Book Nerd Interview
Lissa Price’s debut YA novel STARTERS, a futuristic thriller, was called “a smart, swift, inventive, altogether gripping story,” by Dean Koontz. The LA Times said it is “Dystopian sci-fi at its best,” and “Readers who have been waiting for a worthy successor to… ‘The Hunger Games’ will find it here.” She has lived in Japan and India, but now resides in the Southern California foothills with her husband and the occasional deer.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I have a visual memory, like a movie, where my mother first took me to the library. We’re standing by the shelves and she’s pointing to all the colorful books. I was overwhelmed and thrilled to think that I could borrow any one of these books.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
This is the way we work out our own fears and questions, but in a safe way. Reading is so healthy that way. I also think of times when I’ve been in the waiting room of a hospital, having to get through long hours, and how a good book helped me through that time. I hope that STARTERS can do that for someone.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Don’t read your reviews, other than the professional ones sent to you by your editor. I do skim the great ones by bloggers and really appreciate them.
In your new book, Starters can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
It’s a dystopian novel about a sixteen-year-old named Callie who discovers the Body Bank where teens (called Starters) rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. But when her neurochip malfunctions, she wakes up in the mansion of her rich renter and finds she is going out with a senator’s grandson. It’s a fairy-tale new life, until she discovers her renter’s deadly plan.
It’s a page-turner, but don’t take my word for it. Dean Koontz says:
“STARTERS is a smart, swift, inventive, altogether gripping story. Callie Woodlawn, the narrator, deserves a series..!”
Kami Garcia of the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES Trilogy says: “Fans of The Hunger Games will love it.”
Can you tell us when you started Starters, how that came about?
I had gone to get a flu shot and they were in short supply. The government set up a triage system so that only the very young, the very old and the infirm could get the shot first. I didn’t get one and thought what if this was a killer flu? Then all we’d have left would be the very young, the very old and the infirm. The weakest members of our society. And that set the landscape.
What part of Callie did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved discovering her strength in the face of crazy adversity.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I just finished writing the second e-short set in the world of STARTERS. The first one was from Michael’s point of view. These are available for any e-reader. I’m working on the second draft of ENDERS, the second in the two-part series. And then I’ll start writing up the next new series. It will be YA and the same genre as STARTERS.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
“How are you?” I always answer “Good” or “Great” but truly inside I am thinking of how incredibly busy I am, how will I meet the next deadline and do my promo and publicity to spread awareness of STARTERS. I might be thinking of what I’m going to say at the appearance about to begin, but I’ll always answer “Great!”
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
That is such a deep quest for any writer and the answer is not simple. You have to be true to yourself while you’re learning to craft a story. The first hurdle for writers is how do I communicate this vision in my head to a stranger? I won’t be there to make gestures, I can’t make inflections, they have to rely only on my words on a page. So that is what we all concentrate on when we’re first writing – communicating the vision. And we often think of voice as a separate thing. But the magic happens when you’ve put in enough hours that you are able to craft your story so the reader can understand it, and then you also have loosened up enough to let your natural voice through. It’s not something you can gain by attacking it straight on. Time and practice are your friends.
Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
That’s a tough one, I’ve been so many wonderful places. I am most fond of Africa, so out in the bush, on a vehicle, following and photographing lions.
Who was your first boyfriend?
Some little 4 year old according to my mother.
What is your favorite room in your home and outside environment?
My home office is where I spend all my time and it has a view of the sunset, so that helps.
Where can readers stalk you?
At www.LissaPrice.com . That’s the first stop and I usually have a contest going on there. Then on fb I am LissaPriceAuthor, very up to the minute news. On Twitter I’m Lissa_Price, come and follow me as I’ll tweet about current promos and contests. The official STARTERS fb page is startersbooks and the official main site is www.startersbooks.com. Come and see the trailer that played in front of The Hunger Games movie in some cities across the world.
Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, are on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s son.
It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .
Lisa Price’s fascinating story in Starters takes us to a world where an epidemic spore virus has killed the entire middle age population. The children (called Starters) without “Ender” guardianship (usually the children’s grandparents) are forced into horrible institutions. Callie Woodland and her seven year brother are Starters who are struggling to survive in this world. They are unclaimed so they have to hide from marshals who seek these children to be placed into the institutions. When they meet unclaimed teen, Michael, the two older teens take turns taking care of young Tyler and scavenging for food. When Callie discovers about Perfect Destination, she is intrigued about what they offer. She gets herself caught up in the company’s scandal, mystery and discovers the disturbing truth which leads her to trouble.
The plot presented in this book is exciting and quite unique. Lisa’s writing is very experienced and readers will recognize this because of the unwillingness to put the book down. The world portrayed in this interesting dystopian book is simply brilliant. Lisa’s character development of Callie is amazing. She is a very cautious and courageous survivor. She is imaginatively witty which made the character believable and truly likeable. One element that readers will find to be on point with the feel of the book is dialogue. The way it is executed and delivered in appropriate times gave affecting voices for Callie and all of the supporting characters.
This is a must read for young adults, dystopian fans, and even sci-fi followers with the whole mind control and body swapping idea. It is perfectly suited for a great mystery, suspense, and fantasy book. The plot is eerie and twisting which examines an in-depth look at human behavior. It begs to question about the choices we make and the costs we may overlooked to consider. Even when the story’s next move is laid flat in front of the reader, it always veered off to something totally unexpected. If you like well written plots, strongly developed characters, and a unique and captivating premise, Starters is highly recommended.
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