GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Polly Holyoke, Author of THE NEPTUNE PROJECT

Neptunecover_FINALToday’s Lucky13 interview is with Polly Holyoke, author of the middle-grade deep-sea adventure THE NEPTUNE PROJECT. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is set in a future where the seas are rising and global warming is out of control. Nere Hanson and her teen companions are shocked to learn that they have been genetically altered by their desperate parents to live in the sea. Protected by her loyal dolphins, shy Nere leads the rest on a perilous journey to her father’s new colony. Fighting off government divers, sharks and giant squid, can Nere and her companions learn to trust each other before their dangerous new world destroys them?

Judging by your website, I’m fairly convinced you live underwater, so the inspiration for your book isn’t hard to find. But was there a particular event or moment that sparked the idea for the story?

Well, there was this moment when a huge, ugly moray eel sunk his teeth into my dive flipper… just kidding! Actually, I have to give you an honest and not very exciting answer. The premise of The Neptune Project grew in my mind over time. I’ve always cared about the environment, and at the rate we are polluting and overpopulating the land of our planet, it just makes sense to me that we may have to colonize the oceans someday. I’m also fascinated by genetic engineering, and we are drawing closer to being able to “engineer” kids who can breathe seawater.

You’ve mentioned being both claustrophobic (like your heroine, Nere) and being a “chicken about heights.” Do you foresee the latter (or other phobias!) making an appearance in future novels?

That’s a great idea! I’ve considered writing a story about a girl who gets bitten by a rattlesnake in the desert just like I was a few years ago, but I think that storyline could get melodramatic in a hurry. I do like the idea of having a serious teen climber survive a bad fall which will impact her ability make challenging ascents. I feel a new story brewing – thanks so much for the nudge!

In Neptune 2, I do follow up on Nere’s claustrophobia and have her imprisoned in a small, dark cell with Tobin (we authors can be so cruel to our characters), and he helps her through the worst of her terror.

You’ve done a lot of scuba diving, but what challenges (if any) did you find in writing an underwater setting?

There were so many sensory details I wanted to convey and get right. It’s quiet and muffled under the waves compared to the surface world, but the sea has its own music. I love the whisper of sand shifting with currents, and the whistles and squeaks of dolphins. The light becomes green or blue depending on where you dive, and it vanishes quickly the deeper you swim.

In the publishing process, what did you feel most and least prepared for?

I was prepared to spend a great deal of time revising a manuscript until it was perfect, and my editor Lisa Yoskowitz was wonderful about helping to make The Neptune Project a better book. I didn’t realize, though, how much time I’d have to spend mastering social media and using it. I now enjoy twitter (like many authors, I perhaps enjoy it too much) but it was a little scary learning how to use it at the start.

Now that your debut’s out in the wild, what’s up next?

I’ve finished Neptune 2, which Puffin UK has already bought. I’m hoping Disney Hyperion buys it as well and agrees to publish the third and final book in the Neptune series.

As this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.

BTW, that is one clever name for a debut author group! My father and grandmother used to read Johann David Wyss’ THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON to me by the hour, and I liked to imagine I was a member of that family shipwrecked on a desert island. I also loved MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN by Jean Craighead George about a boy who goes off and tries to survive on his own in the wild. Those books were so vivid, and the characters in them had to be incredibly brave and resourceful to survive. You’ll see those themes in The Neptune Project. My shy heroine Nere eventually learns that she is capable, brave and resourceful.

Thanks for stopping by, Polly, and best luck with THE NEPTUNE PROJECT!


Polly Holyoke has been imagining stories since she was in fifth grade. When she isn’t writing, Polly loves reading, camping, skiing, scuba diving and hiking in the desert (where she quite stupidly got herself bitten by a rattlesnake). She lives with three rescue dogs, two spoiled cats and a nice husband who is tolerant about the piles of books all over their house. Her debut middlegrade novel, THE NEPTUNE PROJECT, is the story of a young girl leading a group of genetically altered teens fighting to survive in the sea. She is thrilled that this novel will be published by Disney/Hyperion and Puffin Books UK summer, 2013. She thinks the best part about being an author is going to work in her sweatpants and getting paid for daydreaming!


Here’s where you can buy THE NEPTUNE PROJECT:

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Books-A-Million     Indigo Books     Powell’s Books     IndieBound

R.C. Lewis teaches math to teenagers—sometimes in sign language, sometimes not—and resists defining herself further since that definition remains in flux. Coincidentally, she enjoys reading about quantum physics. Her debut novel, STITCHING SNOW (Disney-Hyperion, Summer ’14), takes Snow White into space.

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