A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
LAND by Alex Campbell – out today with Hot Key Books
The sea rose. Civilisation was wiped out, countries drowned. Out of the ashes of a desperate refugee camp, a new society was born, with a new place to call home: Land. Trapped by an aggressive sea, its citizens were bound to rules that saw the weak removed, marriage and children by approval only, and designated work for all. All for the greater good……
Decades later, and seventeen year-old Christy’s life is on the cusp of irrevocable change. She has become eligible for the Pairing, a carefully selected marriage of political and social convenience where romance is out of the question. Her grandmother, Cons, has also reached a significant age – sixty-six: soon the Selection Truck will arrive to take her away forever.
Christy’s only hope for protection lies with her missing rebel father…..but nothing goes as it’s supposed to. As Christy finds a Pair who might offer a new opportunity for love and security she also uncovers a destiny that has been hidden from her; truths that have been disguised as childhood lies. With Cons’ life under threat, Christy is forced to face a whole new world, one where she must choose between those she cares about and the greater good….a new life where she must play the reluctant rebel, the revolutionary, the lover…..the assassin.
Emma Pass: Tell our blog readers a bit about the book.
Alex Campbell: Okay, well, it’s set sixty years after the sea rose drowning the world. With just a small piece of land left, a new society is born that has to fight to survive: Land. For it to work, citizens are bound to rules that colour code their positon in society and see the weak removed. Marriage and children are by approval only, and work is designated by the state. All for the greater good…
As seventeen-year-old Christy faces the Pairing (Land’s system of marrying its citizens), she starts to unravel clues to a dangerous destiny that has been hidden from her; truths that have been disguised as childhood lies. And ultimately a choice: between those she cares about and society.
Oh, and if you want to try the first chapter for free you can download it at: https://www.hotkeybooks.com/books/detail/land
What inspired you to write LAND?
I suppose it started with a question. One of many I’ve carried with me since I read Anne Frank’s Diary aged ten, which got me thinking about the parts of my personality that will never get tested. The choices I’ll never be asked to make. This one: would I risk my own life to help those being persecuted? I used to think I knew the answer to this question, until I had children – and my view of the world shifted. Family or society? By writing LAND, I tried to find an answer all over again.
LAND the story, the setting, came from my son nervously asking his own questions about the sea rising and a documentary I watched the same week on the Moonies’ mass-weddings. They both collided with the Big Question and LAND strode into my head, already half-formed and led by a sulking, red-haired seventeen year old who just wants to keep her head down, not get noticed…and survive.
I love your characters’ names – especially Salinger! How did you choose them?
Ah, that’ll be from spending much of my teenage years in love with J.D. Salinger (‘Franny and Zooey’ especially)! Many of the characters in LAND have a backstory which alas I had to cut (the original book was a shocking 140,000 words…) so their names often link to their families’ origin.
The main character, Christy – her name comes from a core theme of the novel, and my own life, which I’d best not go into…don’t want to bore your socks off at first interview.
What was your favourite bit about writing LAND?
Ooo definitely escaping to another world so different from my own. And yet one that felt familiar! Also, it’s great to write a story that’s filled with tension as it provides you with a vessel for your own!
What did you find the hardest?
Cutting it down. I had to lose 50,000 words from the final draft of LAND. And while it made complete sense to do it, it was incredibly hard to decide which bits got cut.
Does LAND have a theme song?
It has a whole blummin soundtrack! I always write to music and I actually made a playlist when writing LAND as some songs were affecting it so much. If I had to choose one overall though it would probably be ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol.
What does your dream writing day look like?
It’s filled with cafes, just me and my laptop and notebook, and inspiration (usually that means an excuse to go watch a film). And finishes off roaming a bookshop.
What does your actual day look like?
Err, I think my friends would say it’s pretty much close to the above. But unfortunately I have to factor in my other day job too, two children and an overdraft that only allows me so many coffees and cinema visits a week.
And finally … what’s next?
Next book is out September 2015. There have been plenty of ideas on the table for book two, but I think we’re finally at The One. In which case, it’s a conspiracy thriller, present day but with a twist. Title reveal and blurb to follow…
Alex Campbell announced she was going to be an author at the age of eight. But no one took much notice. Which was generally how life developed thereafter. After a nomadic school career in back row daydreaming, and one English degree later, she moved into the world of PR and copywriting where she got other people and products noticed instead.
Now, living near Bath with one husband, two children, and many abandoned manuscripts, she can’t stop smiling that her eight year old self has finally been heard and the kind people at Hot Key Books are publishing not one but two of her YA fiction novels. The first, LAND, is out 4 Sept 2014 (https://www.hotkeybooks.com/books/detail/land)
When she’s not writing she can mainly be found in dark art-house cinemas or propping up coffee bars, or worse.
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.