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GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Helen Douglas, Author of AFTER EDEN

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.

leaf graphicAbout 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.

Visit Helen at http://www.helenmdouglas.com/. Her book, AFTER EDEN, is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

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.
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Laura Wettersten: MY FAIRE LADY

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today we’re talking to Laura Wettersten, author of MY FAIRE LADY, coming from Simon & Schuster BFYR in 2014. One author, four questions. Here we go!

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?

As usual, it’s a long story. I started writing seriously in 2004, but it wasn’t until about 2009 that I felt comfortable enough with any of the novels I’d written to send them out. For the first time, I’d written a young adult novel and felt like I’d finally found my voice. It was kind of crazy. I sent it out to maybe 21 agents, but just had a gut feeling about one of them in particular: Kenneth Wright, who worked at Writer’s House, and wouldn’t you know? He offered me representation. He’s since left agenting to be the VP  at Viking Press, which meant that my book kind of got stuck in the submissions process. But no worries, I met my editor at Simon & Schuster through the submission for that book, one thing led to another, and I started a brand new book for them, MY FAIRE LADY.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

Here’s the blurb from GoodReads:

Rowena Duncan is a thoroughly modern girl with big plans for her summer—until she catches her boyfriend making out with another girl. Heartbroken, she applies to an out-of-town job posting and finds herself somewhere she never expected: the Renaissance Faire.

As a face-painter doubling as a serving wench, Ro is thrown headfirst into a vibrant community of artists and performers. She feels like a fish out of water until Will, a quick-witted whip cracker, takes her under his wing. Then there’s Christian, a blue-eyed stunt jouster who makes Ro weak in the knees. Soon, it’s not just her gown that’s tripping her up.

Trading in the internet and electricity for stars and campfires was supposed to make life simpler, but Ro is finding that love is the ultimate complication. Can she let the past make way for her future?

Cool details. Well. The boys in this book are dreamy, plain and simple. And it’s as close to a fairy tale as you can get in today’s world. I mean, Ro, my main character, gets to wear beautiful Renaissance gowns, have troubadours sing to her, and hang out with knights. You can’t beat that.

I had a lot of fun researching this book, that’s for sure. I sat for several hours with a face painter at a local Renaissance faire, watching her work. (And stuffed myself with turkey legs, apple dumplings, and mead while she worked. I was really helpful.) She shows up in my book as Robbie, one of the artists at King Geoffrey’s Faire. I also based the layout of King Geoffrey’s on Ohio’s Renaissance Faire, so if you read the book and visit that faire, you might experience some intense deja vu.

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

Really, each step along the way has been thrilling. From the initial email from Simon & Schuster to everything about the editing process (no, really) to meeting other debut authors and looking forward to things like seeing my cover for the first time. Honestly, the thing I’m looking forward to most is just seeing it on the shelves. I won’t lie – when I’m in Barnes & Noble I often gaze wistfully at the spot in the W’s where the book will be placed.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

  • When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to be the next Jim Henson. I had probably 50 stuffed animals, and each had their own personality, story, and voice. (Probably good practice for this writing thing).
  • I was born on Dec. 27th. People feel sorry for me because my birthday is so close to Christmas. They obviously don’t understand how awesome that is.
  • I truthfully like caramel more than chocolate.
  • I totally believe in ghosts. I lived in a haunted house for a year when I was little.
  • My most embarrassing moment was one day my classmate discovered that my mother’s underwear was in my book bag because it had been used the week before as a vacation bag. My mother’s purple-flowered undies ended up on the classroom ceiling fan.
  • My maid of honor (a friend since high school) told this story during my wedding toast. I didn’t blame her one bit for using such great material.
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.