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Author Talk

AUTHOR TALK: Michael Grant

Yesterday morning I attended a talk with author Michael Grant as part of the Auckland Writer’s Festival.

Michael Grant signing books following Auckland Writers Festival talk
Michael Grant signing books following Auckland Writers Festival talk

Michael Grant is the author of popular young adults series, including the dystopian Gone, the multi-platform BZRK, and his new World War II trilogy Front Lines.

The one hour talk was led by award winning New Zealand young adult author Jane Higgins (The BridgeHavoc).

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From the beginning before Jane had even introduced him, Michael showed his sense of humour, which would be present throughout, joking about there being vodka in the water jug.

The first part of the talk focused on his new novel Front Lines (released January 2016). He played the book trailer and then they discussed his research process. As a fiction writer he has a creative license, for example to create his own ‘supreme court decisions’, such as the ruling that women could enlist in the armed forces during WWII. He noted though that he wanted to get the technical stuff right.

Michael has already written the second novel in the Front Lines trilogy and has delivered it to his publisher.

On writing…

Michael talked about the processing of writing a book series. Before he starts he writes his version of a ‘series bible’. He uses this document to sell his concept / idea to a publisher and this bible is what will help him shape the series.

When creating characters sometimes he will often use Google to ‘cast’ his characters. He searches for headshots of young teenagers. A picture will jump out at him, he won’t know this young woman or man but this will be the basis of the character he writes.

He normally writes about two books a year but has written three books in a year before. When he was writing smaller books he could write fourteen books in a year.

Michael rubbished the notion of writer’s block. He joked that he did not get waiter’s block when he was waiting tables or cleaner’s block when cleaning houses. His advice for aspiring writers struggling to write is to just sit down and write – he said that you might throw out forty pages but somewhere in there, there will be something.

On Young Adult Fiction…

When asked about his thoughts on the young adult divide Michael said quite simply that young adult fiction featured young adults.

During the audience Q&A portion he was asked to recommend a young adult book. He said we may be surprised but he does not read young adult fiction as he does not want take someone else’s ideas. He did recommend his wife’s book though because of ‘co-checking accounts’ lol.

Killing off his darlings…

Michael is not adverse to killing off characters when it serves the purpose of the story. He joked that he thought of his characters as his ’employees’ – it is a ‘family business’, but if they aren’t performing he will kill them off.

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When talking about the Gone series he said that he was inspired by the television series Lost, which is essentially Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe, 1719), which in an essence is the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

He addressed the point that the characters in the Gone series are under 15 as oppose to being older teens. He said that young people are intelligent and capable of doing the same things as adults. He also joked that an 11 eleven year old kid walking down the street holding a bottle of booze is very scary but an 18 year old walking down the street is just another night in LA.

Good news for fans: He is planning another book set in the Gone universe. It is not a sequel in the traditional sense but may feature some characters from the Gone series.

Click here to read my review on Gone, the first novel in the Gone series. Book club pick for May.

Michael will next be appearing at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in Australia. If you go let me know what you thought? If you attended the Auckland Writers Festival what did you think? Have you met one of your favourite authors before? Let me know in the comments.

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Links:

Michael Grant Official Website

Michael Grant on Facebook

Michael Grant on Twitter

Categories
Book Club Pick

Gone by Michael Grant

Book Club Pick: May 2016

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Book Details:

Title: Gone

Author: Michael Grant

Series: Gone series (Book #1)

Country: United States

Publisher: HarperCollins

First Published: 2009

Pages: 560

Publisher’s Description:

299 Hours 54 Minutes

Suddenly it’s a world without adults and normal has crashed and burned. When life has crashed and burned. When life as you know it ends at 15, everything changes.

A small town in southern California: In the blink of an eye everyone over the age of 15 disappears. Cut off from the outside world, those who are left are trapped, and there’s no help on the way. Chaos rules the streets.

Now a new world order is rising and, even scarier, some survivors have power – mutant power that no one has seen before . . .

Escapism just doesn’t get better than this.

Review:

‘One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next he was gone’ is the opening line to Michael Grant’s first novel in the Gone series.

14-year-old surfer Sam Temple is day dreaming in his third period history class when his teacher Mr. Trentlake disappears.

The basic premise is that in Perido Beach, a small Southern California surf town, everyone over the age of fifteen has mysteriously disappeared. There is an added twist in that some of the young people left behind have begun to develop strange powers.

Sam is the protagonist and the central focus for the story. He does not belong to any particular social group and only really has one true friend, Quinn Gaither. Although not overly popular Sam is known at school as ‘School Bus Sam’. A nickname he earned in the seventh grade when a bus driver had a heart attack and he steered the bus onto the shoulder of the road saving the lives of his fellow classmates. This makes people look to him as a leader. He struggles with the expectations of leadership, which are thrust upon him. He is the reluctant hero.

In a search for answers Sam is joined by Quinn, the school genius and his crush Astrid Ellison, and Edilio Escobar, a student who recently moved to the town from Honduras.

The rival school just out of town is Coates Academy, a private boarding school for rich troubled youth. The students of Coates arrive and elect Caine Soren as their new leader. He uses the bullies of Perido Beach to help police the town along with fellow Coates students Drake Merwin and Diana Ladris.

As you may expect Caine, along with Drake and Diana are the antagonists of the novel. Caine appears to know a bit more about these strange powers that the youth are developing and has a plan of his own. He also has a connection to Sam.

The novel is written in third person and switches perspectives between Sam and an ensemble of teens left to fend for themselves. There is Albert (my favourite) who has taken over the local McDonalds, Mary who runs the childcare centre caring for the babies between popping pills, and Lana who we first meet living alone on a ranch with her dog Patrick.

The novel has modern sci-Fi Lord of the Flies meets X-Men feel to it.

In 2013, it was announced that Sony Pictures Television had acquired the rights to the Gone series. This has yet to come to fruition.

 

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Links:

Michael Grant Official Website

Michael Grant on Facebook

Michael Grant on Twitter

 

Source: I borrowed a copy of this book from my public library.