As you can see from my review below, I love ASHES, ASHES by Jo Treggiari! It’s on my list for best books in 2011!
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Post apocalyptic teen adventuress survives on her own in a devastated NYC until the ominous Sweepers begin to hunt her, and she must act or die.
Technically Ashes, Ashes is a post-apocalyptic novel rather than a dystopian. It is set in the near future following a global pandemic, catastrophic climactic changes and natural disasters that have left 99% of the population dead. There is little or no social order left. Everything that was, has ceased to exist. I was intrigued by the notion of small pockets of survivors being forced into becoming hunters and foragers again, and building primitive communal camps. And I wondered if there would be a division between those who saw it as a chance to start over and make something better, and those who could not let the past go. Not to oversimplify it, but I think some people might find security in the old order and hierarchy and technology, and some might strive for a way to build a new equal society. 100 or 1000 years afterwards the descendants of my characters could well find themselves living in a dystopia rather than the utopia they imagine.
Basic survival at first- food, shelter, safety. But once Lucy joins the scavenger camp and the danger posed by the Sweepers becomes clear, they need to figure out a plan of action. Lucy is actually a big motivator, partly because she is specifically a target, but also because it is not in her character to wait for her enemies to come to her. And Aidan, who always wants to do what is best for everyone in the camp, is finally able to act after a particularly vicious attack affects him personally.
Huge!- so much of ourselves is formed in childhood. There are all the memories and experiences I have, the books I read, the stories I told myself. In particular though, I’d say the books I read. The first time you read something like The Hobbit, or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, or A Wrinkle in Time. I’ve re-read those books over and over, as a teen, a young adult, an adult, and though I love them well, there’s just something about being a child reading about children (or hobbits) at a time in your life when nothing is set in stone, everything is possible, all the emotions and wonder that a book reveals to a reader are happening for the first time. I try to recapture those feelings in my writing now and it is the main reason I love to write YA- the emotions and experiences are fresh, immediate, heartfelt, and true.
I actually write quite quickly. Once I’ve outlined a book and done some pretty in-depth character sketches, I can usually be done with a good 1st draft within 4-6 months. I establish a daily word count goal to keep me on track, and I have 3 trusted beta readers who read everything before I send it out. I was un-agented when I finished the book so I went through the whole query letter routine, which I must say is not my favorite part of being a writer. Luckily though, there was a great reaction to the letter. I got some form rejections but the majority were requests for the full manuscript. The agent I ended up signing with got back to me within 24 hours and then read the manuscript in less than 2 days. It happened incredibly fast. And then it was only out a month or so before Scholastic came back with an offer. My first book deal did not happen quickly at all, so I realize that this was unusual. It’s funny because the summer I was writing the book, I kept finding 4-leafed clovers everywhere. I pressed them in a photo album. I must have found 15 or 20 of them.
I was beyond thrilled. I mean, Scholastic publishes Harry Potter, The Hunger Games. I grew up reading Scholastic books. And I love love love the cover! I think it looks really unique. Sometimes YA cover images sort of blend together especially when you see them all lined up on the shelves at a store. I think the Ashes, Ashes cover looks exciting and tough, and something adults and boys wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen reading.
I finally have an office, after so many years of balancing my computer on my lap, or holding a baby, or tapping away in bed. The room is open on one wall with a gorgeous view of the picturesque town I live in (Lunenburg, Nova Scotia) and the sea beyond, and a wall of shelves just for my kid lit book collection. I write all the time but when I’m between books I go a little easier on myself. At the moment I am full of ideas- I’ve completed 2 other stand-alone YAs, and an outline and 1st three chapters of another one. I’d like to publish a book every year or year and a half but I know that that is dependent on so many things. My dream is to have a long career. When I’m seriously working on a book I have a daily word count of 1000 words which I usually exceed, and I write every day 7 days a week for about 5 hours a day while the kids are in school. I have to be disciplined about it otherwise I find excuses to goof around.
When I first started writing as a child there were no home computers. I used my mom’s old computer, a smith-corona, to type out my versions of fairytales for my younger sister. Then I’d roll them up with a red ribbon and give them to her.
I like to think they would be resistance fighters. Maybe something like those guys in the movie Inglorious Basterds but slightly less vicious and much sneakier. I bet Aidan knows how to build a trap pit and Lucy is great with snares.
Risk, all the way. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a post-apocalypse version with all the altered world geography?
I should probably say Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy- and there are some elements of both characters in Aidan and Lucy-, but really I see them as a teen Peter Pan and Wendy in Peter Pan. Wendy knew her own mind, right?!
Thanks, Jo! Wouldn’t a post-apocalyptic game of Risk be fun? Count me in!
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