Author Spotlight and Interview: THE ELECT by Laura Carter
Today I'll be spotlighting the awesome Laura Carter, who has an upcoming YA sci-fi/dystopian release called THE ELECT. Welcome, Laura, and thank you so much for being on the blog today!
And now, onto the interview!
Laura Wadsworth Carter is a native of Oxford, Alabama, and is a graduate of the University of Montevallo. She received a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2008 and a Master of Education in 2009. When not teaching American history to teenagers, hunting for caffeine, or writing fiction, she spends her time with her musical husband, their hilarious toddler whose energy knows no bounds, and two ridiculous dogs. Together, they live in Huntsville, Alabama.
Summary of THE ELECT:
THE ELECT is a dystopian / sci-fi retelling of David and Goliath inspired by totalitarian governments (North Korea in particular). August, the main character (David) finds himself in a fight to overturn the rule of the Foundation, led by a giant dictator known only to the reader as the Man (Goliath).
Blurb for THE ELECT:
For the past thirteen years, the Foundation has ruled Belstrana with an iron fist and has protected its reign with an army of meticulously programmed child soldiers. As one of those soldiers, seventeen-year- old August has done terrible things to innumerable people, though he wasn’t aware of it at the time. But when one small accident leads to a major awakening for August and three other Young Ones, submission is the last thing on their agenda, and they soon find themselves at the front of a growing rebellion. Embroiled in a fight they have little chance of winning, they soon realize that deception hides behind the most unlikely faces and desperation leads to unthinkable acts. But all they need is a crack, and the Foundation will fall.
One small crack and the Foundation will crumble.
Young Adult science fiction / dystopian
July 14, 2016
Buy THE ELECT on AMAZON:
Buy THE ELECT on AMAZON:
Through no earnest intention of my own, I find myself awake and lying on my back. A network of gray, steel rafters weave across the ceiling above me, and a lacy netting of cobwebs and dust flutter against them from the cold draft in the room. To my right, a Man in Red grips a thick rope hanging from a bell, and he pulls downward with a huff, sending the bell into a fit of clanging to awaken us. Though I would like nothing more than to remain beneath the wool blanket that’s tucked around my chin, my body propels me into a sitting position as a groan escapes my lips. The cool grit on the floor bites into my bare feet, and my bunkmates, a few dozen boys around my age, mirror my movements with almost identical timing. But when they proceed to stand and straighten their bedding, I hesitate.
I’m caught up in a strange cycle that I know I’ve repeated thousands of times, but it feels new today. In this moment, something has changed. I stand up and run my fingers over my cropped hair and release a slow breath. I’ve spent years in this building, sleeping on this very cot, but the memories are wavy, like my mind has been flooded with fog. I press my palms over my eyes, squeezing them shut.
Most of the boys have now begun to change their clothes. None of them speak, and the silence leaves an eerie pall in the air. Across the room, my behavior has caught the attention of a middle-aged Man in Red. I lock eyes with him, and his expression narrows, folding his dark brows inward as he studies my face. It’s my first indication I’m doing something wrong, and I swoop down and tug the sheet and blanket over my cot, smoothing the wrinkles. I glimpse up and see him now speaking to another Man in Red, and they both watch me. The pistols on their hips and the menacing sneer on their faces remind me that they’re here to keep us in line. And right now, I am out of line.
Not wanting to draw more attention to myself, I hustle to the trunk at the end of my cot and withdraw my uniform. I shrug into the routine brown button-up shirt and matching pants and shove my feet into wool socks and a pair of black boots that pinch my heel. As I reach down to tie the laces, a black mark on my right wrist draws my attention from beneath the cuff of my sleeve. I tug the fabric back and see the thick outline of a triangle tattooed into the tender skin above the tendons and veins. The fingers of my left hand trace the symbol as I search my mind for its significance, but I find a murky void instead of a memory.
Annoyed, my fingers tie the laces, and I stand. I’m a few seconds behind everyone else now, and I scan the room to find them all clicking various weapons onto their belts. In the top of my trunk, beneath where my uniform had been placed, I find a sling and several perfectly smooth gray stones. The pad feels worn and familiar in my hands, and I stroke the braided leather handles. Beside me, a pale-skinned boy with dull eyes and a wild patch of freckles attaches his own sling to his waist.
The shrill screech of a whistle cuts through the room, and I flinch. The trunk lid slips from my fingers and slams shut. I suck in a breath and wait for a reaction from someone, but there is none, so I drop the stones in my pocket as though nothing is out of the ordinary. The boys around me are falling into line, and I step forward to join them as we prepare to leave the building, somewhat aware that we should be heading to retrieve our breakfast now.
