Sunday, 29 April 2012

Slated Book Birthday: Q&A, and a giveaway!

by Teri Terry
Slated will be published on 3rd May 2012 by Orchard Books in the UK: three days from now….! Oh my. I want to celebrate my first Book Birthday on Demention by answering some questions posed on Twitter, Facebook and by email, and giving away two signed copies of Slated (more on that below). Thanks to everyone who asked questions & I’ve answered as many as I can fit in! Go ahead and ask some more in comments and I’ll see what I can do.

Iona, 12: What gave you the idea to write Slated?

There is a short answer, and a long one. The short answer is that the start of the book came from a dream I had: a terrified girl, running on a beach, afraid to look back to see what chases her. The story grew from there.
Pick a country - I've been there!
The long answer – I think the things you are obsessed with come out in your unconscious and in your writing. With me that has a lot to do with identity: how can you know who you are when you don’t know where you come from? This is a big question in Slated. And growing up moving all the time with parents from different countries, this is a particular question of mine. Having memories taken away is an extension of this I think. I’m also obsessed with dreams, how you can use them and what you can learn from them.

Flora, 13 asked: I was just wondering how you came up with the memory erasing idea, which i thought was really brilliant! 
And Dave Sivers (just a few years older): The theme of erased/lost memories and something sinister in the past has been tackled before. What new angles have you brought to it in Slated?

I thought it was interesting to put these two questions together. One point that is immediate is that an older reader may look at themes and ideas in a YA book differently: to a teen reading about something for the first time, it is new to them.
How this idea arose – it wasn’t a planned thing, starting with a dream as mentioned above. So it isn’t like I examined what was out there in previous books before going ahead with Slated. I just had this idea of a character and a situation and went for it. And once I start writing something, the last thing I’ll do is read books that touch on similar themes – because I want to avoid any chance of influence on my story.

But a recent one I have read since writing Slated – Forgotten by Cat Patrick – a 2011 YA novel, in which a girl’s memories are gone every morning, a little like Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson in the adult sphere. But in Forgotten, she remembers her future, not her past. What an idea! And the fascination to me of writing in YA is that you can take what might seem a crazy idea, and run with it.
As far as what new angles I’ve brought to it, you have to read the book and decide for yourself.

Emma Pass (author of Acid, Randomhouse 2013): Okay… how did you come up with the idea for the Levo? It's such a sinister device - and such a brilliant idea!

Thanks! For those who don’t know – without giving too much away – a Levo in Slated is a device that monitors happiness levels. Where it came from, I honestly don’t know! Something that appeared in the murk in my mind.  Why it is there is also the whole nature vs nurture debate: are evil people born, or made? If they are born that way, taking their memories away wouldn’t change them, would it? So you’d need a safeguard.

Rashida Decina ummm...Is Slated gonna be available international..i mean in Asia?

Slated is published by Orchard Books in the UK and they have English language rights except for Canada, US and US dependencies. They’ve also sold it in translation in Germany, Turkey and Israel. In the US and Canada it is being published by Penguin Imprint Nancy Paulsen Books in 2013. Do you mean in English or another language? Which country? (sorry to answer a question with more questions – but let me know and I’ll try to find out for you).

@StephLikesBooks ( tweeted me a bunch of questions, and I’ve picked three I haven’t answered anywhere before.

How long did it take to write Slated?

I started it in Sept 2009, and finished the first draft about Jan 2011. I wasn’t working on it all the time, though. Most of it was written in Autumn 2010.

Do you listen to music when you write?
I do! I compulsively listen to a Mark Knopfler playlist of a bunch of albums on my iPod. My favourite album is Kill to Get Crimson, & my favourite song on it is ‘Let it all go’. He tells stories with music, and it just puts me in that frame to write. Though it isn’t quite right to say ‘listen’: I have it on low in the background. It is like my brain knows when the music starts, it is time to get creative.

Reading or writing?

I’m  guessing you mean which do I love the most! I don’t think I can answer that. Funny thing is if I’m not doing enough of either of them, I get miserable. I need to read, and I need to write. There have been times in the last year when all my commitments, writing-wise, have cut into my reading time. And as I said before I try not to read anything that sounds like it may have anything to do with my own story when I am writing.

But then I’ve bumped into a book somewhere along the way and just haven’t been able to stop myself from DEVOURING it in one hit, no matter how busy I am, because I can’t stand not reading any more – like The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary Pearson, and Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne – both I absolutely LOVED.

Iona, 12: Are you going to write some more Slated books?

