What has your experience as a debut author been like so far?
It's been fantastic! I've wanted to have a book published since I was in high school, so although it sounds kind of cheesy, this is definitely a dream come true. And it's been a lot of fun getting to meet so many other authors and bloggers and readers (both online and in person)!
What has been the best part of the publishing process for you? the worst?
The best part is seeing the book on display in stores (both indies and B&Ns), and also interfacing with all the readers and bloggers online and at different events. The worst part is probably that promoting the book takes so much time and traveling, it's sometimes hard to do as much writing as I want to do! :) But I guess that's a good problem to have.
There are a lot of other dystopian books out there. What makes The Forsaken stand out from the rest?
The Forsaken is darker and grittier. It also has some twists that aren't in any of the other dystopians (including a huge one near the end). And my heroine, Alenna Shawcross, is a regular girl. She doesn't have crazy super powers or anything. She's just like you or me. The book is about what happens to her when she fails a mandatory government personality test and gets banished to a prison island called "the wheel." She has to learn how to fight back, and how to make friends, and ultimately she has to try to figure out how to escape from the wheel. The Forsaken probably has a higher thriller/mystery element than some of the other dystopians. Also, while there is a romance in The Forsaken, it's not the sole focus of the book. The Forsaken is about friendship and loyalties (and betrayals) as much as romance. It's also very action-oriented. I love The Hunger Games, Battle Royale, and Divergent, so it has some of those elements, but it also combines them with other things I love, like Lord of the Flies, the TV show Lost, and even The Wizard of Oz.
What sort of research did you have to do to write this book?
I mostly researched different prison systems (both in the US and in other countries), and tropical islands (because a lot of the book takes place on the prison island known as "the wheel"). It's amazing how crazy and scary prisons are around the world. It's also scary how many innocent people get imprisoned by corrupt governments each year.
What is the most interesting thing you learned while writing The Forsaken? (This can be about yourself, about writing, or anything at all).
I learned that I could finish writing a book. Although I tried writing a couple of novels before The Forsaken, I never finished them. I got about 100 pages in, and then quit. But this time, something felt different. It was like the book was writing itself, and the characters came to life on the page. It was very exciting.
What is the most rewarding part about being a young adult author?
In addition to meeting tons of cool people, and seeing the book in stores, it's probably getting emails from readers who really love the book and who say that it made them see the world differently. My goal with The Forsaken is to entertain people, and also make them think about their own lives. I read a lot of YA books myself, so it's also a thrill to finally get my own YA novel out there into the world.
If there was one thing you could change about The Forsaken, what would it be?
This is a great question. I don't know if I would change anything at this point. I guess there are probably certain things I would tweak a bit. I did cut a lot of pages at the very beginning (about Alenna's life in the fascistic United Northern Alliance before she gets sent to the island) and I also cut some of the romance scenes between her and Liam. In both cases it was just to keep the pace up, and to keep the book at a reasonable length. But maybe if I ever did a "director's cut" of the book, I would reinstate some of those scenes. Who knows! Maybe one day I'll post those deleted sections online. That might be fun.
What are you working on next?
I just finished Book 2 of The Forsaken trilogy a few weeks ago (titled The Uprising) and now I'm working on Book 3! I've also started work on a thriller about identity theft. I love writing, so I hope I can just keep doing it, and get a book out every year, if not more!
Find out more about Lisa M. Stasse and her novel The Forsaken online!
Official Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtIwks26SZU