn’t for the first draft. Do not forget this. The first draft is not to be bogged down with research! It is not wise to focus so much on worldbuilding that you forget to WRITE!

Worldbuilding Can Actually Be Fun

Dystopian needs worldbuilding. Obviously. But how do you worldbuild the future? That’s up for every author to decide. Personally, I enjoyed worldbuilding for this series. I’m sick of The Hunger Games and Divergent type worldbuilding, so I went for something different. I didn’t want the element of “big government is totally bad and chosen people can fix everything!”... I wanted mine to be more current day realistic. 

In this series, which takes place during 2027 and after, the US government has fallen. Sharia law enters after martial law was declared when Civil War II broke out. Sound scary? I hope so. Why did I choose this worldbuilding idea? Because I think it is realistic in its own way. Our current world is divided. Our current laws are corrupted. So I took all of the things I was seeing and built my world off of it! It didn’t exactly takes the years I thought it would take, haha.

Oh, but let’s not start yawning yet. I said it wasn’t contemporary, right? Where’s the scifi? Don’t worry. While The Divided Nation is not heavy with scifi content, the books that follow will slowly tap into what else the government is working on. But that’s all I can say for now...

Inspired by the book of Revelation and the way the world looks now, I built a world that reflects our own but is worse. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

The Big Element Was the Hardest...

I wanted to have a dystopian series that wasn’t totally hopeless. Not a very popular element! If you’ve noticed, most dystopian is morbid and hopeless without any signs of hope. Hope is smashed in the dark forever. That isn’t what I wanted to write, at all. I’m a Christian. I know God is always present within us, even in the darkest places. But… my novel wasn’t “clean” enough for the standard Christian market, and I didn’t want to sugar coat anything to make people digest it easier. Was I fighting a hopeless battle?

Definitely not. I wanted my story to be terrifying and gritty with God’s love piercing the blackness. I knew not every Christian would bother with it. I also knew the story needed to be written and shared.

So I clung to that theme of glorifying God through the dark. I added elements that are often shied away from: a corrupt government, gangsters, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, parental abuse, alcohol abuse, and the awful things soldiers/warriors face with torture and PTSD. Sounds like this novel should be R rated, yeah? It isn’t. Because I wrote this novel to glorify God, not to glorify sin. It was possible with His help. I prayed everything over, dove into the Bible, and didn’t let go of my purpose. 

In the end, the element of hope during dark times was a success. Was it easy? No. Did I have people condemn the book? Sure. But I didn’t expect everyone to love it. It isn’t for Christian market, which is what I’m used to, which is what most of my friends love best. But I stayed true to God and the story. It was so worth it. 
And that is how, my dear reader, I worldbuilded (shh, that’s a word) The Divided Nation! I hope you enjoyed this post. Thanks Michaela, for having me!



Angela R. Watts is a Christian fiction author who strives to glorify the Lord in all she does.  She's a homeschooled highschooler living at Step By Step Sanctuary, Tennessee, though with Gypsy and Norwegian in her blood, she tends to travel.  She's been writing stories since she was little, but also enjoys chores, painting, and watching sunsets.

Make sure to check out her giveaway for The Divided Nation as well!  Physical books and items can only be shipped in the US, however, so if an international winner is drawn, please keep in mind that they will receive an ebook instead. 
1st place: hardback copy of The Divided Nation.  A custom mug with a quote from the book, bookmark, and an exclusive snippet from The Infidel Books.  
2nd place: paperback copy of The Divided Nation, bookmark.
3rd place: ebook copy of The Divided Nation.

Click HERE to enter!


  1. I should probably shelve this away for later when I tackle the dystopian-ish series I have in mind...