Yes! I’m just finishing up book 2 now – which is called Fractured. There will be one more after that. Fractured will be out in the UK in May 2013.
Thanks to Hachette Children's Books I can give away two signed copies of Slated! To enter, use the Rafflecopter below: follow this blog, comment on it, tweet the giveaway for an entry each day, like my facebook page, &/or follow me on Twitter! The more stuff you do the more entries you get. This is open for two weeks, and so will close on 14th of May at 5 a.m. UK time. Open to residents of the UK, Europe and Australia.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Can A Book Change The World?

by Julie Bertagna

The cash machine had just swallowed the cards of two women in front. I went to another bank, slid my card in the machine. Nothing. I thought of all the banks crashing in the financial crisis. I hadn’t seen the news that day. Had there been a crash while I'd been out? What if I couldn’t get any money?!

Eventually, I did. But for a surreal moment I felt like Offred in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale who can’t get money from a cash machine one day because women’s bank accounts have been seized by the government - for the good of the nation. And suddenly she is plunged into a terrifying dystopia... 

That fictional moment, when everything changes in an instant has stayed with me since I was young. It made me wonder: what if our freedoms are more precarious than we think and could be snatched away if we don’t guard them?

Today’s young adults were small when the twin towers fell on 9/11 and I’ve often wondered how growing up in an ‘Age of Terror’ with daily images of war and violence would affect them. My daughter doesn’t know what it’s like to board a plane without shoes and phone, even a lipgloss, examined for bomb-making materials...  

In the years after 9/11, US publishers weren’t keen on my YA novel about young survivors in post-apocalyptic future, kicking back against a brutal world empire. 

Teenagers wouldn’t want dark, dystopian fiction in such troubled times....would they? 

But young readers were seeking books that held up a cracked mirror to the world. Lots wrote to me saying, I’ll never forget your book, it’s changed the way I see the world. 

        Does a book really have the power to change the world?

Neuromancer by William Gibson was a stunning vision of cyberspace that influenced techiesdeveloping the web. Space scientists find their ideas in science fiction. Watch this brilliant vid from European Space Agency. 

Nineteen Eighty-Four  by George Orwell predicted a Big Brother world full of CCTV. 

If ideas in books can seep into reality, could the craze for dystopia change our world?

Why does dystopia grab you? Is it pure escapism? Or something deeper? Does it make you fearful? More sussed about the world? Is it a kickback, via imaginary characters, against the forces that control a teenager’s life - parents, school, politicians, and other forces that threaten to stamp all over your future?

What if fictional events really happen? A 'live' death on reality TV? Governments controlling the internet ‘for our own good’? (This happens in my new book.) What if young rioters mysteriously disappear, once arrested? (Slated). Are controlled futures like Matched and Divergent possible? If the Earth’s climate changes, will we survive by building domed cities (Under The Never Sky), towering sky cities (Exodus), or traction cities that can trundle across parched lands? (Mortal Engines). Or will we abandon Earth? (Across The Universe
Is the future destined to be grim? Or full of amazing new discoveries? Will it be a brave new world? Or new worlds?

Nobody controls the future - it’s still to unfold. Anything might happen. 

And anyone (maybe you?!) could be a pivotal part of the future in some way you can’t yet imagine. Maybe that’s the appeal of Katniss in The Hunger Games, Kyla in Slated, Laura in The Carbon Diaries, Nailer in Ship Breaker, Josh inThe Joshua Files, Tris in Divergent, Mara and Fox in my Exodus trilogy... ordinary teenagers who do extraordinary things to survive.  
In a YA dystopia, lead characters change events in some crucial way - their victories, large or small, offer hope. In adult dystopian fiction, characters tend to be ground down by the system. Their defeat is a warning to the reader: do not take this path!

What dystopian or futuristic books do you love? What scenes and characters will live on inside you?  
The kids and young adults of today will be in charge of the world soon! So, what kind of future do you want? 

Monday, 16 April 2012

If only all the adults were dead... Dystopian YA at the British National Science Fiction Convention

by Teri Terry
Enter to win one of the books featured in this blog! Find out how at the end.
(editor's note: this competition is now closed, but please read on!)

A week ago I went to a dystopian YA panel event at Olympus 2012: the really BIG British National Sci Fi convention. It was my first time at Eastercon. I was a little nervous, but it was weird and wonderful: my kind of place! I got the impression anything goes, and the natives were friendly. Besides, it is hard not to like a place that gives you a mug and an Easter Creme egg.

This is what I was there for: the Dystopian YA panel. Here they are:

From left to right: Caroline Hooton (chair and author-in-waiting), Emma Newman (author of Twenty Years Later), Amanda Rutter (editor with Strange Chemistry Books), Tom Pollock (author of The City's Son - Skyscraper throne, book 1, out in August 2012 ) and Cory Doctorow (author of Little Brother).

