Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Honestly YA Welcomes Maureen McGowan and celebrates the realease of DEVIANTS


In a post-apocalyptic world, where the earth is buried by asteroid dust that’s mutated the DNA of some humans, orphaned, sixteen-year-old Glory must hide and protect her younger brother. If their Deviant abilities are discovered, they’ll be expunged—kicked out of the dome to be tortured and killed by the Shredders. Glory would give anything to get rid of her unique ability to kill with her emotions, especially when Cal, the boy she’s always liked, becomes a spy for the authorities. But when her brother is discovered, and she learns their father, who was expunged for killing their mother, is still alive, she must escape the domed city that’s been her entire world.

Outside in the ruins, they’re pursued by the authorities and by sadistic, scab-covered Shredders who are addicted to the lethal-to-humans dust now covering the planet. Glory’s quests to transport herself and her brother to safety make up the thrilling and fascinating first volume of The Dust Chronicles.

"A deliciously dark, harrowing world, brightened by dazzling characters and sparkling prose." -- Kelley Armstrong

 "A tense thriller with a strong, beating heart at its center. Glory and her impossible choices will keep you glued to the page. I'm still trying to catch my breath!" – Diana Peterfreund

“Exciting… McGowan keeps the suspense throbbing…” – Kirkus Reviews
Admit it, you're intrigued, right? So was I! And after I had the luck of reading an advance copy of DEVIANTS and devouring it at record speed, I knew I wanted to have Maureen swing by Honestly YA once the book was available for purchase -- and luckier still, she agreed to answer some questions for us! Read on to learn more about Maureen and DEVIANTS...
1. What book spoke to you most during your teen years?

During my teen years, I mostly read adult books to be honest (see my answer to #4). The only book that springs to mind from my teen years (as opposed to pre-teen), is ENDLESS LOVE, by Scott Spencer. I think it was marketed as an adult book, but I’m pretty sure if it were released today, it would marketed as YA. (I only hope they wouldn’t tame down the sex scenes, because, um, that’s probably why I loved it so much.)

I just checked... and the book has been re-packaged to look more YA. According to Amazon, it was originally published in 1979 and hailed as one of the best books of the year by the New York Times. Read it if you haven’t. J There’s also a movie from the early 80’s with a young Brooke Shields, but the book is better...

2. Do you have a book (or books) that you reread regularly? If yes, what book and why?

I’m not a big re-reader. It’s funny, because I can see movies and favorite TV episodes over and over, but for me, the enjoyment and experience of a book is usually in the first read. Once I know what’s going to happen, some of the magic goes out. Since I started writing, I’ve reread the beginnings of books I admire, but often with a writerly eye, looking for technique, rather than as a reader.

That said, as a kid I did re-read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe several times. And The Hobbit. And I’ve read Pride and Prejudice more than once. I love Lizzie’s wit and that book has the best bungled proposals ever. And, well, I did reread parts of Endless Love several times as teen. If you’ve read it, you can guess which parts.

3. What YA novel or novels have you read recently that you most want all your friends to read?

I’ve loved so many YA novels over the past few years, so this one is hard. But two very different ones that really stood out to me are Blood Red Road, by Moira Young and For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund. I’m currently midway through Susan Ee’s Angelfall and really enjoying it too. It’s very exciting!

4. How have those earlier book-loving years impacted your decisions as an author? In other words, did love of those early books make you want to write teen fiction?

My early love of books definitely made me want to be a writer, but it’s funny... my experience with teen fiction—when I was a teen—probably kept me from writing YA longer than it should have.

I wish there’d been more YA books back then, similar to the ones available now!

But there weren’t. So, from about age thirteen, I mostly read adult books (don’t tell my mom), because most books being published for the YA market (in the dark ages) were decidedly juvenile. Some were heavy-handed “message books” and the ones that weren’t, were basically tamed down genre fiction. Genre fiction minus the elements that make people love genre fiction: Thrillers with no violence or thrills, mysteries with no murders and/or with obvious clues, romances with no sexual tension, horror with nothing gory or scary. Is it any wonder that most teens either stopped reading or switched to adult books?

