Lynne Matson: NIL

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today we’re talking to Lynne Matson, author of NIL, coming in Winter 2014 from Macmillan/Henry Holt. One author, four questions. Here we go!

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen? (aka, what was your path to publication?)

It’s all still a bit surreal, to be honest. I think most authors probably feel this way, because it takes so much work and perseverance to get here.

I grew up in a house full of books in a family of readers. I can still remember sneaking my Nancy Drew book under the covers with a flashlight after being tucked in because I had to know how the book ended. Growing up, I dreamed of being a reporter or a journalist or a writer . . . something, exciting, something involving writing. I ended up becoming a lawyer, which is much more exciting on tv than in real-life.

Fast-forward to a few months after I had my fourth son (and was no longer practicing law), I had an idea and began writing, just for me. My idea grew into a 125K YA novel. It was too long, too rough, and I queried way too soon. Rookie mistakes all around. While I while still querying my first novel, I wrote two books at once, which sounds crazy. Soon I had one novel dead in the water (my first), and two fresh books full-written. One, a YA post-apocalyptic novel, and the other a YA light sci-fi thriller (NIL). Then I had to choose which novel to polish and query. I chose NIL, and I’m so glad I did.

I queried NIL, clicked right away with Jennifer Unter (who is amazing)  and signed with her in February 2012. Jennifer sold NIL to Henry Holt/Macmillan a few months later.

What’s your debut book about?

The short version?

Think Twilight Zone meets LOST, with a strong romantic arc. Plus dashes of Survivor and LORD OF THE FLIES. J

The long version? Here’s the blurb I used in my query:

On the island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days. To escape–or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing Charley remembers is blacking out in an Atlanta parking lot, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley hunts for a way out. She discovers desolate beaches and human remains, but no sign of civilization–until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with hidden dangers, their greatest threat is time.

They can’t stop the clock. They can only hope to beat it.

Can you share any cool details with us?

Definitely. Here’s the scoop on how NIL was born.

It was February of 2010. I’d gone to Hawaii (the big island) with my husband, our first getaway from our four boys, evah. It was a work trip for him. As we left the airport, minutes after landing, we drove through ancient lava fields. Bleak and gorgeously desolate, the red rock fields stretched for miles on each side; no roads, no buildings, no people–just the sound of the wind blowing over the rocks. Totally in awe, I remember thinking how creepy it would be to wake up there, all alone, with no one around to help you or tell you where you were, and how much it all looked like an alien planet (think DUNE). NIL was born that afternoon. I wrote 20K words on my laptop over the next 10 days.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

–I’ve worked as (among other things!) a waitress, a bartender, a shoe model, a salesperson at the GAP (where I actually was shown how to fold a t-shirt using a clipboard), and a lawyer.

–I have journals full of really bad poetry I wrote in high school that will never see the light of day. Seriously.

–Cookies are my kryptonite. Other vices? A fountain vanilla Coke–I love all things vanilla. Oh, and I love chocolate too, especially dark chocolate. And cheese! I love cheese. Ok, I’ll stop now.

–I read freakishly fast. I usually finish every book I start in one sitting, but the good ones I’ll think about for days.

–I can’t write without music.

–I have a solid three-point shot, a strong forehand, and a respectable marathon time. My latest sports obsession? Paddleboarding.

Lynne Matson is a former attorney with a weakness for books, cookies, and alternative tunes. Her debut novel, NIL, a YA light sci-fi thriller, is coming Winter 2014 from Macmillan/Henry Holt. When she’s not writing, reading, or at a concert, you’ll find her hanging out with her husband and their 4 boys. Lynne also lives on Twitter at @LSMatson, where she shares cookies.

13 thoughts on “Lynne Matson: NIL

  1. Lynne – this book sounds AMAZING and I can’t wait to get my grubby hands on it! Also, I used to work at Banana Republic in college, yet I could never master the folding board 😦

    • We will get together one day and I’ll show you all the clipboard sekrits.:) hehe Seriously, thanks for the kind words on NIL. I feel the same about The BREAK-UP ARTIST!! Come on 2014!!! 🙂

  2. NIL sounds so cool! Cannot wait to read it. I’m also curious about what kind of music you write to. Something thrilling to match your book? Or more like background mood music?

  3. We are so alike! I also read fast (and write fast), and I run (well, until I hurt my knee getting a PR during a half last year), and I have to write to music, and and and…. 🙂 Your book is one of my most wanted of 2014. Can’t wait to read it!!

    • Sara, Love it! Yes, I’m a fast-drafter too. 🙂 So sorry about the running injury–that’s no fun. I love the half-marathons too…less than 2 hours and you’re done. Plus, you don’t feel like you’ve been hit by a bus (which is how I feel after a full. Ugh :D)!

      And thanks for the sweet comments on NIL! Eep! I feel the same about DEFY. I loved the blurb and your story on how DEFY came to be.:) I can’t wait for all the 2014 goodness! 🙂

      Thank you Sara!:)

  4. Thanks Annie! And QUEEN OF THE AIR sounds amazing too–and congrats on the Susan P. Bloom award! That’s big-time.:) Yay! Come on 2014! 🙂

    As for the music, it depends on what I’m writing. Sometime classical when revising (more background, and mellow), but usually it’s music to match the voice or the feel of the novel. For NIL, I had different playlists for the two alternating POV’s. For Thad’s POV, I listened to lots of 30 Seconds to Mars, Pendulum, Rise Against, and Kasabian. For Charley’s POV? I played tons of Lana Del Ray, The Band Perry, The Jezebels, and Paramore. 🙂 Other bands that got heavy play for NIL, generally: The XX, Snow Patrol, Spoon, and The Astronaut Wife.

    Thanks Annie! 🙂

  5. I have a feeling NIL will make me want to visit Hawaii. Or maybe never, ever, ever visit Hawaii, depending on how intense the desolate-island thing is 😉

    Either way, SO excited for this one!! Sounds so unique and brilliant!

  6. I will eat cheese with you after YOU run the marathon. I’ll try not to eat all the cookies while I’m waiting for you to run by.

    Can’t wait for NIL!

  7. I laughed when I read the part about the 125K first novel, queried way too soon. I thought I was the only person who did that! And I wondered why no one was interested. Ah, well.

    I’m so psyched to read your book, Lynne! We need to have some kind of ARC library to share amongst us!

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