Thursday, August 16, 2012

Apocalypse Now: An Interview with Suzanne Lazear, author of Innocent Darkness

Congrats to Apocalypsie member Suzanne Lazear, whose book INNOCENT DARKNESS debuted recently from Flux. For all of you steampunk fans out there, add this book to your list!

Book description:

Be careful what you wish for...
In an alternate version of 1901 Los Angeles sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock's hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer's eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed to restore his dying world.  Her best friend, V, who has secrets of his own, appears to help Noli escape and return to the mortal realm.  If they are successful, Noli will live, but if she does the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.

Author Suzanne Lazear was kind enough to sit down with Lucky 13 member Megan Shepherd for an interview about the writing of this book.

Megan: First of all, congratulations on the launch of INNOCENT DARKNESS! As a lover of everything Steampunk, I’ve been really looking forward to this book coming out. For our readers who aren’t familiar with Steampunk, how would you describe it?

Suzanne: Steampunk is the intersection of Victorian romanticism and modern technology, it’s the future as imagined by the past, imagining what the world might be like if we continued as a steam-powered society instead of a gas-driven one.

Megan: What were some of your favorite parts of writing an alternative history? The most challenging parts?

Suzanne: I had to do a lot of research. Even though this is fiction, and I am creating alternate versions of 1901 Los Angeles and San Francisco, I still had to do a lot of research. Since my world is quazi-victorian (though they have very advanced technology) I needed to figure out what the world was actually like at the time so I could decide what I wanted to change. Also, I used a lot of real things in my story. For example, the diagnoses and “treatments” at Findlay house are all based on actual things they used to institutionalize girls for in the Victorian era and actual treatments in asylums.

Megan: As a debut author, what surprised you most about the publication process?

Suzanne: I didn’t realize it could take so long! It was 27 months from sale to release day.

Megan: What was the revision process like for INNOCENT DARKNESS? In what ways did the book change when you started working with your editor?

Suzanne: Most of the changes were small things – trying to nail the way the characters speak (which was a struggle), trying to blend the steampunkian mortal realm with the non-steampunk realm of Faerie, making characters consistent, not overusing words, and clarifying the details. It helped to make the story a lot more solid and consistent. There was only one scene that was cut and I was able to use most of it in book 2. 

Megan: What parts of INNOCENT DARKNESS, Noli, and V, do you hope readers will connect to most?

Suzanne: Teens tend to face the same challenges no matter where and when a story takes place. I hope teens will connect with V and Noli’s struggle for identity and a place in society as well as the fact that they like to read.

Megan: I love hearing “path to publication” stories. Had you written many manuscripts before INNOCENT DARKNESS, or was it your first? What did you do when you got “the call” that it had sold?

Suzanne: INNOCENT DARKNESS was my tenth completed manuscript (I had to learn books needed plots.)  It was the fourth I actually queried, and only the second YA I’d ever written. I actually got “the email” from my editor at Flux right before I was picking up my daughter from school. I took her to McDonalds for a celebratory Happy Meal and that’s when I got the call from my agent of awesome, offering me representation.

Megan: Because this is the Lucky 13s blog, I have to ask…do you have any superstitions or lucky charms that help you with writing?

Suzanne: No. I work and have a family. I write when and where I can. However, I do have an iron demon stake on my desk (right next to my mini trebuchet).
Thank you so much for having me on.

Suzanne Lazear writes fairytale steampunk. Her debut novel INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of the Aether Chronicles, releases August 8 from Flux. She lives in Los Angeles with the hubby, Missy, a hermit crab, and a fish.


This interview was conducted by Lucky 13 member Megan Shepherd, as part of an ongoing series of interviews with the Apocalypsies—YA, MG, and children’s book authors with 2012 debuts.

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