I had the pleasure of interviewing Beth Revis, the magnificent author of "Across The Universe" and "A Million Suns." I adore her even more now, she was delightful. I hope you all find this interview as interesting as I do. The giveaway will have one winner who will win both books! Good luck, darlings!
1] First I want to start with a question that has been tossing around inside my head since I first read "Across The Universe." Personally, if you were in Amy's place, would you go along with your parents, be cryogenically frozen, and skyrocketed to another world? Or would you simply decide to opt out of it and go through the grieving process of losing you parents? -- I, however, don't think I'd do either. I'd have to convince my parents somehow that they'd never have a good enough job that included sacrificing their entire family for, and they'd just have to stick with boring old Earth. Yet, if Amy made the same choice as I the book wouldn't exist.
I think I wouldn't go. There's so much to Earth that I've yet to discover--I don't think I could throw it all away just for a chance on a new planet, even if it meant I'd lose my parents. But I also think it's easier for me to say this now that I'm older, married, and have started my own family. If I was a teenager and only had my parents...I might go.
2] I'm sure you've gotten this question a lot, but how in the world did you come up with the storylines to Across The Universe and A Million Suns? Your ideas are so unique and original, plus your books are full of every element one could imagine. I mean, there's love, hate, greed, envy, manipulation; it's complete action and adventure with a side of everything in between. I read that you wrote the characters and storyline around the plot twist you had already come up with, but how did you decide on the science fiction and fantasy element of it?
Thanks so much! I think this comes from the fact that I don't plan-- I don't outline my novels, and I rarely know much more about them than a vague idea of a few key moments. For ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, you're right, I did start out with the idea of the twist at the end. And to make that twist, I needed to have a sci fi setting--specifically, cryogenic freezing. Everything started there. Cryogenic freezing led to a space ship on a long journey and Amy, a girl who chose to go on that journey. But then I needed someone who lived on the ship, and that's where Elder came in.
I knew I wanted to make him the youngest person on the ship, and the generational system started. My idea really just stemmed from this concept of making the youngest person have a massive amount of responsibility--but to make that work, I needed set generations of births, which led to the ship's birth control, which led to the Season. I didn't start the book with the idea of the Season, for example, or even for Luthe or Harley or Eldest--but it's like I tip one domino over, and let the story shake everything else up. It's all cause and effect. I make the cause, the story naturally flows into the effect.
3] I find Elder to be pretty complex, he's torn between being this really powerful leader, but he's also really young and at times naive. When you wrote Elder's character what was the main trait you wanted his personality to display, something that would make him, him?
A lot of Elder comes from me. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is the eleventh novel I've written--before that, I wrote one book a year over ten years. And none of them were published--I couldn't even attract an agent with any of them. So I had this desperate desire to be good enough in writing, and that translated in Elder's desire to be a good enough leader. He does everything wrong, even though he's trying, and he's really just looking for a chance to prove himself. That's all me.
4] Is there a particular message you want readers to take away from the trilogy?
Not really. I'm a really strong believer that the reader will find the message he or she needs by reading any book.
5] I love Amy as a main character because I feel like she does such an amazing job at being your average teenage girl, but also kicking ass when necessary. What can your readers look forward to seeing within Amy and her character growth as the story continues?
I went into ACROSS THE UNIVERSE with an idea that Elder's the weak one, always trying to prove himself and be good enough, and Amy's the strong one, the one who knows what she wants and heads for it in a very stubborn way. Over the course of the three novels, though, I think Elder learned to be the strong one and really claim the leadership that fell into his lap, and Amy's discovered her own vulnerable, scared side--that's really evident, I think, in A MILLION SUNS.
For SHADES OF EARTH, the final book of the trilogy, Amy has to re-learn how to be strong, and she also has to learn that she must make her own choices. She also has a lot of bitterness and regret, and no one can live with that.
6] I know Across The Universe isn't the first book you've written, what would you say about your other manuscripts that went unpublished?
Do you think that now as a more respected and well known author that you could revisit those stories, or are you strictly looking toward the future?
I'm pretty focused on the future. My unpublished novels are unpublished for a reason. I was learning how to write, how to tell a story, the power in language. There are two ideas that I might one day go back to--they are books of my heart. One's a contemporary fantasy YA that I wrote in a fury while in college; I've rarely been seized by the unbridled inspiration and passion as with that novel. The other one is much more personal, and I wrote it in a cathartic way, but the story, while it helped me heal from something bad in my life, isn't ready for publication.
7] What kind of research did you have to do when it came to the dynamics of space travel and the design of the ship?
I always have trouble with this question because my gut instinct is that I didn't do any research--because, to me, research is setting out with a specific thing to look up, and sitting in a boring library and staring at boring texts. But I love astronomy and read astronomical articles for fun in my spare time--not "research" at all (even though, I guess, technically it is!) A lot of people are surprised when they find out that there really is a planet in the Centauri binary star system--I didn't make up Centauri-Earth; it's always been there. It's the closest extra-solar planet that could possibly be terra-based (as opposed to gaseous) and is in the "Goldilocks" range--not too cold, not too hot. Likewise, the engine used for Godspeed is a lead-cooled fast reactor. I chose this engine because it's built to recycle the uranium for the nuclear process. We have designs for such an engine now, but none work. If we could get one that does work, though, I wouldn't be surprised to see it used for an interstellar space mission.
I actually did more specific research by the time I got to SHADES OF EARTH because, well, I made things a lot harder for my characters and had to make sure they could realistically escape some of my situations...
8] If you had to sum up what we can expect from "Shades of Earth" in one sentence, how would you do so? Explosions, death, kissing, stars, and a planet, just not all at the same time.
9] Are there any upcoming projects outside of the trilogy that you can give us a sneak peek at?
I'm working on a fantasy novel next! I'm just in the beginning stages, though, so I've got nothing specific yet. :)
10] What is the one thing you love the most about being an author and having your books published for the entire world?
All I ever wanted was for people to read my words.
It's the best feeling in the whole world.