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  • Writer's pictureOlympia Black

Why did Volunteer 4711 not insist on being called by her name?

Book Addict asks some great questions here. Why doesn’t Volunteer 4711 tell anyone her name when she is on the ship? My only answer is that I based on my own experiences living in China in the 90s. Learning a language so different from my own was so all-encompassing that all I did was study and try to understand the culture and language as best as possible. I had been given a Chinese name on arrival, I did not choose my Chinese name, and all my Chinese documents and ID had that name on it, and when speaking Chinese, I would never use my English name. Not for any other reason than it didn’t occur to me.

As for her keeping her grandmother’s necklace and not her name, life is messy. I’ve lived in many different countries, and the only thing I still have from my American childhood is a piece of jewelry owned by my grandmother. Sometimes I don’t think there is any logic to what material objects we become attached to.

As for Volunteer 4711’s life not being as harsh as the other women’s, this is certainly true. And my answer is simple. I didn’t want to write a book with rape in it. And I originally meant to publish Future Survivor next, but it is so dark that I set it aside for right now. With all that is terrible in the world and on the brink of war, I just couldn’t. And I think Volunteer 4711 counts herself as ‘lucky’ most days to be onboard her commander’s ship. Again, this goes back to my experiences, I was lucky to be born into a certain class and nationality, and I don’t do as much as I could to help those women born into lesser circumstances, although I most certainly give to charities. And in the book, Volunteer 4711 does give to a charity. But Avid Reader, you are correct; her life isn’t that bad compared to other women, especially that other human woman.

As for why I have the commentary at the back, I was on the fence about whether to include it, but as I had many one-star reviews coming in from people who didn’t understand and some even questioning if I knew the definition of the word ‘volunteer,’ I thought it was necessary. But I know it can come off as condescending, and I apologize to everyone who felt that way. Unfortunately, I need to protect my ratings, or else the Amazon algorithm will not show the book to anyone.

Thank you, Book Addict, for reading and reviewing and getting me to think about why I wrote Volunteer 4711 this way. Sometimes as the author, you don’t realize how much of yourself is in there until the questions are asked.

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