Reading you under the table since 2012

Interview with Alex Bracken, Author of The Darkest Minds

By

Sarah J. Maas, featuring Alex Bracken

 Today I have the honor of interviewing the amazingly talented and awesome Alex Bracken, author of BRIGHTLY WOVEN (Egmont, 2010) and THE DARKEST MINDS (Disney*Hyperion, 2012). I’m lucky enough to call Alex my critique partner and friend, but she’s also one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE authors. I adored her debut novel, BRIGHTLY WOVEN, but her latest book–THE DARKEST MINDS–absolutely floored me. Words can’t even begin to describe how much I love THE DARKEST MINDS (which came out this past December, and is now in stores everywhere), and how excited I am for the next book (which is EVEN BETTER)!

THE DARKEST MINDS was a Kids’ Winter 2012 Indie Next pick, and Kirkus called it: “…Haunting…. A gripping and terrifying dystopian world. Ruby is a reluctant heroine, strong yet vulnerable in equal measure, who will endear herself to readers. Each member of the small band of runaways traveling with Ruby is equally compelling and distinct, making the danger they face all the more terrifying…. A great ride.”

And that’s just the start of the many, many glowing reviews for TDM! You can visit Alex online at her website, on thedarkestminds.com, and on twitter @AlexBracken. There’s also an AWESOME fan-run site for all things THE DARKEST MINDS called The Skip Kids. Check it out!

In honor of THE DARKEST MINDS releasing last month (and in honor of having Alex here today), I’m giving away a finished copy of the book! Details on how to enter the contest are at the bottom of the post. Hooray!

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

If you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?

I really had to think about this one! I went through the book scene by scene, mentally crossing them off as I went. Not the camps, not the escape, and definitely not the end…

Is it really horrible if I say none of them? It’s such a tough, violent world they’re trying to fight their way through–it’s hard enough writing the scenes, nevermind living them! While I’d love to drop in and hang out with the Black Betty crew while they’re driving around, I’m pretty sure I’d have a panic attack from the anxiety of whether or not we’d be caught. But if I had to choose one scene (and one that wouldn’t spoil the book for everyone reading!), I’d probably pick the bonding session Ruby and Chubs have while they’re keeping guard in Walmart. They’re basically just playing Go Fish and eating junk food. A few precious hours of nothing terrible happening! Do you have one you’d pick?

 

Um, any scene with Lee. OR I’d take the bonding sesh with Ruby and Chubs–I frakking love that dude. (The thing I love most about TDM is the characters. They are all SO REAL to me.) Anyway! Confession time: What was the biggest challenge in writing THE DARKEST MINDS?

Probably the worldbuilding. I actually find it a lot more difficult to write within our world than to create an entirely new one. There are established realities that you can’t really do much playing with–you have to stick within the law and keep everything as realistic as possible. Writers always joke that their Google search histories have probably put them on some kind of watch list, but I’m actually convinced that might be the case with me. I did a lot of research on current anti-government groups, protesting, the Occupy Wall Street movement, weapons, clandestine government programs, how information is traded, etc. It might have been easier on me to push the book farther out into the future so I’d have more room to create the kind of laws I needed, but I wanted readers to be able to recognize their own world in Ruby’s so they’d (hopefully!) feel they had some strange kind of personal stake in the outcome.

The other difficult part of establishing Ruby’s world was knowing that there was so much going on around her that she just wasn’t privy to, or had no way of ever seeing. I didn’t realized it was even going to be an issue until I sat down and realized there was no real, natural way to work in certain information that a reader might want. The story is set in a very small portion of the country–Virginia and West Virginia–and they don’t have much access to the world outside of their minivan. All of the information they’re getting from the radio and newspapers is polluted by propaganda, lies, and straight-up censorship. Initially, Ruby is so focused on surviving and not getting caught again that she really doesn’t care to know what’s happening in, say, California or what the president’s plans for the future could be. I think that’s why it’s been so fun to work on book two! The story was always designed to expand from a small group in a small section of the country to a more national perspective to an even bigger global perspective. I’m really happy Ruby and the reader are getting a lot more answers in the second outing!

