Published by Kindle Press on June 2nd 2015
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Â“YouÂ’re going to dieÂ”
Shelley Marano is an ordinary, unexceptional high school seniorÂ…until the day she receives a cryptic text message, and her world tilts sideways. Now sheÂ’s in real danger, although she doesnÂ’t know who would want her dead, or why. As she starts to unravel the mystery, the truth about who she really is proves to be more frightening than she ever imagined. With the lives of her and her friends hanging in the balance, one thing is certain:
Nothing will ever be the same.
Please welcome, James Morris! In this interview he talks about his research style, throwing out a book and starting over and his love of taking pictures of his dog on instagram. I love these kind of interviews because James shows what a funny guy he really is. Check it out!
How long did this book take you to write?
I try to aim for writing one book a year, most of which is spent just thinking.Â I spend a lot of time on the concept alone: have I seen it before? WhatÂ’sÂ unique about this story? Why does it need to be told? And what about itÂ will continue to attract me as I climb the Mount Everest of writing, when it isÂ so easy to simply not write, or get distracted by other ideas. So, about aÂ year. Thinking, outlining. But once I actually start writing, itÂ’s about threeÂ months. And then of course, the notes, and revisions for another 2-3Â months.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Every book is hard, in that they all present the same problems just withÂ different faces. How to make a scene interesting? Am I giving the readerÂ too much information, or not enough? Am I telling the story in the rightÂ order, at the right pace? Does the story continue to build, or does itÂ plateau? The hard part about this particular book is that I literally threw outÂ the initial outline. I kept working on it Â– and it was an adult book told fromÂ the point of view of two adult twins Â– and I kept fiddling with it. And it justÂ wasnÂ’t working. After six months, I threw it all away. That was a hard dayÂ for me! I just ripped it up because it wasnÂ’t working, and I knew it wasnÂ’tÂ working. And if I knew, then surely, a reader would know. I let the idea sitÂ for a few weeks, and suddenly, I had an idea where I could keep the sameÂ concept, but tell it from a young adult point-of-view. And the rest is history,Â such as it is.
What were you like in school?
As an adult, itÂ’s sometimes hard to look back at how you were when inÂ high school. I think in some ways, even though we grow older/wiser/moreÂ mature, there is always the seed of who we were back then. I guess IÂ’d sayÂ I was slightly awkward, a very late bloomer, who was introverted, andÂ played the saxophone in band. IÂ’m probably still someone who is a lateÂ bloomer, slightly awkward, introverted, though I no longer play theÂ saxophone. Band geeks rule!
What were your favorite subjects in school?
Favorite: English, by far. I always loved stories and the power of words,Â and the manipulation and expression of ideas. Least favorite:Â math/algebra/calculus. No more numbers! Later, I learned to love history.Â But not the history taught in high school. The way history was taught to meÂ in high school was very rote-memorization of dates and boredom. Only in college did I discover books by David McCullough, who showed me howÂ interesting history is: itÂ’s really just stories about real people. History andÂ English are great places to learn about human nature, which is the basis ofÂ great stories!
Is any part of the book based on someone you know or events in yourÂ own life?
Specific to the plot, no. But the concept, and the underlying idea that weÂ are all kind of hostages to our parents when growing up? Yes. IÂ’ve lookedÂ at a few of the books IÂ’ve written, and I wasnÂ’t consciously aware that I hadÂ a recurring theme, but there it is: parents make mistakes, and itÂ’s usuallyÂ the kids who suffer because of them.
How much research do you do?
I do enough research to make the story plausible. I mean, at the end of theÂ day, itÂ’s fiction. For WHAT LIES WITHIN, I spoke with a doctor of geneticsÂ at UCLA and got a decent understanding of the science behind it. WhatÂ’sÂ interesting, I think, is that WHAT LIES WITHIN came out around the sameÂ timespan as THE MARTIAN, which is ultra-science-heavy. And I thinkÂ because of that bookÂ’s popularity, people now expect the science in booksÂ to be more detailed than they used to be. At least, thatÂ’s my theory!
Do you have any pets?
I love dogs. I recently started an Instagram (link below), and itÂ’s usuallyÂ pictures of my dog, Archer, a cattle dog mix. ThereÂ’s just something aboutÂ a dog Â– they donÂ’t care about your status in the world, whether youÂ’reÂ pretty or not, they just love you for you. That is priceless.
Was this book inspired by something in particular?
Young adult contemporary, and young adult fantasy are very popular, andÂ for good reason: thereÂ’s some great writing out there! But I didnÂ’t see tooÂ many young adult thrillers, you know? Where you put a character on aÂ rollercoaster and send them on a crazy ride. ThatÂ’s what I wanted to giveÂ readers: a thrill-ride. As for what inspired the book: I was curious aboutÂ why kids suddenly started to kill other kids. That wasnÂ’t really culturallyÂ relevant twenty years ago, but after Columbine, itÂ’s far too common. MyÂ book isnÂ’t a real answer, but it was a way of exploring: why the awfulÂ violence?
When you read, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard backÂ books?
Though my books are available both in paperback and ebooks, IÂ personally still prefer the feel of a book in my hands. I like the smell of theÂ pages; I like dog-earing the corners; and I like the weight of knowing howÂ much IÂ’ve read, and how much I have to go until I finish. It just feels moreÂ like an accomplishment, more satisfying somehow.
What is your favorite movie?
There are far too many awesome films out there, but I will give you two:Â EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, because itÂ’s the perfect Â“middleÂ” of a series,Â which couldÂ’ve easily gone bad; and APOCALYPSE NOW, the VietnamÂ War movie.