Magic Trix Books
Sara Grant - author of Dark Parties | autor von NEVA
Teen Books
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The Next Big Thing

I’m thrilled to be taking part in The Next Big Thing – a wacky online chain letter of sorts started by Follow the links up and down the chain to discover the next books from a whole host of amazing writers. I’ve been double-tagged by two lovely and talented authors – Margaret Bateson-Hill and Keren David .


Each author was asked to respond to the same set of questions. So…here’s a little teaser for my ‘next big thing’:


What is the working title of your next book?

Half Lives


What genre does your book fall under?

Half Lives is a young adult novel. It’s both an apocalyptic and dystopian thriller.


What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

Half Lives chronicles two unlikely heroes, living hundreds of years apart, as they fight to survive. It’s about the nature of faith and the power of miscommunication.


(Yeah, I know I cheated a bit and shared two sentences…)


Where did the idea come from for the book?

My Little, Brown editor emailed me a link to a podcast titled ‘Atomic Priesthoods, Thorn Landscapes and Munchian Pictograms: How to communicate the dangers of nuclear waste to future civilizations’. It discussed how a United States Department of Energy (DoE) panel planned to label the site of an underground nuclear waste repository. She felt the topic could be the inspiration for a young adult novel.


At first glance, it may sound a bit boring, but think about it. Some types of nuclear waste are deadly for more than 10,000 years – that’s longer than the world’s oldest civilization. Who knows what the world will be like even a thousand years from now? What language will we speak? What symbols will have meaning?


The article sparked something in my brain and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The idea that we are creating a substance that will be deadly for tens of thousands of years definitely seemed like science fiction, something right out of a superhero comic book. And then there was the added conundrum of how to communicate with future generations, which probably will not speak the same language or understand our symbols. Fascinating!


What actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition?

Half Lives would have a fairly substantial cast list with four significant characters in each of the two stories. I envisioned two particular actors for the leading roles.


If Hayden Panettiere – the cheerleader from the TV series Heroes – had long-white dreadlocks, she’d be perfect for Icie, the main character of Half Lives.


Taylor Lautner would play double duty. He’d need to grow his long silky hair for the role of Chaske Eastman, Icie’s mysterious love interest. But he’d need dreads and a loincloth for the role of Beckett.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book will be published in 2013 by Little, Brown in the US and Orion Children’s Books in the UK. (And can be pre-ordered in the UK here.)


How long did it take to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I wrote Half Lives as two separate novels, which had to link together in precise ways. Reading these two tangled tales will reveal the complete story. I started imagining Half Lives in 2009. It took me a year to finish these two linked stories and another two years to polish the novel.


What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

I find it difficult – and presumptive – to compare my novel to novels I admire. I suppose my dream review would say something like…Half Lives has the pace and power of Suzanne Collins Hunger Games with the depth and layers of a Libba Bray snd John Green novel.


High aspirations, I know, but I did say it was my dream…


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love a challenge! I’ve endeavoured to write two compelling novels that could stand alone but also tell a more powerful and thought-provoking story when told together.


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Here’s a bit from the back of the book…

“I learned that surviving isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you survive, you’ve got to live with the guilt, and that’s more difficult than looking someone in the eye and pulling the trigger. Trust me. I’ve done both. Killing takes a twitch of the finger. Absolution takes several lifetimes.”


Seventeen-year-old Icie’s parents have given her $10,000 in cash, a map of a top-secret bunker, and instructions to get there by any means necessary. They have news of an imminent viral attack and know that the bunker is Icie’s only hope of survival.


Generations in the future, a mysterious cult worships the very mountain where Icie’s secret bunker was built. They never leave the mountain, they’re ruled by a teenager named Beckett, their civilization is under attack…and they have surprising ties to Icie.


Now it’s time to tag a few more lovely and talented writers and learn what they are writing…


Ashley Dartnell is the author of Farangi Girl, Growing Up in Iran: a Daughter’s Story. It is ‘a fascinating and heartbreaking insight into a childhood interrupted...gripping.’ (Cosmopolitan)

Sean Cummings is the author of the YA urban fantasy thriller Poltergeeks.Poltergeeks is absolutely everything you could possibly want in YA fantasy.’ (Starburst Magazine)

Sharon Jones is an exciting new voice in UK teen fiction and the author of Dead Jealous, a teen murder mystery, which will be published in 2013.

Sarah Mussi is the multi-award-winning author of The Door of No Return. Her most recent book is Angel Dust, a powerful, gritty and utterly modern tragic love story with a twist.


The Next Big Thing is a great way to build my wish list of books for 2013 and beyond!