When the YA market started to take off this past decade, I assumed that to write YA I’d have to tone down my voice, tone down my ideas, tone down my plots—tone down everything. Boy was I wrong! In fact, I think it’s almost the opposite these days. I think some of the best, most exciting fiction currently being published is for the teen market.

Once I realized that, (The Hunger Games was the first book that changed my perspective), I decided to try writing YA. Once I saw the light, I focused on writing books I would have liked to read as a teen—frankly, books I’d like to read now.

5. That’s enough of that. Let’s talk about DEVIANTS now! What inspired you to write this story? Was there one (or more) particular thing(s) that captured your creativity?

The original spark came from melding two different ideas. My apocalypse idea came to me when that volcano erupted in Iceland a few years ago, disrupting global travel. What would happen, I wondered, if something similar happened but on a more catastrophic scale? What if not only travel, but global communications were cut off for an extended period of time?

The other half of the idea was more about Glory’s character. More on that below!

6. How did the character of Glory develop? Did she “come to you” all at once or did she develop as you wrote her story?

At the same time I was thinking about my “apocalypse” idea, I was developing what I thought would be a sexy, urban fantasy series for adults. In that story idea, the main character, Glory, was a double-agent who never showed her emotions—and was hiding a very big secret. A secret she couldn’t share, even with people who loved her, without risking death.

I wanted her to have two love interests, neither of whom were viable choices for her. One because he worked for the enemy and would kill her if he learned her secret, and the other because he was dangerous and she could never trust him. I figured she’d get unconditional love and support from the first man (but feel guilty about it), and get mind-blowingly-hot-sex from the other. ;)

When I was brainstorming that idea one night with my fabulous critique partners, I told them why I thought Glory was so closed off emotionally—what had happened to her as a teen. And they simultaneously shouted, “Write that book, instead!” And I realized they were right. The backstory of what happened to Glory as a teen was more compelling than her adult story. Or at least just as compelling.

At some point, I realized I could put a teen version of Glory into my post-apocalyptic setting and the story developed from there.

7. You’ve set the DEVIANTS world in a future society but I suspect you have a North American landscape in mind. Did any portions of the Great White Canadian north inspire you?

Great question.J I never say where Haven is located in DEVIANTS, but in my mind it’s set in parts of the former Toronto. “The Hub” is Yonge-Dundas Square, if anyone knows the city.

I wanted Haven to be in a large urban setting that would have been the headquarters for a lot of big corporations and banks—BTD (before the dust). But I also wanted a city that would be within a reasonable distance from landscape filled with bare rocks and lakes. The area immediately around Toronto is fertile farmland, but it’s surprising how quickly the landscape changes when you drive north. 

I’ve written a short story called “Out of the Ashes” that’s set when Haven is being constructed. In that story, the setting is firmly Toronto. “Out of the Ashes” was published in Canada, in May 2012, by McGraw-Hill Ryerson, in an anthology for high school English classes, and I hope it will become more widely available sometime next year. Stay tuned!

8. I loved a lot of things about DEVIANTS, but one of the things that impressed me most was that this book is the first of a trilogy but absolutely works as a stand-alone. I’m curious and eager to read book two, but am not frustrated by unanswered questions; I just want to see how Glory handles her next challenge. Was that a conscious decision on your part?

Thank you! Yes. Glory’s story is firmly a trilogy in my mind, but I wanted each book to stand alone as a complete story. I’m just finishing edits for book #2, COMPLIANCE, which will be out in May, 2013, and I think/hope it stands alone too. In my wildest dreams, readers will be able to start the trilogy with either DEVIANTS or COMPLIANCE, but I hope if they start with COMPLIANCE they’ll be curious enough to go back and read the first book—and then move on to the third! After that, my world domination plot will be complete! *rubs hands together*

9. What books or films would you say “if you liked XYZ, you’ll love DEVIANTS”?

I think readers of books like: THE HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, THE MAZE RUNNER, and BLOOD RED ROAD would all love DEVIANTS. Basically any readers who love action, high stakes and hot hunky heroes. I wanted to combine the action and pacing from books by authors like Suzanne Collins and James Dashner, with the high emotion romance from authors like Carrie Ryan or even (cough) Stephenie Myer.

