Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she’s hooked. On the face of it, he’s a typical American teenager. So why doesn’t he recognize pizza? And how come he hasn’t heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he’s taking in her.
As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan’s bedroom – a biography of her best friend – written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose … and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.
AFTER EDEN sounds like an amazing book, with such a unique premise. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy, and luckily I don’t have to wait much longer, as it’s out in just a couple of days!
I jumped at the chance to interview Helen Douglas, the fabulous author of AFTER EDEN, and ask her a few questions about her book, her process, and her ideas. Here’s what she had to say:
LW: The premise of AFTER EDEN is so interesting! Can you tell us how the idea came about, and about the genesis of this book?
HD: The idea came from lots of different places at the same time. I’d been thinking about the idea of two people who could have been soul mates but were born a century apart. That was the genesis. And then I received a telescope for my birthday and started taking an interest in stars and exoplanet discoveries. I knew I wanted to write a love story about two people separated by time and that stars and the universe would play a part in it.
LW: Sci-fi is so diverse, covering everything from ENDER’S GAME to STAR WARS and back again. What drew you to sci-fi, and how does AFTER EDEN fit into the genre, and how is it different from other sci-fi out there?
HD: I’m a huge sci-fi fan. I particularly love the high concept stories of Phillip K Dick, such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, as well as the film adaptations of his novels. I’m drawn to sci-fi because of the ideas explored in the genre. That said, After Eden is at the lighter end of science fiction, in that the novel isn’t about ideas particularly; it’s more about characters. I would say it reads like a contemporary romance with a slight sprinkling of sci-fi.
LW: Did you have a character or scene that was your favorite to write?
HD: One of my favourite scenes comes quite early in the book when Ryan is teaching Eden about the constellations in the night sky. Going star-gazing would have been my perfect date when I was sixteen. In fact, I think it still would be!
LW: Tell us a bit about your writing routine for AFTER EDEN. Did you play any particular music? Was your desk messy or neat? Did you pin up any photos or works of art for inspiration? And… coffee or tea?
HD: I was working full-time as an English teacher when I wrote After Eden, so I had to fit my writing in before work (most teachers’ evenings and weekends are taken up with marking and planning). So I set my alarm for 5 am and wrote til 6:30 every morning. Despite my best intentions, my desk is always a mess. I listen to music to help get me in the right mood for a scene, but then write in silence. And tea . . . buckets of tea.
LW: It looks like you have a sequel coming, CHASING STARS. Can you give us any (spoiler free) hints at what’s to come in the series?
HD: Chasing Stars is about Eden having to find her own strengths in a new world, and using them to save Ryan. I can say no more …
LW: Since this community is “All For One and One Four Kid Lit” we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.
HD: YA didn’t really exist as a genre when I was a kid. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham was a favourite when I was a young teenager. It’s about a post-apocalyptic world where people with genetic mutations are considered blasphemies and tells the story of some children with mutations ranging from six toes to telepathy. When I was younger, I loved Peter Pan. My first favourite book, however, was Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree.
About Helen, in her own words:
I was born in a small beach town in Cornwall, much like the fictional town of Perran that appears in After Eden. As a child I enjoyed reading, building dens and writing stories of my own. My teenage years were centred around the beach. Summer days were spent swimming and body-boarding. Summer nights meant beach parties with bonfires and barbecues. When it rained, which it did a lot, I read lots of books and dreamed of being a writer.
After leaving school, I lived in many different places including London, California, New York and New Jersey. I’m now back in Cornwall where I live midway between the woods and the beach. When the sky is clear, I can usually be found walking in the woods, hanging out at the beach or looking at the stars. When the sea mist rolls in or it’s raining, I spend my time reading books, writing and dreaming up my next story.
|Laura Wettersten lives in Ohio with her wonderful husband and their two neurotic dogs. She has degrees in both music education and library science, and when she’s not writing or teaching she enjoys directing middle school musicals, dancing awkwardly around her kitchen, and watching WIPEOUT and 30 ROCK reruns. Her debut novel, MY FAIRE LADY, releases from Simon & Schuster BFYR in 2014.|