Raita Jauhiainen is the author of the Alliance.125 book series. She is an independent author who writes both in English and Finnish. The first books in the Alliance.125 series have received accolades in both the United States and Europe.
Earth is deeply wounded by the Great War. Vast areas between the equator and the two tropics are uninhabitable due to desertification, environmental toxins and extreme weather. Mankind is, however, living in an era of progress and peace. The world is not, however, entirely united. Somewhere there is still a border separating people from each other. The border is closed and concealed and therefore crossing it is forbidden.
In the first book of Hirunda, Jani, a young man living in the biggest city in the world, Gavialis, unexpectedly receives an invitation to the inner parts of the city. This triggers a chain of events, which eventually leads Jani beyond the city borders.
“The set up of Hirunda is familiar to other dystopian series. A major war has led to a complete restructuring of society (see The Hunger Games, even Star Trek’s utopia started with WWIII). Though this is a familiar trope, Jauhiainen’s universe is completely original, and wildly ambitious.”
–Henry Baum, Self-Publishing Review
1. Tell me a bit about your character. Who are they, how old are they? What do they look like?
Jani 821771 is a young man (somewhere between 25 and 30) from the biggest city of the world, Gavialis (megacity shaped as heptagon). Jani is not heroic, or particularly courageous. In fact, Jani is an underachiever by any Gavialian standard as he lives on the First Circle of the city, and has only 43 Silver Wing marks. (And there isn’t much hope of him gaining more of them anytime soon.) Despite of his current situation, Jani is more or less at peace with his circumstances. Life is what it is, and to him it is often somewhat uneventful.
2. Do they have any strange or unique physical traits?
No, Jani pretty much blends in with the crowd. He is very much an Everyman.
3. Does the character have any quirks?
Jani 821771 is somewhat pessimistic by nature and he does not like change at all. Gavialis is all he knows and wants to know. He is Gavialian through and through. Ask Jani to leave the city and he would probably decline. As far as he is concerned, there’s nothing worth seeing behind the city walls.
4. Where do they live? What’s it like there?
Gavialis has seven circles, from which the first one is for the least accomplished. Jani lives in the First Circle, but it does not mean that his life would be a constant struggle. All his basic needs are met: Jani has an apartment, the meals are delivered to him, and his health and well-being are being monitored in regular basis. The First Circle, however, is the most ascetic in comparison to the other circles. It is a way to encourage men to compete and gain more Silver Wing Marks in order to move up through the ranks.
5. What is their role in the story? Are they the protagonist/antagonist, a supporting character?
Jani is one of the lead characters in the first book of Hirunda. (The Alliance.125 series as total of eight lead characters.) The story is about surprises and changes Jani faces once he receives an unexpected invitation to visit the inner parts of the city.
6. What do they do for a living?
Jani works in the Cold Pit control room, which locates in Linaria, one of the four suburbs of Gavialis. Cold Pit is a prison located on the Moon, so Jani’s days pass by somewhat slowly. He stares at the monitors and communicates with ships landing and departing from the Cold Pit.
7. What do they do for fun?
Jani loves the Fifth Circle. Fifth Circle is “the fun circle” dedicated to leisure and recreation. (It’s like Las Vegas on steroids.) The amount of Jani’s Silver Wing Marks, however, do not grant him many hours on the Fifth Circle on weekly basis. The best times for him are the days when his best friend Lu Talpa is in the city, and they go to the Fifth Circle together.
8. What is their greatest weakness, their greatest strength?
Jani’s greatest weakness is his pessimism and resistance to change. He also lacks the will to try harder and therefore he accomplishes more or less nothing. In fact, the Silver Wing Marks of his best friend are more important to him than the 43 of his own. In the world nation (made of ten world cities) his lack of trying can be a problem. The world nation is a meritocracy that values competition, winning, merits, and success. From the viewpoint of the these values, Jani has a lot to improve.
Jani has strengths, however, even though they are not seen as strengths in the society he lives in. Jani is kind (kinder than many of his peers), he feels genuine empathy towards the less fortunate, and he is very loyal to his best friend Lu Talpa. Such a loyalty is a rare gift in a society where your worth is measured by the number of your winnings.
9. What is the best that ever happened to them? The worst?
The best that happens to Jani (in the first book) is an unexpected invitation to the Sixth Circle (i.e. “the luxury circle”). For him it is “once in a lifetime” kind of situation, almost like a lottery win for any of us.
The worst thing happening to him (in the first book) is his best friend Lu’s surprise. Jani, who likes things to remain the same, is suddenly shaken to the core of his being as his entire world shatters after his talk with Lu.
10. What do they want from life? What are their goals?
A part of Jani wants more our of life. Jani is able to see himself living on the Second Circle one day, but that’s about as far as his ambitions go. As a matter of fact he would rather see his best friend to succeed, because he genuinely believes Lu is better than him in every conceivable way.
11. And to wrap things up, does this character have a “theme” song (or several)?
If I understand the question correctly, I’d say The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony. That is a song that reminds me of Jani 821771.
I am always up for a good dystopian story, and this one certainly has me intrigued. Adding it to my TBR as soon as I’m done with this post!