Tuesday, August 28, 2012

APOCALYPSE NOW: An interview with C.J. Redwine, author of DEFIANCE

Today I had the pleasure of talking with the fabulous C. J. Redwine, author of DEFIANCE, which is on shelves NOW! DEFIANCE is the first in a trilogy, and trust me, after you read this one, you're going to want more immediately. Here's a little bit about it from Goodreads:

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Hi, C.J.! Thanks for talking with us! Tell us about your road to publication. What twists and turns did you go through in order to bring this book into the world?

Like most writers, when I finished writing my first book (which weighed in at a whopping 135k! o.0), I figured all I had to do was send it out into the world and everyone would line up, eager to publish me. A box full of rejections later, I realized that manuscript was a training ground for my craft, and I sat down and got busy writing another. That second book gained me my awesomesauce agent Holly, but didn't sell. I wrote another. It didn't sell either. I'd now been with my agent for two years without selling, and I was feeling like the poster child for Girls Who Cannot Sell A Book To Save Their Lives. I decided I had nothing to lose, and I jumped to the YA genre (I'd been writing adult urban fantasy) and attacked the idea that scared me because I wasn't sure I had the chops to do it justice. Two weeks after I turned it in to my agent, it sold at auction, and it took me MONTHS to accept the fact that I'd actually sold a book. I've never once forgotten that it took sheer stubbornness and a lot of hard work to get where I am, and that I'm incredibly blessed to be here.

Some people say their book began with a character; others begin with specific plot points or a setting. Which kernel of your story came to you first?

I had the setting first. For years, I'd had the idea of a huge, Leviathan-like creature living underground, but I didn't know what to do with it. Then one day, I saw a picture of a fortress that reminded me of a medieval city-state. I asked myself what would drive people to live in city-states again, and Defiance was born.

I'm fascinated by female writers who can write convincing male narrators in the first person. I didn't understand teen boys when I was a teen, and I don't understand them now. Were the Logan chapters more difficult to write than the Rachel chapters? How does a non-clueless woman go about getting into an initially rather clueless boy's head?

Logan's voice took me a lot longer to nail down than Rachel's. I think that had more to do with the fact that he's so logical and analytical and I am so NOT. I have three sons, two of whom are teenagers, so I don't find it all that hard to get into a boy's head. I've had to hone that skill as a matter of survival around here. :) With Logan, I kept his agenda in mind (as I do with all of my characters), made sure he was approaching things with his rational inventor's brain, and then threw his entire world into chaos by introducing the unpredictable and uncontrollable element of a girl who refused to be boxed into his tidy, logical universe. The result was SO much fun to write.

The world of DEFIANCE contains an interesting mix of preindustrial tools and advanced technology—there are horse-drawn wagons and torches, but there are also complex tracking and surveillance devices. How did you decide which technology was allowed and which was not?

The Cursed One destroyed the previous civilization, and with it, their infrastructure. So, they lost most modern technology (because really, if someone destroyed our ability to have wireless communication and digital this and that, we'd be so screwed) but they didn't lose the knowledge. They no longer had factories or the ability to lay infrastructure between each city-state because of the threat of the Cursed One, but there are some basic pieces of technology that don't require any of that. We can make batteries and explosives out of basic elements, so they have that. And the rest of their tech is all sonar. Sonar can map an area using the echoes of sound, so my characters have figured out how to use the principles of sonar in various pieces of tech. All of the rest of their goodies are old-fashioned--things that can be manufactured without a factory. Swords, knives etc.

Writing fight choreography has always seemed like a daunting task to me. How do you map out your fight scenes? Diagrams? Action figures?

Ooh, action figures! That is TOTALLY what I need. But alas, no. I, um, act it out. And that is very interesting when I happen to be writing in a book store. Which I do about three days a week. So ... yes. And then I send my fight scenes to my amazing friend KB Wagers who is a real life ninja, and she double checks the scene blocking and the weapons use to make sure I've nailed it.

Though this is an action-adventure, plot-packed book, the emotional journey of the characters—especially Rachel—is really the heart of the story. Was Rachel's emotional journey clear to you from the start, such that you could use it as a backbone on which to build your fantastical story? Or did Rachel's journey become clear to you as you threw fantastical obstacles at her?

I had an idea of what her emotional journey might look like when I started, but (as always happens when I write), so many things happened that I didn't anticipate. In the end, it became a story as much about how to survive being broken and how to hang on to hope as it was about how to stand up for justice and fight oppression. I think Rachel becomes a much stronger character through her brokenness. When she starts the story, she's over-confident and she can't imagine failing at anything. By the end of the book, she knows with exquisite clarity what it looks like to fail and still have to pick herself up and move forward.

How do you plan to celebrate your release day? (I hope it involves themed cupcakes.)

Forget themed cupcakes. I'm going for a themed CAKE. We're having a launch party here in my hometown, and my hubby is making one of his incredible cakes. I've requested Baalboden's Wall around the outside edge of the cake, my book cover on the top, and I want him to light my title on fire. He's promised to deliver. I can't guarantee the cake will be edible at the end of it, but it sure will be memorable. :)

Thanks, C.J., and congratulations on your beautiful new book-baby!


C.J. Redwine loves stilettos, lemon bars, any movie starring Johnny Depp, and books. C.J. holds a degree in English Literature from Pepperdine University and now lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, four kids, two spastic cats, and one long-suffering dog. For more on C.J., please visit her website at http://cjredwine.blogspot.com

You can purchase your copy of DEFIANCE from your favorite local indie bookstore or from Indiebound, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.

This interview was conducted by Lucky13s member Alison Cherry as part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Apocalypsies—YA, MG, and children's book authors debuting in 2012.

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