Beth was kind enough to have an interview, and answer some questions for us! Her debut novel, Across the Universe, is taking the reading world by storm. Released only a week ago, the book is already gathering attention across...well, the universe. Okay, that was tacky. But you get what I mean. The book is good! And in case you haven't read my review of Across the Universe, you should! It was very entertaining, and I am sure it will be adored by many.
A short bio:
A former high-school English teacher, Beth can’t help but blog about writing, grammar, and publishing at Writing it Out. She is the founder of the new popular dystopian blog, the League of Extraordinary Writers and blows off steam by trying to come up with something witty in 140 characters or less, lusting after books on GoodReads, or wasting time on Facebook. Beth is represented by Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House.
How would you describe Across the Universe in one sentence?
A murder mystery...in space!
When you began writing Across the Universe, did you have a specific ending in mind? Or did you figure out the ending as you went along?
Yes--I knew the ending. Not exactly, but I knew the twist, and I knew the tone, if that makes sense--I knew that it wouldn't be a happy, perfect, everything's wrapped up with a bow sort of ending. But the exact words weren't written until I got there. I am a very chronological writer.
There seems to be a lot of scientific knowledge behind the pages of Across the Universe. How much research went into being able to describe cryogenics, and other scientific knowledge, such as gene splicing?
The great thing about science fiction writing is the fiction part of it. I only had to do enough research to know why something didn't work, then I got to make up a reason for why it would work in my book. For example, we don't have cryogenic freezing now because cell walls break, so I invented "blue goo" that solves it all.
While reading, the personalities of the characters seemed so real, and had a lot of depth to them. Are any of them based on real people? If not, where did you find the inspiration behind them?
Elder and Amy both have pieces of me--their feelings of insecurity and uncertainty were definitely tapped into my own feelings. But Harley is the only character truly based on a real person--I named him after a student of mine, Charly, and his art is inspired by hers.
Which scene was the hardest to write?
Oh...I can't say that without spoiling something. I'll say the hardest scene was when a certain character who I loved died. I hadn't meant to kill him off--I'd never planned for it--but when the scene came, I realized he had to die, and it broke my heart.
Across the Universe is your 11th manuscript, and your first published book. How does it differ from previous manuscripts you have written?
In many ways--it's sci fi, not fantasy which I usually write. It's first person; I'd always written third. It's present tense, not past.
Have you ever thought of re-visiting any of your previous manuscripts?
Yes--there are two that I like. One I think needs tweaking, one needs a complete re-write, but I do think I'm going to revisit them.
I was gobsmacked. I love the reversible cover--it was so clever. I saw the "kissing" cover first, and while I liked it, I worried it would keep boys at bay. Half the book is Elder's, told from his POV, and I think boys will like the book, too--so I'm glad that they have a cover, too.
Can you give us a teaser, or maybe even a tentative title for the sequel to Across the Universe?
I've got to keep mum! I can only say this: at least two things you think are true from Book 1, are actually lies.
Thank you, Beth, for taking the time to answer these questions. Congratulations on the publication of Across the Universe!