A Teen Reader Interviews Susan Adrian About Tunnel Vision

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Rachel J. is an 8th grader at King Philip Middle School in West Hartford, CT. She recently read Susan Adrian’s debut novel, TUNNEL VISION, and had a few questions for the author.

22537667First, here’s the official description of the book:

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He’s decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he’s also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there’s a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom. His secret is blown.

When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to “tunnel” into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It’s an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

Jake promised his dad he’d never tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn’t agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he’s juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he’s doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel’s help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.

Rachel: What inspired you to write this book?

Susan: I was actually originally inspired by a TV show that I love, called CHUCK. It’s about a nerd who gets the government’s secrets downloaded into his brain and is forced to become a spy. I riffed off of that for my own story, and ended up discovering Jake and his family.

Rachel: What made you think about making the character(s) have an ability to tunnel?

Susan: I’ve read about all different kinds of psychic abilities, and many involve personal objects. I wondered what it would be like to be able to connect to someone through their personal objects, and the idea spiraled from there.

Rachel: What gave you the idea to have Jake use his “ability” for the government?

Susan: That’s the natural use of that kind of ability, I think. He really is the perfect spy. I often see things on the news and think how easily Jake could solve them. Missing planes? Jake could find them with one object from one of those people. If I worked for a spy agency, I’d want to use him.

Rachel: Why did you name the book “Tunnel Vision?”

Susan: The book was originally called THE TUNNEL, for what DARPA calls Jake’s project, but I ran across the phrase “tunnel vision” and realized it was even better. Jake’s tunneling is a kind of vision, after all. He always called it tunneling in my head, though–because he tunnels through the object to the person he’s locating.

Rachel: Why did you add the girl into the story and suddenly have her caught up in Jake’s life?

Susan: Rachel was always in the story, but when I was asked to add an “act 3” to the story, she clearly was going to to be in it. He was thinking of her the whole time he was with the government–so what better conflict than to have her be the one who finds him?

Rachel: Will you be writing a sequel?

Susan: I am working on a sequel! I am hoping to release it sometime the end of this year. Keep your eyes out for it!

TUNNEL VISION is out now and available at:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Susanadrian-smallSusan Adrian is a 4th-generation Californian who somehow stumbled into living in Montana. In the past she danced in a ballet company and worked in the fields of exotic pet-sitting, clothes-schlepping, and bookstore management. She’s settled in, mostly, as a scientific editor. When she’s not with her family, she keeps busy researching spy stuff, eating chocolate, and writing more books, both YA and MG. Her debut YA novel TUNNEL VISION was recently published by St. Martin’s Press. You can visit her website at susanadrian.blogspot.com.

Introducing: Susan Adrian

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This is the first in a series of introductory posts, to…you guessed it…introduce you to all the fabulous Fearless Fifteeners, so we’re not just pretty faces with book titles and blurbs.

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I’m Susan Adrian, and my book, TUNNEL VISION, is going to be published in 2015.

That still doesn’t feel real at all, but it seems to be true.

My writing story, like many of yours, is long and twisty, sometimes painful and sometimes exhilarating. I started writing a medieval historical fiction book in the late ’90s, after I had a remarkably hyperreal dream so vivid that I just had to record the scene. Being a total newbie, I wrote the scene and immediately posted it on the internet, on the Compuserve Books & Writers Forum, for comment. Diana Gabaldon, one of my writing heroes, was one of the first to respond, encouraging me.

She created a monster. From there I only stopped writing for a brief period, when I had my daughter, and an even briefer period, when I quit.

But that comes later.

I took many years to write the historical novel and came close to getting an agent with it, but no cigar. I wrote another book, a young adult novel about a girl whose epilepsy carries her between worlds, and signed with an agent, but it didn’t sell. Didn’t even come close, really. Then I wrote another, and my agent rejected it. Another first draft, rejected. I spent 2 years banging at another, writing revision after revision after revision, but my agent never quite liked it, and I ended up hating it passionately. Hated writing, hated the pressure I was putting on myself. Hated dragging myself to the keyboard to work on this book that never sang.

So I quit. I decided that I didn’t have to put myself through this, and it was making me a miserable person. The relief was immediate, and immense. I lounged and read and watched TV, including a show called CHUCK about a normal guy pushed into spy life that touched all my buttons. But I also got bored, and restless at night, so I started telling myself a story to go to sleep. It was vaguely Chuck-ish, but had a boy named Jake who already had a power, a dangerous one, who had his secret found out.

I loved this story. I couldn’t stop. I ran it in my head every night like a movie, in order, discovering Jake’s family, his friends, exciting scenes bursting with suspense that took my breath away, the story I most wanted to hear. It made me stay up until 4 am figuring out What Happened Next. And then I realized one day that this was dumb, and I should just write the darn thing down.

I wrote it all, with revisions, in 10 weeks.  When it was done, I left my agent, signed with another one, Kate Schafer Testerman (whom I adore), and went on submission. It didn’t sell right away—it was almost a year from initial submission to offer—but we found the right editor, Brendan Deneen at Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press, who loved Jake and all his adventures as much as Kate and I did.

That book, TUNNEL VISION, is going to be on the shelves in 2015, and you can read it too. I wonder if by then it will feel real?

Here’s the full summary of TUNNEL VISION:

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He’s decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he’s also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there’s a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom.

 His secret is blown.

 When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to “tunnel” into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It’s an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

 Jake promised his dad never to tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn’t agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he’s juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

 Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he’s doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel’s help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.

My dream is that someday Jake’s story will keep someone up until 4 am, finding out What Happens Next, just like it did with me.

Susanadrian-smallSusan Adrian is a 4th-generation Californian who somehow stumbled into living in Montana. In the past she danced in a ballet company and worked in the fields of exotic pet-sitting, clothes-schlepping, and bookstore management. She’s settled in, mostly, as a scientific editor. When she’s not with her family, she keeps busy researching spy stuff, eating chocolate, and writing more books, both YA and MG. Her debut YA novel TUNNEL VISION will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2015. You can visit her website at susanadrian.blogspot.com.