Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Author Interview: Kat Zhang previews What's Left of Me

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 Kat Zhang is here today to talk about her upcoming release with HarperCollins called WHAT'S LEFT OF ME.  It's due in stores on September 18, 2012.

ETA the cover:

Here's the summary:

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn't one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t… 
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she's still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable--hybrids are considered a threat to society, so it they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet...for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

This sounds majorly freaky, you guys. I LOVE IT.

By the way, the cover is due to be revealed THIS FRIDAY at I'll insert it here once it's up.

Now on to the interview:

Why do you think people are drawn to "dark" stories?
I think people are drawn to dark series for a lot of different reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it's often in the darkest stories where we find the most hope. As a reader, it's rather inspiring to read stories about people going through more harrowing situations than I'll ever live through (hopefully!) and coming out on top, or at least trying to stay good, sane people throughout. Also, dark stories tend to explore "darker" issues--the troubling questions that people might not otherwise talk about in their everyday lives. Of course, there is also the simple fact that darker stories usually mean higher stakes and thus more tension/more excitement! I'm not sure I answered that question adequately, but tis certainly a difficult one for me to wrap my thoughts around entirely! :)

If WHAT'S LEFT OF ME had a theme song, what would it be?
To be honest, I'm not one of those writers who comes up with playlists for their books. I wish I were! I can't write with music, and I don't tend to hear songs and think "Oh! That matches my book perfectly!" So when I read this question, I went on a quick search for songs that might work, entirely despairing of ever finding one and pretty much thinking of coming back and asking Lenore if I could substitute this question for a "If WHAT'S LEFT OF ME has a theme image, what would it be and why?" But miracle of miracles, I remembered Florence and the Machine's "Blinding," which is really just perfect. The idea of waking from a "dreaming state" to the real world is sort of like Eva's journey throughout the book, and I love the phrase "a tourist in the waking world." I really like the tone of the song, too.

What fictional character from another book would your main character chose as his/her best friend and why? Oh, man, that's hard! Considering Eva's situation at the beginning of the book, she literally has no friends (other than Addie), and hasn't for a while. That being said, I think she needs someone who will really stand by her and be excited to do all sorts of different things with her (and maybe not be freaked out by the fact that she shares her body with another soul??). Right now, Karou of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is coming to mind, haha. She's certainly accustomed to strangeness and probably wouldn't bat an eye at the whole body-sharing thing. Plus, she and Eva could connect on the whole must-hide-large-parts-of-our-lives-from-just-about-everyone count ;) Addie would probably like her, too, since they're both artists.

What are your top 5 Dystopian lit recs and why? All your questions are hard! ;) Well, I can't do a list of dystopians without mentioning THE GIVER, which, almost a decade after I first read it, still resonates in my mind. As far as I remember, it was my introduction to dystopia, and though I'm probably preaching to the choir here, if anyone hasn't read it yet, please do!!

A slightly less well-known book is AMONG THE HIDDEN, which is book one of the Shadow Children series. I read some of these as a child, and they definitely contributed to my love of books about a messed up future.

ANIMAL FARM has a bit of a special place in my heart because I first read it when I was 10 years old and completely missed any and all social commentary therein. Three years later, my teacher, learning that I'd read the book, was like "Oh, yeah--isn't it interesting how the author talked about a socialist society in such a unique way?" and I thought to myself, "Are we talking about the same book? The one I read about know...animals....on a farm..." Which, I guess, goes to show you that a good dystopian story, whatever "social message" it may or may not be trying to get across, should still first and foremost be a good story that even 10 year olds with no ability to make allusions to social commentary can understand and enjoy ;)

I dunno if ENDER'S GAME truly counts as dystopian, but it was definitely one of my absolute favorites as a kid, and I still love it. I empathized with the characters in that story so much, and when I first started writing stories, I looked to ENDER'S GAME for lessons on character crafting and dialogue.

I'm also a big fan of WITHER and can't wait for FEVER :) Intriguing premise, beautiful writing, and characters that I can't wait to see again.

What's on the top of your to-do list before the world ends? all these books that are coming out in 2012, for one!! I guess I would also, in the words of Isaac Asimov, "type a little faster" ;)

What sets your novel apart from others in the genre?
I think the idea of two souls in one body is pretty unique. A number of people do draw parallels to THE HOST, and I can see the similarities, but at heart, I think WHAT'S LEFT OF ME is a very different book :)

Thanks Kat! 

Visit Kat's website  
Follow Kat on twitter @KatZhang


Unknown said...

I've heard about this book already and this post + interview made me want to read it even more, it sounds *fantastic*.

Can't wait for it! :)

Rachael Stein said...

This does sound majorly creepy. But I'm fascinated about the two souls on one body.... :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome interview. I can't wait to read Kat's book. And I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't think of song lists for their story.

Zibilee said...

This sounds like a fantastic and very unusual book, and the plot sounds like it would keep me up flipping pages. I would love to read this one, and am making a note about when it comes out so that I can grab it. Fantastic interview as well. I think that Kat's perceptions on why readers like darker books are very interesting, and very true.

Jasmine Stairs said...

I am definitely looking forward to this book! (And eagerly anticipating the cover reveal tomorrow. :D)

Evie said...

This book sounds amazing! I'm really curious to know more about it and I can't believe I'll have to wait til Semptember!

Kulsuma said...

The cover is absolutely gorgeous! And I am loving the plot! Can't wait for September now.

Vivien said...

My new favorite cover of 2012!!!! It's just stunning. Plus, the blurb and now I'm hooked! Adds to wishlist.

Debbie's World of Books said...

Another new one to me that I'll be adding to my wish list :)

roro said...

animal farm is gr8 atleast the movie/ must read that soon
great review and love the covr