***Go HERE for Shannon Whitney Messenger's
Christina Lee @ Write-Brained came up with the brilliant idea of gathering a group of bloggers to highlight different debut authors of 2011. We all chose one that we LOVED, and together, we're spotlighting well over 30 new authors today! So who did I choose?
2011 debut author of
Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield "protects" them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there's nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says...
Dark Parties was released on August 3rd. I read the eGalley (courtesy of NetGalley) last December and it was love, love, love. It killed me to wait until its release date! Here is some of what I said in my review:Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a "dark party" to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she's ever known, including the people she loves the most.
AND . . . Sara Grant is so sweet! She's been wonderfully supportive as I've fan-stalked her for nearly a year. So supportive that she agreed to an interview for today's post, despite touring with limited access to email. I <3 her so much!I loved this book. I'm so sad it doesn't come out until August, because it is awesome! It's unlike anything I've ever read, and believe me when I tell you that the blurb DOES NOT do it justice. And the sexy boy in this one...oh, so hot!
And now, I present to you, Sara Grant:
I’d just moved to London from Indianapolis, Indiana. I was immersed in the paperwork of immigration and uncovering news stories on both side of the Atlantic about who and how many should be allowed to enter a country. That got me thinking....what if a country closed its borders to people and ideas?* Can you share a bit about your journey to publication? My readers are mostly published and hoping-to-be-published writers, and we always love hearing about another writer's road to success.
This question led to more questions of national and personal identity. You don’t have to look far to see countries, cities and individuals questioning how to maintain their cultural identity in a global society. What does it mean to be American or British when the cultural make up of your country is changing? I definitely believe that diversity of cultures and ideas makes a country stronger. Dark Parties was my way to explore all these issues.
I also think Dark Parties was influenced by growing up in a small town where it often felt as if I was living in a fish bowl. Everyone knew everyone else – which has many benefits but if you are a teenager, it makes it next to impossible to rebel.
I started playing with the ideas that would become Dark Parties in 2007. It started as a short story, which I submitted to the SCBWI British Isles (www.scbwi.org) Undiscovered Voices anthology (www.undiscoveredvoices.com). I let my friend and fellow editor Sara O’Connor and my niece Megan read it. They both wanted to know what happened next and encouraged me to write the rest of Neva’s story. I told myself that if my story was selected for the anthology, then I would write the novel. And, luckily it was included in the 2008 anthology. I spent the next year writing and revising it and I kept right on writing and revising and re-imagining it until it went to proof reading at Little, Brown in 2010.* When will we get to read book 2? Can you share any hints? *wink wink*
Dark Parties is my first published novel, but by no means the first novel I’ve written. I have several of what I like to think of as ‘apprentice’ pieces – from chapter books to other stories for young adults – tucked safely away. I attempted my first story for children nearly twenty years ago. I remember because I wrote the story when my niece Megan was born. (She’s now a sophomore in college, studying creative writing.) So my message to hoping-to-be-published writers is…don’t give up. Keep reading, writing, revising, learning, improving...and believing in yourself!
My second book will come out in the spring of 2013. It’s another dystopian novel. Its working title is Half Lives. It’s a work in progress, but here’s what I know so far:* What has been the most surprising thing for you so far?
Half Lives chronicles the journey of two unlikely heroes – Icie and Beckett. Both struggle to keep themselves alive and protect future generations from the terrible fate that awaits any who dare to climb the mountain. Even though they live hundreds of years apart, Icie and Beckett’s lives are mysteriously linked.
Half Lives is a race against time and the battle to save future generations. It’s about the nature of faith and power of miscommunication – and above all the strength of the human spirit to adapt and survive.
And. . .I’ve already started working on a third novel, but even I’m not completely sure what it’s about yet!
It’s really a-maz-ing to have people around the world reading something I wrote. You write in solitude for so long, sharing with family, friends and a writers group. Then an agent and editors read and respond to your work and there’s this energy around your book. It begins to have a life of its own. Thanks to the internet – you get to see people responding to your book. It’s flattering and overwhelming! Shannon, yours was one of the first reviews I read for Dark Parties. I remember reading your review and being so excited that a complete stranger had read and liked my book.
As you see all these reader responses, you soon realize that you haven’t really written one book – you’ve written thousands. There’s the book you think you wrote. The one you imagined in your head. The one that’s actually printed in the beautiful book designed by Little, Brown, and then there’s the book each reader reads. It’s fascinating to discover what readers find in the pages of Dark Parties.
And now a few for fun:
* Coffee or tea?
Even though I live in the land of the cuppa tea, I would have to pick coffee. I’ve only acquired a taste for coffee in the last few years. Growing up my family drank about a gallon of ice tea a day, but Brits don’t really ‘do’ iced tea. And, if I’m honest, my favorite beverage is Diet Coke.* Chocolate or carrots?
Oh, I’m going to be difficult here. Can I pick the potato instead? I’m not a big fan of chocolate and I’ve been on too many diets in my life to select a carrot of my own free will, but the potato…well, now that’s the perfect food. You can mash it, fry it, chip it, bake it. If left to my own devices, I’d probably eat potatoes for every meal. I’d have to throw in a snack of chips and salsa every now and then.* What's your favorite baseball team?
But if forced, I suppose I’d pick carrots over chocolate.
Oh, I’m going to be a bit difficult again. I was born and raised in Indiana where basketball reigns supreme. I’ve always supported my home teams: the Washington Hatchets (my hometown high school team), Indiana University’s Hoosiers, and the Indiana Pacers.
To continue my line of excuses for not specifically answering your question…It’s not easy to follow baseball in England. It’s not a sport universally embraced by this country. I don’t really have a favorite baseball team. I did go see the St. Louis Cardinals a few times when I was young and I watched the Indianapolis Indians play when I lived in Indianapolis.
Now I live in England where the only real sport is soccer. My husband is a huge Tottenham Hotspur fan. I’ve had a crash course in soccer and follow Tottenham to maintain a happy marriage.
Thanks so much, Shannon, for inviting me and for your enthusiasm for Dark Parties!
You can find the awesome Sara Grant and her awesome book at the following links:
* Dark Parties Goodreads Page HERE
* Sara's Web Page HERE
* Sara's Blog, I'm Just Saying, HERE