Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NEVER SURRENDER: Elana Johnson



I'm baaaack to the blogosphere! I've moved to California and trying to adjust to 103 degree weather. It's like walking around in an oven. No wonder everyone has A/C here!

Today Elana Johnson is my cyberguest. Her debut novel POSSESSION has now been followed by the release of its companion/sequel, SURRENDER. Let's help her celebrate!

About SURRENDER: 
Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi. 

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn. Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque.... 

So! Let's ask Elana some questions about these books and her writing.

POSSESSION
1. For this book you snagged an awesome blurb from James Dashner, who wrote THE MAZE RUNNER. How did you manage to do that? 
Well, James lives here in Utah, and he’s the nicest person on the planet. So I emailed him and asked, and he said yes! Then he gave me a superb blurb. (Oh my heck! Did you see what I did there?? That’s a RHYME.)

2. My fave bit of tech was the silver cube Vi used that caused whatever food she requested to materialize. If you had such a cube, what 3 foods would you wish to appear? 
Oh, this is too easy. 1. Bacon. 2. Pepperoni pizza. 3. Cheese—harvati with dill, please.

3. Surprisingly, as happily-ever-after as I usually am, the sad ending didn't bother me. I knew a companion book would follow, plus I thought what happened was very apt for the dystopian society and plot. Do you think dystopian books are almost required to end on a less-than-happy note, as part of the genre?  
Hmmm, I’m not sure. I’ve read plenty of dystopians that still wrap themselves up neatly in a nice, red bow. POSSESSION doesn’t do that. It’s not that there can’t be a happy ending, it’s just that there’s not right now. 

I think most other dystopians end on a high note, sort of like “Now we know what’s wrong with our society, so let’s take ‘em down!” kind of battle cry. Those novels have hope. POSSESSION is different in that way too. 

SURRENDER
1. Big burning question. How do you pronounce Raine--is the "e" silent and pronounced like rain or Ray-een, or is it pronounced like Rainy? 
It’s “rain” like the water that falls from the sky.

2. What was the most challenging part of writing SURRENDER? (Any scenes or aspects of writing this particular book, or in writing a companion book in general.)
This is going to sound lame, but the hardest part about writing SURRENDER was deciding if it would be dual-narrated or not. I’m a big believer in telling the right story, the way it needs to be told. I couldn’t decide if this was Raine’s story, and therefore she should narrate it, or if it was Gunner’s and he should.

In the end, I tried doing just Raine. And then just Gunn. And then both of them, and I realized that while their stories intermingle, they also deviate, and by using both of them to tell the story, I could give readers a much broader picture of what’s going on in the world. 

So I did that. 

GENERAL QUESTIONS
1. Why do you like writing dystopian sci-fi? Do you think you'll wander off to another genre after this, and if yes, what would you like to switch to?
I love writing dysotopian/sci fi because of the cool stuff I can do with gadgets and technology. I also like making up my own world and rules for the society. I don’t have to play by anyone else’s definition of the world, you know? 

And I’ll definitely wander off to other genres, but it’ll be more like a march. I’ve written a YA contemporary (in verse, no less!), as well as a YA fantasy. 

Never Surrendering: My (Carol's) Story
Never surrendering is definitely a story of my own writing path. After 15 novels, 11 total years of writing, and many years of attending SCBWI conferences, at last I acquired an agent in April 2011, Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary. She's awesome, and helping me take my writing to a new level.

YOUR TURN
Have you read POSSESSION? 
Do you generally like to read series or companion novels? Why or why not?
If YOU had a magic food cube that would make any food materialize, what 3 things would you wish for? (and no, it doesn't have to be a balanced meal!)

17 comments:

  1. YAY!!!
    You are back!!!
    I hear CA is super hot, Im in Texas and its 100+ degrees ALL the time! Hope you adjust nicely though!
    I have never heard of Surrender or Possession, but they sound awesome, I love dystopian novels!

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  2. I would materialize fried catfish, slaw, and hush puppies. Every day. I do like to read series and companion novels, but sometimes the material can get watered down after so many numbers in the series. But I'm sure Elana doesn't disappoint. :)

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  3. Yay you're back! I love reading series/companions because I get longer in the heads and lives of characters I love! :)

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  4. I have not read it yet, but will put it on my list. :)

    And Carol, such perseverance! Good for you!

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  5. Welcome back! :)

    Yes, I've read Possession. Whether or not I prefer a companion novel or series depends on the writing--some stories I want to continue on forever and others, when they're finished, feel truly finished.

    Great interview.

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  6. Glad to have you back! I've missed you. :D

    I can't wait to read Surrender. This interview may have pushed the book to the top of my TBR pile. And internet high-five for your perseverance throughout your writing journey!

    Hmmm. 3 food, huh? How about: lobster, birthday cake, and soup (anything but tomato) God, I love soup!

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  7. Welcome back, Carol!!!!!
    Great interview with Alana. Writing Dystopians are super fun because of the world building (I have a love of world building).

    3 foods? Dark Chocolate, Chocolate with cherries, and chocolate with orange.

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  8. Welcome Back, Carol!!!!!

    Fun interview. Great to meet Elana and learn about her books. The series sounds good.

    Mashed potatoes, shrimp scampi, deep dish pizza

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  9. I love CA, wished I lived there (I did once). Also loved this interview, very interesting to learn more about Elana and her books. Thanks :)

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  10. Welcome back, Carol! Thank you for such a great shout out for my books, and I'm glad you got moved all right. I understand the heat -- UT is an oven!

    And I know you will succeed in your publishing endeavors!

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  11. Welcome back, Carol. I'd definitely stay indoors with that weather.

    Yes, I read Possession, but haven't read my copy of Surrender yet.

    I haven't read many series in full. When I do, it's wonderful, but I get sidetracked with new books coming out.

    I would wish for hash browns, tofu with cashew nut, and peanut butter Oreos.

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  12. So excited for Elana! And so excited for you in the move! Hope everything made it safely. And it's HOT everywhere... :p <3 ((hugs))

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  13. I haven't read Possession yet, but I've had my eye on it for a while. I love reading and writing dystopian, (probably because I'm overly paranoid). Great post!

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  14. She's baaaack! The one Wednesday I failed to check on you, was the day you returned. I do love to read companion novels - once I'm invested in a character I always want more. It's so good to have you back in blogosphere!

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  15. Welcome back!

    I really want to read Elana's books. Maybe I will soon. :-D

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  16. I loved Possession. I downloaded Surrender on my Nook, so I could read it while we are on holiday. :)

    Elana...I want one of those cubes too.

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  17. My brother would definitely agree with Elana on the bacon thing! A few weeks ago he seemed to be going through this phase where he kept randomly saying the word "bacon" in the middle of conversation. Yup. Weird!

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