Saturday, February 4, 2012

Author Interview: Steven dos Santos previews The Culling


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!

Debut author Steven dos Santos' THE CULLING (formerly known as THE TORCH KEEPER) is something you don't see all that often - a GLBT dystopian.  It's set to come out winter 2013 from Flux.



Here's the summary:

16 year-old Lucian Spark is the sole caretaker of his young brother, Cole, in a bleak and dangerous world that has arisen from the ashes of a devastating global apocalypse. Betrayed and drafted into the ruthless Establishment’s sadistic military boot camp, Lucian is plunged into the ultimate horror known as The Trials. Now, torn away from Cole, perhaps forever, Lucian must compete in a series of deadly challenges designed to purge the recruits of their humanity and transform them into amoral, cold-blooded killers by forcing them to make the most agonizing, emotionally devastating choice imaginable.

During this terrifying ordeal, Lucian finds himself growing closer to Digory Tycho, a mysterious and rebellious young man who challenges him in ways he couldn’t have dreamed of, and awakens in him the courageous fires of rebellion.

But in a world where loving someone can be used as the ultimate weapon, how can anyone stand a chance?

And the interview:

Why do you think people are drawn to “dark stories?”
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that there is a dark side to all of us, a faction of our own personalities that we struggle with on a daily basis, some with greater results than others, judging from the evening news. Dark stories are both fascinating and terrifying because they give us a glimpse into how things could be if that darkness was set loose upon the world and we were no longer able to control it. Through the medium of story, we are able to indulge in our own dark natures and emerge unscathed without risking all those pesky consequences brought on by morality and conscience.

If THE CULLING had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Party Rock. Just kidding.
I would have to say Without You, from the musical RENT. I just find this to be such a sad song that encapsulates how heartbreaking it can be to survive in a world in which you are separated from your loved ones, how despite our pain, everything goes on and somehow we endure, even though we may be dying inside. Okay, now I’ve depressed myself…thanks!

What fictional character from another book would your main characters chose as a best friend and why?
Definitely Jonas, from THE GIVER. Jonas and my character, Lucian, both start off not questioning the status quo. But both characters share strong protective sibling bonds that act as catalysts for inner change, giving them the courage and strength to do anything to save their younger brothers, Gabriel and Cole, including risking the ire of corrupt governments, as well as their own lives, to keep those they love from harm.

What are your top 5 Dystopian lit recs and why?
THE GIVER by Lois Lowry – for haunting me with devastating emotion, long after turning the last page.
FEED by M.T. Anderson – for its terrifying commentary on society’s current obsession with the internet and viral marketing and future ramifications thereof.
THE STAND – for its epic scope, wonderful characters, attention to detail, and general awesomeness.
THE HUNGER GAMES – for the pure adrenaline rush of exciting storytelling!
THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO – for its emotional rollercoaster ride and distinct style and voice.

What's on the top of your to-do list before the world ends?
Good question. I’d actually love to make a movie someday, you know, the kind people would pay to see while cramming buttery popcorn into their mouths and wearing 3D glasses. Also, it would be nice to travel to parts of the world I’ve never been to before they’re vaporized. Rubble? Not too appealing. In the meantime, here’s hoping there really is nothing to the Mayan Calendar being the harbinger of the apocalypse, otherwise no one is going to get to read THE TORCH KEEPER and this whole interview will be nothing but an exercise in futility. Oh, the ironies! (Lenore' note: Keeping my fingers crossed for you!)

How does your novel stand out from others in the genre?
THE TORCH KEEPER features a gay male protagonist in a story where being gay is irrelevant, not something to be questioned by the protagonist or the other characters. There’s actually a bit of irony here, in that not even the evil, loathsome, tyrannical regime that oppresses every aspect of the citizens’ lives, has a problem with being gay, unlike some in present day society. The themes here are universal and are told in a way they can be appreciated by everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, which will, hopefully, make for an engaging experience for the reader.

Sounds awesome, Steven! Thanks for joining us for #dystopianfeb!

Follow Steven on twitter @stevendossantos

22 comments:

Agnieszka Nashi said...

Okay,okay. Dystopian *and* GLBT? This may be the best news I've heard in a while. I'm so keeping my eye on this.

I totally checked out the theme song, too. The RENT one, not Party rock anthem. ;) I've seen RENT, but I couldn't remember this particular song.

Also: the author mentioned my absolute all-time-favorite dystopian book, Knife of Never Letting Go. +5 points to awesomeness!

Thank you for this great interview!

KB/KT Grant said...

