Recently I had the fun task of interviewing Laurence Klavan and Susan Kim about their new dystopian adventure, Wasteland, the first in a new triology.
1. Describe Wasteland in less than 15 words.
LAURENCE: In the future, life will end at 19. Esther must fight to get there.
2. How did the idea for Wasteland come about?
LAURENCE: The notion of a world where everyone only lives to nineteen seemed to have built-in drama and high stakes to it. Also, it could be a way to describe the teenage years themselves, which in their intensity are unique, self-contained, and never to be repeated in your life (some would say, good; others would say, too bad. I’m in the middle).
3. How difficult was it writing the novel with someone else?
SUSAN: Let me be diplomatic and put it this way: the easy parts were not only easy but fun, but the hard parts were hard. I mean, REALLY hard. Laurence and I had written two graphic novels together, which were basically screenplays; writing those was a breeze because most of the words were just descriptions of action (e.g. “she walks outside and accidentally falls on top of a dead baby space alien”) and didn’t even end up in the final book. But in a novel, everything counts – every comma, every paragraph break. So what we ended up doing was talking through the outline very carefully, writing it down and revising it until it made total sense. Then we wrote alternating chapters, handed them to the other person, and rewrote those. We kept going until the end of the book, each constantly rewriting the other person’s work. At the end, we sat down side by side and went through the entire book line by line. Every step of this, by the way, was like a root canal: you’d have to be a saint not to feel bad when you put your soul into a chapter and your partner basically deletes the whole thing. It also takes a lot longer than writing alone. But still, it’s the only way we know to write together, and the best. We couldn't do this unless we truly respected each other and the work we do.
4. What sets Wasteland apart from all the other YA dystopians currently on the market?
SUSAN: The whole premise is that since everyone dies so young, teenagers have to face serious issues at a really early age: staying alive, partnering off, giving birth. Dying. Stuff like that. Wasteland takes place in a dangerous, filthy, and destroyed world, where kids are doing anything they can to stay alive. We decided to be as truthful to the situation as we could be in our tone, the situations, and the conflicts that come up, which means it definitely gets kind of grim. We were really intrigued to think of a world without adults and what that might mean, say, thirty years from now. What else would die off after one or two generations? Education, for one thing; virtually no one would read or know really basic stuff. And definitely authority, the kind you get from someone who’s had a lot of life experience. I don’t think we’ve seen many YA dystopians that really get into this kind of brutal innocence: our characters are almost like cavemen in terms of what they don’t know, and yet they’re drinking soda and wearing clothes from the Gap.
5. It seems like every YA book is now being optioned for a movie or TV show. In a perfect world, who would you cast for Esther and Caleb?
LAURENCE: Not being experts on this age group of actors, we had to get the opinions of knowledgeable others. They said Ariel Winter or Kiernan Shipka (when she gets older) for Esther and Logan Lerman or Landon Liboiron for Caleb. But you tell us!
6. What comes next in the series for Esther?
SUSAN: TONS of stuff. We don’t want to give too much away, but basically, the next book is about Esther and the people of Prin leaving on a long and dangerous journey to find a better life. Along the way, they meet some seriously menacing people and bad situations. There are huge changes in store for not only Esther and Caleb, but Skar, as well.
Thanks Laurence & Susan for stopping by!
Make sure you check out all the other stops on the blog tour because we're giving away 3 copies of Wasteland for some lucky readers!
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 BookBlog – 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 postFriday, April 5th – Alice Marvels – guest post
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.
Barnes and Noble
Laurence Klavan Website: http://www.laurenceklavan.com/
Susan Kim - http://www.harperteen.com/