Today we're excited to chat with Alexandra Bracken, author
Below you'll find more about Alexandra,
her book, plus a giveaway!
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN: That’s a hard question! I love writing both Etta and Nicholas, but Sophia really won me over in this book. She went from being my least favorite character to maybe even edging out Nicholas as my absolute favorite. She is so unrepentantly angry and finally learns how to channel that to push herself to do better and be better. She also has some of my favorite lines in the whole book and grows so much while still being true to herself. (Special shout-out to the Belladonna, who was wickedly fun to write, too!)
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN: The title came first in this instance! Passenger and Wayfarer are my only book titles that never changed from inception to publication. The Darkest Minds series title process was really tough and I feel like I tortured my editor with a million options to pick from.
Passenger is a play on the idea that Etta is a passenger on this journey until she finally takes control of it (in addition to her being a passenger on the Ardent, and being a play on the idea of the time passages). I love the word Wayfarer, which implies a kind of land journey, but also speaks to the different kinds of journeys we take in our lives: to find love, to find purpose, to find belonging.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN: Hmmm… I really love the ending of Wayfarer. I thought of it out of the blue while I was working on the first draft and it ended up shaping the core of the emotional arc. I think it’s the exact right resolution for the duology, but you guys will have to tell me if you agree! I also am proud of the scenes with the Belladonna, mostly because I love the idea of her collecting all of these artifacts that have been lost to time and, well, she’s a total boss lady.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN: The beginning for me was 2010 with my debut, Brightly Woven, which is now sadly out of print because of the publisher (Egmont USA) closing. I was recently reading back through some of my emails from 2008 and 2009 and it was a really amazing thing to see that energy and passion. I wanted to be published so badly, and I was willing to work so hard for it and fit it into my intense school schedule. Writing is still hard work, as is revising, and even going through the whole publicity cycle, but one thing I learned the hard way this past year is that I can’t write well if I don’t feel genuinely passionate and in love with a project.
It’s so easy to get lost in the chase to be published, or to have your focus so wholly on your paper (so to speak), that you forget that you need to take a breath and make sure you're still having fun with it. I think an author's misery and/or energy tends to come out on the page, don't you? Writing--and publishing--is really all about loving the process and not just loving the finished project. You have to build up the stamina to do it, especially if you want to put out a new book each year, but it's also really important to be able to stop and take stock of how you're feeling about yourself and your work and give yourself time to recharge and rediscover your love if you've lost it.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN: You know, the whole cover is gorgeous, especially in person. (A totally unbiased opinion, I know!) It is the shiniest thing you ever did see. And be sure to check under the cover for a beautiful gold foil surprise!
I really love the fact that the bell jar is cracked and broken in places. The symbolism of the cover is perfect for the story inside. You have the tree, representing the time traveling families, in a contained environment (their strict rules)—and yet you see the birds escaping as that careful, rigid structure begins to splinter.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2016?
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN: Oh no, I’m the worst at picking favorites! It’s a hard to rank them because I tend to like books for different reasons. And, to be totally honest, this was my lightest reading year in quite some time. I have a hard time reading while I’m drafting and I felt like this year was non-stop work! No time for binge reading between drafts, either.
A couple new-to-me authors I discovered and loved this year: Zoraida Cordova (Labyrinth Lost), Laure Eve (The Graces), N.K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Blake Crouch (Dark Matter), and, on the romance side, Jennifer Ashley (I know, I know—where have I been?).
YABC: What’s up next for you?
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN: I was just telling someone the other day that it seems like I’m always working on three books at once: one book is coming out and I’m doing promo for it, I’m drafting another, and editing the third! Right now, though, I’m revising my new middle grade novel and I’m totally in love with it. It’s a dark, humorous supernatural story about a boy from a Kennedyesque family who realizes his family’s wealth and fame is the result of a deal they made with an evil spirit back in the 17th century when they were founding their town. To try to replicate the feeling of fall (the book is set around Halloween!) in Arizona, I burned a million autumn-scented candles. J I think we’ve finally settled on the title The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding.
Other than that, I’m pulling together proposals for more YA books and trying to decide which to go with! Today I’m leaning toward a paranormal fantasy story, but tomorrow… who knows??
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN: Surprisingly, it was Etta. I feel like I struggled a bit with her character and voice in both Passenger and Wayfarer and I’m still not totally sure why. I always had a very strong sense of Nicholas as a character, and even Sophia, but Etta felt weirdly slippery every time I sat down to really think her arc through.
What ultimately helped in the end was understanding her journey as being braided together with her mother’s—that’s why you get Rose’s POV as a prologue. Understanding Rose and her motivations was crucial in finally straightening out Etta’s arc. Let me put it in a way that hopefully doesn’t spoil a key aspect of the book: what Rose kept from Etta plays out in a disastrous way.
Wayfarer is really a story about our relationship to our families, what we inherit from them emotionally and otherwise, and how we sometimes need to break out of vicious or unhappy cycles.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I used to be all about the first draft—I loved the feeling of not having a critical voice in my head and just sinking into the story. And, to a certain extent, I think the absolute best feeling as a writing is when you’re drafting and suddenly something about the story really clicks and inspires a whole host of other ideas. It’s like your fingers can’t keep up with your brain.
But I think, overall, I actually prefer revising. All of the pieces are there and just waiting to be moved around and reworked. It feels slightly less daunting than starting from scratch.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN: My superpower is both amazing and embarrassing: I can fall asleep just about anywhere. If I’m not driving, I usually pass out about thirty minutes into a car ride, and I’m usually lights-out within minutes of sitting down on an airplane. I’ve fallen asleep in waiting rooms, on people’s floors, getting my hair blown out…
Alexandra Bracken is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Passenger series and The Darkest Minds series. Born and raised in Arizona, she moved East to study history and English at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. After working in publishing for several years, Alex now writes full-time and can be found hard at work on her next novel in a charming little apartment that's perpetually overflowing with books. Visit her online at www.alexandrabracken.com and on Twitter @alexbracken.
Etta Spencer didn't know she was a traveler until the day she emerged both miles and years from her home. Now, robbed of the powerful object that was her only hope of saving her mother, Etta finds herself stranded once more, cut off from Nicholas-the eighteenth century privateer she loves-and her natural time.
When Etta inadvertently stumbles into the heart of the Thorns, the renegade travelers who stole the astrolabe from her, she vows to finish what she started and destroy the astrolabe once and for all. Instead, she's blindsided by a bombshell revelation from their leader, Henry Hemlock: he is her father. Suddenly questioning everything she's been fighting for, Etta must choose a path, one that could transform her future.
Still devastated by Etta's disappearance, Nicholas has enlisted the unlikely help of Sophia Ironwood and a cheeky mercenary-for-hire to track both her and the missing astrolabe down. But as the tremors of change to the timeline grow stronger and the stakes for recovering the astrolabe mount, they discover an ancient power far more frightening than the rival travelers currently locked in a battle for control. . . a power that threatens to eradicate the timeline altogether.
From colonial Nassau to New York City, San Francisco to Roman Carthage, imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, New York Times #1 best-selling author Alexandra Bracken charts a gorgeously detailed, thrilling course through time in this stunning conclusion to the Passenger series.
By: Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: January 3, 2017