GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Imogen Howson, author of LINKED

LinkedToday’s Lucky13 interview is with Imogen Howson, author of the YA space thriller LINKED, which releases tomorrow! Imogen was kind enough to send me an ARC all the way from England, and I have to tell you that behind that gorgeous cover is a beautifully-written, twist-filled page-turner you DO NOT want to miss!

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere.

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes.

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed.

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

Can you tell us a bit about how LINKED came to be published?

I wrote LINKED for NaNoWriMo 2009. As anyone who’s done NaNo can imagine, at the end of that month I had a great mad mess of a story! I finished writing it and edited it over the next year, then began querying agents.

In early 2011, one agent, Mandy Hubbard at the D4EO Agency, came back to me offering the chance to work with her exclusively on some pretty extensive revisions. I knew this didn’t guarantee me anything, but her revision suggestions were so good that by the time I’d started to work through them I knew I was going to keep this version of the book even if she didn’t like what I’d done!

Fortunately, she did like it, and offered representation. I reworked the rest of the book according to her suggestions and sent it to her on June 8th 2011. She’d already been talking to publishers about it, and it was out on submission by June 9th. And by June 14th it had sold to Simon & Schuster. I was still in shock two weeks later!

One of the things that really blew me away was your very descriptive worldbuilding—the galaxy had a rich history, and the futuristic setting on Sekoia was well fleshed out. How did you approach this part of your writing?

I love writing descriptions, and it’s about the only bit of writing that comes easily to me so I think I indulge myself in creating worlds that need describing. I also get a bit bored by the real world, I’m afraid, so I often look at things slantwise, trying to turn them into something more interesting than they really are. There’s a stretch of road in between my house and the nearest city that I always imagine as an alien planetscape—and it eventually made its way into LINKED as the plateau around the spaceport.

I owe much of the depth of the worldbuilding to my editor, Navah Wolfe, though. She made me improve the original worldbuilding a lot, particularly all the bits I’d tried to handwavium over!

The details of the spaceship, The Phoenix, were so realistic! Have you always been into space-based sci-fi, or did this require some extra research?

I love space-based sci-fi, and I read as much as I could find while I was growing up, but I’m really horribly unscientific so I could never write proper “hard” science fiction. I think I’ve collected some of the “rules” of science fiction just by reading so much. But mostly I approached the details of the spaceship the same way I would approach describing a car or a train…or my super-clever Macbook! I don’t know what’s going on inside any of these things, but I do know what they look like and feel like to use or travel in.

I’m not normally a swoony type, but the romantic interest in this book was such a great, layered character that I totally fell for him! Did you base his character on anyone in particular?

He is honestly one of those characters who just took on a life of his own. In the first draft of the book he was completely different—and a lot less interesting. Then Mandy made a small suggestion about his relationship with Elissa, and when I started to rewrite him he just got more and more interesting—and attractive. I said to my daughter that I work hard on all the heroes I write, and I like them all, but this one is the first I’ve ever actually had a crush on!

You have a sequel, UNRAVEL, coming out next year. Did you plan to write two books from the beginning, or did the idea come to you as you were writing LINKED?

That was something else that sort of grew by itself as I was rewriting LINKED. I always planned for LINKED to stand alone, but as I grew closer to the end I realized there were lots of interesting possibilities for a sequel.

The long wait from book deal to publication day can be excruciating–do you have plans to celebrate now that it’s finally here?

Do I ever! I’m having a book release celebration/ birthday party the weekend after LINKED releases. I’ve just been ordering a delicious buffet, and I plan to eat and drink and dance with a whole bunch of friends and family. There may be champagne opened on release day as well.

Finally, 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!

Only two or three? All Diana Wynne Jones’s books, but, seeing as I’m in a sci-fi mood right now, I’ll specify A Tale of Time City (lots of fun futuristic gadgets in that book!). For its treatment of identical twins, End of Term by Antonia Forest. And for its tough, vulnerable, totally endearing teenage heroine, Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey.

Thanks for stopping by, Imogen, and best wishes for your debut!

About the author:

Imogen HowsonImogen Howson writes science fiction and fantasy for adults and young adults, and is the winner of the 2008 Elizabeth Goudge Award for her romantic fiction. She works as an occasional editor for Samhain Publishing. She lives with her partner and their two teenage daughters near Sherwood Forest in England, where she reads, writes, and drinks too much coffee.

Imogen can be found at her website, blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Readers, you can add LINKED on Goodreads, but I recommend you pick up a copy as fast as you can! Available at:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books-A-Million | The Book Depository

Rachel Searles once thought she’d be a journalist but found she vastly prefers writing about made-up things. A Midwesterner at heart, she lives in Los Angeles with her rocket scientist husband and their two feline overlords. Her debut novel, THE LOST PLANET, is a rip-roaring space adventure coming from Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan in January 2014.

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