They were there to talk about dystopian young adult fiction. Dystopian stories - set in dark future worlds – are in the spotlight now with the release of the Hunger Games movie, based on Suzanne Collins’ novel.
Is dystopian fiction for young adults a new trend, or one we've only just noticed? 
Emma Newman
Emma: it is nothing new, but it has never been marketed in this way before. Also it reflects anxieties of the time. That moment when you look at the world, and think: it’s all rubbish, why aren’t you doing anything?!

Amanda: it is both new, and not new. It is a cyclical trend, but for YA readers who are reading it for the first time now, for them it isn’t a trend. And when they love something, they really love it. They want more.

Tom: it reflects the level of anxiety about the future at the moment; it resonates in a new way.

Cory Doctorow
Cory: it is part of adolescence when you wake up and think the adults have ruined it all. There is a craving for the cosy apocalypse: if only all the adults were dead…

Amanda: getting rid of adults isn’t new, from Enid Blyton to Harry Potter.

Tom: there is a distinction between books where adults disappear, and those where adults are the problem (eg. Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness; Divergent by Veronica Roth). Also there are books where the adults are gone but it isn’t their fault, like Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now: sometimes you are on your own, and just have to cope.
Is the focus in dystopian YA on bringing things down, not rebuilding?
Amanda Rutter
Amanda: it is more about bringing it down. This leaves the reader’s imagination free to think how they’d rebuild things, how things should be.

Cory: rebuilding isn’t dramatic; a well rebuilt society lacks drama

Scott Westerfeld has been quoted as saying: ‘High School is a dystopia.’
Tom Pollock
Tom: Divergent is a metaphor for high school: choose your destiny – pick your A level subjects.

Emma: it is not just High School in the US sense, more it is the internal struggles at this age, not always to do with school culture

Amanda: YA emphasizes issues – making decisions about who you want to be and where you fit in, not just in school, but in everything in life. It reflects adolescent fears that every decision you make is SO important, and affects your life forever.
A question from the audience: why do you write dystopian tales?
Emma: we’ve been sucked into the system and feel disempowered: maybe we’re trying to give ourselves therapy. Anyhow we’re all writing from our unconscious mind.

Amanda: don’t look at dystopian YA in isolation; much of YA is also hopeful where dystopian YA is dark.

Cory: dystopian YA is not necessarily pessimistic.

Amanda: endings are often more open – whether the future will be good or bad. YA is the bravest area of fiction being published today: it doesn’t tread the same old paths.

Emma: YA is popular with adult audiences also: it is fast paced, and stuff happens; vs. adult contemporary literary fiction where nothing happens, it is reflective and boring.
Concluding remarks?
Tom: need more gender neutral covers. Recommends Patrick Ness, Knife of Never Letting Go, and Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now.

Amanda: be brave in choices in YA fiction: try it! YA isn’t all dystopian, try other things for balance.

Caroline (chair): recommends Dark Parties by Sara Grant, and Slated by Teri Terry (honest: she did! I’m not making it up!)
My thoughts on this:
I can speculate how/why my unconscious mind taps into dark, future places, but at the end of it, to me the appeal of stories like Hunger Games, Divergent, How I Live Now to name a few, is all about character, and story. The 'what if' of the world created may be what gets me to pick up the book in the first place, but it is Katniss, Tris and Daisy that keep me there. Take an interesting character, put them in an impossible situation – and have them do something. Even if it doesn’t work out – at least not at first. Surviving impossible odds in a dark world isn’t pessimistic to me at all: it is full of hope.
The giveaway: you pick the prize!
(editor's note: this competition is now closed)

The winner can pick as prize any one of any of the books pictured in this blog - or, if you prefer - the official Olympus 2012 mug (without the creme egg. It's long gone).

To enter, leave a comment below, saying which prize you will pick if you win - and any other comments you'd like to share about this event - and follow this blog if you aren’t already. If you tweet it as well, mention that in your comment; you’ll get an extra entry.

Open internationally. This closes at noon UK time on April 30. The winner chosen from the comments using a random number generator will be posted here, and then they have 7 days to contact us with their details before another winner will be chosen. Good luck!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Introducing DEMENTION! A dark and dystopian blogging adventure

by Teri Terry, Julienne Durber and Julie Bertagna
To celebrate the launch of Demention, there is an amazing giveaway, open until May 6! Each of us will nominate a favourite book to include, plus a few of our own. Read on to find out more…
Note: this competition is now closed. Winners are posted below! But please read on....

What is Demention?

