A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Yesterday was publication day for THE FEARLESS by Emma Pass, a YA post-apocalyptic thriller about an army of super soldiers. Sixteen-year-old Cass’s younger brother is taken and she sets out into dangerous territory, risking everything to find him. I love it and can’t wait to get my copy!
The Fearless. An army, powered by an incredible new serum that makes each soldier stronger, sharper, faster than their enemies. Intended as a force for good, the serum has a terrible side-effect – anyone who takes it is stripped of all humanity, empathy, love. And as the Fearless sweep through the country, forcing the serum on anyone in their path, society becomes a living nightmare.
Cass remembers the night they passed through her village. Her father was Altered. Her mother died soon after. All Cass has left is her little brother – and when Jori is snatched by the Fearless and taken to their hellish lair, Cass must risk everything to get him back.
Kate Ormand: Hi Emma! Congratulations on the release of your second novel. Can you share the opening line?
Emma Pass: Thank you, Kate! The opening line is: When I was ten, the world ended.
KO: And why is this perfect for your book?
EP: Because when the main character, Cass Hollencroft, is ten, the UK is invaded by the Fearless, psychotic super-soldiers who feel no fear, love or empathy, and want to turn everyone else into Fearless too. Cass and her family must flee in order to survive…
KO: What sparked the idea for THE FEARLESS?
EP: I first got the idea at a writing workshop. The author leading the workshop, Julie Bertagna, was telling us how she got her ideas from news articles, and handed some out for us to look at. The one I got was about a drug being developed to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder in our troops. I started to wonder what would happen if the drug not only prevented people from suffering PTSD, but stopped them feeling fear altogether, and made them lose the ability to empathise or feel love. What would someone be like if that happened to them? I also thought a lot about the meaning of the word ‘fearless’ and how it could be interpreted in different ways.
KO: I know you had to do a lot of research for this book. Can you give us an example of the things you had to look up?
EP: A lot of research is an understatement! Here’s a list of just some of the things I had to find out about:
KO: Were there any major differences between writing this and writing ACID?
EP: THE FEARLESS is quite different to ACID in that it imagines a very low (or no) tech, post-apocalyptic society, so the challenges the characters face are very different. And it’s a little darker than ACID, too – some bits of it are quite horror-esque. But they were great fun (if a little chilling!) to write!
KO: When ACID was released last year, I interviewed you on the day and asked how it felt knowing it was out in the wild. You said exciting, terrifying, and a little surreal. How do things feel second time around?
EP: Exactly the same! I’m proud of this book, and excited that it’s being published, but I’m also terrified at the thought of people reading it… what if everyone hates it?
KO: For those who loved how kick-ass Jenna was in ACID, we see a different kind of strength in Cass. Can you share with us a bit more about her character and what we can expect from her?
EP: Cass is quieter than Jenna, and outwardly, isn’t such a ‘tough girl’ character, but to me she is equally strong. The book centres around her determination not to let anything happen to her little brother, Jori, who is all the family she has left after the Fearless invasion. She’s been forced to grow up fast and act as a mother to Jori, and has witnessed some terrible things, but they haven’t defeated her. She is brave, but also kind and empathetic, and I really like her.
KO: And to wrap up, can we end with a quote from THE FEARLESS?
EP: Certainly! This is from the beginning of the book, when Cass and her mother are trying to flee the Fearless invasion:
From inside the house there was an animal-sounding howl, and then a gruff shout: ‘It’s locked!’ I wrenched the gate open and ran out into the lane, Mum staggering after me. Pure terror sang through my veins; I could hardly breathe. When I looked over my shoulder I saw Mum clutching her knife in one hand, the other fpressed against her bump, her hair hanging in sweat-soaked strings around her face.
‘Keep going,’ she gasped. ‘Don’t worry about me.’
I heard that howl again, echoing up into the trees, and crashes as the Fearless tried to break down the front door. I tried to run faster, but my legs felt weak; I wasn’t sure I could keep going. Acid burned up into my throat, nearly choking me.
Behind me, Mum moaned and fell to her knees on the track.
I ran back to her. Another shout – ‘There’s something in front of the door!’ – and more crashes drifted towards us. ‘Mum, get up!’ I said, frantically tugging on her arm. She shook her head. She’d dropped her knife. ‘You go, Cass. Run. Get to Sol’s.’
‘No, I’m not leaving you!’
I heard the sound of glass breaking. It sounded as if the Fearless had given up trying to get out of the front door and were smashing their way out through a window instead. I pleaded with Mum to get up. Then I heard another sound from the top of the lane.
It was coming towards us, fast.
Thank you for interviewing me, Kate!
Thank you, Emma. Happy book birthday!
Emma Pass has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut novel, dystopian thriller ACID, is out now and was the winner of the 2014 North East Teenage Book Award. It will be followed by THE FEARLESS, another stand-alone thriller for young adults, in April 2014. By day, she works as a library assistant and lives with her husband and dog in the North East Midlands.
KATE ORMAND is a YA writer represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She recently graduated from university with a first class BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate discovered her love of reading YA books, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. Kate also writes children’s picture books under the name Kate Louise.