Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Author Interview: Phoebe North previews Starglass

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 have Phoebe North here to preview her debut novel STARGLASS, an epic tale of rebellion set on a generation spaceship - blasting off from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 2013.

The summary:

My darling daughter, 
Know that I never would have left the Earth if it hadn't already been doomed. . . 
The generation ship Asherah coasts through space, bound for a planet its passengers have never even seen. On the eve of their arrival, sixteen-year-old botanist Terra discovers that her orderly society has fractured. Walking home one night through the long-abandoned engine rooms, she witnesses the murder of an innocent man. Now, called on by the Children of Abel, a group of rebels intent on destroying the High Council, Terra must prove her mettle--assassinate the ship's rising captain. In order to carry out her task, Terra must betray her father, deceive her teacher, and challenge everything the Council has ever taught her was true.

The rebels think that Terra has nothing left to lose. But when she falls for Silvan Rafferty, the boy that she's meant to kill, Terra learns that "doing your duty" isn't always as easy as it seems.
ETA the cover:

And the interview:

Why do you think people are drawn to "dark" stories? 
I think darkness is a natural part of life. As much as I love fluffy happy stuff (in music and video games, particularly), I think the best artwork is at least a touch bittersweet. Part of this might be influenced by my own childhood, during which my father died, but I've realistically always felt like death and loss were a part of being human. Darkness can help us better feel the poignancy of a given moment, the complexity of a human emotion, or the fleeting nature of our own lives. That might sound, on the surface, a bit depressing, but it's not--it's just part of the fabric of being human.

If your book had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Great question! I'm a big fan of the classic twee-pop band Tullycraft, and I've always felt that their song, "The Lonely Life of a UFO Researcher" does a great job of encapsulating Terra's emotions during Starglass. Because her life has been so carefully laid out for her while on the ship, all of her hopes and optimism hinge on experiences she's not yet had--reaching Epsilon Eridani, colonizing the planet the ship's inhabitants have come to call "Zehava," seeing the sky for the first time. Like the UFO researcher of the song, she has evidence that these things might come to pass, but it's still difficult for her to have faith sometimes. In that way, she's like many kids who yearn for something more outside of their hometowns.

What fictional character from another book would your main character chose as his/her best friend and why?
You know, my impulse is to say Dicey from Cynthia Voigt's Tillerman Cycle. There's a lot of Dicey in Terra--they've been irrevocably shaped by their experiences but are, at their core, survivors. Yet despite their similarities, I'm not entirely sure that Dicey and Terra would actually be friends. They're a bit scrappy, and both of their defenses are up pretty high. And that's true for many of my favorite fictional characters--Mary Lennox, Meg Murry, Holden Caulfield, Tris Prior. That being said, I could actually see Terra getting along pretty well with Diana Peterfreund's unicorn hunters. One of the things I most admired about Rampant and Ascendant is the strong bond between the girls, how they help one another learn and grow--both into warriors and into women. Terra hasn't had much of an opportunity for that in her life, and I think it would be great for her.

What are your top 5 Dystopian lit recs and why?
My top recommendation in the genre isn't YA at all, though it does feature a young protagonist. My absolutely favorite book is Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker, about a boy in a post-apocalyptic society whose father is killed, and who goes on a journey with a pack of wild dogs to discover the truth in his society. All of that might sound pretty standard, but Riddley Walker is, like A Clockwork Orange, told in vernacular. The language is incredibly dense and at times very difficult, but the pay-out is huge for readers who can make it through this sophisticated little book. Otherwise, my top five would be full of titles familiar to YA readers: I thought Under the Never Sky was great fun, absolutely adore Beth Revis's Across the Universe, enjoyed the complex world of Jodi Meadows' Incarnate, and thought Kat Zhang's recent What's Left of Me was beautifully written.

What's on the top of your to-do list before the world ends?
I have dreams of someday owning a home with a huge library, the kind you see on Pinterest boards. I'd love to have that ready before the end of the world so that I can have plenty of reading material to keep me busy.

How does your novel stand out from others in the genre? 
Readers should know that I'm a sci-fi geek and a worldbuilding junky. I never set out to create a dystopian society, but when you have a setting like a generation ship, where the population would have to be regulated over generations and where a strong government would need to keep the peace, it can happen pretty organically. The world of the generation ship Asherah is, like many dystopian worlds, one of arranged marriages and stringent societal controls. But once I had laid out the groundwork for that, I saw an opportunity to address some of the identity and rights issues which are present in our own society which many dystopian novels don't. To say much more would be spoiling, but I can say that there's political commentary present in Starglass--which was a risk, but an important one for me to take. Generally, Terra's journey (over both Starglass, and its sequel, which will come out in 2014) is one that takes her from black and white thinking to a morally gray area. Though she--and I--don't agree with everything that the ship's high Council has done, all of their decisions really were made for the aggregate good of the ship and their future colony. Which means that ultimately, Terra is forced to make some really difficult choices herself.

Thanks Phoebe!

Add STARGLASS to your Goodreads wishlist
Check out Phoebe's website www.phoebenorth.com 
Check out Phoebe's blog http://www.intergalactic-academy.net/
Follow Phoebe on twitter: @phoebenorth

1 comment:

P.L. Dodds said...

Thank you for the intersting interview. I wish Lenore the best of luck.

Kind Regards.