Today we're excited to welcome Jo Treggiari, author of the apocalyptic YA, ASHES ASHES released June 1st!
And be sure to check out her answer for The Zombie Question - she totally scored in our book!
I think travel is such a great way to start looking at life from many different perspectives and exploring cultures that are not the same as my own. I’m not talking about cruise ship travel where you never meet anyone from the country you are visiting, but really opening yourself up to diverse experiences. I don’t know how much my own experiences have affected my stories so far, except that I like to sketch out pretty in-depth backgrounds for my characters even if none of the details make it to the final pages. Grammalie Rose for instance is a WW2 survivor who hid and foraged in the woods in Poland throughout the German occupation. I read books about the -experiences of real-life survivors and bugged my Polish friends for slang terms and nicknames.
Three of my favorite places in the world are Italy, Egypt and Nicaragua and I’d love to incorporate those countries and people into books some day especially if writing them gives me an excuse to travel back for research purposes.
2. ASHES, ASHES has such an interesting premise and a bleak future world, what spurred the idea?
I have a little bit of a nihilistic streak left over from when I was a punk rocker. I’m not sure if having kids has made it more pronounced or less, but be that as it may, I think about the future a lot and humanity’s impact on it. As far as natural disasters go, it’s hard not to be aware of the horror stories in the news almost every day. Haiti, Japan, New Orleans. And of course the Indian tsunami in 2004. One of my dearest friends in the world barely survived that one.
Combining global calamity with a pandemic might be overkill (forgive the pun) but I wanted to write a big adventure story, and I wanted my heroine to be challenged so I threw it all at her. I hasten to mention though that it’s not all unrelenting doom and gloom. There are sparks of hope, and it’s set in the time when the apocalyptic events are still happening. Humanity hasn’t had a chance to catch its breath yet. I was interested to see how regular, random people would deal with that kind of massive upheaval and uncertainty.
Any literary character? Probably Bilbo Baggins from the Hobbit. I like my home comforts but I like adventure and change too. From my book, I’m a mix of all of them, although I have Lucy’s temper and Del’s impatience and restlessness.
4. You seem to have a broad scope of genres – fantasy, punk rock, urban fantasy, dystopian – Do you have a favorite to write?
I like to write YA adventure stories. That’s basically the approach I take to all my writing whether it’s a 24-hour punk rock ramble through the streets of Oakland, California with two feisty girls, or a fish-out-of-water story. So I guess my answer is tag ‘adventure’ on the end of all those genres and that’s what I like to write.
5. What can you tell us about FIERCE and BRINEY DEEP?
FIERCE is a day and night in the messy life of 2 punk rock girls and their attempt to find beauty and meaning in a place most would dismiss as ugly. It’s set in 1983 and I really wanted to explore the amazing friendships teen girls can forge with each other.
BRINY DEEP is a coming of age tale that mixes in urban fantasy, Celtic mythology and great white sharks. I’ve always been fascinated and terrified of sharks, and discovered after the fact that the bay I used to swim in frequently in California was notorious for seal attacks.
The easiest crowd-pleasing dessert I make is pavlovas with whipped cream and seasonal berries. It looks fancy but it’s really easy and surprisingly low-fat except for the cream.
My personal favorite and one that appears at everyone’s birthday is a semi-sweet chocolate layer cake with chocolate ganache icing. If I give you the recipe I’ll have to kill you.
7. You have an impressive background in music. Currently, what’s your favorite on your playlist?
I’m pretty attached to everything I listened to in my 20’s and 30’s which is mostly old punk but I am an Arcade Fire fan and a Bjork fan.
8. Nova Scotia is one of the places we've heard the name but know nothing about. How did you come to live there and what's it like? And what kind of accent do you have, if any?
Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s Maritime Provinces. It’s east of Maine basically, and almost an island though it’s attached to New Brunswick by a narrow neck of land to the west. We came here on vacation and just fell in love with the south shore. We live in a 4-story house perched on a hill and I can see the ocean from my office window. The winters are similar to NY but a little warmer and we get much less snow. We also escape the humidity of NY summers. There is always an ocean breeze. I think it’s one of Canada’s best kept secrets how beautiful it is here. We have a swimmable sea, white sand beaches, and colorful old fishing villages, and Halifax, the main city, has 2 or 3 universities and a very eclectic, international population and fantastic ethnic restaurants. Since I grew up in England, Canada, Italy and California I don’t have much of any kind of accent. The old-timer Nova Scotian accent is fabulous though, sort of a mushy-mouthed Maine, and everyone who has lived here for less than 200 years is called a ‘Come-from-Away’.
And now the zombie question:
9. The boxing gloves are heavy on your hands as you ponder who your opponent could be. You can't see anything through the massive steel box that was crafted by dwarfs and orcs specifically to house this ferocious opponent. Suddenly, you hear a loud crack as the sigils reinforcing the prison, fail. Tense moments pass, sounds explode! Fist-shaped dents appear as whatever is inside attempts to fight its way out. A dangerous silence quivers with anticipation...then WAM! A giant-mutant-zombie Mohammed Ali bursts out of his prison followed by a swarm of carnivorous butterflies and bees. He charges you, fists raised, teeth bared! How do you survive?
My first impulse, although he is a hero of mine, would be to punch him hard in the throat which by the way is a much better bet than hitting someone in the nose or jaw. However upon reflection I would clamber up to the top of the massive steel box, and then ripping open my survival backpack (I have recurring zombie dreams and never travel without it) I would pull out a 2 liter bottle of water and then a 2lb bag of sugar and dump both all over Mr. Ali, and let the carnivorous butterflies have their way with him. Another delving into the bag and I would emerge with a small jar of murderous parasitic wasps which would take care of the bees. And then my helicopter would arrive and whisk me away to safety.
Isn't the answer for the zombie question great! She's brilliant! And good to know about the throat punch. We think our next vacation is going to be Nova Scotia. It sounds fantastic. And even though were especially bummed about not getting that chocolate cake recipe, thanks for stopping by! And look for ASHES,ASHES June 1st.
release: June 1, 2011
genre: Teen Fiction- Apocolyptic
Epidemics, floods, droughts--for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she's rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can't continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There's something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.