(I'm re-wording some of the sentence structure in these questions because it's driving me crazy, but the questions are the same ones making the rounds.)
What is the working title of your book?The original working title was Unnatural Disaster, but we nixed the "Disaster" and now it's just called Unnatural. Who knows if it will change again, but I think Unnatural really captures the essence of what's happening in the book.
Where did the idea for your book come from?I'd been wanting to write a "monster in the house" style book for a while, ie: one wherein the bulk of the story takes place in an isolated setting where the characters are forced to face their circumstances without escape or intervention. For a lot of people that means murder mystery or literal monster story, but for me that means outdoorsy survival tale.
The magic element came one day when I was thinking about the Filch character in the Harry Potter series. A lot of focus in the series was placed on muggle borns, (especially since our girl, Hermione, was one) and the ensuing persecution they had to suffer, but we didn't get nearly as much on the squibs--those born without powers in a magical world. Filch was the only squib we really got to see up close, and aside from providing the role of the crotchety old man with a well-hidden heart of gold, we never really got too deep into Filch. The question that I found myself asking was, what was it like for him growing up without powers? What would that look like? What would it be like to be a teenager without powers in a world where everyone else has them? And what if society wouldn't stand for it? The idea for Unnatural started to form from there.
What genre does your book fall under?Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy with some dystopian themes.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?I never picture a movie actor playing my protagonist when I'm writing. Other characters, sure. But my protagonist is always just this amorphous person in my brain. Still, I'll give it a shot. Here are the main three (I may do a longer post one day where I dream-cast the others as well):
Let's start with Ren. Ren is attractive, but he's no pretty boy. It's hard to think of a young actor these days who isn't a pretty boy, but I think a lighter-haired Steven R. McQueen could pull it off, or Lachlan Buchanan, who I'm not that familiar with, but he definitely has the right look in his IMDB photo:
|Ren probably wouldn't be wearing a suit...|
For Caden, I always pictured a Taylor Kitsch type because he defines swoonworthy to me, but since Taylor is starting to look a little more mature (I say mature and not old because he's the same age as I am...), I would have to cast Tyler Blackburn, who I've thought of as mini-Kitsch or Kitsch-lite since his adorable Riggins-esque face first appeared on Pretty Little Liars--though it would have to be a rugged-looking Tyler, not the fresh-faced Tyler we often see in magazines:
|Looking especially Kitsch-y|
And finally, Ember, who I'm going to have to figure out right here on the spot because, as I said above, I never really picture her as anyone but this voice in my head. The easy answer is that I'd want an unknown actress to play her, and that would probably also be the truth, but since we're getting visual, I picture her as having a look similar to Melissa Benoist. The Glee-newcomer definitely has the deer-in-the-headlights meets girl-next-door look of Ember, but she also looks like she's capable of going somewhere darker, messier, which would also be required of the character. She's a women of many hats.
|Not wearing any hats here|
What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?I don't do one sentence well :) But here goes: Unnatural is the story of a girl facing a harsh fate, having grown up powerless in a world where everyone must be able to do magic.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?Unnatural is represented by The Stringer Literary Agency.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?Much longer than it would have if I didn't have a baby in the middle of it. Writing time was about four months, but overall, drawn-out time was over a year. Being on mat leave has taught me that I can write much faster than that :)
What other books would you compare your story to within your genre?In terms of the types of challenges the characters face, I'd compare it to something like Delirium or Divergent, where the protagonists find themselves singled out from the societal norm, only to discover that the societal norm has some severe flaws. But it's not a great comparison because Unnatural has magic (MAGIC!).
While querying, I had a few agents compare it to The Hunger Games, which is certainly flattering, though I don't think they're actually that similar. It's an easy comparison because the bulk of the action takes place in a outdoors setting and like all novels with dystopian themes, there's societal oppression to deal with. But here's how I replied to the comparison whenever I was asked about it:
-->Both novels can easily be categorized as “monster in the house” style narratives with the bulk of the action taking place in an isolated setting, but while The Hunger Games explores themes of extreme class systems, voyeuristic culture, reality television, the realities of war, etc, Unnatural Disaster deals with a group of teens who are working together to survive a trial by magic and certainly aren’t in opposition the way the tributes of The Hunger Games are. It’s about a girl who should have powers, coming into her own as she suffers the harsh standards her world is built upon. Where Katniss is a champion, Ember is a fledgling, unwittingly forced to prove she deserves a place in the magical society she was born into.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?As I mentioned above, there was definitely a moment where I was inspired by the question, "What if Filch was a teenage girl?", but when I started in on Unnatural, I was querying my first book, Chameleon, and I was looking for something exciting and fresh to distract me from the process. It's strange to say, but as the mix of requests and rejections came in, I started to feel urgently accountable for my potential to succeed as a published author. Moreso than I ever had before. It sunk in that "if this doesn't work out, I NEED a next book" and that made me feel very inspired and excited to get going on Unnatural.
One of my goals with Unnatural was to avoid a drawn-out intro. It hits the ground running and takes you on a roller coaster ride. Even when it's quiet, it's kicking and screaming inside. There's plenty of action and romance (this is not your typical torn love triangle) and enough twists to keep the roller coaster flying. It's a lot of fun, and yet, there are scenes that absolutely broke my heart to write. I'm immensely proud of it, and I hope I'll be in a position to share it with you all one day.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
And now it's time for some tagging action! Check out these other awesome authors, who will soon be posting on what they've got on the go:
Sarah Schauerte at SarahWillAlwaysWrite
Shari Maurer, author of Change of Heart
I'll be back tomorrow with a one-off Tuesday post about my NaNo results and where they leave me heading into December!