PJ Sharon has stopped by to tell us about her new release and how she got interested in writing Dystopian novels. I asked her what sets dystopian apart from other YAs. Here's her response.
After a few years of writing adult novels, I decided my voice and style was best suited for the YA market. I liked writing in the first person narrative and had lots of teen stories buzzing in my head. I started writing strictly contemporary YA, but reading everything I could get my hands on in YA literature. That included the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and How I live Now by Meg Rossoff. I found it fascinating how different each story was and loved the future aspect to them. As a writer, the infinite possibilities of creating a dystopian world excited me. What will technology be like in forty-five years? How will climate change affect the planet? Will the global economy survive our current political structure or will it collapse? And what about resistant super-bugs and terrorists? These questions and more all come up when you start creating a world that does not yet exist. It’s challenging, requires a ton of research to determine the plausibility of each scenario, and details matter if you want it to be believable.
The idea for THE CHRONICLES OF LILY CARMICHAEL trilogy came about after several discussions with some friends who are survivalists and a bit radical in their thinking about where the world will be in the near future. Whether due to economic collapse, environmental catastrophe, or government conspiracy, they seem pretty certain that life as we know it is on the brink of major change. They live very simply out in the country, stock-piling goods, living as much off-grid as possible, and are prepared for just about anything. They aren’t quite as radical as the Doomsday Preppers on cable TV, but they have convinced me that we all need to be ready for whatever challenges we face in the coming age.
WANING MOON, Book One of the trilogy, takes place in the year 2057 after a plague has wiped out three quarters of the population and a global shift has created significant climate change, reshaping the planet and devastating our country. Sixteen-year-old Lily Carmichael and her thirteen-year-old brother, Zephron, were part of the EVO experiments meant to genetically alter fetuses, giving them immunity to the viral plague. As a result, Lily has the gift of healing, while Zeph has an ability that is much darker. In this first installment, Lily is forced to leave the safety of her small town to journey to the trading post in Albany in order to find a cure for her uncle’s cancer since his shared genetics make him impervious to her ability to heal him.
Accompanied by Will Callahan, a seventeen-year-old drifter who is searching for his father, the two encounter trouble with the Industry, a rogue government agency set on capturing EVO kids and taking them to the Western Desert, never to be seen again. But Will has his own secrets to protect and Lily is finding it hard to keep her mind on her mission. There’s a budding romance, an action-packed adventure, and two loveable wolves that make the story more than just sci-fi doom and gloom.
Writers don’t always get to make a conscious choice about which stories they write. For me, the characters in my head who shout the loudest seem to get first dibs. Lily and Will wouldn’t let me go and I knew that theirs would be a fun story to write. Dystopian fiction opens up whole new worlds for a writer. Contemporary stories deal with real life teen issues in the real world. I loved writing HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, and felt that I had some valuable experiences to share that would leave teens feeling as if no matter how bad life got, it could always get better. Paranormal novels like Twilight that deal with vampires, werewolves, or other creatures, are fun to read, but I had no desire to write them. Writing a dystopian trilogy gave me a canvas somewhere in the middle. I could create a whole new future world and add a bit of sci-fi to my characters, without totally losing touch with the reality of teen issues. I think kids are looking for answers about an uncertain future, and they are looking for them in dystopian stories. As different as this trilogy is from anything I’ve written before, my message is the same as it’s always been. No matter how bad things get, there is always hope that they can get better.
In the year 2057, in a post-apocalyptic world where a global shift threatens the remainder of the population with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Charmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey into the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities.
Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he catches a ride with Lily, a girl who has come to his rescue more than once. As the two embark on a dangerous journey, the attraction between them grows. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put her in far more danger than traveling to the city with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him.
“Wait,” I said before he got far, “I bet I could find you something to eat.” I tried to appeal to what I knew would work for any hungry male. “Would you like some of this?” I asked. My bag of premium jarred honey lay across my back, and I figured it wasn’t really a meal, but I was willing to bet he’d eat whatever he could get his hands on. Or maybe he could trade Mrs. Higgins for some soup or a place to bathe. She would likely offer him something herself once she saw him. He was clearly in need of both.
The boy eyed the honey as I pulled a glass jar out of my pack, but he put his hands up and backed away. “No, I...thanks anyway…I’ll be fine…I gotta go…” He spun away and strode across the street toward an alleyway. It wasn’t like I could invite him back to the farm. Sam would kill me if I brought home a stranger. His warnings rang clear in my head even as I caught up to the boy and grabbed his arm.
“C’mon. Let me…”
The stranger whirled around, his grey eyes cold and hard. “I don’t need some girl to rescue me!”
Stunned, I took a step back. Not only did his words come as a complete surprise, but the color of his eyes rendered me speechless. I hadn’t noticed beneath his shaggy bangs before, but his eyes were a crystalline blue-grey that reminded me of an icy lake or a stormy sky. Brilliant, backlit with sunshine, and rimmed by dark, thick lashes. I sucked in a breath, confused by somehow feeling happy while being horribly offended at the same time. My brain kicked in and my heart felt the sting.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I knew I would be a writer someday when I was a little girl sitting on my grandpa’s knee and telling him stories that he would help me put on paper. By the time I entered kindergarten I could already read and write, and I couldn’t wait to look up new words every morning in the ginormous Webster’s Dictionary that sat in the book case at the bottom of our stairs. I would get on the bus and ask my friends, “Do you know what pulchritudinous means?” Between that and challenging the boys to push-up contests at the bus stop, I mostly sat alone on those bus rides to school. But that just meant I had more time to make up stories.
I went on to many other endeavors in life, including the world of figure skating, and later, earning a black belt in martial arts. Though I was a mom at seventeen, I did manage to finish school and somehow made it through college, earning a degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant. After nineteen years, two sons, a divorce, and some fairly lean years, I found that it’s true what they say about life beginning at forty. It was about that time when I reunited with the love of my life and worked my way to owning my own business as a Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, and Yoga Instructor—all of my favorite things. To make my bliss complete, I moved out to the Berkshires and found my muse waiting for me there amongst the lilacs and humming birds.
I now write Extraordinary Stories of an Average Teenage Life in order to share hope with others, especially teens, that no matter how tough life gets, there is always a bright spot waiting just around the corner. My published books include the award winning YA Novels, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, available through Amazon and B&N Booksellers.
Amazon Author Central https://www.amazon.com/author/pjsharon
Good reads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5238865.P_J_Sharon
Amazon e-book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009GW3GTK/ref=tag_dpp_yt_edpp_rt?_encoding=UTF8&ie=UTF8&redirect=true&redirect=true&s=books%23tags#_
PJ will be awarding an eBook copy of "Thin Ice" to one commenter at each stop and a $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.