Monday, August 8, 2011

Author Interview: Leah Bobet previews Above

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!

Author Leah Bobet’s debut novel ABOVE comes out April 2012 from Arthur Levine (Scholastic).

Here’s the summary:

Matthew's father had lion's feet and his mother had gills, and both fled the modern-day city to live in underground Safe, a secret community of freaks, ghost-whisperers, and disabled outcasts hidden beyond the subways and sewers. Raised underground, Matthew is responsible for the keeping of both Safe's histories and the traumatized shapeshifter Ariel, the girl he took in, fell in love with – and can't stop from constantly running away.
 But Safe is no longer safe: the night after a frightening encounter in the sewers, Safe's founder Atticus is murdered by the one person Safe ever exiled: mad Corner, whose coup is backed by an army of mindless, whispering shadows.
 Only Matthew, Ariel, and a handful of unstable, crippled compatriots escape to the city that cast them out; the dangerous place he knows only as Above. Despite Ariel's increasingly erratic behaviour and with the odds against them, Matthew must find a way to rescue Safe from Corner's occupying army. But as his quest leads him through abandoned asylums and the dregs of urban poverty, Matthew discovers that the histories he's devoted his life to aren't true: Corner's invasion -- and Ariel's terrors – are rooted in a history of Safe much darker and bloodier than Matthew ever imagined.
 And even if he manages to save both home and Ariel, he may well lose himself.

And the stunning cover:

And the interview!

Why do you think people are drawn to "dark" stories?
It can be a very dark world sometimes.  There are a million small, private disasters going on all around us every day – funerals, breakups, worry and loss of all kinds – but, at least in North American society, we’re pretty much expected to behave as if that isn’t true: as if everything going right, everything being bright is the normal state of the world.  I think we know that isn’t so, and so we look for stories that confirm that instinct in our heads: tell us that yes, there’s darkness out there, and no, we aren’t making that up.  And then we can deal with it.  Because without stories that acknowledge that there’s darkness in the world and in ourselves, you can’t tell yourself the story about how to face it down and keep living.

If ABOVE had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Actually, the original song I started ABOVE’s playlist with – and the one that still sums it up the best! – is Matthew Good’s “The Fine Art of Falling Apart”.  That’s where Matthew-the-character got his name, actually: I grabbed it as a placeholder, just until I thought up a better one, and then it stuck!

What fictional character from another book would Matthew chose as his best friend and why?
That’s tricky; Matthew’s a shy, self-contained sort, and I don’t know that he’s used to the whole concept of friends.  He’d likely get along with Bran Davies from Susan Cooper’s The Grey King, though: they’re both a little old before their time, and they both know how to be quiet without having to fill that quiet.

What are your top 5 Dystopian lit recs and why?
My notion of dystopias tends to be pretty wide: less stories where the characters are
and head offices, than stories where the way the world’s set up, the society itself, is subtly and systemically against them.
So, that being said?
Nick Sagan’s Idlewild
M.T. Anderson’s Feed
Jedediah Berry’s The Manual of Detection
Catherine Bush’s Minus Time

and the bar none, all-time winner, Jeffrey Ford’s The Physiognomy, which is a classic dystopia, and which is the only book in my entire adult life which has managed to give me nightmares.  Good, really well-written nightmares.

What's on the top of your to-do list before the world ends? (you know, in case it ends next year)
You’ll all probably laugh at this, but: learn to ride a bike!  I never learned when I was a kid, and this spring, Toronto got a really super bikeshare program, which makes the whole thing so cheap and convenient I really have no excuse anymore.  My roommate’s been giving me bike lessons in a parking lot a couple blocks away (conveniently close to the good ice cream store).  Hopefully by the apocalypse, when all the cars and subways won’t be working anyway, I’ll be up to scratch!

Thank you Leah!

Visit Leah’s website 
Follow Leah on Twitter @leahbobet
Add ABOVE to your GoodReads wishlist


Hermana Tiffany Garner said...

Ooh, this book sounds awesome! I'll definitely be looking forward to it!

Zibilee said...

A lot of the interviewees are mentioning Feed as a favorite in this genre. I have a copy of that, and my son just loved it. Must see if I can dig it out soon. I also used to have a copy of The Physiognomy, but I think it got lost in a move at one point. Now that I know it's so frightening, it might be time to recollect!

melissa @ 1lbr said...

Huh, that sounds like a really different dystopian book (or the characters sound different anyway).

P.E. said...

Is that the CN tower in the background of that gorgeous cover? I haven't read any of the dystopian picks. I should get to that...

I'm really excited to read Above! The concept sounds really cool.

Oh, and good luck with your bike riding!

Lauren said...

Your book cover is absolutely gorgeous!! :) This sounds really interesting. I can't wait to read it.