Kristi Helvig: BURN OUT

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today, we’re talking to Kristi Helvig, author of BURN OUT (Egmont, Spring 2014). One author, four questions. Here we go!

What’s your debut book about?

The short version: It’s about the last girl on Earth when the sun burns out years ahead of schedule.

Here’s a longer summary about my YA sci-fi debut BURN OUT:

Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, a teenage girl yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even more deadly than the hostile environment.

     Holed up in her father’s bomb shelter, Tora is alone—her brilliant, scientist father murdered, her mother and sister fried on Earth’s unrelenting surface. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spikes, and her sole ‘pet’ is Trigger, the gun her father taught her to use at the age of five.

     Elated when family friend, Markus, arrives proclaiming he found the legendary, ocean-covered planet, Elysium, Tora finds her elation short-lived when he tells her what he wants in exchange for her transport—the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in. Tora must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father’s request to save the last of humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.

What inspires you to write?

The short answer: music, dreams, and science documentaries.

My hubby is a singer/songwriter, and he’s always exposing me to interesting new music. We’re also huge nerds (okay, I can’t speak for him, but I’m a huge nerd) and spend a ton of time watching documentaries about space/ parallel universes/etc. on Nat Geo, Science Channel, or Discovery Channel. One evening after a week of watching space documentaries, he played me this haunting song on Pandora, and that night I dreamed the entire BURN OUT book. I woke up and scribbled down the important parts so I wouldn’t forget, but Tora was seared into my brain after that dream. My current wip, KILLER POINTE, about an assassin ballerina, also stemmed from a bizarre but vivid dream involving swords and trolls. Seriously. Thanks to prolific dreaming, I have a ton of book ideas in my notebook. NOTE: This also provides a great excuse to my hubby as to why I need to sleep in on the weekends—it’s for work!

What do you do in your daily life outside of writing?

I’m a Ph.D. clinical psychologist and certified life coach by training, so I have a part-time private practice, but have mostly been home with my kiddos up until this year when my youngest started Kindergarten [insert tears]. What else? We’re huge dog lovers and volunteer with Colorado Beagle Rescue—and even have two adorable beagles of our own. I’m an outdoor girl and love hiking, snow-shoeing, etc. but am unbelievably bad at skiing despite many, many lessons. At night, I’m either curled up with a good book or catching up on Alex Skarsgard–er, I mean, True Blood episodes with the hubby (just started Season  3).

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

Hmmm…okay, a few random facts about me.

1)      I was a preschool dropout.

2)      My 5-yo was also a preschool dropout. (I figure since I went on to get my Ph.D., I don’t need to worry about her being a lifelong slacker. I mean, you’re only 4 once.)

3)      The first business I started was at age 12 with my younger brother. It was a lawn-mowing business and I made cute flyers and handed them out all over the neighborhood. It was great because I made my brother do all the trim work with the push-mower, while I rode the big mower and listened to Bon Jovi on my walkman.

4)      My worst job ever was waitressing on the overnight shift at a 24-hour diner in North Carolina. NOTE: The only people who frequent a diner at 3am are either drunk, stoned, or really drunk.

5)      I dream of having chickens. I have friends with chickens, and I’m totally jealous of them. One day, I want enough land for chickens of my own. This might seem like a strange goal, but once you taste eggs from happy chickens, you’ll never want the store kind again.

Kristi Helvig is a YA writer by night, and clinical psychologist by day. You can find her musing about space monkeys and various other things on Twitter (@KristiHelvig). Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, kids, and behaviorally-challenged dogs. Her sci-fi YA debut, BURN OUT, is due Spring 2014 from Egmont.

18 thoughts on “Kristi Helvig: BURN OUT

  1. I think a great debut gift to yourself would be a chicken or two. Lots of folks in my area keep them on a regular-sized lots. You know I’ll be picking up BURN OUT the nanosecond it comes out!

    • Yeah, I just need to convince my HOA that it would be a great gift to myself, and they’re not nearly as nice as you are. We’ve actually considered moving to your area…it’s way greener there than here.

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