Hey lovely readers! Today we have a VERY special guest visiting! We here at Reading Teen have been huge fans of Michael Grant since the day he sucked us into his GONE series. When Kit interviewed him about LIGHT, it was one of the highlights of her blogging "career". Today I get the privilege of interviewing him about his newest book, FRONT LINES.
Check it out below, and don't forget about the giveaway at the end of the interview!
Andye: FRONT LINES is described as a gender-bending, alternate history of WWII. Are you a big history buff? What made you want to tackle this particular time period?
Michael: Hmmm, I’m not quite sure what the official rules are for claiming “History Buff” status, but basically, yes. I’m a sucker for a good story and I picked WW2 to write about because it’s an astounding array of good stories, far, far too many for me to do more than sample a small bite of what’s available. And because it is still easily relatable. People in the 40’s didn’t have computers or cell phones, but they drove cars and flew planes, so the milieu is something a modern reader can get into easily.
Andye: In your re-imagined world, girls are able to enlist as soldiers, or even be drafted. Are there girls/women in your life that you based your characters on?
Michael: Actually, the only person I consciously modeled is Audie Murphy, a 5’5” runt considered too small and too weak and too young to serve in combat - an opinion that was just a wee bit wrong as Murphy became the most decorated American soldier of WW2, walking away with basically every medal anyone had ever invented, including the Medal of Honor.
A: I've been anticipating this book since you first started talking about it on Twitter. At the time, you were questioning what you wanted the title to be. Why did you decide not to use "Soldier Girl"?
M: Actually we ended up dropping “Soldier Girl” because some people thought it belittled women. Of course the main characters are all 17 or 18 at the start, so they are in fact, girls. But I didn’t need the grief.
A: For fans of your previous books, like the GONE series, or MESSENGER OF FEAR, how is the Soldier Girls series different? How is it similar?
M: The big difference is that in my other books I’m writing pure fiction, meaning I have complete control of the narrative, start to finish. In FRONT LINES there’s a whole bunch of reality to deal with. I had to do more research, conform my narrative to the facts and try to stay true to the language and customs of the time. I’d write a paragraph and have to look up a fact. Next paragraph, the same. And the next. . .
A: Is there a message that you hope readers will get from this series?
M: I hate ever thinking about ‘messages.’ My job is to create relatable characters and tell stories, not lecture from on high. But in the process of telling the stories of Rio, Frangie and Rainy (among others) I had to understand and convey the depths of racism, antisemitism and sexism that were pervasive and right out in the open. I don’t approve of ‘bowdlerized’ history, history reduced to inspirational patriotic stories on the one hand, or hair-shirt self-abnegation on the other. So, I suppose if there’s a message it’s that reality is complicated, nuanced, and often morally ambiguous. Even the ‘good guys’ can be pretty despicable at times, and yet these are the people who literally saved the world. Really. Saved. The. World.
And now, for the quick-fire questions, which I believe are worth 5 points each:
• Best book you've read this year: Zebulon Finch by Daniel Kraus.
• Favorite food: Maryland crab cakes.
• Favorite dessert: Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked.
• Favorite vacation spot: London.
• Best movie you've seen this year: Mad Max Fury Road. Imperator Furiosa forever!
World War II, 1942. A court decision makes women subject to the draft and eligible for service. The unproven American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.
Three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering: Rio fights to honor her sister; Frangie needs money for her family; Rainy wants to kill Germans. For the first time they leave behind their homes and families—to go to war.
These three daring young women will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, they will discover the roles that define them on the front lines. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.
ABOUT MICHAEL GRANT:
The best way to reach me is at Twitter @MichaelGrantBks. I'll be honest: I keep forgetting there's mail here. Here's the thing: I don't have an assistant or a staff. I would, but then I'd have to hire someone and train someone and give them stuff to do, and relate to them as a human being, possibly even care about them. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
But if my handle is in the Tweet, I read it. And once or twice a week I go on at random times to chat with fans. I love my fans, but it's either be honest with you and be my actual self on Twitter, or fob you off on some assistant, and how would that be better? I already have my father-in-law handling email from my ancient website. I'd rather be harder to write to but really be me, and really talk to you, if that makes sense.
Honestly, if it was up to me and I had the time we could all just hang out at random Starbucks. Or if you're over 21, a pleasant cocktail lounge perhaps. At some point there would be ice cream. There must always, at some point in the day, be ice cream.
I also have a personal Facebook page at AuthorMichaelGrant, but that's limited to 5000 friends and apparently I actually have that many. Who knew? But I leave it public so if I have something to say I'll do it there.
I hope you'll give my books a try. If you don't like one, that's cool, I don't like every book I read, either. But maybe give them a try. People seem to like them.
Now, my publishers want me to sell you on my stuff, so I'll do two brags: 1) Everything I write is like nothing you've ever read before in young adult literature. I don't copy, I don't imitate, I don't clone. 2) I know how to end a series.
And that's my advertisement. Thank you.
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3 Finished Copies of FRONT LINES (US Only)
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