Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia: Author Interview with Elana Johnson (Possession)

Elana's debut novel, POSSESSION, will be published by Simon & Schuster on June 7, 2011.

She wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girls where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.

She is the author of From the Query to the Call, an ebook that every writer needs to read before they query.

She runs a personal blog on publishing and is a founding author of the QueryTracker blog. She blogs regularly at The League of Extraordinary Writers, and is a member of SCBWI.

From author's website.

What is your first thought when you wake up in the morning? 

What time is it? What day? This is usually done in a panic, because I don’t subscribe to alarm clocks. Once I know those things, it’s usually, “I can sleep for a little longer,” Or “Crap. Have to get up and get ready for work.”

What inspired your interest in brainwashing? 

Man, you are really stretching my brain! I thought “What if I couldn’t make my own choices?” and my world evolved from that question. So brainwashing was a natural environment for the novel.

What character from another YA novel would be VI’s best friend if they were to suddenly jump off the page and into the “real world”? 

Dude, Kate Lowry from THE LIAR SOCIETY would totally vibe with Vi. And so would Clare Fern from CLARITY. They have the same kind of don’t-mess-with-me attitude.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice when you were Vi’s age, what would it be? 

Holy crap, I’m the worst at this, but I might tell myself to just breathe. So many times I made things into a big deal that so didn’t need to be. I still do that, but I tend to slow down and think more rationally now. Sometimes. ;)

The cover for Possession is understated and beautiful. Can you explain its significance? 

Thank you! I think a butterfly is something lovely and alive. Something in our world that people smile when they see. To have it encased in ice is haunting and cruel. So it gives you a hint of what you might find in the book. A living thing that could be beautiful and wild, trapped. And that evokes something for the reader before they even open the book. Which is why I love it so much.

I noticed on your blog that you’re an Adam Lambert fan (me too!). If you HAD to cast Adam to play in the film adaptation of Possession, which character would he play? 

Oh my heck! Adam Lambert in the movie of POSSESSION?? I think I just died in excitement. (Hey, it’s okay to dream.) So, Adam in POSSESSION… I think he might be Jag’s older brother, Blaze. We don’t see Blaze much, but he’s super-important to Jag, and defines a lot of things for Jag.

Dystopian seems to be on the rise in contemporary fiction. Why do you think these unsettling futures captivate our imaginations? 

I’ve answered this question before, but I’m not going to go look it up, and I’ll probably answer it differently now. I think we live in an unsettling time. So it’s natural to want to read about something even more unsettling as an escape. And since our world is broken in many ways, dystopian novels show us just how bad it could get. And for some reason, we like that. Does it give us hope for our society? Maybe. Does it make us more aware of our world? Maybe. Does it cause us to stand up for what we believe so we don’t delve into the unsettling futures we’re reading about? Maybe. And all those maybe’s make for compelling stories.

What message do you hope readers take away from Possession? 

I hope readers go away with what they need. I don’t have a set agenda, but I will say that every time I read my own book (yes, I am that lame), I think about something new. I like books that make me think and question, and I do hope that POSSESSION does that for someone. Just one person would be enough.

What book have you re-read the most? How many times have you read it? What is it about this story that keeps bringing you back for more? 

I used to re-read the same books over and over again. Then I realized that there’s so many books out there that I’d never have time to read them all. So I haven’t re-read a book for several years. Before that, Harry Potter. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, but I loved the depth in Harry’s life. It was messy and complicated. I like that.

What one book do you think has been the most influential in the past 100 years? Why? 

Oh, dude, I am way too shallow to answer this question. I haven’t even read a single Jane Eyre novel. *whispers* I haven’t even read 1984.

To me, whatever inspires someone to read another book is the most influential book.

What is a random fact readers probably don’t know about you? 

I attended four universities and colleges before graduating with my Bachelor’s degree. I am nothing if not persistent.

Will there be a sequel to Possession? What other projects do you have in the works? 

There is not a sequel to POSSESSION. If there were to be another book to create a series, it would be a companion. I may or may not have started playing with that idea.

Other projects… let’s see. I have another dystopian novel that is more fantasy than science fiction, and it involves the elements. I need to work on that a little bit. And I’m writing a contemporary novel about a girl who gets stuck in an elevator with her ex. It’s angsty, which I love. I need to draft that thing.

For more about this author, please visit:

Thanks so much to Elana for taking the time to answer my questions and be part of A Cornucopia of Dystopia!

Coming June 7, 2011!
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even thinkabout kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.


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