Oh wow, The Torch Keeper sounds fantastic! Congrats on the future release, Steve!

You had me at GLBT dystopian. I assume it has a romance in it? *bounces* 2013 seems so far away...

Vicki M said...

I'm confused. Do he and James Dashner work together? Does The Torch Keeper and The Maze Runner have something to do with each other? The Torch Keeper just sounds like it is the exact same as The Maze Runner, right down to the fact the characters get put through the "The Trials"....

Anonymous said...

um, Vicki...have you read a lot of dystopian books? I'm only asking because a lot of them share similar features. Despite the trials, The Torch Keeper sounds completely different than the Maze Runner. At the heart of this book is love and how it's a dangerous thing to have to protect in this society....I'm thinking maybe that's the crux of your disdain? I'm asking honestly, do you have another agenda?

Stacie said...

I completely agree with anonymous! whoever you are, unmask yourself! I have had the distinct pleasure of reading The Torch Keeper prior to its publication and it is an incredible read. It's the perfect combination of page turning and character driven. In my opinion, the Holy Grail. When I think of dystopian novels that have come out recently, I find very strong similarities between, for example, Divergent and The Giver. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't read the newer one or criticize it prior to release. I'm thinking it's more of a if you like the one you'd want to read the other....Unless there is some other thing that is making you uncomfortable?

Emma Pass said...

Great interview. I was already excited about reading THE TORCH KEEPER - now I'm looking forward to it more than ever! (And yeah, I hope the Mayans were wrong too…)

Julie Shepard said...

Fabulous interview - so looking forward to reading this exciting new book! This sounds like the kind of story an increasing number of teen readers are hoping to find. Can't wait for its release :)

Gail Shepherd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gail Shepherd said...

I've only heard early chapters of the Torch Keeper sequel (full disclosure, I'm in one of Steven's critique groups), but I can assure you, it's not a thing like The Maze Runner (a book that bored me so I couldn't make it past the halfway mark--just a personal opinion, probably because there was so little character development). Vicki M, I urge you to look for The Torch Keeper and give it a read; I think you'll be positively surprised!

Joyce Sweeney said...

As a veteran YA author I'm happy to see the new generation of GLBT showing up in all genres...not just the GLBT "problem" novels of the past. I know a lot of young readers who will be very happy to find a great dystopian like this!

Vicki M said...

Oh I wasn't knocking the book at all, that's the reason I said I was confused, because I truly am. Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited to read The Torch Keeper! Sorry if I came off as being against the book. Like I said, I am just confused about how he can get away with calling the series of challenges that the character is thrown into "The Trials". Again, this is just a genuine question I have, not me trying to be a brat over the internet!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Vicki - The Trials is a pretty general term that you probably can find in lots of sci-fi if you look hard enough. Now if he were using Hunger Games ....

Gennifer Albin said...

I'm so ecstatic to see more GLBT themes in YA literature, particularly the dystopian genre. I can't wait to read this one!

Gennifer Albin said...

I'm so ecstatic to see more GLBT themes in YA literature, particularly the dystopian genre. I can't wait to read this one!

Ty said...

I was lucky enough to read this book pre-published. It was gut-wrenching, thrilling and a powerful tear-jerker. I literally ignored my three children for three days straight until it was finished. Then I was sad it was done. Excellent, beautiful prose and a true page turner!

Deborah Sharp said...

''...a bleak and dangerous world that has arisen from the ashes of a devastating global apocalypse... Now, there's a phrase I don't see very often on the blogs I usually visit about funny, ''cozy'' mysteries!
Even so, I love Steven's work (and Steven!), and I'm so pleased and proud his ''Torch Keeper'' is being published by Flux (the YA branch of my publisher's parent company)
Kudos to him for writing something so original and fabulous, and to Lenore for the terrific interview. Cheers, y'all!

Jasmine Stairs said...

My word, that premise sounds absolutely and heart-poundingly terrifying. As an older sister, that just sounds-- augh. I'll be looking out for this one.

Steven dos Santos said...

Thanks, Everyone, for all the supportive comments. It's very motivational while I'm currently working on THE TORCH KEEPER sequel! :-)

Evie said...

This one seems really intense! This is my kind of book.
And his answer to the theme song question was funny!

Steven dos Santos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vivien said...

Yea, I'll have to check this one out. Who knows, it may even get nominated for awards! Sounds definitely awesome. And Patrick Ness is a genius.

ivanova said...

I am so excited for this book! Move over Thumped, Reached, Adaptation, and The Last Guardian. The Culling is now the most-greatly anticipated upcoming book on my To Read list.