Today we’re talking with Erin Bowman, author of TAKEN (book one of a dystopian YA trilogy), now in stores everywhere!
There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.
They call it the Heist.
Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.
Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?
1) TAKEN is set in a very strange (and creepy) world. What inspired you to create it? Did you do any special research?
Gray, TAKEN’s protagonist, was the inspiration for the story. One moment I was revising a separate manuscript, and the next this young boy was wandering around my head, fearing his eighteenth birthday. I started asking why, and the world began to form.
Gray’s home is rather primitive, and as a result, I did end up researching some weird things over the course of drafting the novel. To name a few: soil composition in particular climates, how to set snares and traps, how to skin and gut certain game, archery (anatomy of bow/arrows, technical terms, etc), the process of making homemade alcohol/mead. I never go into explicit detail on any of these topics in the novel, but I think the research helped me craft Gray’s world in a more realistic manner.
2) What was your road to publication like? Did you get any lucky breaks, or was it blood, sweat, and tears all the way?
My publication journey was a bit of a whirlwind. TAKEN was not the first novel I completed, but it was the first I ever queried. In the course of five months I went from un-agented, aspiring writer, to represented writer with a contract at HarperTeen. I was incredibly fortunate to have so many things fall into place so quickly. It is still as surreal to me now as it was two years ago when the book initially sold.
3) First novels are hard. (Well . . . all novels, really.) What was the most difficult part of writing (or editing) TAKEN?
VERY MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!! (I don’t think it will drastically ruin anything for most readers, but fair warning.)
Gray’s narration of certain technology was tricky in the second half of the novel. He moves from a primitive location into a much more modern world, and doesn’t know how to identify a lot of things. eg: When Gray first sees a car he can’t outwardly call it such until he hears someone else identify it. Finding a way to keep Gray’s voice and reactions authentic while still ensuring the reader could easily discern what he was seeing was definitely a challenge. Thankfully, this has grown easier as the series progresses. (I’m drafting book three now, and the more time Gray spends in the modern world, the more familiar and commonplace these things have become for him.)
4) Time to boast! What part of TAKEN are you most proud of?
TAKEN is narrated in first person. Gray is a boy. I am not. I’m pretty proud of being able to slip into his head and write him realistically.
5) TAKEN is the first of a trilogy. Can you give us any hints about what might be coming in the next two books?
So much has changed by the end of TAKEN, so it’s hard to give hints without risking spoilers. I will say that some new characters join the cast in book two, and just like in TAKEN, there are plenty of twists and turns, with nothing being quite what it seems. And birds–which play a special role in the first book–will continue to be present throughout the rest of the series.
6) And finally, as this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know two or three books that inspired you when you were a kid.
I was (and still am) one of the biggest Harry Potter nerds around. As a kid, I spent the wait between installments managing a HP fansite I’d made on geocities (remember geocities?) and tracing Mary GrandPre’s chapter illustrations on tracing paper. Before Harry, I was also deeply moved by stories that blended realism and fantasy (Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting, The Giver), but I happily read anything and everything. Books were my TV–no really, we didn’t have cable–and I inhaled them.
Thank you, Erin, and congratulations on your debut!
Erin Bowman used to tell stories visually as a web designer. Now a full-time writer, she relies solely on words. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and when not writing she can often be found hiking, commenting on good typography, and obsessing over all things Harry Potter. You can find Erin at her website or on twitter.
This interview was conducted by OneFour member Rosamund Hodge, and is part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Lucky13s —- YA, MG, and children’s books authors debuting in 2013.
|Rosamund Hodge loves mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. After earning a master’s degree in Medieval English from Oxford, she moved to Seattle to get a job with computers. Her debut novel, SUNDERED–Greek mythology meets Beauty and the Beast–is due out from HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray in Winter 2014. Her agent is Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates|