Friday, July 24, 2020

QuaranTeens Interview

Q: Tell me about The QuaranTeens.

A: It’s probably the most timely novel I’ve ever written. All of us. . . the whole world is in the grip of the devastating and deadly COVID-19 pandemic. No matter where you live or what language you speak, the coronavirus is constantly on the minds of every human on the planet right now. COVID is an acronym for COronaVIrusDisease and 19 indicates the year – 2019 – it was discovered. It’s a unique virus mankind’s never seen before and has no immunity against, and the worst part is scientists and epidemiologists say we can expect several new strains of coronaviruses in the years to come.

In The QuaranTeens, mankind has faced another of these in the near future, COVID-25, and they think the worst is over when, four years later, a super coronavirus – COVID-29 – comes barreling in and wipes out 80% of humanity. One of the Earth’s governments, realizing they’re facing an extinction-level event, rapidly constructs a massive underground biosphere they call “the bunker” and selects fifty infants and young kids to be the mankind’s last hope.

Q: Which country?

A: (Laughs). Well, that’s left open for the reader to decide.

Q: And you say “last hope” in the event there are no other survivors?

A: Right. So they’re sealed up in this bunker with a few adult scientists, all but one of whom die in the first months. The book opens a dozen years later–

Q: 2041?

A: Right, in the year 2041, when the kids are now teenagers and the only remaining adult has just died.

Q: So the kids are now in control of the bunker; sort of a Lord of the Flies scenario?

A: That’s one possibility. They obviously need to establish some sort of social order or society. But without adult supervision, they may also be curious about what lies outside the bunker’s titanium hatch.

Q: The virus? Other survivors? Zombies?

A: (Laughs). No zombies. Definitely nothing supernatural. This is strictly science fiction.

Q: But for a Young Adult audience?

A: Of course. The story revolves around teenagers so I think younger readers will relate to the characters. But I believe anyone 13-and-up will enjoy it. I had beta readers in their 30s and 40s that went wild over it.

Q: Tell me about these characters.

A: There are the twins: Covid, the quintessential hero, and his sister Corona, the adventurer. Kai is the rebel. Corbin is a cross between Dickens’ Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist and Michael J. Fox’s character Alex P. Keaton from the Family Ties TV series. Coralie is the loner. Lucian and Tristan are the entertainers, a vital role when you’re locked away in quarantine for your whole life. Lucian writes songs while Tristan is the group’s jester. Fiona’s a fair-skinned redheaded girl who becomes the group’s empathetic caregiver. Esme’s the needy girl who has to be in a relationship and will do anything for love. Blaine’s the needy boy who simply wants to belong and be accepted by the others. Nessa’s the youngest: she’s the innocent, filled with optimism and naïveté until reality comes crashing down on her. Ian’s the jock. Varian’s the older, authoritarian wannabe leader.

Obviously there’s no television or Internet, but they do have a library. Destine and Keiana are the most well-read of The QuaranTeens but while they’re the smartest, they have different motivations. Destine believes Covid should lead them and she endeavors to serve as his mentor.

Q: Sort of an Obi Wan to Luke Skywalker?

A: Yeah, or Merlin to Arthur but obviously her wisdom comes from book learning, not from age.

Q: A subtle plug for the benefit of books and reading. (Laughs).

A: (Laughs). Of course. Keiana, meanwhile, sees herself as more of a puppet master, manipulating those around her for her own agenda. Then, there’s Dax. She’s a mysterious character. Arlo and Nico are pair of sociopaths who would have felt right at home at Columbine.

Q: So those are your bunker rats.

A: Ouch! (Laughs). I like that term. I may steal it.

Q: Feel free. Does the story take place entirely inside the bunker or do we get to explore the post-apocalyptic world?

A: Both. One plotline follows what happens at the bunker while other plotlines follow the adventures of what we might call the ‘away teams’. The year 2041 isn’t that far from now but life has been changed dramatically as a result of the COVID-29 pandemic and its aftermath.

Q: In what way?

A: Having to survive in a world of scarce resources leads people to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t. There are scattered outposts of Raiders like the former trailer park where teen siblings Archer and Robin reside. There’s a domed city taken over by far-right authoritarians they’ve dubbed ‘Utopia’ . . .

Q: It sounds more dystopian.

A: One character asks what Utopia’s like and the response is, ‘It depends on who you are.’  (Laughs). I’ve written some fairly evil characters, especially in my Halos & Horns series, but Proctor in The QuaranTeens may be the worst yet.

Q: One last question. You just mentioned your Halos & Horns series and I know you have several other series—

A: The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer; Vampires Vs. Aliens;  Fangs & Fur; the Age of Magic; and my Reluctant Blogger series.

Q: Exactly, so will The QuaranTeens be an ongoing series or is this a one-off?

A: Or as we say on this side of the pond, a one-shot? That’ll be up to the readers. There’s no cliffhanger but the ending is left open to imply there are more stories that could be told. I enjoyed writing The QuaranTeens and if enough people enjoy reading it, then I’d certainly write more. But I am doing several series at present, so there’d have to be a fair amount of demand. 

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