Author interview with Curling Up With A Good Book

1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I had an image in my mind of a girl living in the wild with a group of people—her clan. I knew it was going to be Alaska—I saw her with huskies and wearing furs, hunting for food. But like my first series, Die for Me, I wanted my story to be situated in the here and now. Not the past. Not a dystopian future. Now.

So I had to figure out why she and her people would be living off the grid with absolutely no contact with the outside world. I decided they were hiding.

But what teenager would choose to hide from the outside world? Only one who was sure there was danger outside her own territory. But what would be so dangerous she’d have to hide from everyone?

The thought came that there wasn’t anyone left in the world except for dangerous people…brigands. Survivors of some sort of apocalypse. However, if my story was set in the here and now, and there has obviously been no apocalypse, this story of a dangerous outside world would have to be a fiction. A fiction that the children would believe enough to not wander—so necessarily made up by the parents.

Of course, I then had to figure out why her parents (and their friends) would want to hide from modern day society. But with that first kernel, I had the beginnings of my story.

2. Who is your favorite character in the book?

Oh no! You realize you’re asking me to choose between my children. Instead of saying who I love most, why don’t I tell you a bit about the two main characters: Juneau and Miles.

I actually didn’t have to think about them much before I started writing them—they were already there with all of their baggage, just waiting for me to put them on paper. But when I started writing the sequel, I went back and made a list of their qualities and realized that I had unwittingly written two people who were polar opposites. Here’s my list:

Responsible for clan
Fends for self
Thorough planner
Trusting…becomes suspicious
Fear of losing family
Gives orders
Aversion to money
Sensitive, but acts tough
Totally irresponsible
Reliant on dad
Suspicious…becomes trusting
Lost mom. Wouldn’t mind losing dad.
Takes orders, but rebels against them
Consumer/rich boy

For me, it would be impossible to choose between the two of them. They have both survived difficult situations and responded in their own ways. I have utter respect for both of them.

My third choice, then, would be Tallie. Because she’s an incarnation of me.

3. Which came first, the title or the novel?

I didn’t actually have a title for the book until long after it was written. I’m terrible at coming up with titles. I just called it “Juneau” until my editor came up with After the End.

4. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I am most proud of the scene where Juneau throws her token into the fire and channels the Yara on her own. (Scaring the pants off Miles, which made it even more fun.)

5. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

Way back to the beginning of my first novel? Let’s see…I guess the most important thing I’ve learned is to let my imagination run wild. I’m always super-cautious about only writing something that will make complete sense and fit in with my mythology, the history I’ve created, other similar literary examples, etc. I was even afraid to make up new terms, so didn’t introduce the word “bardia” until book 2 of my Die for Me series, even though I had already made it up during book 1. I’m too cautious. My inner-critic still has too much power, but I’m working on overthrowing her.

6. What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I love this book cover. It encapsulates one of the most important moments of the book: when Juneau crosses the tundra to discover a thriving, modern city instead of a decimated post-war ruin. It is the moment of her awakening—the realization that her world does not exist. The hazy foreground and the special effects with the clouds frame that emotional moment perfectly.

7. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2014?

I’m looking forward to the release of my friend Natalie C. Parker’s book BEWARE THE WILD. It is so original and super creepy. Like Twilight Zone with a major dose of swamp-magic steroids. I can’t wait to hear readers’ reactions.

8. What was your favorite book in 2013?

I had three favorites last year: Code Name Verity, Eleanor and Park, and Wonder. All of them swept me away.

9. What’s up next for you?

I just finished edits on After the End, Book 2. And now I’m working on new ideas. They all seem to be falling under the “horror” category, so I guess I’m heading into the dark.

10. Is there anything that you would like to add?

Thank you for interviewing me! It’s an honor to be hosted by you for this blog tour!


See the original interview here.