 

Stop sounding so smart! You’re making me feel dumb. ;)  Fess up: do you have a critique partner or beta reader? Or, when do you decide your book is ready for your agent’s/editor’s eyes?

Well, there’s you! Sarah and I have been trading stories for… a few years now, huh? Honestly, she sends me the best, most thoughtful notes and is never, ever, ever judge-y about messy first drafts. I also send most of my writing to my friend Anna Jarzab to get her insight and incredibly detailed feedback. It’s so interesting working with the two of you, Sarah. You guys are so attuned to different aspects of stories that comparing your notes is always fascinating to me. :) If I get the seal of approval from both of you, then I send it to my agent. I try to get her the cleanest, best draft possible since I know she’s not as editorial as some other agents are, but I always pay close attention to any big-picture notes she sends my way.

My poor editor tends to get things based on deadlines, even if the draft is still 10,000 words too long or a bit rough around the edges. She’s a saint!

 

Awwww. I’m glowing with CP pride! I know you’re super busy with writing the rest of the series AND a full-time job in publishing, but what are you reading now?

I just got back from vacation and a massive reading binge! I read two amazing but top-secret manuscripts for work, Meghan Shepherd’s THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER, which was so atmospheric and creepy and wonderful. I also read a lot of Susanna Kearsley: THE WINTER SEA, THE ROSE GARDEN,  THE SHADOWY HORSES, and MARIANA. Apparently I was in the right mood for historical romance!

 

Vacation. Massive reading binges. Top secret manuscripts! *sigh* I’m so jealous. I hate to disturb the peace, but–PUB BRAWL!!!!! What weapon are you wielding?

A hardcover of THE DARKEST MINDS. It’s got heft and sharp corners and can take an eye out!

 

EXCELLENT choice! That baby is a monster! Once the brawling/book beating is over, if you could spend a night at the pub with any 3 authors (alive or dead) who would it be and why?

Nooooo! This is too hard!! Too hard!!!

One would have to be JK Rowling, obv, because I have A LOT OF QUESTIONS FOR YOU, LADY. Also, I just want to hug her. Roald Dahl was my hero as a kid, and no matter how many terrible stories I’ve heard about his life and personality, I would never pass up a chance to chat with him. Sticking with the kid lit theme so we’d all have something in common, I think I’d give the last invite to Dr. Seuss/Theodor Geisel. He was big character and always had a good story to tell!

 

If I ever saw JKR ANYWHERE (at a pub, on the street, through a telescope), I’d probably keel over dead. Or I’d just be too overwhelmed to do anything but cry like a baby. And now that I’m pretty sure I’ve come across like a crazy person…. THANK YOU, ALEX, for stopping by today!!! 

Guys, if you haven’t already, DEFINITELY grab a copy of THE DARKEST MINDS! I’m giving away ONE copy today (US-only… Fill out the form below!), but don’t miss out on reading this amazing, AMAZING book!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sarah J. Maas is the author of THRONE OF GLASS, a YA epic fantasy that was published by Bloomsbury in August2012. In addition, she’s published a series of four prequel e-novellas, all set before the events of THRONE OF GLASS (beginning with THE ASSASSIN AND THE PIRATE LORD). She is represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency, and resides with her husband in Southern California. You can visit her website here, and follow her on twitter.

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61 Comments

  1. Posted January 11, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read it yet but I really have to! The world and the characters and of course the author puts it at the top of my list:)

    Thank you:)

  2. Posted January 11, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I have not read it, but it’s on my TBR?

  3. Posted January 11, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Just finished it a few days ago on my kindle and OMG. *melts* I can’t wait for the next one. I’m so sad it ended there!

  4. Posted January 11, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    This was was so fun to read because I just read The Darkest Minds and LOVED IT!!!

    All of Alex’s talk about things Ruby couldn’t know, or find out about or wasn’t going to be revealed until book 2…*eye muscle spasms* not fair, girl, not fair!! Also, the ending….damn. That’s all I’ve got to say. DAMN.

