GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Lydia Kang, author of CONTROL

It’s hard to believe 2013 is coming to a close, but here we are, wrapping up our year of Lucky13 debut author interviews with Lydia Kang, author of CONTROL! Here’s the official blurb:

Set in 2150 — in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms — this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.

When their overprotective father is killed in a terrible accident, Zel and her younger sister, Dylia, are lost in grief. But it’s not until strangers appear, using bizarre sensory weapons, that the life they had is truly eviscerated. Zel ends up in a safe house for teens that aren’t like any she’s ever seen — teens who, by law, shouldn’t even exist. One of them — an angry tattooed boy haunted by tragedy — can help Zel reunite with her sister.

But only if she is willing to lose him.

Welcome to the OneFour blog, Lydia and congrats on your debut! In Zelia’s world, there are humans with unique — illegal — genetically engineered traits. A child might be born with extra limbs or the capacity to speak 700 languages while playing the piano. Which of these traits was your favorite to explore and why? 

Wilbert’s trait was definitely the most fun. At first I figured, “Kid with two heads. That’s fun, right?” But it had to be more than that. What would be great about having two brains? Twice as much intelligence? Somehow that didn’t make sense. Memory? What about sleep? I latched onto that idea and made him a kid that can be awake 24/7 by switching consciousness between brains. My editor was really sharp and pointed out that somehow his brainstem needed to connect to both brains, otherwise how would he breathe okay all the time? (My editor is smaht like that.) And so…that’s Wilbert!

One of the hats you wear is as a physician, correct? Just how far did you have to stretch the realm of the possible for these physical traits?

They’re stretched pretty far. I mean, retinoic acid and limb regeneration is neat in newts, but in people? A very far stretch. Still, I wanted to put a dose of some scientific reality behind why each trait existed. And each trait was researched to make at least the fiction make sense within certain rules of physiology.

CONTROL opens with such exquisite world-building — from magpods to the agriplane to hair styling wands. I imagine you locked yourself away inside a library for years to feed these details. What was your favorite piece of research that lead to some part of this futuristic America?

Thank you! The easiest way for me to imagine things like this is to look around at what’s wrong and needs fixing in the world we live in now. Friction is a major drain on gas mileage, so I removed it by levitating the automobiles, hence the magpods. And bad hair days! Boy, that one was fun to fix with the styling wand.

Zelia is a whip-smart girl who’s always looking for the good in people. If she were to attend Hogwarts, which house would she be sorted into?

Gryffindor. She would have been Hermione’s study buddy and together they’d have banished their frizzy hair and saved the day with their brains.

Since this is the first in a series, what can we look forward to in future books? (More illegal genetic experiments?)

I’m taking the kids out of Neia (Nebraska/Iowa) and into new territory. And I’m making life very, very hard for Zelia, just when she thought things were hard enough. And yes, more kids with more wacky traits!

And 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.

I was a huge fan of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Laura is my hero, in that she’s resourceful, unapologetically smart, and a careful observer of life and human nature. I also adored any children’s lit that had good food scenes. I must have been a very hungry child. Like the Beaver’s dinner in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? I practically have that scene memorized (ah, the gloriously sticky marmalade roll!). Also, once I got into my teens, I became a huge Bronte and Austen fan. There are several nods to Pride and Prejudice in Control, if you’ve an eye to find them. I’ll give you a hint–my character names are anagrams. 🙂

Thank you so much for stopping by, Lydia, and congratulations again!

Lydia Kang is an author of YA fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. She is an internal medicine physician and has a blog where writers can learn the most accurate way to maim their characters. She believes in science and knocking on wood, is a bit of a salt addict and thinks Star Wars should have been ewokless. You can find Lydia by visiting her website and on Twitter.

Where to buy the book:
Indiebound | Barnes and Noble | Amazon
Powell’s | Books-A-Million | Book Depository

Natalie C Parker is a writer, professional project coordinator, and future zombie slayer. When not saving the world, she can be found on Twitter (@nataliecparker). Though once determined to never live in a land-locked state, she resides in Kansas with her partner in a house of monsters. Her southern gothic YA debut, BEWARE THE WILD, is due from HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2014.


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