Monday, January 28, 2013

Interview with Beth Revis, author of the Across the Universe Trilogy

I am absolutely thrilled to introduce Beth Revis, the bestselling author of the Across the Universe series to Ensconced in YA!

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)A Million Suns (Across the Universe, #2)Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3)

Goodreads Book Description of Across the Universe:
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder. 

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Beth RevisAuthor Blurb: Beth Revis is the author of the NY Times Bestselling Across the Universe series, published by Razorbill/Penguin in the US andavailable in 17 countries. The first book in the trilogy, Across the Universe, is a “cunningly executed thriller” according to Booklist, and the second book, A Million Suns, was hailed by the LA Times as “a fast-paced, action-packed follow-up.” The final book of the trilogy, Shades of Earth, will be released in early 2013.

Author Interview

1) I am thrilled to get to interview you on my blog. Across the Universe was one of my favorite YA novels after the Hunger Games hype. Where did you come up with the exciting world for this series? Any particular inspirations whether it be other authors, loved ones, or pets?

The books came from a life-long love of reading--I loved Agatha Christie mysteries growing up, and had just read a book with an unreliable narrator (The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner) and I wanted to combine those two elements--in space! The actual setting of Godspeed probably came mostly from my being a teacher in rural North Carolina. Seeing my students in the wide-open country were still often trapped (by family obligations or low socio-economic situations) influenced the idea of literally trapping people in space. 

2) I think that alternating perspectives between Amy and Elder was a great choice. First, what was it like to view this experience from two different perspectives? Second, what was it like to get inside the head of someone so different like Elder? What was easy and what was difficult?

I LOVED showing things from different perspectives! There are a few scenes--such as the kiss--that was just so much fun to explore on both sides. One of the specific things I tried to do was turn the "instalove" trope on its head. I'd read a lot of books where the girl falls instantly in love, and the boy is stand-off-ish. So I did the opposite--in AtU, Elder falls instantly in love, but Amy's hesitant. 

For Elder, the hardest part was nailing down the boy voice--not that he was from the future or born on a spaceship! There's a scene when he first sees Amy--she's frozen, and, under the ice, completely naked. I spent pages describing what she looked liked, and then had my husband read it. "Does this sound like the way a boy would describe a girl?" I asked.

"Nope," he said.

I was crushed. "Why not?"

"Well, she's naked, right?" he asked. I nodded. "If I was seeing a naked girl for the first time, all I'd be thinking about was boobs."

So I cut all the flowery description and had Elder think about boobs. That definitely helped with writing a male voice. 

3) I love all of your characters-- they are all very different with distinct personalities. Who was your favorite character to write and did any of them surprise you and why?

Perhaps my most favorite--and definitely the most surprising!--was Harley. I NEVER planned for him to be a significant part of the story. He was supposed to randomly show up and fade into the background--but he became a much more important and integral part of all three books, actually. 

4) Talk to us about designing the Godspeed and the wonderful intricate map of the ship. Who did you talk to and what sources did you go to help research its structure?

Hahaha! I definitely have to thank my publisher for helping me develop its structure. When I came up with the ship, I invented everything as I went. Need to get from one level to another? Grav tube! See the city? Colored trailers! There was NO planning from the start; when I needed something on the ship, I invented it. 

Then, when my publisher told me they wanted to make the map, they asked for my drawings. I had nothing! I ended up sketching something with a Bic pen and notebook paper. My publisher asked what the outside of the ship looked like. "I don't know," I said, "none of them go outside." In the end, I sent over a picture of Futurama's Planet Express to model the outside of the ship on!

5) For the aspiring writers out there, I was hoping you could talk a little bit about plot and pacing. In both books, you have some great plot twists and reveals, which I believe happen at exactly the right time. Can you tell us about the process of putting together a novel and making sure events happen at the right time without dragging?

This is actually something very simple for me. Whenever I, as a writer, started to feel that the story was dragging or going slowly, I killed off a character and/or blew something up.

6) I might have liked A Million Suns even more than the Across the Universe, which is very unusual for me. It definitely did not suffer from middle book syndrome. Can you talk about the process of writing a sequel and what challenges you encountered and ways that you overcame them?

So many challenges! The biggest for me was that I didn't start AtU intending it to be a trilogy. I actually intended it to be a stand alone novel, and the reader would just never know what happened to Amy and Elder. So pulling together all the threads to make the second (and ugh, the third!) was particularly difficult for me. Next time, I'm planning more!

7) Everyone is thrilled to see the conclusion of this series. Can you tell us about the third and final installment without giving too much away?

I can say that in Across the Universe, my favorite bit was the chapter that was only a sentence long. In A Million Suns, my favorite bit is the page that has only one word on it. In Shades of Earth, my favorite bit is the blank page.

What a great interview! Thanks again, Beth, for giving this terrific interview! Don't forget to enter the giveaway that includes the entire Across the Universe trilogy!
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  1. Lovely interview! 'Boobs', haha. xD

  2. I found it really interested that the 'trapped' idea came from rural NC. I live in a semi-rural area of NC now, and grew up in a really rural part of Florida (yes, they exist). It really is like being trapped -- so few people move from that location. Even though there's no physical barrier, there is a trapped feeling to small town life.