Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Apocalypse Now: An Interview with Lissa Price, Author of STARTERS

In a world ravaged by war and genocide, becoming someone else is now possible. Sixteen-year-old Callie discovers the Body Bank where teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. When her neurochip malfunctions, she wakes up in the mansion of her rich renter and finds she is going out with a senator’s grandson. It’s a fairy-tale new life, until she discovers her renter’s deadly plan.

I'm very excited to be interviewing Lissa Price, whose YA novel STARTERS makes its debut today! Lissa, congratulations on STARTERS! It was a great read, and I made the mistake of starting it late enough that it kept me up much too late.
I have to admit I love it when readers tell me I’ve kept them up all night.
Tell us a bit about writing STARTERS. What was the publishing process like? Was it faster than you would have ever dreamed, or longer than you would have ever feared?
This project has been at lightspeed. Bought in May to be pubbed in March, ARCs didn’t come out until two months before launch. Book two, which is the last in the series, will come out in December of this year. So I’ve been breathless between writing book two and doing publicity which is necessary for a debut. But at this stage, my publicist is determining which publicity is most important as I need to focus on finishing book two. I want to stress that I’m very grateful to be this busy.
What’s cool about STARTERS is how Callie is a teenager—pretty much a given in a YA novel—yet a lot of the supporting characters are actually elderly. It’s an interesting play on age, how life begins at one end and finishes at the other. Did you know you were going to tackle such a complex topic when you first started writing the book, or did it just take on a life of its own?
It really took on a life of its own. I’m a big believer in writing organically, meaning I do create outlines but I listen to the characters so I can be true to the story that is crying to come out. I loved the landscape of the silver-haired Enders and the teen Starters, so that part of the picture was painted in early. I wanted conflict of course, so I started with Callie being skeptical and cautious of Enders and she grows to trust them through her interactions with them. So you picked up on the fact that on one level I’m talking about these issues of age and how we judge people based on appearance when there might be something different if you look beneath. I am interested in different levels of reality and how that lays the groundwork for some fresh emotional situations. For me this is the magic of writing, what keeps me interested.
From the bio in your ARC for STARTERS, you’ve travelled quite extensively. How or why did you decide on choosing L.A. to be the backdrop for Callie’s story? Did you ever consider any other locations?
It was always this setting. I like writing about the Southern California area I live in because I know it so well and so many options exist here. Los Angeles has great contrasts. Beverly Hills seemed like the perfect place for Prime Destinations. A German TV crew came to interview me and they wanted to shoot in some of the locations, so we found a building in Beverly Hills that came very close to my description in the book with the mirrored fa├žade.
Would you like to give us an idea of a typical writing day for you?
Spend the morning answering New York email from one of my publishers or agents and handling publicity – tweeting, interviews, helping friends. Start writing, stop to eat and exercise and do this until late at night. I’ve been on such a tight schedule, I’m working all day, every day. My friends just know it’ll be like this for a while because my tour runs to the end of March. April is booked up already with solid rewrites. I can’t even hope to touch my tbr pile of friend’s books until May or June.
I know you’re most likely hard at work on the sequel for STARTERS. Can you give us one word or phrase as a tantalizer of what to expect?
Nothing is what you expect.
To finish off, because we’re the Lucky 13s, we’re big into superstitions around here. What’s your favourite superstition?
I try not to sit with my back to the entrance door.
Thanks for having me, Lucky 13s!
Thank you so much, Lissa, and congratulations again!

Lissa Price is a member of SCBWI, SFWA, ITW, as well as one of the Apocalypsies, a group of 2012 debut YA and MG authors. In 2012 she joined Beth Revis and the talented gang of five 2011 and five 2012 debut YA dystopian and science fiction authors at The League of Extraordinary Writers.
Her debut YA dystopian thriller, STARTERS, the first in a duology, releases 3/13/12 and the second book releases 12/04/12. See the trailer at the official website: http://www.StartersBooks.com. Visit Lissa at http://www.LissaPrice.com, https://www.facebook.com/LissaPriceAuthor, and follow her on Twitter @Lissa_Price.
Buy STARTERS at your favourite bookstore or online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

“…twists and turns come so fast that readers will stay hooked. Constantly rising stakes keep this debut intense.” Kirkus Reviews.

Elsie Chapman grew up in Prince George, BC, before graduating from the University of British Columbia with a BA in English Literature. She currently lives in Vancouver with her husband and two children, where she writes to either movies on a loop or music turned up way too loud (and sometimes both at the same time). She is represented by The Chudney Agency and DUALED is her debut novel. It will be released by Random House in Spring, 2013.


  1. Hi Lisa, great to meet you and best wishes with Starters! Sounds like a very interesting and fresh twist.

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  2. Lissa, HUGE congrats again on STARTERS! And thanks for the interview :)

  3. This sounds pretty cool! I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this--now I have to find the time to read it. :) Great interview!

  4. Great interview Elsie. STARTERS sounds amazing. I've put it on my wishlist.

  5. The book sounds fabulous! I loved reading about all the behind the scenes stuff. It's all so fascinating!

  6. Great interview, Elsie! Lissa and I share the same rock-star agent, so I absolutely can't wait to read this one. I love the Twilight Zone-ish vibe of the basic story details. Southern California is definitely the perfect setting for a book about chasing after lost youth.

    Congrats, Lissa!!!