Rummanah Aasi
  I apologize for posting up this interview so late today. I had actually gone out of town and could not get internet access, which was extremely frustrating since I lugged my laptop with me just so I could share with you this great interview I did with Awaken author Katie Kacvinsky. I'm thrilled to have her here at Books in the Spotlight. If you'd like to read my thoughts about Katie's book you can read it here
 Katie Kacvinsky worked in the entertainment industry and as a high school English teacher before deciding to write full time. She currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon. Awaken is her debut novel, which will be available on 5/23/11 and a book featured in the Cornucopia of Dystopia blog tour. Katie and I chatted about her book and the rising trend of dystopian literature for young adults. I hope you enjoy the interview!

 Welcome and thank you so much for stopping by, Katie! Dystopia seems to be the hot thing right now. Why do you think it is so popular amongst young adults?

Hey, thanks for “having” me. Dystopia is very hot right now; I think the reason its selling is because young adults are looking at what is happening in our world—the ongoing war in the Middle East, our struggling economy, the US crawling out of a recession and all of the changes that go along with it. I think Dystopia is an escape because when you look at how bad the world could be, it makes your current situation more bearable.

Exactly. I, personally, feel that reading dystopia allows me to critical view our present situation and maybe find answers to solve our problems. What is the best part about writing dystopian fiction? What’s the worst?

The best part is the creative liberty. When you write a fictional, futuristic world, you can invent anything you want. There are no limits. If there’s an invention that hasn’t come out yet, you simply write it in. The worst part, for me, is when you write a dystopian story you need to live inside of it in order to create it. You have to experience that world alongside the characters in order to make it believable. It can wear me down, mentally. I now understand why so many depressing roles get Oscar nominations. It’s because those actors have to live in those dark places in order for their characters to be believable. It’s the same thing with writing.

With so many dystopian novels currently written or upcoming, what do you think sets your book apart from the other YA dystopian fiction?

I think my book challenges the digital/social networking world we’re all caught-up in. I haven’t read a book that’s done it.

Your focus on digital/social networking is what caught my eye. Did you always want to write in this genre or did it just happen to turn out that way? 

No, I write all different kinds of stories. I used to live in Los Angeles, and I wrote screenplays. I tried selling one—that never happened. I dabbled in chick lit and adult fiction. Everything I tried to write was very autobiographical. When I started writing YA, I was able to leave myself out of it. I could finally write from my characters perspective. I also love romance and dystopia so I put the two together to write, what I hope, is an entertaining and thought provoking book.

It definitely made me question how much time I spend online and take a step back. How did you come up with the concept of your book?

I extrapolated trends I’m seeing around me: our culture’s obsession with digital and electronic devices, more and more jobs being taken over by machines, resources in our environment quickly diminishing. It’s not hard to imagine the future in forty years if we continue on this path.

What comes first: world building or your characters? 

For this book my world came first. In Awaken, technology acts as an antagonist. I think this is a theme in a lot of science fiction—where the setting can be just as much of an antagonist as a character.

 Given that your book emphasizes the negative aspects of technology, I found it ironic that I read it in ebook format. There are many reviewers who think you’re completely against technology or that technology has no benefits. How would respond to their criticisms?

Thanks for asking me this question. First and foremost, my book is a work of fiction and my main goal is to entertain. Personally, I wouldn’t say technology has no benefits. I would be such a hypocrite to make that kind of claim. I’m using technology right now. The internet is the most powerful tool we have. But, I do fear that we overuse some of these technologies to the point that it’s getting unhealthy. Facebook, texting and emailing are addictive. Studies are being done that show checking your email stimulates the same part of your brain as pulling a slot machine. It’s this addiction that scares me. When I hang out with friends I feel like I’m competing with their cell phones for their attention because they’re always distracted by texting and emailing. People try to be sixteen places at once these days. I think it’s making people nuts. We lose the chance to be in the moment. So, what’s wrong with disconnecting once in a while?

What is your favorite dystopian novel?

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

What type of writer are you: do you make an outline for your story or do you let your
characters take you on their journey? 

Oh, I definitely go on a ride with my characters. They write the books for me. It’s so weird, scenes will come out of me and I’ll blink at my paper (I usually write long hand) and I think, “What? I wrote that?” I zone in so much into my story that sometimes I’ll snap out of it and forget where I am. Yeah, it’s a little weird.

Is there a sequel to your novel? What is next for you?

I am working on a sequel and I really hope it gets picked up. Maddie and Justin’s story is not over. Meanwhile, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt signed another book I wrote, First Comes Love. This book is scheduled to come out Spring 2012, and it is also teen fiction. I’ll be posting a synopsis on my website soon.

Thanks for stopping by, Katie! 
2 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Loved this interview! I definitely know I'm a bit dependent on technology, when the power goes out and I don't have access to it, I honestly don't know what to do with myself. I kind of just stare at the wall going "what now?" and that's just sad really:) Farenheit 451 is a favorite of mine as well, it was one of the few I read in school that I could read again and again!

  2. Me too, Jenny. I was so flustered not being able to go online this weekend. Usually, it's no big deal but I wanted to get my posts up in time for our tour. I have to say, it does feel odd going back to the "dark ages" with power outages, etc.

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