    And TAKE ALL MY MONEYS because I want book 2 NOW!

  5. Leigh Smith
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read it yet but I’m super dying to. Heard so much about it! Thanks for the chance to win!

  6. Posted January 11, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I haven’t been able to read TDM yet but it IS on my pile. And I’m pretty sure this post just moved it up on the pile. I LOVED Brightly Woven and Sarah, you’re recommendations have never led me astray! coughfinnikincough

    Thanks for the awesome interview, ladies!

    Mer
    <3

  7. Haley Aldrich
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a great book. Adding to my “to be read” list!

  8. stephanie garber
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Great interview! I haven’t read The Darkest Minds yet, but it is on my bookshelf! I’ve heard so many good things about this book, I can’t wait to read it… I just haven’t had the time! But it is at the top of my TBR list!

  9. Posted January 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read The Darkest Minds yet, but it’s on my TBR list! Hope to get to it soon. :)

  10. Posted January 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I got the opportunity to read an ARC of The Darkest Minds – and I LOVED it. I was floored by the creative world-building Alex employed, but I most especially loved her characters. Just thinking about what they went through, and their relationships makes me itch to read it again!

  11. Diana Evans
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Not yet but I want too.

  12. Posted January 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Not yet, but VERY SOON. I just recently discovered it and can’t wait to read it!

    Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  13. Priscilla
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t read it yet but sounds incredibly awesome though

  14. Posted January 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I have not, but I want to!

  15. Posted January 11, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Reading through the sample pages on my nook!!

  16. Posted January 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Not yet, but it definitely sounds like something I would enjoy!

  17. Posted January 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Sarah, I LOVE this interview! Your personality really shone through and the questions are so thoughtful. I know how much you support this book and with good reason. Alex’s responses made me appreciate the book even more. I don’t think I would like to live in the world of Darkest Minds either but the Walmart moment was definitely a lighter moment. I’m excited to see what happens in the sequel. GREAT interview, ladies!

  18. Ellen
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Ever since Sarah wrote the glowing review of this story on her blog, I’ve been dying to read it. “The Darkest Minds” is currently on my TBR pile and I can’t wait until I get to it!

  19. Carl
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I have not read The Darkest Minds yet but it keeps insinuating itself into my consciousness. I suspect some sort of nefarious plot is afoot so I plan to read it very soon. Thanks for the giveaway.

  20. Posted January 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read it yet, but I definitely will!

  21. Posted January 11, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    No, but I definitely want to! It sounds fantastic. :D

  22. Alexa
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Read an excerpt from The Darkest Minds a little while ago and it sounds like a blast. Great interview!

  23. Lea
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Such a fun interview, I’d loooove to read this! After hearing Sarah Dessen sing its praise, how can I not ;)
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  24. Loie
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I have not yet but would love to! Great interview! Very interesting response about worldbuilding…totally agree!!
    It is tricky writing in this world. Haha.

    Best of luck!
    Loie <3

  25. Vivien
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    No, but I really want to!!!

  26. Caitlyn
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Not yet, but it’ll happen someday!

  27. Posted January 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Um, okay. Seriously? This book sounds awesome. Going to add it to my list right now. Great interview. :)

  28. Sarah Marie
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Oooh, that’s definitely going on my To Read list!

  29. Sarah S
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read it yet but I definitely want to! As soon as I can get my hands on a copy. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

  30. Posted January 11, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read it yet but both THE DARKEST MINDS and BRIGHTLY WOVEN sound so interesting! I’m going to have to read them very, very soon!

  31. Caitlin Vanasse
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t read it yet (even though it feels like I waited forever for its release from when Alex first teased it.) Mostly because I moved halfway across the country and only brought like three books with me (and my kindle broke a week before I moved, the injustice!) I did find myself lurking in the book section of Wal-mart every time I was picking something up for my impending move just sort of hoping it would be there so I’d have an excuse to snatch it up. Which was utter ridiculousness. Super excited to read it as soon as I figure out where the nearest library is or save enough to buy a copy (buying a new kindle takes first precedent so it might take a bit.)

