Today we're excited to chat with Kevin Emerson author of Any Second.
Read on for more about Kevin and his book, an interview, plus an giveaway!
Meet Kevin Emerson!
Kevin Emerson is the author of numerous novels for young adults and children, including Breakout, Last Day on Mars, and the Exile series. His books have been published in ten countries. A former science teacher, Kevin is also a singer and drummer. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two children. He has won a spelling bee and lost a beauty pageant, and he once appeared in a Swedish television commercial. Visit Kevin on Twitter and Instagram at @kcemerson or on his website kevinemerson.net [kevinemerson.net].
Meet Any Second!
Marieke Nijkamp's This is Where it Ends meets Kathleen Glasgow's Girl in Pieces in a gripping novel that explores the depths of trauma and the strength it takes to rise again. Perfect for readers of Ellen Hopkins.
Five years after being kidnapped, Elian's captor sends him into the mall--with a bomb strapped to his chest.
Across the mall is Maya, a girl whose crippling anxiety holds her prisoner in its own way.
Whether it's chance or fate, Maya keeps Eli from ending them all. And now nothing is the same. Drawn together by their dark pasts, Maya and Eli know it takes only seconds for their entire worlds to change. But time will tell if meeting each other will change them for better or worse.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I started with this premise: what if a teen in the United States was trained to be a suicide bomber, but then the bomb didn’t go off? What would happen next? As I imagined the story of Eli and Maya, the two main characters of ANY SECOND, I understood that I wanted to write something that dealt frankly with the violence in our country, and the specific dangers it poses to teens. As we have seen over and over, today’s teens are on the front lines of an unprecedented period of violence and uncertainty, a landscape in their schools, communities, and on their phones that is constantly triggering. I wanted to create a story that existed within this harrowing moment, and showed teen characters who have been badly scarred finding strength and hope. The vast majority of teens will not have experienced something like what Maya and Eli have been through, but I think they will identify with their emotional trauma, and their struggle to recover.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The title ‘ANY SECOND’ actually came very late in the process. My draft was called THREAT for years, which applied to many different characters in the book in different ways, but ultimately I wanted something that touched on the hopefulness of the story, and the way that the main characters, Maya and Eli, reclaim power. Any second can bring danger, but any second can also be a chance for hope.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
There’s an uncomfortable scene in the middle of the book where Eli sleeps over at his friend Graham’s house. They spend the night in the basement getting drunk, watching horror movies, and playing video games. In a way, it’s a pretty typical evening, and yet, because of the plot of the story, subtle elements of violence and misogyny that our society all-too-often dismisses as boys-will-be-boys banter take on an ominous tone, especially the way they talk about girls. It was unsettling to write, in a good way. That said, I think that it’s done subtly, and in a way that will get readers thinking and reflecting.
I’m also quite proud of Maya’s first chapter. Maya’s anxiety is similar to my own, and this chapter captures the spiraling way that anxiety ebbs and flows and makes crazy thoughts, at least for me.
On a much lighter note, I’m proud of the scenes where Maya is playing drums. I’m a drummer myself, and I think these scenes captured what I always love about playing music.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The trickiest scene to write in this book was the set of chapters where Eli and Maya return with the police to the scene of Eli’s abduction. It is by far the most “CSI” moment in the book, and where the story most resembles a thriller. There are SWAT teams and hidden rooms and secret staircases and such. And so I wanted you to be on the edge of your seat, but at the same time, I didn’t want to sensationalize any of the traumatic things that Eli and Maya have been through, or glorify any of the violence. I worked hard to thread that needle. This scene also offers the most insight into “Gabriel,” the domestic terrorist/white supremacist who kidnapped Eli years before. You mainly learn about him from the surroundings in the house and from Eli’s memory. On the one hand, I wanted him to remain mostly a mystery; on the other hand, I did want to give the reader a sense for where this guy came from and what motivated him, and a chance to see how that was similar (and different) to what might be motivating another dangerous character in the book. And again, I wanted that to ring true, while not glorifying anything he’s done. All of that was new territory for me as a writer.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
All of them, really! Maya was the easiest in a way, because her anxiety (and hobbies) are similar to mine. Except my first drafts of her chapters were probably in the worst shape because I ended up spending pages and pages inside her head. Ultimately I needed to step outside of her a bit and show things from a little further distance to make her, and the characters around her, come alive.
Eli was a little harder because his experience and headspace is so different from my own, but then weirdly, my first drafts of his chapters came out way better than Maya’s. For him, it was about staying consistent with what he could and couldn’t connect with in the world around him, while still getting the point across to the reader.
Graham was the character who came the most from my research into teens who have committed violence, and where that can come from. But I didn’t want him to feel like a ‘case study’ character. It took awhile to get the balance right. I wanted you to mistrust him, but also feel a little sympathy for him, just enough to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Lastly, when writing about characters that have been through major trauma, it was a challenge to place their parents at the right distance. Like, I didn’t want them around too much, plot-wise, but realistically, given what Eli and Maya had been through, there was a certain amount that their parents would definitely be involved in their lives. And I wanted imperfect parents, but not necessarily negligent parents (at least not negligent on purpose). That also took a lot of fine-tuning.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I think the flow state of drafting is really my favorite way of being, and yet it makes me sort of insane. First draft time is always stormy, off in the wilds of my right-brain, whereas revising is way more left-brain and locked in. Up early, steady, fixing, improving. My family probably enjoys it more when I’m revising. J
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Um, booking cheap flights for a family of four? Growing tomatoes? Making an omelet in a stainless steel pan? Actually it’s probably worrying about whether or not I have any super powers.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
In February 2019 I will publish the third book in my sci-fi trilogy “Chronicle of the Dark Star.” (The first book was LAST DAY ON MARS). I love this trilogy so much and I can’t wait for readers to get to the ending. I’m still surprised by it!
By: Kevin Emerson
Publisher: Crown BYR
Release Date: November 20th, 2018
Three winners will receive a copy of Any Second (Kevin Emerson) ~ US Only
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*