Monday, October 1, 2012

Lisa M. Stasse Talks About Her Debut Novel THE FORSAKEN

Today I'm delighted to introduce Lisa M. Stasse, whose debut novel THE FORSAKEN launched in August. Lisa is a digital librarian at UCLA, and as you'll see she has more novels in store, which is a lucky thing for the fans of her face-paced, exciting stories. Here's Lisa:

Congratulations on the publication of your novel THE FORSAKEN. It’s quite an exciting ride! Please give readers a quick synopsis.

THE FORSAKEN is about a girl named Alenna Shawcross living in a dystopian future, in which the United States, Mexico and Canada have merged. A government test is administered to all 16 year olds, and it claims to diagnose hidden violent and subversive tendencies. Even though Alenna has done nothing wrong, she fails the test and is sent to a terrifying prison island called "The Wheel" in which various tribes of kids battle with each other. She has to learn how to forge alliances, make friends, fight the government machines that control the island, and try to find a way to escape. Along the way she learns some surprising things about her government, her new friends, and her own identity as well.

Your concept is intriguing. What was your inspiration?

The general concept actually came from a nightmare I had, in which men in robes were chasing me with knives on a prison island. When I woke up, I instantly realized it was a good scene for a book or a movie. At the same time, a friend's sister was worried about taking the SATs. So the idea of a violent island and the SATs merged in my mind for some reason. I started to imagine what it would be like if there were a standardized government test that if you failed, you got banished from society and sent to an island to fight other kids. I suppose it's a bit like Lord of the Flies or Lost or The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, but with a few new twists. Those were definitely the kinds of books that influenced my writing.

You have a clear set-up for a sequel. Is one (or more) in the works? Can you give us a hint about it if so?

I actually finished the sequel, titled THE UPRISING, right as THE FORSAKEN was released! It's coming out next summer, but there should be plenty of ARCs available before then. I'm already working on Book 3. It doesn't have a title yet, so I need to think of something good pretty fast!

There are many double-crosses and character surprises here but it all makes sense in retrospect. Was that tough to pull off? Do you have any tricks you use while developing/plotting?

I plotted THE FORSAKEN fairly well in advance, on pieces of paper that I taped to the wall. I was really excited about the biggest twist (the "unmasking" scene near the end) so I wanted to make sure I had everything planned out. I love mysteries and thrillers, and it's really fun trying to come up with ways to surprise and entertain readers. At the same time, I didn't plan out everything, because I wanted to give myself some freedom and room to breathe while I was writing. I feel like a good balance is important. THE UPRISING has even more twists and turns, and some shocking betrayals as well.

On a different note, what was it like for you shifting from your role as a librarian to your role as author?

It's been a lot of fun so far! I love being a librarian and I love writing. Maybe I'm just addicted to being around books! :) Right now I'm doing both, and it's a blast. I suppose I've always been writing. Having a book published was a goal of mine since I was in high school. I started writing a few things before THE FORSAKEN (books and screenplays), but never finished them.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I managed to find a fantastic agent, Mollie Glick at Foundry Literary + Media, who really took me under her wing. She was one of the first agents I contacted, and luckily, she really loved the book. She gave me some great notes and advice, and had me do a few revisions, and then Simon & Schuster purchased the trilogy in a preemptive deal. It's been a very exciting journey, and I feel incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to write books. I just hope they sell well enough that I can keep writing. I already have a concept plotted out for my next trilogy, if it ever happens!

Where can readers learn more about you and your books?

Here are all my links! I'm usually on twitter the most, so readers can find me there anytime. Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

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