I was so excited to be able to interview Ms. Pam Bachorz, author of the mind-bending Candor. It's fantastic and a very impressive debut novel.
I’ve read that Candor was inspired by your stay in Disney’s Celebration, Florida. Tell us what that was like.
The best thing about Celebration is the people: they are friendly and genuinely interested in making friends and building a community. It's very pretty there, too, although personally the visual perfection made me a little edgy; I wanted mildew, peeling paint, graffiti! I miss a lot about Celebration (the people, the nature trails, the ice cream shop) but I do not miss the heat, the no-see-ums, or getting a letter chiding us for failing to properly "edge" our lawn!
Most novels I’ve read about dystopias are set in the future. Why did you choose to place Candor in the present?
I love the idea that CANDOR could be happening right now, right here. I believe that there are people out there who would pay to live in a place like CANDOR, and would not hesitate to control their children's minds if they thought it would make them more successful in the long run.
What sort of research did you have to do for this novel?
Mostly I researched brainwashing--I wanted to have a brainwashing method that was possible, if not probable, and also legal (or at least... not illegal). I also was influenced by a wonderful NPR piece about Howard Dully, a man whose family forced him to have a lobotomy when he was 12 (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5014080). It definitely informed the relationships I depicted between Candor's parents and teens.
What is your opinion on mind control? Would you ever consider it an option for dealing with “difficult” people?
Mind control is the ultimate horror, to me. I won't even go to those silly hypnosis shows because they totally freak me out. So no, I would never condone it. That being said, I can understand how some people might be tempted to use it.
What were you trying to accomplish by writing Candor? Do you feel you’ve succeeded?
I wanted to write a fun novel with a well-paced plot and interesting characters, and to offer something different from what's already out there. I think CANDOR succeeds at that.
What was the most difficult scene for you to write in this story?
There's a scene in Oscar's hideout with two other characters that really propels some important plot points. I must have rewritten that thing 20 times, with three different settings (from a garden shed to a pentaque game to someone's car and then back to the garden shed) and certain characters being added, then cut, then added, then cut...
What was the most interesting or surprising thing you learned while writing Candor?
I learned a lot about plot while I wrote CANDOR, and discovered a lot of screenwriting resources that are also very helpful to writers.
What is the most rewarding part of being a young adult author?
Just imagining my book in the hands of teens. It blows my mind. Real! Live! Teens! reading my book, and hopefully being entertained by it.
If there was one thing you could change about Candor, what would it be?
I am really happy with CANDOR. I guess what I miss most is this feisty older woman named Crank, but I was right to get rid of her. I have another feisty older woman in my current work-in-progress. We'll see if she survives the cut this time... I think I might write these ladies into my stories to hold my hand and keep me company!
I know you’re a debut author, but I so immensely enjoyed reading Candor that I’ll probably pick up your next novel in a heartbeat. What are you working on next?
Well thanks, I sure hope you do! I have another YA coming out with EgmontUSA, hopefully next fall, perhaps Spring 2011. It's another dark story that involves a hidden community with extraordinary hold over its citizens... but the people, the set-up and the flavor are very different from CANDOR. Oscar never had to wear a dress from 1809!