Thursday, January 06, 2011

Elevensies Spotted: Julia Karr + XVI

It’s January 6 today (in this part of the world)! That means two things: it’s my Mom’s birthday (Happy birthday Mom!) and XVI is out now! Before heading out to the store…why not read this interview and find out the ‘behind-the-scenes’ info of XVI and Julia Karr?

What or who inspired you to write XVI? Why?

I was working with my critique partners on a Middle Grade ghost story and I decided I wanted to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month - November.) NaNo only requires a main character and a location in order to start writing. I had both of those from an image that I’d had a week or so before NaNo started.

That image, of a punk rock girl on the noisy streets of a big city -- determining to help a homeless man, rather than ignore him, as usual -- was one that wouldn’t let go of my imagination. I had to follow it!

What was the first thing that you conceived about XVI?

That it had to be set in the future. And, the future would be a dystopia.

What lessons will readers pick up from XVI?

I didn’t write XVI in order to teach anything. But, I do think the story that evolved ended up being a cautionary tale about the path that might come out of present day if people don’t search for the truth about things. It is much easier to take the media’s version of events and what they mean, rather than thinking for one’s self -- but one has to question who is controlling the media and what do they gain by presenting news / advertising / governments / people in the light in which they do. I guess I want readers to remember to always look for Truth.

Why write for teens?

Good question. I can’t say I’m absolutely sure of the answer to that. The stories that currently are coming out of me are definitely Young Adult in nature -- perhaps that’s because teen years are so ripe with exploration, idealism and curiosity. I like that!

Why did you choose sixteen as sex-teenth(the year something big happens)?

When I was growing up turning sixteen was a big deal. You could get your driver’s license at sixteen (although I didn’t get mine until I was nineteen. We didn’t have a car -- you didn’t really need one in the city.) In our family, sixteen was when you start dating. It was an age when you were considered more independent and much closer to being an adult. A lot of girls in the 1960’s got married right out of high school, so sixteen was like a time to start seriously dating, perhaps finding a likely husband. I know, I know... CRAZY, right?

What was the focus of your novel?

The focus is on Nina’s discovering answers to all the secrets, lies and mysteries in her life. And, finding out who she is on a much more personal level.

What does dystopia allow you to write that you can’t write in other genres?

Dystopia allows me to take current trends and spin them out to perhaps not-so-obvious conclusions and look at what the world might be like if that certain trajectory is not altered. It’s definitely a way to comment on what is going on now, in the extreme, and give a glimpse into a future where the extreme would have become normal.

What was it like writing XVI?

The actual writing was whirlwind. As you might know, NaNoWriMo is writing a novel (50,000 words) in thirty days. So, there’s not a lot of time to “think” about what you’re writing. It’s more of an organic “feel” of the words coming out and the story unfolding. Of course, after NaNo was done, I put XVI through at least three major revisions. So, it was fun, it was work, and I loved it all.
Which was more fun to work on: beginning, middle or end? Why?

It’s really all fun for me. I like coming up with the initial idea - it’s sort of like falling in love. Meeting new characters is so interesting. That all of the characters who are in the book really are all products of my imagination -- hmmm... kind of scary! lol! Middles are a bit tough, which was what I liked about writing XVI during NaNo, I didn’t have time to angst over the middle! And the ending... well, I knew where I was headed. I could see the last page. And, really, for all the work, it was  amazing fun just getting there.

Any last words?

Thanks for having me, Precious. And, I hope readers like XVI! 

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

*photo borrowed from Julia's site & photo credit to Jeffrey Hammond.

1 comment:

  1. First off, I have to say that XVI sounds incredible. I love dystopian novels and this sounds like it's such a fresh, original idea. I'm really eager to see how Julia pulled it off!

    I love that this was a NaNoWriMo novel! I'm considering participating this year if I have enough time because I really need motivation to start writing. And now reading that Julia managed to write and have published her novel all because she signed up to write for the month of November - well, it's inspired me!

    I'd like to finish off by singing Happy Birthday to Precious' mum, but I don't want to scare readers away. So I'll just say Happy Birthday and hope she has a wonderful day!

    Congrats Julia on XVI's release!