Anticipated YA Debut Interview: TAKEN (+Giveaway)


Today I have an interview with one of the April 2013 Anticipated YA Debut Authors! Today’s featured author is Erin Bowman—and her first novel, Taken, comes out tomorrow, April 16, from HarperTeen! Read on to see how Erin answered my Q&A…

…And scroll down to see who won a signed finished copy plus some swag!

TakenNova: 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?” Surely you don’t carry around a copy so you can recite the description off the flaps, so how do you answer this question when asked?

Erin: I usually start by saying it’s a sci-fi/thriller novel for teens, and then try to be as succinct as possible: TAKEN is about a boy who grows up in an isolated community where all boys are Heisted on their eighteenth birthday, disappearing never to be seen again. If they seem genuinely interested, I’ll go into a bit more detail, but I’ve usually stumbled my way through the one-line pitch and been sufficiently awkward enough for them to just smile and nod. I am much better at talking about other people’s books than my own.

NRS: In my experience, novels transform themselves, sometimes unrecognizably, during the course of being written. Were there any shocking transformations that occurred between rough draft and final bound book?

EB: It’s funny, because my answer to this is yes and no. At its core, Gray’s story—his predicament in the opening pages of the novel and where he ends up by its close—has been the same since the first draft. But I also feel like TAKEN evolved so very much during editorial revisions. Certain scenes were expanded upon while others were cut altogether. I did tons of world-building work in the second half of the novel. The ending (with the exception of the last two scenes) was completely rewritten.

I guess what’s most shocking to me is how much TAKEN changed while not really changing at all. The integrity of the story remains. My editor just showed me how to make it better, stronger, more layered, and nuanced. I swear, writing is 90% revising.

NRS: So you’re here with me gossiping about your main characters behind their backs. What’s something they wouldn’t want anyone to know that might make them blush? 

EB: Gray isn’t so much quick to blush as he is quick to tell a person to shove it. True, he probably won’t like me telling you that he’s been in love with Emma since he was six. Or that he hasn’t slept well since his brother’s Heist. Or that I think he needs to work on his impulsive streak. But I still don’t think these things would make him blush. He’ll likely just shoot us a dirty look, say something rude to me for sharing the details, and then stalk off.

NRS: 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. 

EB: I wrote a few scenes of TAKEN from the rocking chair on my front porch. A couple more were jotted down in my local coffee shop. But most of it happened right on my couch, with me curled up under a blanket.


To be honest, I can’t draft at my desk. My desk is for work. I can email and blog and revise there—and boy did a lot of revising occur at my desk—but the actual drafting? It has to happen somewhere cozy or I can’t seem to get lost in my characters’ world.


In terms of an ideal writing spot…Hmmm. Is it lame that I don’t have one? It’s more like I have a list of required assets: comfy clothes, notebooks, headphones and playlists, coffee, snacks, more coffee. Give me that stuff and I can write anywhere.

NRS: To go along with the theme of this blog (and my life), what is the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 

EB: The Internet. (It seems to be my biggest distraction from writing any book.) Sitting down to write is the easy part. It’s closing my browser and starting to type that’s always the greatest hurdle.

NRS: Imagine you’re on the subway, or bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could imagine devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe this person to us.

EB: The sun is glaring, so I can’t tell if this reader is a guy or a girl. I also can’t even estimate their age properly. All I can see is that they are walking through the masses, nose in the book, so absorbed by the story that they can’t tear their eyes from the page for even a second. That’s my ideal reader. (Which is vague, I know. But if they’re devouring my novel and can’t be pulled away from it, that’s all I need to apply the label.)

NRS: If you could go back in time to whisper a few words of advice into your own ear before you leaped into this writing career, what would you tell your young, impressionable self? 

EB: Writing is hard. The industry can be slow. Your self-confidence will be tested many, many times. But trust your instincts and always write the story you’re dying to tell. Write for yourself and—regardless of the outcome—you’ll never regret it. (Write what you think someone else wants you to write, or expects you to write, and the same is not always true.)

NRS: Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any author (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?

EB: As a self-proclaimed Harry Potter nerd, I have to pick J.K. Rowling. (Although, being in the same room as her would likely reduce me to tears, so it would be a very sniffly tour.) I think I’d want to go someplace that doesn’t see a lot of authors touring—a small town, maybe. Doesn’t matter where so long as there are kids who love reading in attendance. As for food? Chocolate Frogs, naturally. And Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, and Cauldron Cakes, and Acid Pops, and…Should I keep going? 😉

NRS: How do you plan to celebrate your book’s birthday tomorrow?

EB: If I’m not too antsy, I hope to sleep in. And then maybe wander to a bookstore…see if I can spot TAKEN in the wild. I’ll likely treat myself to a celebratory cupcake or two and video chat with good friends. Perhaps go out to dinner with my hubby.

It will be a special day and also a regular day, if that makes sense. Tomorrow doesn’t change me, just the fact that my story will finally be available for anyone to read if they so choose. All of which is pretty darn awesome.

Taken is on sale tomorrow, April 16, from HarperTeen. Read on for a chance to win a signed finished copy and some swag! 


Erin Bowman used to tell stories visually as a web designer. Now a full-time writer, she relies solely on words. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, and when not writing she can often be found hiking, commenting on good typography, and obsessing over all things Harry Potter. TAKEN is her first novel.

Visit her at to find out more. 

Follow @erin_bowman on Twitter.


One winner was chosen to win signed finished copy of Taken plus some Taken swag!

TakenAnd the winner is…

Leslie Drake!

Congrats, Leslie! And thank you to everyone who entered!

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