I am thrilled to be part of the Viral Nation blog tour! I adored this book (you can read my review here) and I hope everyone reads it:) Big thanks to Rockstar Tours for inviting me to participate! Keep reading, because at the end of this post is a giveaway for FIVE finished copies of Viral Nation (US & Canada).
Description from Goodreads:
After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.
Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.
When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Release Date: July 2, 2013
First in a series. You can read a two-chapter excerpt on Goodreads here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15985355-viral-nation
About the Author:
Shaunta Grimes has worked as a substitute teacher, a newspaper reporter, a drug court counselor, and a vintage clothing seller. No matter which direction she strays, however, she always comes back to storytelling. She lives in Reno with her family, where she writes, teaches, and perpetually studies at the University of Nevada. Viral Nation is her debut traditionally-published novel.
Books, Bones & Buffy: First of all, welcome to Books, Bones & Buffy, Shaunta! I’m thrilled to be part of your blog tour:) Your main character Clover is autistic. What made you decide to create an autistic protagonist?
Shaunta Grimes: Thank you so much for having me! As soon as I really started thinking about Clover, I knew she would have autism. I have a son who has autism, and I wanted to write a book with autism in it that wasn’t an autism issue book. I also really wanted to explore the relationship between siblings when one has special needs.
BB&B: I love that you incorporate time travel into a dystopian plot line. Where did this idea come from?
SG: Believe it or not, it came in my sleep. I woke up from a really intense dream that disappeared almost immediately, except the words “Time Mariner.” They seemed really important to my still-mostly-asleep self, so I wrote them down. I have no idea what that dream was about, but the term “Time Mariner” stuck with me. When I started researching Lake Tahoe, learning about it being a prehistoric body of water, the two just came together.
BB&B: I adore stories with a dog as a character. I think this stems from being a Dean Koontz fan for so many years! (Koontz is the ultimate dog lover, for those of you who haven’t read his books. Just about every one of his stories has a golden retriever in it.) Are you a dog lover, or was there another reason you chose to include Mango in your book?
SG: I love Mango so much! I am actually a cat person, and seriously considered giving Clover a service cat, but then my daughter suggested a bulldog and it just fit so perfectly. Autism service dogs are a real thing. I did a lot of research through Autism Service Dogs of America, which is an awesome organization. I struggled when I first started writing Clover with making her someone an audience could relate to. Mango helps her open up, which is exactly what an autism service dog is trained to do. He keeps her balanced. And he is her friend, completely unconditionally, which is something everyone needs—but Clover especially. Mango has no agenda. He just loves his girl.
BB&B: Who are your favorite authors, and how do you think they’ve influenced your writing?
SG: I have so many favorites! Octavia Butler, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Laurie Halse Anderson, David Brin, K.L. Going, and Nancy Farmer are particular favorites. I like stories with a speculative edge that are grounded in real life. I’m very influenced by great storytelling. I want a book that draws me in and keeps me there, with people I want to know (or that I’d be terrified to meet) so that when I read the final page I’m a little bit in mourning over having to say goodbye. Those are the kinds of books I want to write, too.
BB&B: What has your debut author experience been like? How long did it take to write Viral Nation and find an agent/get a publishing contract?
SG: It’s been such a wild ride. I’m actually a fast writer. I finished the first draft of Viral Nation in about six weeks. It sometimes takes me a bit to get started—I tend to have some false starts. But once I’m about 20,000 words in, the story takes over and I can’t stop writing. I wrote the last 2/3 of Viral Nation in three weeks, in a serious frenzy. I sent it out to a few agents, most of whom requested pages, and all of whom rejected the book. Then my youngest daughter got pneumonia and I was at the hospital with her for three weeks. I ended up putting the book aside for almost a year. I had actually decided to self-publish it, but when I read it through again, after so much time away, I could see where the problems where. And that I’d written something that I was really proud of. I did a massive edit and went out to agents again. I sent out that second round of query letters in November 2011 and signed with Kim Lionetti at BookEnds in January. She sold Viral Nation in May to Michelle Vega at Berkley Trade. So, once I picked the book up again, it took me about eight months to edit, find an agent, and for my agent to sell the book. Publishing is definitely the wrong business for people in a hurry!
BB&B: What is a day in the life of Shaunta Grimes like? What kind of writing schedule do you keep, and how to you balance writing with family life?
SG: I have three kids and I’m a full-time student. (I’m nearly done though, and I’m slowing down this fall because I have a deadline to meet for the sequel to Viral Nation!) I try to treat writing like a job. I write just about every day. During the summer and school breaks I write like a full-time job. During the school year, I write like a part-time job. I am a morning person and my best creative energy happens before noon. After three in the afternoon, I’m half brain-dead. I can edit in the evening, but I am almost never happy with new writing that happens that late in the day. I’m a total pantser. I start with “In the beginning” and write through to “the end” in a very linear fashion. I make notes to myself for edits later if something comes up that will change what I’ve already written. I never, ever edit while I’m writing. I usually have ideas for things I want to happen in a book from the beginning, but I’ve never been able to outline before I get started. When I reach about the half-way point, I usually outline the rest of the book (loosely, things always change), because the story line starts to get too complicated to hold all in my head.
BB&B: Tell us three things about Shaunta that can’t be found on your website.
SG: Hmmm . . .
1. I hate mayonnaise. I don’t even like to look at it.
2. I have claustrophobic feet and legs. So, elevators don’t bother me, as long as I’m not wearing tight shoes. And I can’t sleep in a sleeping bag.
3. My very favorite singer is Meat Loaf.
BB&B: So, what’s next? Are you working on a new book?
I am! I’m working on the sequel to Viral Nation. I’m really excited about it. I’ve never written a sequel before, so it’s very different working in a world that already has rules.
Thanks so much, Shaunta! I adored Viral Nation and everyone needs to read it! And luckily you can enter to win one of FIVE copies, simply click the Rafflecopter button below!
Follow the rest of the Viral Nation Blog Tour here:
6/15/2013 All Things Urban Fantasy– Guest Post
6/16/2013 Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, and Romance– Guest Post
6/17/2013 Moosubi Reviews!– Guest Post
6/18/2013 Mom With A Kindle– Interview
6/19/2013 Books, Bones & Buffy– Interview
6/20/2013 The Demon Librarian– Guest Post
6/21/2013 YaReads– Interview
6/22/2013 Fantasy Book Addict– Interview
6/23/2013 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia– Guest Post
6/24/2013 The Reading Diaries– Guest Post
6/25/2013 Curling Up With A Good Book– Guest Post
6/26/2013 Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf– Guest Post
6/27/2013 Jessabella Reads– Guest Post
6/28/2013 Chocolate Coated Reviews– Guest Post
6/29/2013 Reading with ABC– Interview
6/30/2013 BookHounds YA– Interview