Earlier this month, I had the immense pleasure of joining a conference phone interview with Alexandra Bracken to discuss her newest novel, Wayfarer, which continues Etta and Nicholas' adventures through time. Huge thanks to Alex and Disney Hyperion for having Reading Teen be apart of it!
This was the first time I have ever done something like this, and let me tell you I was a nervous wreck. It was like going to BEA all over again and meeting authors, with sweaty hands and an anxiety filled belly, trying to figure out what in the world I should ask Alex! I had so much I wanted to ask, but I had to narrow my results down to two questions so everyone would have time to ask their own questions. I'm a nervous wreck when it comes to ordering pizza, so imagine how nerved up I was dialing into a conference call with a bunch of other people and one of my favorite authors. I was sleep deprived from staying up the previous night and devouring Wayfarer in it's entirety, which probably didn't help the nerves, but with shaking hands, I dialed in, got connected, and what do you know? Guess who gets to go first? Yup, little ol' Becca.
Alex started the call by thanking us for calling in, and oh my goodness. I forgot how adorable and sweet she is. You might be wondering how I know this, but I got to meet here 2 years ago at BEA, which you would think would've calmed my nerves a bit, but no. Haha.
ALEX: To give you a pretty brief summary, it kicks off two weeks or three weeks after Passenger ends. Nicholas and Etta are trying to figure out how to get back to each other at the same time that they're trying to track down the astrolabe, and they're dealing with alternate timelines and wars and all that crazy stuff. I had the best time brainstorming an alternate timeline, even though the alternate timeline is truly kind of tragic and nefarious and awful. So, like I said, I'm so excited that you guys could join.
And then, I was up next to bat (forgive me if my questions don't make much sense....remember, I was nerved up quite a bit)
ReadingTeen: As you were writing Wayfarer, I know that there is an alternate timeline that as you said was pretty nefarious. Did you prefer writing the actual real history timeline or exploring the alternate one?
ALEX: It’s funny because in the series, our timeline is technically Ironwoods' timeline, so it's technically an alternate timeline too and in some ways, it requires just as much research. When I was trying to figure out the alternate timeline, there's a lot of butterfly effects that happen with very small decisions and certain lynchpin people and moments. I sort of wrote myself in a corner and I was so mad at myself. For example, I gave Sophia's birth year in Passenger, and then I realized the original alternate timeline I came up with would have meant that Sophia would have been orphaned at the end of Passenger too. So, I had to go back and completely in a panic brainstorm an entirely new alternate timeline. My friend Victoria Aveyard was up until three o'clock in the morning brainstorming this new timeline with me. I did have fun writing it just because Victoria was there, and we were constantly bouncing ideas back and forth to each other. The alternate timeline is just so sad, so I feel weird saying that I preferred writing it. It was exciting to explore that different timeline overall.
Honestly, I had the most fun reading the alternate timeline parts. It was just so imaginative, scary, page-turning, and crazy. I couldn't get enough of looking inside Alex's imagination into what our history could have been like. I couldn't even begin to imagine how much time, research, and dedication went into figuring everything out. Just thinking about it gives me a headache! However, Alex did a fantastic job with Wayfarer, and I truly think I enjoyed it much more than Passenger.
ReadingTeen: When I'm reading, I'm pretty notorious for finding a ship that I really love. Who was your favorite ship out of the series?
ALEX: I had so much fun writing Sophia and Li Min and their interactions with each other. It was like they were either going to kiss or kill each other at any moment, which is always a really fun dynamic. Sorry if you guys haven't read, this is a spoiler. One of the sad things about this book for me is that in order to tell Nicholas and Etta's story, I had to keep them apart for a good portion of the story. In an earlier draft, they reunited earlier, and it just didn't work from a conflict point of view or for the story structure, which is one of the many problems of my problem child.I really did miss writing them and I’m glad I got a little bit in at the end. Li Min and Sophia were definitely my favorite duo, but I also had fun writing the dynamic between Etta and Julian even though it's not romantic. Just how they were constantly clashing, and he really thought he could get in there and she would shut it down from the beginning. I really like writing group dynamics, and that was one of the challenges of Passenger, that there wasn't a big group. It was only Etta and Nicholas for most of the book. And so with this one, I had a blast writing different groups and managing everyone's personalities.
I SHIPPED SO MANY SHIPS IN WAYFARER, GUYS, which is kind of weird since our main ship isn't together for pretty much the entire novel. I was sad about it at first, but honestly I had so much fun seeing new characters and watching them interact (and flirt) with each other that it became hard to even remember that Nicholas and Etta weren't really together that much. No doubt I still ship the crap out of them, but Sophia and Li Min are shipping goals. If you're going to read this series, read it for their ship in itself. Trust me, it's worth it. I definitely think all the new group dynamics helped improve the entire series with Wayfarer in comparison to just Etta and Nicholas in Passenger.
MORE ABOUT THE BOOK:
I’ve been orphaned by my time.
The timeline has changed.
My future is gone.
Etta Spencer didn’t know she was a traveler until the day she emerged both miles and years from her home. Now, robbed of the powerful object that was her only hope of saving her mother, Etta finds herself stranded once more, cut off from Nicholas—the eighteenth century privateer she loves—and her natural time.
When Etta inadvertently stumbles into the heart of the Thorns, the renegade travelers who stole the astrolabe from her, she vows to finish what she started and destroy the astrolabe once and for all. Instead, she’s blindsided by a bombshell revelation from their leader, Henry Hemlock: he is her father. Suddenly questioning everything she’s been fighting for, Etta must choose a path, one that could transform her future.
Still devastated by Etta’s disappearance, Nicholas has enlisted the unlikely help of Sophia Ironwood and a cheeky mercenary-for-hire to track both her and the missing astrolabe down. But as the tremors of change to the timeline grow stronger and the stakes for recovering the astrolabe mount, they discover an ancient power far more frightening than the rival travelers currently locked in a battle for control. . . a power that threatens to eradicate the timeline altogether.
From colonial Nassau to New York City, San Francisco to Roman Carthage, imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, New York Times #1 best-selling author Alexandra Bracken charts a gorgeously detailed, thrilling course through time in this stunning conclusion to the Passenger series.
Alexandra Bracken is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Passenger series and The Darkest Minds series. Born and raised in Arizona, she moved East to study history and English at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. After working in publishing for several years, Alex now writes full-time and can be found hard at work on her next novel in a charming little apartment that's perpetually overflowing with books.
Huge thanks to Alex and Disney-Hyperion again for such a fabulous time! It was an experience I will truly never forget! Have ya'll read Wayfarer yet? What did you think? If you got to interview Alex, what would you ask her?