Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Apocalypse Now: An Interview with CREWEL author Gennifer Albin

Today I am beyond thrilled to welcome Gennifer Albin to The Lucky13s to celebrate the release day of her much a-buzzed dystopian novel, CREWEL. Here's a blurb to whet your appetite for this unique story!

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

First of all, congratulations on your book release! It's been quite a whirlwind for you from the first draft to the shelves! Can you tell us a little bit about Crewel and how it landed in the bookstores?

CREWEL was inspired by a painting by Remedios Varo called Bordando El Manto Terrestre that depicts girls embroidering the world from a tower. I've been obsessed with the painting since college and one day I sat down and wrote a page about one of the girls who is destined to go work in the tower. My amazing agent, Mollie Glick, took the book out on submission in May of 2011 and immediately found several houses that wanted to give CREWEL a home. It was a very hard decision, but ultimately, I was won over by FSG/Macmillan, who was incredibly passionate about the project. My whole team there has done so much for the book's success, and they've got great plans for it once it releases.

The world you offer the reader in Crewel is very unique and rich. Where did you draw most of your inspiration for world-building? Did you take a lot from any one time or culture?

CREWEL is very much a fusion of things I love. When I started building its world, I made a conscious decision to turn the idea of Spinster on its head by making these women into alluring femme fatales, so I built the world with Old Hollywood stylings and filled it with fedoras and cocktails and seamed stockings, but I also wanted it to feel futuristic so there's a lot of amazing technology and the cuisine is definitely worldly. 

In what ways is your main character Adelice like you? In what ways is she different?

I might have a penchant for saying snarky/sarcastic things at wildly bad times. She gets that from me.  But really Ad is her own person. She's not nearly as boy crazy as I was at 16, and I think she handles things that I couldn't have. Thankfully I was never in a dystopian novel in high school! 

Like many dystopians,  Crewel seems to be tackling a lot of big issues: the role of government in people's lives, the rights of women and the acceptance of homosexuality. Did you ever have any difficulty or obstacles including these in your story?
I think I explore a lot of what-if's and scenarios in Crewel, and while some of the themes are very clear in terms of who to be aligned with, a lot of the novel is about Adelice trying to figure out what she thinks and feels about her world. As teens we start to encounter the world and it's often in conflict with things we were raised to believe by parents or society, it's one of the most transformative aspects of those years. Sometimes I think there are mixed signals about these things in the book, because most of us feel conflict regarding big issues. If we didn't, wouldn't that be boring?

Are you doing anything special to celebrate your release day?

My husband plans to drive around to every book store in a 50 mile radius and buy a copy the day of. He will not listen to reason that I will be receiving a whole box of books free! So it will very much be like when you go out to eat on your birthday and your family embarrases you by having them sing.  Although then you get cake. Hmmm, I'll just make him take me for dessert after. And there will be a big launch party, but I'm still working that out.

And of course, the token Lucky 13s questions: What is your favorite superstition?

I was really into theater in high school, so I have a lot! But I have a lucky number that I use for everything, and I always knock on wood. Always. Even if I have to settle for fake wood.

Gennifer Albin holds a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Missouri. During her student years she served as an editor for Pleaides and The Missouri Review, and since then she’s founded the tremendously popular blog theconnectedmom.com.  She lives in Kansas with her ridiculously supportive husband, two small children, and a Tuesday cat. You can find her on her website, Twitter and Goodreads.

This interview was conducted by Lucky13s member Ryan Graudin, whose YA paranormal novel ALL THAT GLOWS will be released 2013 from HarperTeen. The interview is part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Apocalypsies -- YA, MG, and children's book authors debuting in 2012.


  1. Awesome interview. Loved hearing more where Genn got her world building ideas and how Adelice is like her. So excited for Genn. And what a sweetie her husband is.

  2. Genn is from my own hometown in the Kansas City metro area, so I got to attend her book launch, which was hosted by our own Rainy Day Books. Lots of fun and a great crowd! Congrats to Genn, and thanks for posting an interesting interview!

  3. Thanks so much to Genn for the great interview! Crewel is such a great read! Go buy a copy now!!

  4. Thanks so much for the interview, Gennifer!! This sounds like something I would love!!

  5. Wow, this sounds extraordinary. Thank you and I can't wait to read this!