"New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known."
1. Tell us how you came up with the idea for Enclave.
Recently, in an interview, I was asked why I chose a post-apocalyptic world for my YA debut. The answer is actually two-fold. First, I wasn't sure I had the voice to write a beautiful contemporary in the vein of Jennifer Echols, but I wanted, quite desperately, to write a YA. So I decided if I couldn't do a compelling young protagonist in this world, I'd invent one.
I'm a child of the eighties, and we saw filmstrips about what would happen if the bomb dropped. Sometimes we had nuclear drills in addition to fire and tornado. When I think about twenty small children huddled under their desks in case the Russians let one fly, well, it's rather absurd, isn't it? But that sort of fear shaped my psyche, so that's definitely a contributing factor. The other reason? Well, I'll just quote the interview I did with Karen from For What It's Worth: "I think it's because they're uplifting. No, seriously. You take a world in utter disarray. Things are incredibly bleak. Then a hero arises, someone who has the desire and drive to succeed, no matter what. And this person changes his or her world in some fashion. How can that message not be incredibly valuable to young adults? I think it lends hope that there can always be brightness, no matter how dark it seems."
For me, that's the absolute crux of the matter. People need to believe they can make a difference--that one person standing strong can turn the tide. It's easier to demonstrate that in the Razorland world, but that example of internal fortitude will serve readers (of all ages) well.
2. When did you first start writing?
When I was eight, I wrote a story for a school writing competition called THE MYSTERY OF THE GOLDEN DOUBLOON. This seminal, self-illustrated work was about two best friends who went to Florida on vacation and busted an illegal treasure hunting ring. I won the contest. I went to the state finals and met Shel Silverstein, who read to a bunch of us from WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS. In that moment, sitting on my square of carpet, I thought, they pay him for his words. this is what I want to do. Later that same year, my teacher told me writing wasn't a real job and I should pick something else. As it turns out, I am stubborn beyond the point of common sense, as I never did choose another career.
3. What are your favorite YA dystopian reads?
I don't read in the genre I'm writing, so the only YA that even comes close to that description that I've read is THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO. Loved that one. My favorite dystopian novels are LORD OF THE FLIES, A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ and THE HANDMAID'S TALE.
4. I know that you usually write for adults - what made you decide to write a book with a teen protagonist?
The age of the protagonist fit the world.
5. Who are your biggest writing influences?
I love many authors' work, but consciously, nobody, because I strive to write my own books and not emulate anyone else.