Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Welcome Wednesday! ALTERED Author Jenn Rush Answers 10 Questions

They were made to forget. But they'll never forgive.

Everything about Anna's life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch, at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There's Nick, solemn and brooding; Cas, light-hearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who's stolen Anna's heart.

When the Branch decides it's time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape. Anna's father pushes her to go with them, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs.

On the run, with her father's warning in her head, Anna begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about herself. She soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they're both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

Typically, when by the time an author appears for Welcome Wednesday, I've read the book (if it's available). This month, other priorities kept me from reading. But OH. MY. BLOG. After hearing Jenn talk about this book and reading the amazing reviews...I MUST read this book. NOW.

Take a look at the below and see if you don't agree...

Jenn Rush, welcome to Honestly YA! Thanks for being with us today. We've got just a few questions for you:

1. We always start with the same curiosity: What book spoke to you most during your teen years?

I grew up reading vampire fiction. I loved Christopher Pike’s The Last Vampire series and L. J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries. But my all-time favorite (and still is) was Vivian Vande Velde’s Companions of the Night.

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

Companions of the Night! That and Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. I love Truth because the romance is a slow building romance. The best kind of romance. And more importantly, the love interest (Wes) was worth the wait.

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

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I will continue recommending that book until the entire universe has read. It’s rich with world-building and complex characters. And has a brilliantly written villain.  

4. What made you want to write teen fiction? Is there any link to the stories you read growing up?

When I discovered YA fiction --- at about fourteen or fifteen --- I immediately devoured everything and I just never transitioned to adult fiction. I don’t know why. I don’t know if there is any one specific reason. I just love how complex and well written YA fiction is, and it typically uses fewer words than in adult fiction. Which means the words that are used, are extremely potent.

5. Tell us about ALTERED. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

I’m a huge fan of the Bourne Series. I love Jason Bourne! I always wanted to write something similar, but tell the story from the girl’s point of view. What would it be like to meet someone like Jason Bourne and then leave your normal life behind to follow him? That idea intrigued me, though I can’t say that it’s why I started Altered. I honestly don’t remember the beginning stages of writing it. It was a story that came out of nowhere and absolutely consumed me. Before I knew it, it was nearly three-quarters done.

6. ALTERED is a thriller. Did you have any books or films you turned to / studied to keep you in that mindset? And/or did you create a play list to use while you wrote?

I definitely re-watched all of the Bourne movies. I wanted to study the pacing of the movie---how often did Bourne get a quiet moment? How often did he fight with his enemies? I also wanted to watch the fight scenes to better understand the movement of the human body.

As for a playlist --- I always have specific playlists for projects. Here’s the playlist for Altered (from an old blog post):

7. Reviews for ALTERED invariably include words such as “riveting” “a rapid-fire thriller” “fast-paced” “a thrill ride”. How much of that high-speed pacing was present in the first draft and how much was the result of the revision and editing process?

That was almost entirely done through revision. After I signed with my agent, we worked on pacing, and then worked on it again with my editor after it sold. On my last major round of revisions with my editor, she suggested I cut 10,000 words to tighten the pacing and up the tension. It was painful, and I honestly didn’t want to do it! But I’m so glad I did.

8. You also released, this year, BOT WARS, a middle grade. That book, too, features someone who discovers the truth he knew is no truth at all. Why does this particular theme appeal to you, do you think?

What kid hasn’t wished he were someone else? What little girl hasn’t pretended she was actually a long lost princess? Finding out you’re someone important, or something important, is a fantasy we’ve all entertained at one time. In Altered, Anna’s truth isn’t exactly a better one, but it does propel her into an extraordinary life. The same can be said for Trout, in Bot Wars. His life changes when he finds out the truth about his family.

9. We have a lot of aspiring authors here in the Honestly YA realm. Can you share with them a little about your journey to publication?

Certainly! I wrote my first novel when I was sixteen. I wrote a few more over the next few years, but I didn’t start taking myself seriously until 2005-2006 (I would have been twenty-two at the time). I wrote a contemporary YA called Sherbet Skies, and I got a lot of positive feedback on it from agents and publishers, but it ultimately didn’t win anyone over. I wrote three or four more novels after that, had a baby (!), wrote one more novel, and then finally wrote Altered (by this point, I was twenty-seven!). I wrote it in August of 2010, signed with my agent in October of the same year, and went out on submission in January of 2011. It sold in February 2011. Bot Wars sold in June 2011.

I know it often feels like you will never take that next step in your writing career. You can’t snag an agent. No editor has offered on your book. But it will happen if you don’t give up. IT WILL. J

10. Fabulous advice! Thank you! So what’s next for you?

The sequel to Altered, Erased, will release January 2014. The sequel to Bot Wars will release summer of 2014. Right now I’m revising the latter. After that, I’ll be drafting a companion novel to Altered and Erased, which will follow Nick, one of the Altered boys, and a new female character.

I also have a few other projects in the works, so I hope to finish those sometime in the next six months.  

Jenn, thanks so much for being with us today! It was wonderful getting to know you! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a book to read :)

Pick up ALTERED at:


Yvonne Ventresca said...

Love the cover!

Alyssa said...

YAY JEN! I love Altered, but I have yet to pick up Bot Wars. All the middle-grade-aged kids checked it out of the local public library! :)

Can't wait to read Erased! :)

Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

Book Blather said...

Love the interview! I think a lot of people are just catching up on Leigh Bardugo's books, I'm one of them! :-)