ALL FOUR KIDS: AN INTERVIEW WITH STEPHANIE DIAZ, AUTHOR OF EXTRACTION

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Today I have the pleasure of interviewing fellow sci-fi geek Stephanie Diaz, author of the newly released novel, EXTRACTION.

About the book:

Extraction - actual final cover“Welcome to Extraction testing.”Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves Promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon’s lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet’s leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too.

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don’t want her running—they want her subdued.

With urgent writing, fluid dialogue, and a cast of unforgettable characters, Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender’s Game, and leave them breathless for more.

Fonda Lee: Congratulations on your debut, Stephanie! Tell us about what inspired you to write EXTRACTION.

Stephanie Diaz: Most of my story ideas begin with an image. For EXTRACTION, I saw this image of a giant moon consuming the sky, with eerie fog wafting from its surface. I was pretty sure the fog was poison. Which led me to ask the question: what would the world be like if the moon were a threat to human life? So that was my main inspiration, but I’d also been reading a lot of dystopian stories around that time, which of course made me want to write one. But I wanted mine to have more elements of traditional science fiction.

FL: EXTRACTION features an irredeemably bleak dystopian society. How did you come up with the premise, and do you think there is something particularly appealing to you about writing a story set in a place like Kiel?

SD: Everything about this story started with the poisonous moon. From there, I had to figure out why the moon was poisonous to begin with, and what sort of life the people living in a world threatened by such a moon would have. I can’t give away the answer to the first question without spoiling the book. 🙂 But suffice to say, the answer inspired the premise. And the design of the world came to life as a result of the second question. For example, it seemed obvious that the citizens would have to take precautions to protect themselves from the moon, and they would build cities underground if they could. But since there would still be useful resources above ground, I came up with the idea of the society’s leaders forcing some people to live on the Surface in internment camps, protected from the moon by a powerful shield in the sky but still fearing the poison.

Bleak stories like this have always appealed to me, for some reason, ever since I read The Giver. I’d like to think writing them helps me understand real-world suffering better. But maybe I’m just a masochist who enjoys hurting my characters? *shrug* I don’t know.

FL: Tell us about Clementine, the heroine of your novel. Is she inspired by anyone real or fictional? I found it refreshing that her love interest, Logan, is not a case of “insta-love,” but a childhood friend she is extremely loyal to and protective of. Tell us a bit about that.

SD: Clementine wasn’t inspired by one particular person, but she was certainly inspired by other fictional heroines like Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen, who are brave and strong but also human and flawed. When I conceived Clementine’s relationship with Logan, I wanted it to be founded in friendship before anything else. In their world, those born in the work camps tend to be less trusting of others, since they’re all fighting for a rare shot at survival. So, Clementine and Logan had to meet young in order to grow to trust and love one another. “Insta-love” simply wouldn’t have happened for them.

FL: Your novel features a number of sci-fi elements: an acid shield to protect against toxic rain, people living inside a planet’s core, and virtual reality simulations, to name a few. Are you a fan of the science fiction genre, and were you inspired or influenced by any favorite books or films?

SD: I’m crazy about sci-fi. Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly…you name it. So yes, I was definitely inspired by other sci-fi works. You might even find some references to those shows in EXTRACTION and the later books in the trilogy. Maybe. 🙂

FL: Tell us a bit about your journey as an author. As I understand, you wrote this book while in college?! Tell us about what the path to publication was like for you.

SD: My path to publication was a long one, since I started young. I first tried to sign with an agent when I was twelve, almost ten years ago. Three books later, I accomplished my goal at the age of nineteen. I wrote EXTRACTION while I was in college, yes, in the course of two months. Seven months later, after several intense revisions, I signed with an agent and we sold the book six months after that. So, EXTRACTION’s story happened relatively quickly, but it felt like it had been a long time coming.

FL: EXTRACTION is the first in a planned trilogy. Can you give us any hints about what’s to come?

SD: More spaceships. More battles. Aliens? It’s possible.

FL. And finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of and something you’re not afraid of.

SD: I’m deathly afraid of getting in a serious car crash. I have more nightmares about that than anything else. I’m not afraid of public speaking. To a certain extent, at least.

Thank you for the interview Stephanie, and good luck with EXTRACTION!

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About Stephanie Diaz: 

Twenty-one-year-old Stephanie Diaz wrote her debut novel, Extraction, when she should’ve been making short films and listening to class lectures at San Diego State University. When she isn’t lost in books, she can be found singing, marveling at the night sky, or fan-girling over TV shows. Visit her online at stephaniediazbooks.com or follow her on twitter: @StephanieEDiaz.

WEBSITE │TWITTER │GOODREADS │AMAZON B&N

FJLee HeadshotFonda Lee is an author and recovering corporate strategist who was born and raised in Calgary, Canada (land of hockey, rodeo, and oil reserves) and now lives with her family in Portland, Oregon (land of rain, hipsters, and Powell’s books). When she is not writing she can be found training in kung fu or searching out tasty breakfasts. Her debut upper YA science fiction novel, ZEROBOXER, will be published by Flux in Winter 2015. You can find Fonda at www.fondalee.com and on Twitter @fondajlee.
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