Today, we’re excited to kick-off part 1 of our three-part exclusive interview with The Program author Suzanne Young. Tune in for part 2 on Wednesday, and part 3 on Friday. Thanks, Suzanne, for stopping by!
Honestly, I didn’t intend for a dystopian feel when writing THE PROGRAM. It was a combination of three different projects I’d worked on over the years mixed with some of my own life experiences. The first novel I ever wrote—safely tucked away where no one will have to read it—was about a girl who fell in love with her brother’s best friend after he died. Another book was about a girl suffering from a bad break-up who takes a pill that will erase all of her emotions, and the third book was about a girl who survived a suicide attempt and her difficulty going back to her life afterwards.
My original thought for The Program was the question: Given the chance, would we make the same mistakes if the circumstances had changed? Would we fall in love with the same person? Have the same friends? That was really what I wanted to learn when writing the book.
I often wondered while reading THE PROGRAM if The Program is really helping prevent teen suicide, or if it’s a catalyst that causes more suicides than it prevents. As the author, what’s your take on it?
Writing THE PROGRAM I didn’t want there to be a clear cut answer. Is anything in life so black and white? I wanted the question of whether The Program is truly sinister or just somewhat misguided to always be there, and I wanted to show that the alternative is death. However, the role of The Program is explained a bit more in the second book THE TREATMENT.
Talk a bit about the music that inspired THE PROGRAM. What did you listen to while writing it?
What a dark playlist this was. Originally I titled the book Uncomfortably Numb—so Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb is the first song on the playlist. Other songs I listened to included: Mad World by Gary Jules, ‘Round Here by The Counting Crows, Glorybox by Portishead, and Everybody Hurts by REM.