Today we’re interviewing OneFourKidLit author Bethany Hagen, whose YA debut, LANDRY PARK releases today!
About LANDRY PARK:
Downton Abbey meets The Selection in this dystopian tale of love and betrayal
In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won’t allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty – her family and the estate she loves dearly – and desire.
JW: When did you first think of the concept behind Landry Park? I know the book was pitched as “Gone with the Nuclear Wind” and that has so many people excited (including me!) so I’m curious how and when you came up with the idea.
BH: Backstory: Basically, I’ve loved Gone with the Wind since I was six and my mom rented it for me (my mom had a very demented idea about what children like to read and watch, which is probably why I’ve read every V.C. Andrews book but I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables.) I read the book in grade school and then over and over again in high school. Actual story: In college, I did a stint working at a local history museum. I had a lot of opportunities to stare at doe-eyed Edwardian girls and sepia-toned pictures of palatial houses and also to read a lot of academic articles about Cold War nuclear hysteria. The final ingredient (and this is key) was an exceptional amount of free time in between tours, usually spent aimlessly wandering the exhibits and wiping down Plexiglass. Eventually the kernel of the story began to take shape.
JW: Who was your favorite character to write? And what should we expect from leading lady Madeline Landry? Is she sort of a sci-fi Scarlett O’Hara or does she have a softer side? And what about Captain David Dana?
BH: Cara Westoff is far and away my favorite character to write. She’s a spoiled and selfish and damaged and kind of awesome. I think Madeline is a cross between someone like Scarlett–who obviously has a lot of pride both in her land and in her family–and someone like Fanny Price from Mansfield Park, who is very quiet and very perceptive. Which is why David is such a shock to her–he’s moody, at turns obsessive and dismissive, and is a bit of an epicure.
JW: Do you have a favorite scene in the book?
BH: Easily Madeline’s debut ball. I could describe food all day long. I think I missed my calling writing menu copy.
JW: Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and what you’re currently working on?
BH: My writing process is kind of scattered and bizarre and littered with bouts of laying on the floor. But lately it’s looked like this–I use Save The Cat to write up a beat sheet–and then I use that as my road-map while I draft (also my road map: long, rambling chat sessions with my critique partners where I frequently threaten to douse my laptop with gasoline and burn it in the chiminea.) While I’m drafting, I generally write about 2,000 words a day, seven days a week (which usually means lots of late nights since I have a day job as a librarian.) Right now I am hard at work on the Landry Park sequel, which I’m tentatively calling Landry Park II: The Taffeta Reckoning.
JW: What has surprised you the most about your publishing experience? Any advice for 2015 debuts?
BH: I suppose the stress surprised me the most. Normally, I expend a lot of energy to avoid feeling badly, but I found that’s been really difficult to do. Deadlines, negative reviews, business-y non-writing stuff–it’s pretty much entirely unavoidable. My advice: Remember why you love to write, write often (but don’t be afraid to take breaks,) and, if you’re going to read reviews of your book, make sure you have some scotch in hand.
JW: And finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of and something you’re not afraid of.
BH: Currently, I’m not into heights or tunnels. They freak me out. And I’m not afraid of the Twelfth Doctor. I can already tell he’s going to be fantastic.
Thanks so much for the interview, Bethany, and congratulations on your debut!
Bethany Hagen was born and raised in Kansas City. She grew up reading Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, and all things King Arthur, and went on to become a librarian. Landry Park is her debut novel.
|Jasmine Warga is the author of MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES coming from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in Winter 2015. To learn more, visit jasminewarga.com or follow her on Twitter.|