2012 YA Debut Interview + Giveaway: STRUCK by Jennifer Bosworth

Welcome to the Summer 2012 YA Debut Interview Series, featuring debut YA authors who’ve written books I am absolutely dying to read. I’ve chosen eleven (yes, 11 this time!) debuts to feature, and I hope by the end of this series you’ll be as excited about these books as I am.

Today’s Summer 2012 YA Debut is Struck by Jennifer BosworthRead on to see how this author answered the Q&A… And be sure to enter to win a Struck necklace!

Nova Ren Suma: I’ll start with the dreaded question you may be hearing already from strangers on elevators, long-lost family members, and your doctor while you’re sitting on the examination table in the paper gown during your next checkup: “So what’s your book about?” (Feel free to use the jacket copy, or describe in your own words. Up to you.)

Jennifer Bosworth: Struck is about a girl named Mia Price, who is not only a human lightning rod, but also a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

In my experience, every book wants to be written differently—and each one behaves differently from the one before it. Some novels like it out of order, and some rigidly insist on being written from start to finish. Some novels come out fast; others are excruciatingly slow. Some novels torment you, and some sing you to sleep. What did your novel want? How did you appease it? Did it ever misbehave?

Oh yes. Struck was trouble from the start. This book wanted to be rewritten so many times that I almost washed my hands of it. Actually, Struck started out as a completely different book with a completely different concept. It was originally titled Damned, and was about a teenage girl who falls in love with the Antichrist. It was like Twilight meets The Omen. But I just couldn’t seem to make that book work, so I came up with a new idea and plugged some of the characters from Damned into Struck, rewrote it a few thousand more times, and then . . . all of a sudden it started working!

Tell us about the place—as in the physical location: a messy office, a comfy couch, a certain corner table at the café—where you spent most of your time writing this book. Now imagine the writing spot of your fantasies where you wish you’d been able to write this book… tell us all about it. 

I’m with Virginia Woolf in needing a room of my own to write. I’ve never been able to write in coffee shops. I can barely manage to concentrate if there’s music on or a lawnmower buzzing outside. So I make sure that wherever my husband and I land I have a space I can use as an office. We moved three times when I was writing/revising Struck, so there’s no consistency there, except that each time I had my “space.” At one point we were living in an industrial loft with no walls or doors. That was NOT a space conducive to writing. Aside from the lack of privacy, I don’t find ultra-modern living spaces very inspiring, even though I love them from a design standpoint.

I wish that I’d written Struck in the two locations where most of the action of the book takes place. One would be a house near Venice Beach, preferably one overlooking the ocean and all the crazy people who hang out on the boardwalk.

The other perfect location would be an office on the top floor of a tall building in downtown Los Angeles. I think writing about downtown LA being destroyed from that particular vantage point would have been inspiring . . . and extremely nerve-racking.

Imagine you’re on the subway, or the bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could picture devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe him or her (or them?) for us.

He’s Stephen King. He’s in a coffee shop eating apple pie and barely tasting it because he’s so engrossed in Struck, and also patting himself on the back because his Dark Tower series is what inspired the novel and he can tell. Just as I’ve worked up the courage to interrupt him and introduce myself, his son, author Joe Hill, breezes in and sits down across from King. He says he read Struck, too, and then father and son have a lengthy discussion about all their favorite parts of the book. I eavesdrop the whole time. And order pie.

[I apologize for my poor Photoshop skills. —Nova]

Publishing a novel is full of high points, low points, absolutely surreal points, and shocking points you never thought you’d see in your lifetime. Tell us a high point, a low point, a surreal point, and something shocking or at least somewhat surprising about your experience so far.

The most surreal part was when the book went to auction. After two years of revising and criticizing and doubting the manuscript, I suddenly had four editors who wanted the book. My brain couldn’t comprehend such a thing. Sometimes it still can’t.

Low point . . . there hasn’t been a concrete low point, but one letdown all authors have to deal with is when they sell a book and discover that it doesn’t immediately change everything and fix your life. You aren’t suddenly validated and overflowing with self-esteem. Your parents probably won’t respect you more. People will continue to think you don’t have a real job. The lesson you have to learn after that is to stop needing those things and become self-validating. Easier said than done.

My favorite part—the high point! For me it was my book trailer shoot. I had an amazing cast and crew, and everything went perfectly. We even shot an entire scene from the book. Seeing Struck come to life in such an amazing, cinematic way made me feel like we should just go ahead and shoot the movie. We just needed sixty million more dollars and we could have done it.

The most shocking part was when my publisher, FSG/Macmillan, announced they were sending me and a few other authors on a two-week book tour in June. It was completely unexpected! I can’t believe I’m getting such tremendous support on my first published novel.

Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any two authors (living or dead), and serve any item of food at your book signing… where would you go, who with, and what delicious treat would you serve your fans?

I’ve always told myself that once I publish a book I will reward myself with a trip to Romania. I’d bring fellow 2012 debut authors Sara Wilson Etienne and Leigh Bardugo along with me, partly because they’re wonderful friends and amazing writers, and partly because they’re new to publishing, like me, so we’ll be equally unknown and won’t steal each other’s spotlight. Not that anyone in Romania would have any idea who we were, but they’d come for the free butterscotch pudding and bourbon, right?

If you had to pick one sentence, and one sentence only, to entice someone to read your book, what would it be? (I almost hate myself for asking you this question and making you choose! Almost.)

“My name is Mia Price, and I am a lightning addict.”

Struck will be published by FSG/Macmillan on May 8, 2012. Read on for a chance to win a Struck necklace!

Jennifer Bosworth lives in Los Angeles, California, where lightning hardly ever strikes, but when it does she takes cover. She is the writer half of a writer/director team with her husband, Ryan Bosworth. 

Visit her at jenniferbosworth.com to find out more!

Follow @jennbosworth on Twitter.

The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the winner!

What is the next Summer 2012 debut novel I’m looking forward to? Come back tomorrow to find out.

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