ALL FOUR KIDS: INTERVIEW WITH ADRIANNE STRICKLAND, AUTHOR OF WORDLESS

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Hey, guys! Today we’re celebrating the release of AdriAnne Strickland’s awesome debut, WORDLESS!

wordless-final-cover“The Gods made their Words into flesh, giving privileged individuals the powers of creation …”

In Eden City, a member of the illiterate wordless class would never dream of meeting the all-powerful Words … much less of running away with one. So when a gorgeous girl literally falls into his lap during a routine trash run, seventeen-year-old Tavin Barnes isn’t sure if it’s the luckiest or worst day of his life. That girl is Khaya, the Word of Life, who can heal a wound or command an ivy bush to devour a city block with ease. And yet she needs Tavin’s help.

By aiding Khaya’s escape from the seemingly idyllic confines of Eden City, Tavin unwittingly throws himself into the heart of a conflict that is threatening to tear the world apart. Eden City’s elite will stop at nothing to protect the shocking secret Khaya hides, and they enlist the other Words, each with their own frightening powers, to bring her back.

It’s a smart, kick-ass, fast-paced sci-fi adventure, and you can get it RIGHT NOW!

Barnes & Noble  BAM  Indiebound  Amazon

Congrats on the release of Wordless, AdriAnne! We have the official synopsis above, but could you give us your own two-sentence description? (The “elevator pitch,” if you will?)

Thank you! And, of course: In a world where the masses are illiterate, seventeen-year-old Tavin Barnes, a wordless trash collector, must do everything he can to stop a ruthless group that knows how to control the “Words”—an elite few with the power to turn their words into reality. After helping Khaya, the Word of Life, escape from Eden City, Tavin joins her on the run, attempting to prevent her captors from using the Words for world domination.

The world you’ve conceived of in Wordless is brilliant. What was the first seed of an idea that inspired this world and, more generally, the entire novel?  

Again, thank you! While researching a previous book, I came across the biblical line, “And the Word was made flesh.” It made me wonder… what would “a word made flesh” look like (if not in the religious sense that the original line intends, of course)? What if there were people called Words with power over that particular word? And if there were Words, would that stratify the social classes along literacy lines? That was the seed that grew into Wordless.

Seventeen-year-old garbage collector Tavin Barnes is such a likable, scrappy hero. Is he inspired by anyone, either fictional or nonfictional?

He isn’t really inspired by anyone fictional, but to tap into my inner teenage boy, I channeled my older brother. A lot of Tavin’s sarcastic, yet self-deprecating mannerisms came from him.

And sort-of-dumb sub-question: Tavin Barnes loves Captain Crunch. Do you share this love?

Captain Crunch was my brother’s favorite cereal. I definitely ate it as a teen (though I preferred the “Crunch Berry only” version), but now I eat healthier and try not to vacuum up so much sugar on a regular basis. (It’s hard; I have a sweet tooth.)

Because Tavin is illiterate, the moments when he sees letters as just symbols are truly disarming, making us appreciate our ability to read even as we’re in the act of reading. How much of your writing process was a conscious effort to emphasize the power of reading and how much just sort of happened naturally as the story unfolded?

It was definitely a conscious effort to put myself in the position of someone who couldn’t read, and to remember all of the things one could or couldn’t do, and to show that words–not just “Words”–are powerful in ways that people don’t even realize. I didn’t want to be preachy about it, so sometimes I almost had to de-emphasize it!

What are some of the works that inspired or influenced the writing of Wordless

There’s not much that influenced it directly, but Scott Westerfield’s Uglies, Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go and Holly Black’s White Cat no doubt had their impact.

At this point in your journey, now that publication day has arrived, what’s one piece of wisdom or advice you would share with a debut novelist? 

Really take the time to celebrate the exciting moments, because a lot of the stressful moments can take away from them. Don’t miss out on the good stuff!

And, finally, since we’re the Fearless 15ers, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of and something you’re not afraid of.

I’m afraid of heights for other people–it really freaks me out when someone, especially my husband, stands too close to a perilous drop (which he often seems to do). I’m not afraid for myself, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve been cliff jumping, bungee jumping and skydiving.

Thanks so much for the great interview!

Thank YOU, AdriAnne!
AdriAnne Strickland author photo - smallAdriAnne Strickland was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before she knew what either of those words meant. She shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can’t seem to stop. Her debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, is out now from Flux Books. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.
Lance Rubin is a New Jersey native who has worked as an actor and written sketch comedy, including successful runs of The Lance and Ray Show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. He’s also co-writing a new musical called Annie Golden: Bounty Hunter, Yo! Lance lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. He loves Pixar, the Knicks, and Back to the Future. His debut novel DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE is coming April 2015 from Knopf Books for Young Readers. You can follow him on twitter @lancerubinparty.
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