Date Published: March 26, 2013
Welcome to the Wasteland. Where all the adults are long gone, and now no one lives past the age of nineteen. Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan’s post-apocalyptic debut is the first of a trilogy in which everyone is forced to live under the looming threat of rampant disease and brutal attacks by the Variants —- hermaphroditic outcasts that live on the outskirts of Prin. Esther thinks there’s more to life than toiling at harvesting, gleaning, and excavating, day after day under the relentless sun, just hoping to make it to the next day. But then Caleb, a mysterious stranger, arrives in town, and Esther begins to question who she can trust. As shady pasts unravel into the present and new romances develop, Caleb and Esther realize that they must team together to fight for their lives and for the freedom of Prin.
Please welcome Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan to Alison Can Read! I'm so excited to be a part of Wasteland's blog tour. Thanks Susan and Laurence for such thoughtful answers to my questions!
1. Tell us a little about Wasteland.
LAURENCE: Set in the near-future, “Wasteland” presents a world beset by a water-borne disease which claims the lives of everyone by age nineteen. In the town of Prin, all precious resources—including clean water—are controlled by one despotic boy. A feisty girl, Esther, and a haunted boy, Caleb, must join forces to defeat him.
2. Logistically, how did it work team-writing a book? Did you switch chapters, team write everything, or something else?
SUSAN: Laurence and I had co-written two graphic novels before, but those were relatively easy because they were screenplays. In other words, the exact words don’t really matter when you’re writing stage directions (e.g. “he pulls a dead alien fetus out of the boy’s mouth”). But with a novel, of course, every single word, every comma, counts! We spent months working out the story and writing up an outline. Then we broke that down first into acts, then into chapters. The actual writing was done separately: Laurence wrote the first chapter, then me, then him. Afterward, we flipped our work to the other person, who rewrote it, often quite heavily. We did this about a zillion times, and finally, we sat down together and went through the whole book together. Altogether, it took twenty-three years. (Well, not really… it just felt that way sometimes!)
3. You've written several graphic novels, plays, and screenplays. What drew you to the YA dystopia realm?
SUSAN: We were drawn to it for several reasons. First of all, we love it for writer-ish reasons: dystopia means automatic high stakes, life and death situations, and the constant tension brought on by limited resources. All of those things are so awesome to play with when you’re constructing a story! Not to mention it’s a genre where you can let your imagination go wild, which we both love. And lastly, I think both of us have a similar kind of anxiety about things going on in the world today when it comes to the environment, new diseases, the imbalance of wealth worldwide, and climate change. Writing YA dystopian lets us explore our worst nightmares in a way that’s challenging, cathartic… and tons of fun.
4. What are some of your favorite YA books? Either new or older.
LAURENCE: I’ll stick with books from the past, so as not to offend people. Some of my favorite books about young people are “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, and “Empire of the Sun” by J G. Ballard.
SUSAN: Wow, there are so many! I love everything from His Dark Materials to Speak to Lord of the Flies to The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing to The Chocolate Wars.
5. What is one piece of writing advice that you found really useful beyond the typical read a lot and write a lot?
SUSAN: LOL… you’re right, that’s usually what I tell people, because it’s true! I guess the most useful piece of advice I ever received was also the scariest. It came from Curt Dempster, who used to run the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City. I had an actual career at the time and was writing one-act plays at night, and he suggested I take six months off from work to commit to writing full-time. He said, “You may end up hating it and returning to your job, but at least you’ll know you tried.” In other words, he wanted me to try taking writing seriously, to make it a daily discipline as opposed to what was basically a hobby. I did what he said and it was horribly difficult for a long time… but I never regretted it. For me, it was the perfect advice I needed to at the perfect time.
LAURENCE: “It’s not confidence, it’s commitment.” Someone once told me that once, and it comes in handy when you’re doubting yourself or things aren’t going too well.
Blog Tour: Check out all the Wasteland Blog Tour posts!
Monday, March 25th – SciFi Chick – guest post
Tuesday, March 26th – The Irish Banana – author interview
Wednesday, March 27th – IB BookBlogging - character profile/excerpt
Thursday, March 28th – The Nocturnal Library – guest post
Friday March 29th – Candace’s Book Blog – author interview
Monday, April 1st – The Book Swarm – this or that list
Tuesday, April 2nd – Supernatural Snark – character profile/excerpt
Wednesday, April 3rd – Alison Can Read – author interview
Thursday, April 4th – Bewitched Bookworms – guest post
Friday, April 5th – Alice Marvels – guest post
Thanks to HarperTeen, three winners will each receive a copy of WASTELAND! Each tour stop will post the same Rafflecopter giveaway for people to enter, so if you've entered the giveaway on another blog, it may not let you enter again. The giveaway is US only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway