blog tour! I absolutely loved Jennifer Bosworth’s debut novel and I highly recommend it to everyone (you can read my review here!). Jennifer has been kind enough to answer a few questions below, and you can enter the giveaway at the bottom to win a copy of the book!
Congratulations on your first novel, that’s so exciting! What was your reaction when you first heard that Struck was going to be published?
Relief! And then I think I was in shock for about a year and a half. Actually, I think I still might be in shock. We writers are beat over the head constantly with naysaying, and people telling us we shouldn’t quit our day jobs, and that it’s so hard to get published with all the competition that’s out there. You start to feel like it’s never going to happen. And then when it does you almost can’t believe it. I kept feeling like someone was going to pull the rug out from under me. I still feel that.
I can’t imagine being struck by lightning once, much less as many times as Mia. How did you get the idea to write about a girl who not only gets struck by lightning multiple times, but is addicted to it?
I’d always been interested in lightning, but I was reading somewhere about all the strange things that can happen to people who are struck, and it got me interested. I did some research and discovered that human lightning rods actually exist. I was fascinated! I wanted to know what it was about certain people that attracted lightning, and I started to think, “What if there was someone who wanted to be struck, who actually enjoyed it, even though it was dangerous and detrimental to her health.” The term “lightning addict” popped into my head, and Struck was born.
Struck deals with some pretty controversial material in its exploration of religious cults. What made you decided you wanted to address this in a YA novel?
I’ve always been fascinated by cults. It actually started with these recurring dreams I had as a kid. I think I was around 8 or 9 when they started. Every night I dreamt that my parents snuck off to a cult gathering when they thought I was asleep, but I followed them. The cult in my dreams was lead by a teenage girl. I was so disturbed by these dreams that they started to infect my waking life, too. I kept thinking I saw the cult leader girl from my dreams watching me from mirrors. I realize now that I had probably just seen “Watcher in the Woods” and that’s where the dreams came from. Regardless, they got me started with my cult fascination. And when I began writing a book about the end of the world, it was only natural that I get a couple of cults involved.
The problem I’m running into now with Struck is that people are confusing the religious fanatics in the book with regular religious folks. This might be because I took inspiration from a number of major religions in order to create my cults, but that’s how many cults come to be. They often branch off of a more predominant religion. But I took my Frankenstein monster of a fanatical religion––The Church of Light––and magnified it to the power of ten, so, really, anyone in a conventional religion should not take offense if they see similarities between my cult and their religion. But if you’re in a cult, go ahead and take offense.
Honestly, though, I can’t think of a better time to examine religious fanaticism in young adult literature. There’s still plenty of it going around. What I hope is that young people who read the book will think carefully about the dangers of following anyone blindly, be it a religious figure, a politician, or even a teacher or parent. If there is any subliminal message in Struck, it is this: don’t let fear control you, and don’t let anyone else do your thinking for you.
Regardless, I know Struck is going to make some people angry. Early reviews reflect what’s coming my way. But I’d rather make people angry in order to reach readers who are open to the message in the book.
As a screenwriter, how different was the process of writing a novel rather than a screenplay?
I actually consider myself much more of a novelist than a screenwriter, but I love both mediums. If I had to choose one to do forever, though, it would definitely be novels. The thing that’s great about delving into screenwriting is that you learn to be concise, and to always stick to an outline. I never start a screenplay without outlining first. It’s less a voyage of discovery than writing a novel can be. Novel writing feels more organic to me, and I love being able to tell you what’s in the character’s head. With screenwriting, you rely on action, subtext (the meaning behind the words), and dialogue, but I avoid letting my characters say what they’re really thinking in a screenplay.
But there is SO much novelists can learn from screenwriting. I never even understood what “high concept” was until I started studying screenwriting. Before screenwriting, I’d written two books that were unsellable. After I tried screenwriting and returned to novel writing, I sold a book! Coincidence? I think not.
Would you like to see Struck on the big screen? Do you have dream cast in mind?
Oh, yes. Yes, yes. I love this game. I’m dying to sell Struck as a feature, and it would be a dream come true for my husband to direct it. He’s a commercial director, but he belongs in film. He directed and did all of the post on my book trailer, which, if you’ve seen it, shows that he’s definitely got a big blockbuster film sensibility.
As for the cast, I would actually love to give the lead role to the actress who plays Mia in the book trailer. Stephanie Rae Anderson is her name. She’s got incredible talent, and she’s definitely going places.
Here’s a still of her from the trailer.
As for the rest of the cast, I would love for James Marsters (Spike from Buffy) to play the villain, Rance Ridley Prophet. He’s got that silky smooth voice, and enough charisma to convince thousands of people into joining his cult. I’d join! Also, Prophet has white hair, and we all know Marsters can rock the white hair.
When I wrote Struck, I had Joseph Gordon-Levitt in mind to play Mia’s Love interest, Jeremy. Specifically his look in the movie “Brick.” But now that I’ve seen Game of Thrones, I’m torn between JG-L and Kit Harington from Game of Thrones. I use a line in Struck when Mia describes Jeremy after seeing him for the first time. “He had the kind of hair you wanted to touch without permission.” Kit Harington definitely has that kind of hair. So just imagine either of these actors with overgrown, curly hair and mentally Photoshop some Clark Kent glasses onto them.
Clearly, a demolished Los Angeles is something you’ve thought about, since it was portrayed so vividly in Struck. If Los Angeles does fall victim to the 2012 Apocalypse and gets struck by lightning and hit by an earthquake and the city is ravaged and cults take over, do you have a survival plan?
Yes! I keep stocking up on canned food and water. Water is key. The problem is, my husband and I keep eating and drinking it. When the apocalypse comes, we’re going to be in trouble. If things get too dire, we’ll join the nearest cult and hope to be saved.
Find Jennifer Bosworth:
Thanks so much for the awesome interview, Jennifer! I totally agree with James Marsters as Prophet; I absolutely love him and I think he’d be excellent.
If you haven’t seen the book trailer for Struck yet, be sure to check it out below. And you guys, I don’t normally like book trailers, so the fact that I’ve even watched this one says something about how incredible it is. (I highly recommend watching in full screen. :D)
One lucky winner will get a hardcover copy of Struck, as well as an awesome lightning tattoo!
US/CAN only (publisher request, sorry international friends!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you so much to Ksenia from Macmillan and Jennifer Bosworth for letting me a part of this tour and offering the giveaway. :)