Author Of The Week: Chat with Alexandra Duncan (Blight), Plus Giveaway!!
Welcome to our weekly special feature post, Author Of The Week!!
Each week we will be interviewing a different YA author and highlighting their upcoming release!
We will also be hosting a giveaway of the book we are highlighting!!
Introducing Alexandra Duncan, YABC's Author of the Week!!
Alexandra Duncan is the author of the award-winning YA sci-fi novel SALVAGE (2014) and its companion SOUND (2015). Her short stories have been published in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION and THE YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in North Carolina, where she also works as a librarian.
Seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres has lived on the AgraStar farm north of Atlanta since she was found outside the gates at the age of five. Now she’s part of the security force guarding the fence and watching for scavengers—people who would rather steal genetically engineered food from the company than work for it. When a group of such rebels accidentally sets off an explosion in the research compound, it releases into the air a blight that kills every living thing in its path—including humans. With blight-resistant seeds in her pocket, Tempest teams up with a scavenger boy named Alder and runs for help. But when they finally arrive at AgraStar headquarters, they discover that there’s an even bigger plot behind the blight—and it’s up to them to stop it from happening again. A fast-paced action-adventure story that is Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake meets Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Back in 2011, several writer friends and I challenged each other to write a novel over the course of one summer. I didn't finish, but I did draft the first third of the novel that ended up being Blight. I was interested in exploring that gray area where regular people - or even good people - can end up being a party to something terrible in the name of loyalty or patriotism. When I was younger, I thought my own country was always the "good guy" in international affairs, or if it wasn't good exactly, it wasn't actively trying to do anyone else any harm. As I grew older and learned more about my country's history with other nations and with its own people, I realized that wasn't the case. Many people aren't even aware of the harm we do to others and to our own. Tempest is me, in that way. She's all of us. She's trying to do what she was brought up to believe is the right thing, but has to re-frame her concept of both herself and her world when she learns the truth about how much the power structure she is a part of is hurting both her and others.
As the book grew, that concept became intertwined with the concept of identity, both personal and cultural, and with the idea of the importance of diversity in both society and the natural world, rather than a narrow ideal of bland "perfection" that everyone should fit into. I don't want to say too much more on that topic, because I'll stray into spoiler territory, but these broader themes become personal for Tempest in a number of ways in the second half of the book.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
I love Ellison, the boy Tempest has an unrequited crush on at the beginning of the book. Part of me wanted to give them some time to hang out and get the chance to really fall for each other on the compound, but then there wouldn't have been much of a plot. Besides, what am I going to drink, if not sweet, sweet reader tears?
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
In all of my books so far, I haven't come up with a title until after I have at least a partial draft of the novel. Sometimes I'll have what I think is a really good title near the beginning of the process, but by the end, it doesn't fit anymore. What I thought was going to be a minor theme in the book has become a major one, or vice versa. It's also fairly common for publishing houses to change book titles, so I try not to get too attached to whatever I've come up with at the beginning.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I really like the way the car wreck/shootout scene early in the book came out. Despite my joke about reader tears, it's hard to do awful things to your characters. You start to like them and think of them as real. But the only reason anyone is reading is because something has to happen to the characters you love in order for the book to be interesting. In that scene, pretty much every aspect of Tempest's world is threatened or destroyed. It was hard to write, but it set up a compelling conflict for the rest of the book.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2017-2018?
You realize it's cruel and unusual punishment to ask a book nerd for only one book they're looking forward to, right? ;) Right now, I'm itching to get my fingers on The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton, but I'm also excited about Little & Lion, by Brandy Colbert and Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland. There are a ton of really excellent releases coming in 2018. I'm sure my list is only going to grow.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2016-2017?
I absolutely devoured Cindy' Pon's Want, a near-future dystopian thriller set in Taipei, where a teen goes undercover to take down a corrupt corporation and save the people of his city. It's fast-paced and thoughtful, and terrifyingly relevant to our current political and environmental situation.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I'm one of those weirdos who likes aspects of both. I definitely don't enjoy it when I get stuck on a scene, but I love drafting when I know what happens next and I'm able to enter into a flow state where I'm so engrossed in what I'm doing, I lose track of time. Revising is a different kind of pleasure. It scratches the part of my brain that likes to solve puzzles. Of course, no one likes finding a problem with their work, but I like the process of figuring out how to fix it.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Definitely worrying. I can come up with a worst-case scenario where everyone is dead and everything is on fire for any situation, even a nice one. It's like Final Destination in my head, 24/7.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I'm forever grateful for the people at RAINN and all the resources they provide. They are literally life savers.
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Publish Date: August 1st, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
One winner will receive a SIGNED copy of Blight (Alexandra Duncan) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
I like the colors of the cover, but think based on the promised action, adventure, mystery, and suspense in the synopsis, that it doesn't fit this book well. I've read this author's books before and love her style so this is on my must read list.