  32. Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t, but I’m longing to soon!

  33. Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read it yet but I really have to!

  34. Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the giveaway. I have not read the darkest Minds but it sounds really good.

  35. Posted January 12, 2013 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    I haven’t, but it sounds amazing! Thanks for promoting it. :)

  36. Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Sadly I haven’t read it yet :( But it’s on my list!! :)

  37. alicia marie
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my tbr list! I definitely need to read it soon : )

  38. Maddie
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read it,but I’m dying to!

  39. Lauren Goff
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Not yet, but I really want to! It sounds awesome!

  40. Kirsten W
    Posted January 13, 2013 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    I haven’t got the chance to, but it’s near the top of my to-read list- it sounds amazing!

  41. Calla
    Posted January 13, 2013 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    No, but I really really want too!!! It sounds amazing!!!

  42. Posted January 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    No I haven’t read the darkest mind yet but its on my list of must reads.

  43. Posted January 13, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    No, I haven’t yet, but I really want to!

  44. Posted January 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read The Darkest Minds yet, but I have been hearing so many wonderful things about it. It is one of the Top 5 new books that I want to read in 2013. I would also like to meet JKR. I want to know how Harry and the gang are doing and what new adventures they have had! A full-time job and writing?! Oh, how I admire you, Alex!

  45. Posted January 13, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    “One would have to be JK Rowling, obv, because I have A LOT OF QUESTIONS FOR YOU, LADY.” Definitely! I got to meet her when she came to NYC, but I’d love to get to properly talk with her.

    I’m dying to read The Darkest Minds. It sounds amazing!

  46. Tiff- Escaping... On
    Posted January 13, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t as of yet but I have heard so many amazing things that I am seriously looking forward to getting my hands on a copy!!

  47. Katelyn
    Posted January 13, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read TDM yet, but I most definitely want to. I’ve heard only amazing things!!!

  48. Posted January 13, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Sadly, I have not. I’ve heard so many amazing things though. If my to-read pile wasn’t already through the roof, I’d borrow a copy from my library!

  49. Posted January 14, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I have not read it yet, but it has been on my to read list since I first saw it.

  50. Elske
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I loved this book! Would love a physical copy! :)

  51. Posted January 14, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Not yet but want to sooooo badly!

  52. Posted January 15, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Nope, but I REALLY want to!! Thanks for the amazing giveaway :D :D :D

  53. Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    This book is in my TBR, sounds awesome!

  54. Posted January 15, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Yes, I have and it was awesome. But I don’t have my own copy and I’m already ready for a re-read. :)

  55. Posted January 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read The Darkest Minds yet! I have heard WONDERFUL things from people who’s opinions I greatly value! Plus Sarah J. Maas loves it! Come on!

  56. Posted January 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I love the interviews you guys do! Especially author interviews.

    Whenever I hear about a superb book like TDM, I get a sample sent to my kindle, so I’ve read the first chapter of TDM and I loved it! (I’ve also read Brightly Woven which was fantastic!) The amazing world is still on my mind, so I know it’s a book I want to read. I always face the dilemma of whether I should wait for the entire trilogy to come out, or if I should give in and read the book, and then wait in agony for more. Decisions, decisions.

  57. Deena
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    NO! I want to.

  58. Nuzaifa
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Sadly no!I’ve heard so many awesome things about it though so I’m definitely looking forward to it. :)

  59. Posted January 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds great!

  60. Posted April 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Wow, awesome blog format! How long have you ever been running a blog for? Natalina http://www.thestandard.co.zw/2013/01/19/green-the-pantone-colour-for-2013/

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3 Trackbacks

  1. By The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken on January 14, 2013 at 11:10 am

    […] out Publishing Crawl’s interview with the author, Alexandra […]

  2. By The Darkest Minds Review on January 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    […] Check out an interview with Alexandra Bracken on Publishing Crawl […]

  3. By Introducing our newest member: Alexandra Bracken! on February 1, 2013 at 7:01 am

    […] actually just did an interview with Alex a few weeks back, if you’re interested in learning more about her. Oh, and how could I […]

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