Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blog Tour: Author Interview with Malinda Lo-ADAPTATION

Malinda Lo author of ASH and HUNTRESS, has a new book, ADAPTATION, that came out yesterday, and today she's stopping by on her blog tour to answer a few questions.
Reese and David don’t remember what happened to them after a bird flew into their headlights on the Extraterrestrial Highway--not the resulting car accident and certainly not a bit of the 21 days of care at the military hospital in Nevada. It’s a good thing, the doctors and colonels tell them, that they crashed on a military base, but they won’t tell Reese and David what the extent of their injuries were, or how they were healed. They do tell them they’re not going home, though, until they sign a confidentiality agreement.

When they get home, Reese can’t help but find everything a little weird. Worldwide bird strikes resulting in plane crashes have grounded air travel, David won’t talk to her, and she could swear she’s seen her military doctors around the neighborhood. It’s only when she meets Amber Grey that things in her life begin to really fall apart, and the mysteries of the bird strikes, the military, and her own treatment come together. Reese realizes that she must find out what they did to her in that hospital, but her search for the truth threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

What if we aren’t alone in the universe? What if the alien is inside us?
1. How would you describe Adaptation in five words or less? 

Option 1: You'll love it, I swear!   

Option 2: A mysterious, sexy, scifi thriller. :)

2. What sparked your initial idea to write this book? 

A dream! I dreamed that some people were in an airport when planes started crashing from the sky due to birds flying into them. It was a very intense dream, and when I woke up I ran to my office and wrote it down. I thought immediately that it would make a fantastic beginning to a story. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and that's how I knew I had to write the book that became Adaptation.

3. Adaptation is a bit of a departure from Ash and Huntress. What caused you to go in a different direction?  

The dream! If I hadn't had that dream, I probably would have written something else entirely. In fact, I did have other book ideas that I put aside because of the dream. But I also  wanted to try something different. I was an X-Files fan back in the '90s, and the idea for Adaptation gave me an opportunity to revisit those interests. I'm glad I decided to do it, because writing Adaptation and its sequel have been just about the most fun I've ever had while writing.

4. Did you direct your characters or did they direct you in writing this story?

I've heard plenty of writers say their characters drive the story, and I can see the allure in that. It also sounds so romantic, doesn't it? But let's face it: the story is fiction. Those characters are fiction. Fictitious characters can seem real, but they're not. For me, part of the awesome fun of being a writer is that fictitious people must do what I tell them to do.

The difficult part is, at the beginning of a new novel, I don't usually know the characters very well. When I began Adaptation, the main character, Reese, was completely fuzzy to me. I had a vague idea of who she was, but it wasn't until I made her do a bunch of things that I understood who she was. Then during revision, I had to make sure her personality came through.

That's not always the way it works, though. Usually, one or two characters per novel seem to come to me fully formed from the beginning. With those characters, their scenes can feel like they're writing themselves. However, their personalities can initially overpower the other characters, simply because they're clearer to me. During revision, I have to make sure all the characters are doing the things I need them to do at the right time.

So, I absolutely direct the characters. I have to make sure to not direct them to do things that would be "out of character," but I do direct them.


5. You've said you were inspired by The X-Files when writing Adaptation. What's the most interesting alien story you've ever heard?

In 1997 there were multiple sightings of a UFO over the city of Phoenix, Arizona (where Adaptation starts!). Thousands of people saw clusters of lights in a V shape, and many of them reported their sightings to the authorities. There is even video footage of the lights in the sky.

But that's not the part of the Phoenix Lights story that I find most entertaining. The best part (to me!) was that the governor of Arizona at the time, Fife Symington, held a press conference in which he declared he knew who was responsible for the UFO sightings. Then, his chief of staff came out dressed in an alien costume, essentially turning the whole press conference into a joke.

UFO enthusiasts were not amused by the governor's antics, and ten years later, in 2007, Symington shocked everyone by basically retracting his comments and saying that he had actually seen the Phoenix Lights. He also admitted that he lied back in 1997 because he didn't want anyone to freak out about the lights. So who knows what really happened? The jury's still out. (You can see a CNN report about Symington's retraction, including footage of his spoof press conference, here:

Thank you so much for stopping by, Malinda, and many thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for arranging your visit!  You can also visit Malinda on her website.

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