I've always loved books and writing. I'm actually a librarian at UCLA, so I'm surrounded by books all day at work, and then also when I get home! I started writing short stories when I was in high school, and then I went to college (where I studied political science as well as English lit) and just kept at it. Before working at UCLA, I was a librarian at UNC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for a while. I had the idea for The Forsaken floating around in my head for a long time before I started writing it.
Can you tell us a little about your debut novel The Forsaken? (Released July 10th (US), August 2nd (UK)
The Forsaken is set roughly thirty years in the future, in a world where the United States, Mexico and Canada have merged to form one giant alliance. They've also developed a mandatory personality test that claims to diagnose a tendency for rebellious behavior in teens. When sixteen-year-old Alenna Shawcross inexplicably fails the test, she is exiled to a prison island called "The Wheel." The island is controlled by warring tribes and government machines that snatch kids into the sky. Alenna has to forge alliances and fight back in order to survive. Along the way she also falls in love—but her love is tested when she and some friends hatch a dangerous plan to escape from the island.
Where did you get the idea for The Forsaken?
It came from two things. First, I had the idea to write about a nightmare version of a standardized school test—one that if you fail, you actually get banished from society completely. Second, I had a really creepy dream one night that I was stranded on some sort of post-apocalyptic island, and was climbing a giant set of spiral stairs, trying to escape from some guys who were chasing me. Somehow, the two ideas came together in my head as the genesis for The Forsaken.
There are two different covers for the UK and US version of The Forsaken. Is there a particular cover you prefer?
I really love both of them. I think I like the US one a bit more, because it's a little edgier and more unusual-looking (it was designed by Lizzy Bromley, who also did the cover for Lauren DeStefano's novel Wither). But I like the UK cover too. It's funny how the covers are so completely different from each other! The designers picked up on different elements in the book. I think it's great.
How does it feel to be releasing your debut novel?
It feels great, but definitely a bit surreal! It's always been my dream to get a novel published, since I was in high school. Now that it's happening, it's amazing, but I still kind of can't believe it!
The Forsaken is the first in a series. Do you know how many you plan on writing?
It's going to be a trilogy. I've already finished writing a draft of the second novel in the series.
Why should we read The Forsaken in one sentence?
The Forsaken is a gritty dystopian thriller/romance with some shocking twists, and an ending that will definitely surprise you!
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