Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Author Interview: Polly Holyoke previews The Neptune Project

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'm thrilled to introduce Debut Author Polly Holyoke whose middle grade adventure novel THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is coming out with Disney/Hyperion in the US and Puffin Books in the UK in Summer 2013.

Here's the summary:
THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is set in a future where the seas are rising and global warming is out of control. Nere Hanson and her teen companions are shocked to learn they have been genetically altered by their desperate parents to live in the sea. Protected by her loyal dolphins, shy Nere leads the rest on a perilous journey to her father’s new colony. Fighting off government divers, sharks and giant squid, can Nere and her companions learn to trust each before their dangerous new world destroys them?

And the interview!

Why do you think people are drawn to “dark” stories?
Wow, that’s a great question, and it’s one I’ve often thought about in the context of fairy tales. I’ve always been fascinated by the way small children love bloodcurdling stories like “Little Red Riding Hood.” “Hansel and Gretel” is just about the most frightening tale I can imagine — a trusted father takes his young children out into the forest and purposely abandons them there. They almost get eaten by a witch and cook her in an oven instead. That’s pretty grim stuff.

Perhaps we need constant reminders that our own lives and fears aren’t nearly as scary as the challenges characters face in dark stories. We as a species certainly enjoy being frightened , but to just the right degree. Then we can scamper back to our own nice, relatively safe reality.

If your book had a theme song, what would it be and why?
My first reaction was: “Under the Sea.” Hey, I work for Disney now, and the lyrics, “Darling, it’s better down where it’s wetter, take it from me,” fits the long term future of my characters! They do adapt and begin to build a whole new community in the sea. But it’s not an easy task, so now I’m imagining the low, ominous opening notes to JAWS playing—my characters have some very scary battles with sharks and giant squid. “Never Let Me Go,” by Florence and the Machine sounds like sea music to me, and the lyrics, “And I’m going under, but I’m not giving up! I’m just giving in…” make me think of a harrowing moment in the story when Nere’s mother forces her under the waves to make Nere breathe water for the first time.

What fictional character from another book would your character choose as a best friend and why?
I think Nere would really like Cammie Morgan from Ally Carter’s spy books. They both are shy and tend to disappear into the background, but they also are loyal, brave, tough and resourceful. They both are natural leaders, even though they don’t see themselves in that light.

What are your five Top Dystopian recs and why?
My five Dystopian lit recommendations would have to include: Shipbreaker (awesomely vivid and creative world building), The Hunger Games (deceptively simply prose, great characters), Dark Life (fun MG sea book, wonderful male protagonist), Divergent (non-stop action) and City of Ember (one of the first modern Dystopian novels, really a classic).

What’s on the top of your to-do list before the world ends?
I REALLY want to go trekking in Nepal because I grew up in Colorado and love mountains even more than I love the sea. I want to backpack the entire unimaginably beautiful NaPali coast of Kauai and spend several nights camping at the end of this incredible trail. And I would love to dive on the Great Barrier Reef before rising ocean temperatures (and they are rising, that is scientific fact, folks!) bleaches all the corals. 

How does your novel stand out from others in the genre?
I think the coolest thing about THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is its unusual setting. After chapter 10, truly all the action takes place in the ocean. I’ve been fortunate enough to do a fair amount of scuba diving, and those experiences introduced me firsthand to the amazing world under the waves. I did a ton of research on oceanography and all kinds of marine life, and I believe that also helped me to depict the ocean world more vividly. I’ve always loved dolphins, but the more I found out about them, the more fascinated I’ve become with these intelligent and amazing animals.

Thanks Polly!

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Zibilee said...

I have never encountered a story quite like this one before, and it sounds rather interesting. I think a lot of us would love the ability to breathe underwater, so I imagine that this book will get a lot of attention. It seems as though it would be perfect for not only the water babies among us, but lots of readers who love adventure. Very nice preview today!

Emma Pass said...

Great interview, Polly! THE NEPTUNE PROJECT sounds wonderful - can't wait to read it!

Emily Murdoch said...

Such an intelligent, fun and interesting interview! Thank you Lenore and Polly, both, for a wonderful post!

Your book sounds fantastic and I can't wait to read it -- and dolphins, gotta love dolphins!

Wishing you and your book everything wonderful!