Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Carrie Ryan!

1) Check out Carrie's guest blog over on the myspace blog here, as well as Amanda Ashby's interview here, and don't forget to take a look at the excerpt vlogs here!

2) Is anyone going to that 40 Author Teen Signing event in NYC on the 22nd? If so, please let me know as I have a favor to ask of you!!

1) How did you get the idea for The Forest of Hands and Teeth?

There were a lot of things that just sort of came together in my head when I started writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I'd been talking with my fiancé about a world set generations after an apocalypse but I never expected I'd write anything set in that world - I just always saw myself as a chick lit writer and was actually writing a chick lit YA at the time.

But then I was walking home from work one day after reading an article about overfishing of tuna (random, I know) and I started to wonder what it would be like in our world if tuna was really really rare. I wondered what our descendants would think about the fact that everyone in our day has cans of tuna piled in our pantries. The first line for the book just popped into my head then and I was obsessed!

I wanted to know what could make us forget everything and what the world would be like not just months or years after an apocalypse, but generations later. That's pretty much what drove me to write the book.

2) What brought you to write for the YA genre? Had you been a fan before writing your novel, or are you still pretty new to it all?

I began reading YA again a few years ago, before I even thought about writing it. One of my friends read Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and kept talking about how wonderful it was and I picked it up. I loved it, read the rest of the series and started to ask for more recommendations. I'd always loved YA but just never knew much about writing it and suddenly I realized that there were these amazing books out there gathering lots of readers.

I also realized that because all YA is shelved together there are no real “rules.” I feel like with adult focused books you have to write a Romance or a Fantasy or a SciFi and adhere to the rules of each genre. But with YA you can mix them all! It was this amazing sense of freedom! I loved being able to draw upon conventions of each genre while still having the ability to ignore others - I think it's something that's made so many YA books so dynamic.

3) What book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?

Right now I'm working on revisions for The Dead-Tossed Waves which is a sequel or to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It's set much later after the end of the first book and has a different point of view character which is pretty much all I can say about it right now! Once that's done I'll be starting on my third book for Delacorte which I hope will be another book set in that same world.

4) Are you anything like your main character Mary? Or are you more like another character in the novel? How much of yourself do you put into your characters?

It's funny, I don't think of myself like Mary and yet so many of the emotions, questions, fears she has are all things I've felt before. For example, there's one scene where she's pretty ready to just give up - things aren't going well for her and she starts to question what right she has to believe her dreams can come true. When writing that scene I pulled out an old email I'd sent to my fiancé when I'd gotten a rejection on a book and I wondered what right I had to believe that my dream of being published would come true.

Whenever I write I try to put myself in the character's shoes - I try to find a way to feel what they're feeling. Like when I had to write the scene early on where Mary's mother is dying I tried to think about how that would feel (utterly terrifying and horrific) and channel those feelings into the writing.

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?

I LOVE the sour ones (and am always excited when I find the little packets of only sour flavors!). But if I had to choose one it would be peach. At least I think that's the flavor - it's the orange with lighter orange specks. Maybe I need to go out and get a packet right now just to taste test…

6) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?

I just finished Skinned, by Robin Wasserman and I loved it. Right now I'm just finishing Dull Boy by Sarah Cross and it is awesome. Impossible to put down!

7) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read and write. I think that reading helps you learn pacing and structure and what's out there. Writing… well, I feel like the actual sitting down and writing part is often not given enough priority. Also to remember the love - sometimes it can be easy to focus on things like getting published and forget why we write in the first place: because we love it!

8) What are some of your favorite zombie books and movies?

Too hard to choose! My favorite book is probably World War Z by Max Brooks. I think he did an amazing job with it, especially creating unique character voices. As for movies… probably George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (especially now that I've learned his point in the movie was to show the inability of people to band together against a common threat), Shaun of the Dead which has brilliant juxtaposition of humor, terror, and tragedy and the Day of the Dead remake cause, really, that just started it all for me!

Thanks Carrie!! Tomorrow, reviews of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Zombie Queen of Newbury High will be posted on the myspace blog and then on Saturday, I'll be posting Amanda Ashby's guest blog here! So keep an eye out for them!


  1. Sour Jelly Beans? Didn't know they existed.


    P.S. Book Chic, you have won an award!