A group blog by authors who share a love of the weird and wonderful, the dark, the dystopian. Alternative fiction and all things between. We'd love this blog to be a place for readers, writers and bloggers - all ages, aspiring or established - to share their love of these kinds of stories, post news and reviews, and make Demention an exciting space where ideas and debates can spark and inspire! 
Guest bloggers are welcome; apply here.

Who is Demention?

Teri Terry

Hi! This is me: and there is more on my page. I’m the author of Slated, the first of three futuristic thrillers out in the UK on the 3rd May with Orchard Books, and in early 2013 with Nancy Paulsen Books in the US and Canada.

I got the idea for setting up a group blog like this AGES ago, but it is really when I thought of involving Julienne that it took off. As well as an amazing writer, Julienne is also a designer: he came up with our gorgeous banner and the name Demention. And then we were thrilled that Julie Bertagna wanted to join us!

Why I love both writing and reading dystopian and other Demention fiction: it's all about the What Ifs:

  • What if instead of punishing criminals they could have their memories wiped, and start all over again? What if for one law breaker, Slating didn’t quite work? (Slated)
  • What if teens can be unwound, every part of them kept alive for transplantation, so they aren’t technically ‘dead’? (Unwind)
  • What if the oceans were rising and you had to fight for your future on a changed Earth? (The Exodus Trilogy)
  • What if the planet’s fuel resources have been depleted, and the only way to make energy is by winding it? (Springpunk)
The best advice given to aspiring writers is often this: read, read, read. But I don’t read these kinds of books as homework. To me it is what I love.

For the giveaway, I’ve picked Neil Shusterman’s Unwind as 
my favourite. And I’ve got a signed, shiny, new copy of my novel, Slated: it isn’t published until May 3, so you could be one of the first to have it.

Julienne Durber

Hi. I’m the most experienced designer in Demention, but the least experienced writer. My first novel, Springpunk is … on its way! (watch this space)

My obsession with all things dark and demented, otherworldly and odd began in the pages of 2000AD with the dismally brilliant Nemesis the Warlock and Judge Dredd stories before crawling through both cinema (Bladerunner, Brazil) and the classic dystopias of Brave New World, Farenheit 451 and of course 1984.

The idea of struggle against adversity is the basis of storytelling, and the darker and more sinister the adversity, the more heroic the struggle.

Throw in the paranoid feeling that everyone really is out to get everyone else and that there is nothing anyone can do about it, and each tiny victory is that much sweeter.

As I know my co-conspirators have chosen two modern classics of the genre, my giveaway choice is something different – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Forget the films and tv adaptations, this is the ultimate in poisoned razorblades hidden within a dark, otherworldly fairy story.

Julie Bertagna

I’m the author of 12 books, young adult and children's, published in 20-something countries around the world. Aurora, the final part of my futuristic Exodus trilogy, is now out and I’m writing my 13th novel (hopefully not unlucky!) set in a very different future, but just as dramatic. You can find more about me on my page.

I loved dystopian stories long before anyone called them that. As a teenager, I loved edgy fiction that left me rattled, set my imagination on fire. Stories with big ideas, futuristic settings where the world was altered - books so powerful they took me right out of myself, and when I finished them my heart ached and my reality felt different. I was full of new feelings, yearnings, perceptions, possibilities...

Powerful stuff, books.

So when I wrote the Exodus trilogy, I was trying to create the kind of story I loved. 

Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses is my choice for the prize giveaway. Though we didn’t know it then, she and I were groundbreakers of a sort - writing YA dystopian fiction, ahead of the trend. It’s a brilliant book that turns the world on its head. I'll also include a signed copy of Exodus, book 1 of my trilogy.

The Demention giveaway!

To enter, follow this blog and leave a comment below. What do you like about dystopian fiction, and if you had to pick one favourite to giveaway like we have done, what would it be? Tweet about the competition and mention that in your comment, and you get an extra entry. The competition closes on May 6 at noon UK time, and is open internationally.
Please note: this competition is now closed. Winners are posted below! Thanks for entering.

The Winners - chosen totally at random - are: (drum roll, please....)
Unwind: Amber
Slated: Hannah
Gulliver's Travels: KM Lockwood
Noughts and Crosses: Nina, Death Books and Tea
Exodus: Scheherazade
Please get in touch on the contact form with your details! We'll try to track you down if we don't hear back, but will pick new winners in a week if necessary. Thanks for entering.

The books: one copy each of Unwind, by Neil Shusterman; a signed copy of Slated, by Teri Terry; Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift; Noughts and Crosses, by Malorie Blackman; and a signed copy of Exodus, by Julie Bertagna.

The details: A winner will be selected for each book using a random number generator, and posted on Demention: they then have a week to contact us with their details so we can post the book before another winner will be chosen. Our favourites weren’t donated by publishers, they are our genuine picks. Good luck!