Today we’re delighted to be featuring an exclusive Q&A with author Sara Grant, who’s chatting with us about her new book Dark Parties, in stores August 3rd.
You can learn more about the book later in this post, plus check out your chance to win a signed copy of the book! But first, here’s our Q&A:
There’s so many dystopian books out there right now, and I like lots of them for different reasons. But, one of the things I loved almost immediately about this book was how much influence I saw, at least, from 1984, which was always one of my favorite books in high school. And so, I was wondering like what, if any, influence that book had on your writing and if there was any other like major influences on the book.
Sara Grant (SG): In the initial writing, I had just immigrated to the UK from the US.
And so, when I moved over, I was really in tune to immigration and thinking about national identity: what does it mean to be American, what does it mean to be a Brit. Dark Parties really came from me thinking through some of those issues and saying, what if a country closed its border to people and ideas, because there’s lots of issues of how many do you let in and who do you let in. As we look at a global society, what are the positives and what are the negatives?
It kind of asks the question of what if somebody did close the border. So, that’s really where the idea came from.
And then, after I had a draft, I did go back and read 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, any dystopian book I could get my hands on.
I think reading the masters at work is always good. I had one creative writing coach who said that all the professors and teachers you’re ever going to need in writing are on the bookshelves, and I believe that.
So if I ever run into trouble, I will go and look and see how George Orwell or Margaret Atwood did it and then think through that and see what the lessons are for my writing. And there are a lot of lessons.
NN: I loved kind of seeing those influences in the book and then seeing how you would–you took them and made them your own. Like, I just–that was my favorite part of it was just kind of I could see all that influence coming through, but then it–but, it didn’t–it still felt new and original. So, I liked seeing your take on kind of that classic dystopian theme. So, I really enjoyed that.
SG: Oh, great.
NN: So, one of the little details I really enjoyed in the book was in talking about all of the things that we kind of take for granted today as being rarities, just anything from new underwear that isn’t recycled and thread bare to cell phones, which I forget what they called them, but–so, my question for you is, if you lived in Neva’s world, what kind of rare item from today would you covet most or treasure most?
SG: Oh, my goodness. It is interesting how much technology is just integrated into my life.
My husband bought me an iPhone. And I don’t talk on the phone a whole lot, but I realize that the iPhone is nothing to do for me with the phone. It has to do with my to-do list and my apps and checking email and checking Facebook and having Twitter and being able to be so efficient.
I think there’s a lot of technology that I would miss and that I absolutely take for granted. I remember my first computer. You plugged it in and you turned the modem on, and then you went and had dinner, saved the world, and then you went back and it came on. And now, if my computer takes more than a minute to warm up, I think how can I live this way.
It’s also interesting having moved to a different country where I didn’t take a whole lot with me. You realize how little you need physically, Family and friends, which are also what Neva finds to be important, are what I would need to have versus everything I would miss. I would miss technology because it’s so integrated into everything that I do that I think would be very hard to go back.
NN: Yeah, we definitely–we’re used to our gadgets and what have you.
SG: My husband bought me a Kindle, and I wasn’t ready for it. I thought, “Thanks, that’s great, but I want my paper book. I don’t want this thing yet.”
And now that I’ve used it, especially while traveling, because I used to take probably six books on vacation,the economy of having that all in a little slim Kindle is really amazing.
I still buy paper books more than I buy for my Kindle, but I can see that even having experienced that kind of technology, the ease and the beauty of it and the simplicity of it and the efficiency of it, how soon I will probably get used to being able to read the book I want in three seconds. That’s a dangerous and beautiful thing.
NN: Yes. I wanted to ask our traditional Novel Novice flash questions, which are like rapid fire questions. So, first question – favorite cartoon?
SG: Scooby Doo.
NN: Chocolate or vanilla?
NN: Personal theme song?
SG: Can I have two?
SG: One is an obscure Joan Baez song called Aging Well, and the other is by Super Chick, and it’s called It’s On.
NN: I love it. Those are great.
You’re on a deserted island, and you only have one book to read for the rest of your life. What is it?
SG: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
NN: And your secret talent?
SG: I can say my alphabet as quickly backwards as forward. Never ever comes in handy.
NN: Do it now, show us now.
SG: Z, Y, X, W, V, U, T, S, R, Q, P, O, N, M, L, K, J, I, H, G, F, E, D, C, B, A. We took summer vacation as a kid. We had a station wagon. If you’ve ever watched Chevy Chase’s Vacation, that was my family. And I had a cousin who taught me that skill. So, thanks to Steve Murray, my cousin.
NN: Well, see, it does come in handy when you get asked random questions like what is your hidden talent. So, super.
Now, here’s how you can win your very own signed copy …
Just fill out the Novel Novice + Dark Parties Contest Entry Form to be automatically entered in a drawing to win.
One (1) winner will be chosen to receive a copy of Dark Parties signed by Sara Grant
- One entry per person
- Use the entry form
- U.S. only
All entries are due by Wednesday, August 3rd at midnight (PT)
Questions? Leave ‘em in the comments & we’ll reply.
More about Dark Parties:
In a world shrouded in fear and lies, how can you shed light on the truth?
Sixteen-year-old Neva lives in Homeland, an isolated country separated from the rest of the world by the Protectosphere. The government insists there’s nothing beyond its borders, but as Homeland’s resources dwindle, people, girls mainly, have started to go missing. If there’s no way out of the Protectosphere, where are they going? Suspecting the government is lying about everything, Neva and her friends stage a Dark Party in the hope of uncovering the truth and finding the freedom they dream about.