10. What’s next on your author horizon?

COMPLIANCE (The Dust Chronicles #2) comes out May 21, 2013, and I’m working on finishing the third book (tentatively titled GLORY). After that... I’m planning another series, but I can’t talk about that one yet. J
Maureen, thank you so much for coming and visiting with Honestly YA!
Thanks so much for having me today!

Maureen McGowan always loved writing fiction, but side-tracked by a persistent practical side, it took her a few years to channel her energy into novels. After leaving a career in finance and accounting, she hasn't looked back.

Aside from her love of books, she's passionate about films, fine handcrafted objects and shoes.

She lives and writes in Toronto, Canada where she attends the Toronto International Film Festival each year.
Readers can find Maureen online here:
Twitter: @MaureenMcGowan

 Readers, it's your turn! Honestly YA is giving away a copy of Maureen McGowan's DEVIANTS. For a chance to enter, follow the blog and leave a comment below answering the following question:
In DEVIANTS, Glory subsidizes her meager food supplies by hunting and cooking rats. Do you think you could do the same? Could you hunt and eat small animals to survive?
Let's hear from you!



Pintip said...

Great interview, Jen and Maureen! Deviants sounds like a great read. I'll have to get my hands on a copy right away. As for the rats... Of course I could do that. Sure, it sounds disgusting now, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I get the feeling that once you're in survival mode, you would be willing to do just about anything.

Jennifer McGowan said...

Wow--I am so excited to read this book, it sounds like complete world building, with the added bonus of jpt romance. What's not to like?!

And yes, I could kill/cook/eat rats, or squirrels/rabbits/quail (which I have not killed, but have eaten, thanks to my rustic upbringing ;) ). I think survival would improve my sharpshooting skills quickly!!

Thank you for this interview!


Kimberly said...

Wonderful interview, Jen and Maureen!
DEVIANTS sounds amazing. I can't wait to read it. I love YA books that stay true to both teens and adults. Writers shouldn't temper their feelings and reality (or fantasy) to appeal to either. I just love a good story, well-written. And this sounds like a winner to me. :-)
Could I hunt and eat rats?
Ewww. Not sure, to be honest. I think I could probably buy the rat meat at the grocery store. I know! I'm a hypocrite. I think I would have a big problem with actually looking at the nasty dead thing. Just the tail alone makes me want to hurl. And that pointed snout....
Okay. I'm going to have to say "no" to the hunting but "yes" to eating it if someone else gutted it and made it look somewhat presentable. Like with cute parsley on a china plate. LOL.

Maureen McGowan said...

Thanks, Pintip!
I hope you enjoy Deviants. Like you (and my heroine Glory) I think survival trumps squeamishness. :)

Maureen McGowan said...

Thanks Jennifer McGowan (no relation :)

Glory has an extra-special way to kill rats. She doesn't need sharp-shooting skills. In fact, there are no guns (that shoot bullets) inside Haven. Not in the first book, anyway...

Maureen McGowan said...

Ha! Thanks for your comments about YA Kimberly. I totally agree.

But sad to say, you might not last long inside Haven if you required your rat meat to be fancied up. ;)

Lorie Langdon said...

Great interview, ladies!
I can't wait to read DEVIANTS! It's going on the top of my TBR pile. :)

Yes, thanks to my grandpa, I've eaten squirrel and it tasted exactly like what I would expect rat to taste like. yuk!

So, did you eat any rats during the research phase of writing this book? ;o)

Melissa Landers said...

Great interview. Thanks for visiting with us, Maureen! Also, I love your website, and based on the sneak peek of chapter 1 you offered there, DEVIANT is going to be a huge success. Can't wait to read!

Maureen McGowan said...

Thanks, Lori. And um, no, I did not eat any rats doing research. :) I let my imagination be my research.

Thanks, Melissa!