Thank you so much for stopping by my stop of the Guardians official blog tour here on Bibliophilia, Please! Today, I'll be featuring my interview with Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan.
Title: Guardians (Wasteland #3)
Author: Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Release Date: March 24, 2015
The Emmy Award-nominated and Edgar Award-winning duo of Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan deliver a heart-pounding finale to the postapocalyptic teen world of the Wasteland, filled with dramatic twists and turns. Bestselling author of Criminal, Karin Slaughter, called Wasteland "a Lord of the Flies for future generations. An irresistible page-turner."
No one dares to leave the District—the towering structure of glass and steel that is their protection against the unruly bands of Outsiders that roam Mundreel and the deadly rain that carries the disease that kills all over the age of nineteen.
This skyscraper stands amid the urban devastation, the city rumored to have once been called "Montreal." Esther and her allies have created a haven on the rooftop, a garden that flourishes, and a home for her new baby, hidden from all but the very few who know her secret. But as Gideon's power grows and factions form, the ultimate darkness is born from greed, and Esther must find a way to save the citizens from themselves.
Kayla: Hi Susan and Laurence, and thank you so much for allowing me to interview you. Do you mind telling us a little bit about the Wasteland series?
Laurence: The Wasteland trilogy takes place about thirty years from now. Climate change has thawed the Arctic ice in which the bodies of 20th century Spanish Flu victims had been preserved. The freed virus destroys nearly the entire world population; and the mutating disease—spread by water droplets, even rain— kills off all survivors by the age of nineteen.
Kayla: What can you tell us about Guardians if we haven’t read the first two books?
Susan: In book one, Wasteland, Esther, our heroine, is a rebellious 15-year old who lives in a small town called Prin. She fights against not only the short, brutal life of scavenging and mindless drudgery she is expected to lead, but also the hatred that the other townspeople have for “variants”, mutated outsiders who are half-male and half-female. A stranger with revenge on his mind, Caleb, comes to town… and Esther unexpectedly finds herself falling in love as she joins forces with him to defeat Prin’s ruthless leader. In book two, Wanderers, Esther, Caleb, and their friends are forced to leave home after an earthquake levels the town. After a grueling and deadly journey to the seemingly perfect city of Mundreel, the children meet the last adults living. The grownups treat them as honored guests in their home, a former luxury mall called the District… until Esther discovers their terrible secret. Joining forces with the Insurgents, a gang of street dwellers led by the charismatic Gideon, Esther is finally made the District’s leader. In the final book, Guardians, it turns out that the peace Esther has fought for so bitterly is a short-lived illusion. Two of those closest to her are plotting against her and will stop at nothing to take control of the city and its precious resources. The final book is more than Esther’s struggle to stay alive and save those she loves: it’s a battle between good and evil.
Kayla: What is your favorite development that came along in the series that wasn’t originally there?
Susan: The character of Saith changed a lot. She’s one of the two bad guys in the final book; and at first, we struggled a little bit with her, trying to pin down exactly who she was and what drove her. Because she turns out to be perhaps the most destructive villain in the entire series, we had always thought of Saith as being a peer of Esther’s: at least fifteen or sixteen. But halfway through the first draft, we suddenly thought, “what if Saith were a little girl?” Ageing her down to nine suddenly changed everything: it made the fact that Esther feels sorry for her and takes her in so much more believable. And her climb to power is all the more shocking because she comes across as a young, innocent child. It also made her bad behavior not only disturbing but tragic: you can see her as someone who’s very spoiled, someone who’s never had anyone to take care of her or teach her anything but terrible lessons.
Kayla: What do you think sets the Wasteland trilogy apart from other young adult novels?
Susan: One thing we always wanted was to create a protagonist who wasn’t initially a heroine or a warrior or a leader in any way, but a flawed and ordinary person who ultimately grows into those roles over the course of the series. Esther starts off as a shirker, someone who’s rebellious just for the sake of fighting with her older sister and not pulling her weight. Even though she’s likeable, she’s also irresponsible and frankly kind of immature. Even throughout the final book, Esther makes constant mistakes because she’s headstrong, impulsive, and a little too emotional. She means well and is a loyal friend, but she screws up constantly. Yet because of that, she eventually comes to realize what’s worth fighting for, whom to trust, and how to rally the people around her. Over the course of three books, she is forced to dig down deep and that’s where she discovers the courage and authority that were there all along. The secret, of course, is love: for not only her best friend and boyfriend, but also those around her. Obviously, the action and romance parts of the story were super important to us; but Esther’s character arc was also something we spent a lot of time on, and we think it’s a little unusual.
Kayla: What was the most fun part of writing the series with another person?
Laurence: There can be tensions in collaborating with anyone—especially if you’re married!—but there can be a lot of fun, too. The best part is when you come to a roadblock in the story and then you figure it out and fix it together; one person identifies the problem and the other person comes up with a good answer. Neither of you could have done it alone.
Kayla: Do you have any other upcoming works after Guardians that we can look forward to reading?
Laurence: I have a collection of short stories out, “The Family Unit and Other Fantasies,” from a publisher called Chizine. It’s full of strange stories, but for adults. Susan and I are also working on a new series and are just about to send something to our agents. So we should know soon whether it’ll be upcoming...or outgoing.
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About the Authors
Susan Kim is a playwright, TV writer, and author. Her two graphic novels w/co-author Laurence Klavan, City of Spies (artwork by Pascal Dizin) and Brain Camp (artwork by Faith Erin Hicks), were published by First Second Books in 2010. Flow: the Cultural Story of Menstruation (co-written w/Elissa Stein) was published by St. Martin’s Griffin in 2009. Plays include the stage adaptation of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (Dramatists Play Service) and various one-acts that were produced in the EST Marathon, including "Death and the Maiden", "Rapid Eye Movement", "Dreamtime for Alice" (Dramatists Play Service and Farrar Strauss), and "Memento Mori" (Smith and Krauss). Her work has been produced internationally. Ms. Kim has been nominated five times for the Emmy and four times for the Writers Guild award for her work in both non-fiction and children’s TV; she won a WGA award in 1996 for Best Documentary. She lives in New York City, teaches dramatic writing in the MFA program at Goddard College and currently blogs for the Huffington Post.
Laurence Klavan wrote the novels, The Cutting Room and The Shooting Script, which were published by Ballantine Books. He won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the novel, Mrs. White, co-written under a pseudonym. His graphic novels, City of Spies and Brain Camp, were co-written with Susan Kim and published by First Second Books at Macmillan. His short work has been published in The Alaska Quarterly, Conjunctions, The Literary Review, Gargoyle, Louisville Review, Natural Bridge, Pank, Stickman Review, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, among many other journals, and a collection is forthcoming from Chizine Publications. He received two Drama Desk nominations for the book and lyrics of "Bed and Sofa," the musical produced by the Vineyard Theater in New York and the Finborough Theater in London in 2011. His one-act, "The Summer Sublet," is included Best American Short Plays 2000-2001.
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Susan's Goodreads | Laurence's Goodreads
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