Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Author Interview: Emma Trevayne previews Coda

For my spotlight on upcoming dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction series, I interview authors with novels coming out in the genre in 2012/13. These are exclusive first looks at exciting new works. Enjoy!

Today I have an interview with Emma Trevayne. Her novel CODA comes out with Running Press in Spring 2013. It's the second book I've previewed this month with LGBT themes.

Here's the summary: 
Citizen N4003--Anthem, to his friends--hates the Corporation that rules his city with greed and guns, despite their best efforts to keep him and the rest of the population too high to care. Tracking is the drug of the 2200s: all it takes is a pair of headphones or nights in a neon-lit club, letting the music encoded with subliminal messages into a powerful drug take over your mind…and slowly kill you.

Someone has to take a stand; after a series of tragedies and out of fear for his little brother and sister, Anthem decides it's him. With the help of the illegal, underground band he fronts, he sets in motion a cascade of events that endanger his family, his friends, and the girl he loves.

And the interview:

Why do you think people are drawn to "dark" stories?
There's a really cynical way to answer this question, but I I think it's actually more out of optimism than pessimism. The characters usually triumph, and that's inspiring. Our own personal difficulties may be nothing like theirs on the surface, but we cheer for the underdog because we want someone, somewhere, to cheer for us. The increase in media availability brings more of the world's darkness to our attention; we know more than we used to about what's happening down the street or halfway across the planet. We see little flares of dystopian themes, like the Occupy movement, tyrannical regimes, predictions of the apocalypse, SOPA. And I think that science fiction is, more than ever, becoming predictive rather than speculative. So we want the hope that we can win.

OK, that was more about dark sci-fi, but the first part applies to any kind of dark story, so it counts, right?

If CODA had a theme song, what would it be and why?
OH BOY, this question. CODA is about music, of course, and not a single word of it was written in silence. I can't write at all without music playing. Every scene in the book has a theme song, which together make a soundtrack no one but me has heard yet. It will be shared at some point, I'm sure. There are many songs I could list, but some would give away the plot or resolution. So, for now, Prodigy's "Voodoo People." It was that, and its effective use at setting the tone in a movie I was watching, that caused the very first spark of inspiration for CODA.

What fictional character from another book would your main character chose as his/her best friend and why?
This is an amazing question. I'm going to go with Nothing from Poppy Z. Brite's LOST SOULS. Anthem isn't half-vampire (there's nothing supernatural in CODA) but there are similarities. Cute goth boys with a love of eyeliner, guitars, and classic literature. Both look for truth in a world that starts out very false for them, and while I wouldn't say either of them have questionable morals from my own perspective, they're both attracted to things forbidden or frowned-upon by the societies in which they live and less afraid to pursue those things than they probably should be.

What are your top 5 Dystopian lit recs and why?
I'm going way old school for some of these, not because I don't love the more recent additions to the genre, I do, but they get talked about a lot. 

1. William Gibson's NEUROMANCER, and all of the Sprawl trilogy. They're not YA, or dystopian in the way we view that as a genre in itself these days, but dystopian societies are a definitive characteristic of cyberpunk, and this is THE seminal cyberpunk work. It's just brilliant. almost prophetic. I reread it recently and have a hard time believing it was written almost 30 years ago. Also, it has maybe one of the greatest opening lines I've ever read, a masterclass in setting tone for a book.

2. Ayn Rand's ANTHEM. Surprisingly, my Anthem isn't a reference to this novella at all (he's named after a specific song, and also the concept of anthems generally) but I love this story and I think, in hindsight, it was a bigger influence than I realized while writing CODA. The themes of reinvention and self-discovery feel particularly relevant. This is a stunning example of using the right language to tell a story; the lack of "I" or "me" throughout almost the whole first-person narrative, to reflect the enforced denial of individuality in the society, is genius. You really feel it.

3. BRAVE NEW WORLD, by Aldous Huxley. Funny story: there was a twitter game sometime last year involving dropping one letter of a novel's title in order to create an entirely different book. "RAVE NEW WORLD" popped up in my feed and I thought, "Hey, I wrote that!" I RT'd it and three friends said, "HEY, you wrote that!" But, about BNW, it's challenging, disturbing, and the idea of genetically creating a caste-system society is all too easy to picture.

4. ORYX AND CRAKE, by Margaret Atwood. I love all of Atwood's novels, her ability to play with structure and theme, and I love me some bioethics in my sci-fi. It's sometimes confusing and a little uneven, but it's still (I think) one of the greatest novels of its kind.
5. M. T. Anderson's FEED. I didn't read this until really recently, though it's about 10 years old. When my agent offered me representation, she said CODA reminded her of it, so of course I had to check it out. It's a perfect example of what I was talking about above, the shift from speculative to potentially predictive, and uses something we already know--the pervasiveness of advertising and consumerism--as a downfall into dystopia.

What's on the top of your to-do list before the world ends?
Wishful thinking: there's a long list of musicians who unknowingly help me get my books written, I'd like to buy them all a drink and thank them.

Not-so-wishful thinking (I hope!): Own a pair of Louboutins.

How does your novel stand out from others in the genre?
It has a male protagonist, which is the minority across the board for all YA. Also, he's bisexual, which isn't a major aspect of the plot but is a major aspect of his character. That wasn't intentional, in order to back up my soapboxy feelings about diversity in YA, but he decided he was and I went with it. In terms of sci-fi, the genre tends to explore loss of freedom in some respect, the idea that technology can limit as much as it can liberate. It was fun to do that through the window of something so ubiquitous--and seemingly innocuous--as the music we all listen to every day.

Thanks Emma! Very exciting!

Follow Emma on twitter: @EMentior
Add CODA to GoodReads
Visit the Lucky 13's, for authors debuting in 2013: http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/


Agnieszka Nashi said...

I *love* the premise. Sci-fi has always fascinated me (if it's focused more on the "fi" than "sci" actually, because I'm totally lost when it's too much ;)) and this one is definitely going into my anticipated books pile!

Petra @ Safari Poet said...

I've had CODA on my Goodreads list for a while after reading a short description and I like the sound of it even more now.

Zibilee said...

I hadn't heard of this book, but Emma makes it sound like it's amazing, and I love the fact that it's so heavily influenced by music. Great interview today!

Cass said...

can NOT wait for this! I've read a snippet on Emma's blog and... its everything I want in a good read!

Emma Trevayne said...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments! I'm so excited for CODA to be "out there" and for people to read it. And thanks once again to Lenore for having me on the blog, great interview and great questions.


Elie said...

Great interview! This sounds intersting!

Vasiliki @ Midnight Readers said...

Extremely interesting plot!

Evie said...

It looks like it's full of action! I want to know more about it.

roro said...

its going on my tbr goodreads shelf/ i've nevr heard of it b4
sounds awesome