by Laura Williams McCaffrey
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: February 16th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Sixteen-year-old Lyla lives in a bleak, controlling society where only the brightest and most favored students succeed. When she is caught buying cheats in an underground shadow market, she is tattooed—marked—as a criminal. Then she is offered redemption and she jumps at the chance . . . but it comes at a cost. Doing what is right means betraying the boy she has come to love, and, perhaps, losing even more than she thought possible. Graphic novel–style vignettes revealing the history of this world provide Lyla with guidance and clues to a possible way out of the double bind she finds herself in.
Hi Laura I am so excited to have you today. This book sounds so intriguing and I cannot wait to read it!
Can you tell us somethings about Marked that the synopsis doesn’t, without spoilers?
I’ve lived with this book for so long that it’s difficult to think of what might and might not be a spoiler. I simply know too much about the entire story. I’ll do my best, though. Let’s see.
The Pirate Jackman comics are the ‘official comics’ in the story — these form a published story that Lyla reads. But there are some important unofficial comix, too, created by other characters in the novel.
What was the hardest scene to write and the most enjoyable?
I often find writing the end a lot easier than writing the beginning, and I definitely find writing the beginning and the end easier than writing the middle. I know this doesn’t really answer your question, but, actually, I enjoy writing most scenes, once I know what they’re about. It’s the time when I’m trying to discover what they’re about that I have trouble. The sometimes LONG time when I’m lost.
To be honest, when I think of the process of writing this book, I think not so much of difficulty or enjoyability, but of surprise. So many moments appeared that I hadn’t envisioned as I worked on early drafts, moments I now love. Many scenes with Gill, Lyla, and Hope have been similar since the start. Yet other characters, like Teacher Slate, Spinner, Zeb, and Riverton, basically made their way onto the page and started talking in unexpected ways about unexpected things. I’m so glad they decided to speak.
Was any character or situation inspired by anyone you know or anything that has happened in your life?
Well, I do have a beloved sister and a beloved brother. Also, as a kid, I felt a lot of pressure to behave and to work hard, even if doing so made me unhappy. I see my own kids and their friends struggle with the pressure to achieve in ways that don’t always seem meaningful, either to them as individuals or to society as a whole. I’ve struggled to get by financially, and I’ve seen many students struggle financially, more so than I ever have or ever will. The deck is stacked against them, while other kids, far fewer, have been born with the entire deck in their hands. A lot of kids don’t have good and bad choices to make — instead they have bad and worse choices.
What are your 5 favorite books of all time? What 5 books are you most looking forward to reading in 2016?
5 favorite books of all time? That’s a tough one. I could make many lists of 5. My 5 favorite childhood books. My 5 favorite books within a specific genre. My 5 favorite books this minute. My 5 favorite books at 10 pm tonight. My 5 favorite books at 6am tomorrow morning. How about 5 books that have inspired me to think in new ways about writing and storytelling?
Feed by M.T. Anderson
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Runners-up for this specific top 5
Chime by Franny Billingsley
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
5 books I’m looking forward to reading? I tend to be a bit behind in my reading, so some of these have been out for a while.
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Akata Witch and its sequel, due out in fall of 2016, by Nnedi Okorafor
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Marvels by Brian Selznick
I have to catch up on some fantasy and science fiction by friends and colleagues Kekla Magoon, William Alexander, and Aaron Starmer, and the first book in a nonfiction series by my good friend Tod Olson called Lost in the Pacific.
What can we expect next from you? Will you consider venturing into a new genre?
I have a few novels-in-progress. One is a fantastical mystery, told through a series of three mysteries. I’ve never written a mystery before, but I’ve always read and watched them. In addition to that project, I have a fantasy novel-in-progress based on the experiences of nurses in WWI, though the setting is fantastical. I also have a novel-in-progress that’s set in a town not so different from the one I live in, and this might not be a fantasy. Plus a couple of short stories, one of them fantastical, one of them not. If only I had more time to write!
Just A Few Fun Lightning Questions
Coffee or Tea
Spicy or Sweet
Introvert or Extrovert
Me, or my friends? I am an introvert. My friends are a wide assortment of both.
Pets or No-Pets
E-Book or Print Copy
Both. I’ll read and listen to stories in whatever form they’re offered.
I read, I write, I teach. I’ve published short stories in Cicada, YA Review Network, Solstice Literary Magazine, and Soundings Review. Clarion Books will release Marked, my YA dystopian fantasy, in February 2016. My other fantasy novels are WATER SHAPER and ALIA WAKING (both published by Clarion Books). For more information, it’s best to visit my website: http://www.laurawilliamsmccaffrey.com