I am thrilled to be on the tour for Half Lives by Sara Grant, which sounds brilliant. I am actually reading it right now, and it is great! Sara Grant is by the blog today with a super exciting guest post – about her writing process and how Half Lives was kind of 2 novels in one.
Two Novels in One
Half Lives is two stories twisted and tangled together – one set pre- and the other years after an apocalyptic event. Icie is a typical teenager, until disaster strikes. Her only hope of survival is escaping to a top-secret mountain bunker. Hundreds of years later, 18-year-old Beckett leads a cult that worships a sacred mountain. But Beckett and his beliefs are under attack. Icie and Beckett must fight to survive. They are separated by time but connected by a dangerous secret that both must protect at any cost.
From the very beginning, I imagined Half Lives as two separate, yet interlocked, novels. I loved the idea of revealing the complete story only when both narratives were read together.
But ideas are easy; execution takes planning, patience and perseverance.
When it comes to novel writing, I’m definitely a planner. Albert Zuckerman, author of Writing the Blockbuster Novel said: “No sane person would think of setting out to construct a skyscraper or even a one-family home without a detailed set of plans. A big novel must have the literary equivalent of beams and joists strong enough to sustain it excitingly from beginning to end, and it also must contain myriad interlocking parts fully as complex as those in any building type.” And Half Lives sometimes felt like merging a cathedral with a rocketship.
When crafting a novel, my first step is usually a high level outline. With Half Lives, I created a matrix with the plot points of both stories in separate columns and then another column to show the points of connectivity between the two. I needed to carefully orchestrate the give and take of information.
I wrote Icie’s story first and then Beckett’s. Icie’s story came easily, but Beckett’s took more time. I originally experimented with an omniscient voice for Beckett’s story. When that didn’t really work, I re-wrote it in third person from only Beckett’s perspective. But I soon realized that Beckett’s story needed multiple viewpoints. And that’s when I felt that click in my gut – like when a puzzle piece slips into place.
Once I was satisfied with each story, I knitted them together and considered them as a whole. I had to check and double-check how the story unfolded. When would my reader make certain discoveries? Editing even a line in one story could create a ripple of changes in the other. I wrote and revised Half Lives many times – ripping the two stories apart and then putting them back together again. It was a challenge – but then again I love a challenge almost as I love planning!
Sara is an author of fiction for teens and younger readers and freelance editor of series fiction. Shehas worked on twelve different series and edited nearly 100 books. Dark Parties, her first young adult novel, won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for Europe. Her new novel for teens – titled Half Lives – is an apocalyptic thriller. She also writes – Magic Trix – a fun, magical series for younger readers.
Sara was born and raised in a small town in the Midwestern United States. She graduated from Indiana University with degrees in journalism and psychology, and later she earned a master’s degree in creative and life writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She lives in London.www.sara-grant.com @authorsaragrant
Present day: Icie is a typical high school teenager – until disaster strikes and her parents send her to find shelter inside a mountain near Las Vegas.
The future: Beckett lives on The Mountain – a sacred place devoted to the Great I AM. He must soon become the leader of his people. But Beckett is forced to break one of the sacred laws, and when the Great I AM does not strike him down, Beckett finds himself starting to question his beliefs.
As Beckett investigates The Mountain’s history, Icie’s story is revealed – along with the terrifying truth of what lies at the heart of The Mountain.
Sara Grant’s HALF LIVES is a dystopian chronicle of the journeys of two unlikely heroes in their race against time to save future generations.
Check out the first chapter by clicking below :)
Now, thanks to folks at Little, Brown I have 2 copies of Half Lives to give away to two lucky people. US only / non PO box addresses. Ends July 30.