Tuesday, May 21, 2013

THE BODY ELECTRIC: What if your boyfriend is related to...Zeus?

This month, Istoria Books is proud to release Allie Duzett's debut young adult novel, The Body Electric. In addition to being Allie's debut, The Body Electric is also a first for Istoria--its first young adult novel. It will be followed by Allie's sequel in this series, Surge Protector, this fall. Istoria has made a commitment to offering fun, exciting and "clean" YAs--that is, books that are uplifting and free of swearing, sex or substance abuse. (Read more about this here.)

Istoria talked with Allie recently about YAs, writing and more. Here's the interview:

You're an enthusiastic fan of YA fiction. What is it about YA that attracts you? Why do you think more adults are reading YA? 
Allie: I like clean fiction is really what it comes down to. I'll read lots of things and like them--but I really hate having to skim over curse words and sex scenes and drug references. I don't curse in real life, and I feel like I have high moral standards for both my life and my entertainment, so I tend to gravitate towards fiction that reflects that. I think I'm not the only adult who's sick of immorality and vulgarity soaking through fiction, and I wonder if that's one reason more adults are turning to YA.

How long have you been writing -- did you start writing fiction at a young age? Tell us about that. 
Allie: I started writing stories when I was four, and I still have the first story I ever wrote with my own hands in my scrapbook. I even illustrated it. It was about magical trees and a wicked witch. I got my first short story published when I was eight or nine, in the local newspaper; they had a horror story contest and I got first place (which is actually more like second place because the real winner was called something like 'The Grand Winner' or something). I published my first poem in a national magazine when I was twelve. So I guess I've just been writing and loving it since I was very little.

What were your favorite books as a teen? Today?  
Allie: I've always loved Meg Cabot. She was my favorite writer when I was a teen and she's still one of my favorites today. In particular, her Princess Diaries series was one of my favorites. I was blessed enough to be living in Austria when the series was just coming out in America--I got into the series in America when they were only selling the first three books there, and then was able to pick up the next four books of the series while visiting the UK, before they even hit American shelves. Score! 

Today I still like her stuff, as well as things like the Matched series by Ally Condie, and the Gallagher Girls books by Ally Carter, and everything by Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson is just incredible. His Mistborn series blew my mind.

The Body Electric deals with ancient Greek mythology. Were you a fan of those stories in school? If so, tell us a little about why you like those tales.  
Allie: I always enjoyed mythology. I just love characters that are larger than life, and I find it so interesting what the Greek pantheon did with their immortality. For the most part, their power and immortality didn't make them wiser--it just gave them more time and ability to be petty. As characters, I think the Greek and Roman gods are just fascinating to read and write about.

Besides YA, what other kinds of fiction attracts you? What elements in a story attract you?  
Allie: I like fiction that is funny, smart, exciting. I bet everyone feels that way, though. I love everything by Brandon Sanderson because his writing is so exciting and so smart. The 'Sanderson Avalanches' at the ends of his books are just incredible. I like tight plotting and strong (but clean!) romance, suspense and intrigue.

Conversely, what will have you closing a book before you're finished and not going back to it?  
Allie: I once bought a book overseas at an English bookstore in Vienna. It looked exciting--the cover had a guy in a cloak on it and stuff. It was about witches. I'm Christian, but I don't mind reading 'witchy' stuff as long as it's like Harry Potter and not like... you know, occult. I didn't think Harry Potter promoted occultism or Satanism or anything. Well, this book did. And it opened with a sex scene. I ended up getting maybe 15 pages in, and I didn't want to own it anymore. I was horrified that my family had spent money on it and I didn't want anyone else to ever read the book that made me feel so dead  inside. I was maybe thirteen years old.

I've given up on a few other books, mostly for the same reasons as that one, but never so viscerally! Now I'm a lot more careful about what I choose to read, so I don't end up having to give up so much. When I put things down now, it's usually because I'm bored.

The Body Electric is exciting, fun and...sweet. It doesn't contain cursing or alcohol or drug abuse. Was this a conscious decision on your part -- not to include these things -- or did it flow from the story?  
Allie: I'm an active Latter-day Saint, so my actual life doesn't contain those things. I think when you come from a 'clean' mindset, your brain just operates on that level. My stories tend not to involve that kind of stuff because it just doesn't occur to me, I think. And if it did occur to me, I'm sure I don't know enough about those things to write them properly! Ha!

Do you envision yourself moving beyond YA and writing other kinds of stories in the future? If so, can you share a little of those goals/ideas?  
Allie: I once wrote a political thriller featuring adult characters and literary-style prose. I like the idea of that book, but it would take some major rewriting to pull off. I think overall, though, political thriller aside, it will be easier for me in my life as a clean writer to stick with YA fiction. If I ever start writing books more geared toward adults, it would probably be stuff only Deseret Book would ever carry--Mormon-style romance novels and whatever. 

Do you have a favorite writing time of day? With a young child, how do you fit in time to write? 
Allie: I like to write all day. I just keep my laptop open all day long, and write when I have a minute. My baby is very happy playing by himself--he has a barnyard full of plastic animals and a basketball hoop and lots of little basketballs--so I can usually write for at least an hour or two a day while he plays or naps. My boy is obsessed (obsessed) with StoryBots on YouTube, so often I'll pull up StoryBots on one side of my laptop screen and my novel on the other side, and I'll write with him on my lap. My baby can recognize about 10 letters already. He has a total crush on the letter L. So I think this system is improving literacy for the both of us.

Allie Duzett
Any advice for aspiring authors? 
Allie: Write! I've been amazed at how many aspiring writers I know who don't actually sit down and write. You just have to do it. Just keep going until you finish something and then do it all over again.

About The Body Electric by Allie Duzett
Available at major etailers in digital and print formats
At Amazon here.

Lena Clark, a small-town teenager, falls for a stranger with a mysterious past—and a frightening present. Before she knows it, she is a target, wrapped up in his quest to escape the wrath of a jealous queen from a world Lena never believed existed…

Lena Clark’s high school world comes crashing apart when she discovers that the most popular jock in school—her boyfriend!—has been cheating on her. In the aftermath of the drama, she meets Zach Zuson, a newcomer so her small Colorado town. It’s clear that he’s different: it’s in the way he talks, and the way he moves, and the way he looks at her as if he’s hiding something. And then, it’s in the way he single-handedly strangles a full-grown mountain lion to death right before her eyes. Next thing you know, an ancient monster is attacking them. Suddenly, life for Lena is a lot more complicated than she ever imagined it could be.

When Zach decides to put an end to the attempts on his life for once and for all, Lena gets dragged along, eventually ending up alone at the party of the century. Little does she know that this party is attended by bloodthirsty killers, or that a jealous queen has made Lena a target, too. Now Lena must find the strength to survive.

About Allie Duzett:
The Body Electric is Allie Duzett's debut novel. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University's environmental science program, where she basically studied dirt. She lives with her husband and baby in Maryland, and has a passion for YA fiction. Read more about her and her super interesting life at allieduzett.blogspot.com.