Though he doesn’t debut until September, Joshua David Bellin just couldn’t wait to tell the world about his book, the YA sci-fi adventure SURVIVAL COLONY NINE. (Josh gets that way sometimes.) Let’s forgive his impetuosity and welcome him to the OneFourKidLit blog!

Survival Colony Nine cover

So we understand you can’t wait to tell the world about Survival Colony Nine, right?


Well, then, tell us already!

Oh. Okay.

War and environmental catastrophe have ravaged the world, and all that’s left of human society are the survival colonies: small, mobile units clinging to the remnants of past technology as they crisscross a hostile desert landscape. Heat, dust, and starvation aren’t their only enemies. They also must evade the Skaldi, creatures with the ability to consume and mimic human hosts that mysteriously appeared on the planet after the wars of destruction.

Fourteen-year-old Querry Genn, a member of Survival Colony Nine, has problems of his own. The leader of his colony–his father, Laman Genn–is never satisfied with him. The girl he loves, Korah, is someone else’s girlfriend. And six months ago, he lost his memory during a Skaldi attack on the colony. If he can recover his past, he might possess the key to defeat the Skaldi.

If he can’t, he’s their next victim.

Sounds pretty cool! Is Survival Colony Nine the first novel you’ve written?

Far from it! The first novel I wrote was titled “The Slowest Runner,” which I typed (laboriously, on a manual typewriter) when I was eight. It ended up being about two pages long. The first novel-length novel I wrote was an epic fantasy titled To Alter the Past, which I wrote when I was sixteen. A family friend who was in publishing took a look at it, but he told me (quite kindly, thank goodness) that I needed to work longer on my craft before I’d be ready for publication. As it turns out, “longer” meant about thirty years!

That’s not so long. So where did the idea for Survival Colony Nine come from?

Growing up, I was sure I was going to be a comic-book artist. Though that career didn’t pan out, I remain a very visual thinker, even when I’m writing. So my best ideas come to me first as images, not words. In the case of Survival Colony Nine, I woke up one morning with an image buzzing in my brain: the image of a desert landscape and a small group of people in camouflage uniforms traveling across the waste. I had no idea what this world was or how the people had gotten there, but the image wouldn’t go away. I had to create a story to fit the world, and that meant I had to create a main character, a history for him and his people, and all the rest of it.

One more question before we go. What was your favorite book when you were fourteen?

Hands down, my favorite book then remains my favorite book now: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I read it when I was thirteen (a year after the first Star Wars film came out), and I’ve loved it ever since. I read all kinds of stuff when I was a teen and pre-teen, including Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Madeleine L’Engle, some adult titles (mostly fantasy and sci-fi), but I was blown away by Tolkien’s ability to create a fantasy world that seemed as necessary and complete as the real world. I don’t read much epic fantasy these days–I’ve shifted to sci-fi, dystopian, and contemporary–but I think everything I write is shaped by my formative experience of immersing myself in Tolkien’s great imaginative act.

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since age eight (though his first few were admittedly very short). His debut YA science fiction novel SURVIVAL COLONY NINE will be published in September 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Josh likes (in no particular order) gorillas, frogs, monsters, and human beings.

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