Monday, September 16, 2019

# Guest Posts

The Inspiration Behind MALL by Pattie Palmer-Baker #Guest

The Inspiration Behind MALL
--Pattie Palmer-Baker

I never planned to write a novel.  After a conversation with a city planner about planned communities, I started thinking, what would it be like if people lived inside a mall? Would they live in apartments next to shops? Would they work in the mall? I gave free reign to my imagination and made all Mall residents beautiful, gorgeously dressed and with access to endless entertainment. Isn’t that what so many shoppers want? I also eliminated unemployment, poverty and illness and made sex and nonaddictive drugs easily available. A paradise! And then what? My mind alone could not organize or retain the plot, the characters and the setting. I had to start writing to discover the story.

I let a friend read the first several chapters. Her comment? I want to live there! I sort of did too; however, I knew something had to be wrong in this too-good-to-be-true society. Over the years this alternate world took shape. Sometimes I would take a couple of years off to work on art and poetry. Then the story would swirl through my mind, and it came to me, the catch in this world of beauty and pleasure – the Mall Code, with very definite restrictions, all designed to make sure no one suffers or, for that matter, experiences any kind of discomfort. Sound good? Maybe but maybe not. Nona, the Mental Health Practitioner is secretly bored, something unheard of in Mall. But not after Sara, a woman from our world who somehow enters Mall, is brought to her for treatment. Sara’s behavior and stories galvanize Nona. Nona is no longer bored. But Sara wants to go home. Or does she?

At first, after I won the 2017 Del Sol Press for most promising novel, I resisted the editor’s suggestions. What a mistake! She knew what she was talking about. Over the months, at her urging, I added more detail, conflict and action. For example, I expanded the role of the Junkers who have been fighting Mall Management’s control by creating increasingly dangerous disturbances. Many of them do not believe, as they have been taught, that nothing exists outside of Mall. For years they have struggled to discover an exit, based on rumors of those who made it Outside and were never heard from again. Both Nona and Sara feel the pull to escape, and Paul, the Junker’s leader, is instrumental in the denouement.

As a former counselor I was and still am deeply interested in relationships, romantic love and marriage, yes, but also friendships, in this case Nona and Sara. As their lives entwine, each must decide if are deep relationships worth the pain and work. And finally, who will stay and who will leave?

About the Author

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

You can follow her at Facebook at

About the Book:

Title: MALL
Author: Pattie Palmer-Baker
Publisher: Del Sol Press
Pages: 272
Genre: Dystopian

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.


What a suspenseful journey Mall was—a real "page-turner"-  imaginative with firm command of psychological expression and dialogue! Pattie Palmer-Baker captures some of the sexual contradictions, insecurities, and darker motivations of her female characters, and the complex relationships between women. The "surface" allusions to sex and violence throughout the story line work well with the superficial world she describes. Sex all the time—and yet, really, not much explicit writing about actual sexual encounters—the same for violence. This tension of content and form works well for me. What gives pleasure? What gives pain? The many hallways and mirrored rooms give the setting a creepy fun-house effect and increase the sense of a closed world and claustrophobic doom. Her descriptions of the Mallites' physical appearances and their individual choice of costume in this strange place is creative—a breath of lightness in this frank examination of our quandary about the meaning of freedom in an existential existence. What is real? I was "on the run" with Sara for the entire read! And what a turn at the end!
-- Cathy Cain, Portland poet and artist


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