Q: How were you first published – agent or slush pile?Both! I queried agents, so I was in their slush pile. REBOOT was the second novel I queried (the first one was rejected by everyone), and I sent out about 50 queries before I signed with Emmanuelle Morgen at Stonesong.
Q: Are you a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’ - that is, do you meticulously plot your novel before writing, or do you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ and let the story evolve naturally?I’m a combination, actually. I usually have a rough idea of what will happen in the first half of the manuscript. I’m big on knowing the midpoint before I start, so I’m always aiming for that. I like having a really big, exciting midpoint so the middle of the book doesn’t get boring. But the second half is often made up as I go along.
Q: How long did it take you to write ‘Reboot’, from first idea to final manuscript?I wrote the first draft in about 4 months, then edited it for about 5 months after that. So 9 months from idea to sending it out to agents. Then there were many months of working on it with my agent, and then my editor, before it was ready for publication.
Q: Where do story ideas generally start for you? Do you first think of the character, theme, ending? Or is it just a free-fall?Character usually comes first for me. With REBOOT, I heard Wren’s voice in my head, telling me she was dead for 178 minutes. I don’t always get such a clear vision of a character right away, but I definitely did with her. I built the plot around this character who was dead and thought she had no emotions left.
Q: So, ‘Reboot’ is a sci-fi novel in which the deadly KDH virus sweeps through the world, and people drop like flies … only they don’t stay dead; people “reboot” – coming back stronger, faster, healthier. I’ve seen some reviews label ‘Reboot’ as a zombie-esque evolution. Do you agree, or do you think the world of ‘Reboot’ is in a classification all it’s own?It’s more of a classification of it’s own, though I don’t mind people comparing them to zombies. But Reboots aren’t mindless rotting corpses eating brains, which is usually what we think of when we think of zombies. They’re cute and strong and they heal quickly.
I was already a big nerd! By the time I started REBOOT, I was already a big fan of Battlestar Galactica and Buffy and Dexter and a bunch of other shows. I’m very influenced by television. I love how TV shows allow for complex character development and long, involved story arcs.
Q: Were you a fan of sci-fi before you started writing in the genre? Did you go on a pop-culture movie/TV binge-watch when you were forming the idea and starting to write ‘Reboot’?
Q: If ‘Reboot’ was to be made into a movie or TV show … who would your dream cast be?I honestly have no dream cast! REBOOT has been optioned for film by Fox, so I’m always hesitant to name dream actors in case the movie actually ends up happening. I don’t want the actors who get cast to think they weren’t my first choice!
Q: Wren Connolly is a pretty kick-ass heroine. She’s the littlest Reboot – but the strongest, fastest and most feared. Why was it so important for you to write this conundrum of a character who’s pretty unlike any other female heroine appearing in YA fiction right now?I love characters who are unexpected. I’m especially a fan of complex female characters who are so much more than how they look. I wanted Wren to have a sort of unassuming presence naturally, but to be feared by people because of what she’d become.
Q: There are some pretty amazing fight-scenes in ‘Reboot’, and you detail them beautifully. How did you get that rhythm and description down? – did you watch some real fights to get the fictional ones just right?Thank you! The action scenes were incredibly difficult for me to write, so I’m glad they worked! I spend a long time on every action scene, probably three times longer than any other scenes in the book, trying to make sure things are clear and moving quickly. I love action movies, so I think I may have learned a lot from them without even realizing it. And my editor helped enormously with every fight scene in the book. We really worked on them a lot.
Q: Can you give any hints about the plot of ‘Reboot #2’? And when we can expect the second book to hit shelves?I don’t have an exact release date yet, but it will probably be around May 2014. I can’t give any plot hints yet, but I will say that there is just as much action and romance in the second book!
Q: Favourite author(s) of all time?Tough question! I’m going to go with J.K. Rowling, because I’ve always been in awe of how she created such a fantastic world and characters in Harry Potter. I wish I had the ability to develop secondary characters the way she does!
Q: Favourite book(s)?So many! Legend and Prodigy by Marie Lu, If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares, The Chosen by Chaim Potok.
Q: What advice do you have for budding young writers?Read a lot. Finish! Most of us are published because we finished a story, got rejected, and then started the process over again.
Reboot is available in Australia from May 22!