Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Author Interview: Diana Peterfreund previews For Darkness Shows the Stars

For my spotlight on upcoming dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction series, I interviewed over 20 authors with novels coming out in the genre in 2012/13. These are exclusive first looks at exciting new works. Enjoy!

Today I am thrilled to welcome Diana Peterfreund (author of the SECRET SOCIETY GIRL series and RAMPANT, among others) who is previewing her YA post-apocalytpic PERSUASION retelling FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, due out Summer 2012 from Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins).

Diana is letting me world premiere the full summary:

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.

But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

How excited am I? VERY.

ETA the cover:

Now onto the interview questions.

Why do you think people are drawn to "dark" stories?
Dark stories allow people to have a cathartic emotional experience without the corresponding real life suffering. It could be a "there but for the Grace of God go I" thing, or perhaps a mirror or an outlet for something they're dealing with in their real lives. Or maybe it's just entertainment.

It's funny you ask this. I actually think of For Darkness Shows the Stars as a much more optimistic book than my other young adult titles. The characters are trying to rebuild the world -- that's not dark. It's beautiful! Though the society in the novel truly does leave a lot to be desired, I tend to think of it more as "post-apocalyptic" than classic dystopian. There is an expectation, I think, that post-apocalyptic has to show the depths of the aftermath, such as in Jo Treggiari's Ashes, Ashes, or Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth. But there are also shiny post-apocalyptic stories, like Scott Westerfeld's Uglies.

(However, I have written a truly "dystopian" story, the near-future "Foundlings" that will be out this winter in the anthology BRAVE NEW LOVE. The proceeds from the anthology are being donated to the Ali Forney Center, which provides housing to homeless LGBT youth.)

If FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Sting's "Ghost Story". It's a plaintive, wintry ballad about the memories that consume you after a lost love, and contains so much that maps exactly to the characters and motifs in my book. To avoid sharing every lyric, I'll just point out two of my favorite lines: "this indifference was my invention, when everything I did sought your attention" and "you were my compass star, you were my measure."

What fictional character from another book would Elliot choose as her best friend and why?
Anne Elliot from Persuasion, since Anne was my inspiration for Elliot. And though For Darkness Shows the Stars is a retelling, they are not exactly the same people -- Elliot has a lot more responsibility than Anne was ever allowed, and it's changed her in certain ways. But they are both smart, long-suffering, shy, deeply passionate, and yearn for lives they weren't born into.

Kai, the other main character, would probably kill to be friends with any inventor from an HG Wells novel (especially the narrator of the Time Machine, another dystopian classic).

What are your top 5 Dystopian lit recs and why? 
Picking five is problematic. I already recommend any book I've mentioned in this interview, especially UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld. I can't imagine that there are many people who haven't read it, but if not, then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? (Especially now that they have the snazzy new covers.)

It was one of the first books I read during my rediscovery of YA, and I went out and bought his entire backlist. I know Lenore agrees with me on this one (Lenore's note: I do!) -- I would not be here right now were it not for the cover of Uglies calling to me from across a crowded Barnes & Noble. I'm so excited about the recent movie news.

FEED by M.T. Anderson is a fantastic book published before the current "craze" that blew me away. The voice is stunning.

ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Atwood. When I was younger, women the generation older than me would always talk about how scary The Handmaid's Tale was. I read it, but I never got that "ack" sensation. Then I read Oryx & Crake -- it was a dystopia for my generation, one that spoke to the things that scared ME -- terrorism, genetic engineering, internet anonymity, the ascendance of corporate culture... I don't think I slept for weeks after finishing it.

LOST HORIZON by James Hilton. Some might argue this is a "utopian" rather than "dystopian" novel, but I think dystopia is in the eye of the beholder. There are things about Shangri-La that are horrifying. (I wrote my college thesis on this novel, so I'm a little obsessed.)

And..... ugh. Can. Not. Pick. Okay: SKIN HUNGER by Kathleen Duey. It's great because it's a fantasy dystopia, and you don't see that often. Also it's pitch dark and painfully beautiful.

How does your novel stand out from other dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction out there?
I actually don't know anyone else doing a post-apocalyptic retelling of a regency-era classic (original-text mashups like Pride & Prejudice and Zombies don't count). If you find any, let me know!

Thanks Diana!

Visit Diana's website
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Add FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS to your GoodReads wishlist


Pam Pho said...

oh.my.god. I am so excited for this, I had no clue Diana
was doing a dystopian! How exciting.

Jo Treggiari said...

Can not wait to read this! It sounds amazing!

Emy Shin said...

I love love love PERSUASION, and this summary sounds perfect. I can't wait to read the novel next summer!

Christina said...

Jane Austen + dystopia! If this is not my new favorite book, something has gone very wrong, and, since I loved the Killer Unicorns books, I don't think that's in question. YES!

Anonymous said...

One more for my TBR list! Such an ingenious idea. I cannot wait to read it!

Lauren said...

You're book sounds amazing, Diana!! Thanks for sharing! *added to wishlist* I like the Uglies series too, except I still haven't read Extras. I think because I heard it doesn't have the same characters as the other books. I'll just have to throw that one in for my to-read list for Dystopian August event as well. Thanks for the interview.

Zibilee said...

This was a wonderful and smart interview and Diana's recommendations have certainly swelled my wish list! Thanks for sharing this with us today. Her book sounds fantastic!

Diana Peterfreund said...

Thanks so much for all the good wishes, guys. I'm also really excited about this book -- it's something I've wanted to write for a long, long time.

Miss Lauren, the main character of Extras is a new character, but Tally and Shay definitely make a (big) appearance. It's also interesting in that it presents a different kind of culture that lives in the same world, and shows what happens after the Mind-Rain.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Sorry about the formatting all - no matter how many time I try to get the font to stick to one size and style, it just does what it wants *sigh*

Miss Lauren and Diana - Ack! I still need to read Extras too. Maybe I'll fit it in this month.

melissa @ 1lbr said...

Seriously, I'm with everyone here. Persuasion retelling in dystopic future? Give. Me. Now. So excited for this.

Michelle said...

I'm very excited for this one! It sounds like a spectacular retelling with a twist. Shall we read it together? ;)

Heather Zundel said...

I am so late in this comment (forgive me, Lenore!) but I cannot tell you how exciting this book sounds. The retelling aspect I could care less about, but how you've changed the classic story elements in this new way has me leaping moons right now. And yay for no love triangle!!! *squees*