Indie Superstars with the Author of The 716 + GIVEAWAY (International)

Welcome to YA Books Central’s “Indie Superstars” column. This monthly event will spotlight the best and brightest of the indie community.

You don’t want to miss out on these talented authors!


This week we’re interviewing S.J. Pratt, Author of The 716.



Caitlin Haines: Can you tell us a little about The 716?

S.J. Pratt: Absolutely! The 716 is a young adult, science fiction novel with feminist vibes and some fun engineering and technology. It’s perfect for anyone looking for an easy read that might get you thinking, a good dose of humor, a touch of romance, strong sibling bonds, and a robotic bestie who loves tea.

The 716 is set in a future where women rule and men are considered the subservient sex. With this backdrop, we follow the story of two driven and passionate protagonists who both want to be engineers: Andy, who can’t achieve his dream because only women can go to university, and Olivia, who is destined to be the future leader of Meliora so of course, can’t go and be an engineer either. When these two meet, Andy gets the chance to prove himself on the female stage and unbeknownst to either of them, they set the scene to change the course of history.


Caitlin: Where did the inspiration come from?

S.J.: I was having a drink with a friend, talking about a pretty awful sexual assault that had happened at a stop on my walk to work (like, I had to walk past that spot every day) and my friend was kind, but he wasn’t really interested. And then, and I don’t remember why, but we ended up talking about if our positions were reversed, if it were men that had to think about which route to take home at night, men who would worry if their clothing was too flirtatious and whether that really had anything to do with being a victim? And it sparked this amazing conversation and suddenly I could see a real fire in my friend. It was like he could actually empathize and visualize what it might be like to be in a woman’s shoes, and it got me thinking: could we get more men passionate about gender equality and eliminating sexism if they could experience it themselves? So, I started with this idea of a boy who wants to be an engineer but can’t because you know, sexism, and the story grew and developed from there.


Caitlin: What is it about science fiction that draws you in so much?

S.J.: I love the possibilities of science fiction. I love the stars, the science, the technology and the vast possibilities. I love the ability to ask and attempt to answer the age-old question of “What if?” What if robots had feelings and personalities? What if we met aliens? What if we could teleport anywhere in the universe instantly? Or, in my case, what if we flipped sexism on its head and women were naturally in charge? And what if a young man wanted to be more than his sexist society allows him to be? Science fiction is the perfect stage for lots of fun and exploration.


Caitlin: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

S.J.: Oo, tough question! I’d have to say RAY (the most adorable floating ball of light ever). Andy originally designed him to be an automatic light for his aunt’s mechanic workshop, but RAY developed into this amazing friend, someone who calls out prejudice when he sees it, challenges Andy to step up and think outside the box, and promotes more inclusive ways of doing things. He also loves tea and changes color based on his mood.


Caitlin: Do you have a background in engineering? If so, what kind?

S.J.: I’ve always loved engineering and tech, but honestly, as a young, shy woman, I didn’t think I could do it. There was one woman in the mechatronics program at my university when I attended, and she was so made to be an engineer. Was I? I didn’t know. So I went into business, aiming to own and run my own company by the time I was 30. Well, as the universe would have it, I met an aerospace engineer and together we started an aerospace engineering company (and yes, yay, before I was 30). And it’s been awesome. I get to be a part of an amazing team, seeing incredible tech coming to life every day. Like, we recently created a capsule for a local scientist to go in a small satellite so she could experiment with the effects of zero gravity on her science, isn’t that awesome? It certainly is for me. So, while I am not an engineer myself, I know a decent bit about it and I am privileged to have a tribe of engineers around me who helped a lot with all the plane mechanics and engineering in my novel.


Caitlin: What’s one thing you have to have while writing (music, quiet, snacks, coffee, etc.)?

S.J.: Coffee! Luckily, I am a morning person so this works well. I also have an insanely large mug collection and have different mugs for different vibes (e.g. one with a bunch of books by female authors on it to inspire me to keep going, one with whales on it for calming, slower scene writing).


Caitlin: Can you give us a hint at what’s to come next? Is this part of a series?

S.J.: The 716 is a part of a series, yes! A trilogy, in fact.

As for a hint to what comes next, well, we will see this idea of gender equality grow and take a foothold in the community, we’ll see some embrace it and some people resist it. There will be some tough times, especially for Andy, and we’ll get to learn more about Our Mother as she tries desperately to hold on to power (and in her mind, peace). And there will be more adorable RAY moments too. 😊

Meet S.J. Pratt

S.J. Pratt loves writing young adult science fiction. She runs an aerospace engineering company by day and writes in the early hours of the morning. She hopes she was a notetaker for Jane Austen in a past life, is currently an avid feminist and coffee addict, and as a sci-fi nerd she looks forward to culminating her existence as an omnipotent space whale. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with her incredible husband and incredibly needy cat.

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A vivid coming of age story filled with feminism, engineering and the courage of everyday heroes.

Olivia is destined to be the future leader of Meliora. She’s smart, rich, and innovative, and she has a pink Identifeye light. Andy is destined to be a waiter and househusband. His blue Identifeye light prevents him from pursuing his dream of becoming an engineer. After all, who ever heard of a male engineer? But when Andy’s life becomes entangled with Olivia’s and he gets the chance to prove himself on the female stage, everything starts to change.

In a society where men are second-class citizens and only binary gender norms are acceptable, Andy and Olivia must confront their own beliefs and decide what kind of world they want to live in. Will they do what is expected or what is right? And will the wrong choice spell disaster?

Fans of The Lunar Chronicles, Divergent and Noughts and Crosses will enjoy this original and thought-provoking sci-fi adventure with a touch of romance.


Enter to win an ebook copy of The 716,
as well as a bookmark and signed character art
in this (International)

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2 thoughts on “Indie Superstars with the Author of The 716 + GIVEAWAY (International)”

  1. lisashelves says:

    This book sounds soo good!

  2. Cori says:

    Looks fascinating!

Comments are closed.