Just as we begin to move forward, a firm hand grabs my right arm, and I’m jerked to the side. Panic snarls in my chest as a heavy arm pins me against a cool wall, and I struggle to not grimace as the back of my head smacks into the unforgiving cinder blocks. In front of me stands the same short, stocky Man in Red who had been staring at me earlier. His greasy, blond hair is slicked over to one side, and his deep-set eyes are dark and shifty as they bore into me. He wears a scarlet shirt and black pants, and a small golden triangle is pinned to the left side of his collar. As he opens his thin lips to speak, I inhale the scent of stale alcohol and tobacco, and my stomach clenches with nausea. He grabs my face with a calloused hand and squeezes my cheeks so my lips squish together, and I can’t help but feel like an animal being inspected for slaughter.
“What are you doing, boy?” he asks with a sniveling, high-pitched tone. My face drains of blood, and my heartrate picks up speed as the Red’s expression grows more furrowed. The surprise of the encounter has my mind reeling, but I know better than to reply. I feel awake for the first time since I can remember, and I intend to keep it that way.
“What’s wrong with this one?” the Red mutters to himself. My heart pounds in my chest with such speed and voracity that I begin to worry the guard will hear it and my own body will betray me. All at once, the guard releases my face with an apathetic grunt and pushes me towards the door by my shoulder. I’m startled by my sudden propulsion, and I stumble forward into line as relief floods my body.
What are your favorite genres to read/write? I will read pretty much anything (except horror or erotica), but my favorite genre is still young adult. From contemporary authors like John Green to fantasy/sci-fi authors like Amy Bartol or Jennifer Armentrout, I'm just looking for a good story with lovable characters... and a little bit of romance doesn't hurt!
Besides writing, what are some of your other hobbies? I love to travel. Road trips are my favorite, because they allow for spontaneity, and my husband and I try to take one every summer. I also enjoy gardening. Working with seeds and soil and flowers and vegetables is very gratifying to me and is definitely an investment and lesson in patience.
I read on your site that The Elect was inspired by a dream. Would you like to tell us a little about that dream? Sure! Without giving too much of the plot line away, the dream I had was of a young man running and taking refuge in an abandoned warehouse. He was being chased by someone and had these incredible abilities to jump and fight - superhuman strength, if you will. I knew when I woke up that there was something in that dream, a story that needed to be told, so I wrote down everything I could remember. That scene is now in the middle of the book and is one of my favorites.
Which character in The Elect is most like you, and why? I find that I share some similarities to each character, but the one I probably relate to most is Elisa (or at least that's what I hope). She's an optimist - hopeful, faithful, loving, and a little naive. But at the same time, she can take care of business when she needs to. These are all qualities that I strive to reflect in my personal life, even though I'm sure I fail often.
What project(s) are you currently working on? I'm currently working on two novels. The first is the sequel to The Elect. The other is a YA contemporary set in my home state of Alabama. I'm still not sure where either of them are going, but I'm excited to find out!
In your writing process, are you a plotter or a pantser? This actually relates to my last answer quite well. I think I'm a little of both, but I'm mostly a panster. I have a general idea of where I want my stories to go, but often my stories get hijacked by my characters, which is fine with me and often quite a surprise.
Share with us a favorite book quote! As strange as it probably sounds, I don't know that I have one. I'm not much of a quotes person, but if you're looking for a quotable book, one of my absolute favorites is All Over But The Shoutin' by Rick Bragg. His story-telling style is phenomenal, and his understanding of history and heritage in backwoods Alabama (my home state) is just excellent. I'll recommend this book to anyone I meet.
Any advice for other writers? Keep at it, but take breaks. I know you've probably heard it before, but that's what I'm sticking with. It took me 4 years to finish this novel and find a publisher, and I often wanted to give up. But I'd shelve the book for a while to clear my mind and then bring it out a month or two later. Fresh eyes are a necessity, especially when revising and editing. Also, don't be scared to let your friends read it and give you honest feedback - you'll need it.
Any tips for breaking through writer's block? It helps me to rewrite a scene further back in the book. I've found the problem is often not where I thought it was, so going back in the book (as terrifying as it is), opens up more possibilities for pushing past those moments where you want to set your computer on fire. Just make sure you save the first version in an alternate document in case you want to come back to it!
If you could choose anywhere in the world to visit, where would it be? Oh, this is a tough question. There are tons of places on my bucket list. BUT, assuming my budget was unlimited, I would visit the British Isles. Most of my family lineage is from Ireland and England, and I'm a bit of an Anglophile (I teach history for a living). It also doesn't hurt that Ireland and Scotland look absolutely beautiful from everything I've seen!
Great interview, and thanks again to Laura for stopping by the blog today! Your upcoming book sounds amazing! So, take note, people--check this book out on July 14th :)