The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian – Interview & Giveaway

Welcome to Author Ariel Djankian

Ariel Djanikian graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004 with majors in English, chemistry, and philosophy. She holds an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan, and she lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband.


If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

Future of course! I would love to know how things turn out. Though some lucky people do that just by sticking around for a while. I know a woman whose mother lived from 1878 to 1970. When she was a girl, she went around in a horse and buggy. The year before she died, astronauts went to the moon. To say nothing of the social changes she experienced and witnessed.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?

Easy. Dostoyevsky, Joe Pesci, Jane Austen, Michelle Obama, and my mom. I think she’d like to meet them too.

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?

Assuming I had a flint, fishing rod, and iodine tablets: a beach chair, a laptop and a Wi-Fi tower. Also, an airplane and a pilot. And something to defeat the smoke monster.

What is one book everyone should read?

Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee. The scenes of violence are difficult to read, but the prose is stunning and so is the story.

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?

I’d settle for the ability to have a cheerful, productive day on 3 to 4 hours of sleep.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Once at a Ben and Jerry’s, I had oatmeal cookie ice cream. Three delicious scoops. The ice cream man promised me it would be in stores soon, but for years I’ve been checking the freezer aisle in vain.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

After years of peaceful living in an idyllic, underground utopia, Natasha discovers sinister truths about her home, uncovers secrets, falls in love, travels through strange, threatening forests…and so will you.

If you could jump in to a book and live in that world, which would it be?

Pride and Prejudice. But only if I could bring my dentist and voting rights.

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. I still have the $2.50 copy I read as a kid, though now it lives on my daughter’s bookshelf. The spine is peeling and the cover is ripped and the pages smell like an attic. But I’ll keep it around until it crumbles to dust.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

When my brother was a kid, he wrote a fan letter to the musician, Sonny Rollins. In Sonny’s response, he wrote, “Be kind to other people and practice your music.” We hung up the letter in the living room. I’d give the same advice to aspiring writers, with a slight revision, “Be kind to other people and practice your writing.”


The Office of Mercy takes place three hundred years after an intentional global catastrophe, known as the Storm. Orchestrated by a small group of idealistic young people, the Storm was a last-ditch effort to remake civilization—to start over—after conditions on earth had deteriorated considerably. In that sense, the Storm was a success. Today, people live in high-tech, mostly underground settlements, like America-Five, where everyone’s needs are provided for. There’s no hunger, no money; and cell-replacement programs guarantee all citizens healthy, long lives.

On the top floor of America-Five is the Office of Mercy, where twenty-four year old Natasha Wiley works. Natasha’s job is to track and kill the nomadic descendants of the scattering of people who survived the Storm, and who now roam the wilderness in tribes. Most citizens consider the Office’s work of eliminating the rampant suffering outside their walls to be the paradigm of modern, ethical behavior. Yet Natasha harbors growing doubts. When her beloved mentor, Jeffrey, selects her to join a special team to venture outside the settlement, her allegiances to home, society and above all to Jeffrey suddenly collide.

Along with a band of misfits, Natasha enacts a plan to escape the confines of the settlement and uncover for herself the true effects of her office’s policies. She is willing to wager her safety, her promising career and, eventually, her faith in the values that she has worked for and believed in all her life. THE OFFICE OF MERCY is the thrilling debut novel of a post-apocalyptic world for fans of The Hunger Games.

Giveaway Details
1 copy of The Office of Mercy
Open to US Only
Ends 3/15/13

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