Friday, October 21, 2011

Author Interview: Trevor Shane - Blog Tour

Please welcome Trevor Shane to the blog!

The synopsis for Children for Paranoia sounds disturbing and a little scary. Will the events that unfold keep readers up at night?

I actually think that the fear and paranoia aspects of Children of Paranoia will hit people more in the daytime than the nighttime.  In Children of Paranoia, the characters don’t have to be as afraid of what might sneak up on you in the darkness as they do of the people and things around them in the daytime that might not be what they seem and may, in fact, be out to get them.  Besides, in Children of Paranoia, the innocent people are supposed to be safe, so it may come down to how innocent each reader is.
I hope that Children of Paranoia does end up keeping readers up at night but hopefully it will be as much because readers can’t stop thinking about the book as because they are genuinely freaked out.

If you had to tweet a description of main character Joseph in 140 characters or less, what would it say?

Joseph is a normal person trapped in an extreme situation who is slowly learning that, to live, you can’t be afraid to question authority.

The dystopian genre is hot right now. Why do you think people are drawn to books, movies and television set in a dystopian world?

I love dystopian fiction so instead of trying to surmise why other people are drawn to the dystopian genre, I can tell you what I love about it.  I think that, in the best dystopian fiction, the world that you’re pulled into is distinct from the world around us but also seems somehow plausible.  The plausibility doesn’t arise from the facts of that world (I don’t care if the dystopia was caused by disease or nuclear fallout or war or aliens or even if I never learn what caused the dystopia), the plausibility arises from the characters’ reactions to the dystopia.  No matter how outlandish the world is, the characters need to be relatable and real.  As the reader (or viewer in the case of TV or movies), if you can relate to the characters than you can begin to imagine yourself in that world and to wonder how you would react to being put there and how you would survive.  Normal life is full of hardships and problems but, if you’re lucky, those hardships are more abstract and slow; also those hardships are often far too real.  Dystopian fiction helps us cope with those hardships by letting us escape to a place where all that hardship is crystallized and the complex, everyday struggle to stay sane is transmuted into an epic struggle to simply survive.  When the story is really good, you often learn something about yourself and what you think about the world around you.

Children of Paranoia is a unique take on the dystopian genre because it’s not set in a dystopia.  Children of Paranoia’s setting is the everyday world only, unbeknownst to most people, there is a centuries old war raging between two sides in the shadows of everyday society.  So the idea is that, much like the real world, the world of Children of Paranoia is a dystopia for some people even though the masses around them don’t seem to notice.      

Are there any books/authors/movies that influenced your decision to write a dystopian novel?

As I said above, I love the dystopian genre.  I try to mix up the genres that I read but I always come back to this one.  On the big screen, I really like the classics, like Blade Runner and Mad Max.  In books, of ones that I’ve read fairly recently, World War Z by Max Brooks really blew me away (I believe that zombie stories are better classified as a subset of the dystopian genre than a subset of horror) and I’m glad that I read the Hunger Games only after I finished Children of Paranoia or I would have been too tempted to steal from it.  There are a bunch of really great, early Stephen King stories that fall into this genre that I read as a kid, though, and they probably had more of an influence on Children of Paranoia than anything else.  The two that I think about the most are The Long Walk and The Running Man (which is a fabulous story that is nothing like the movie).  Both of those stories create a world that ends up being more dystopian for a subset of the population than the entire world and both stories end up pitting those people trapped in the dystopia both against the world and against each other.  I also have always seen a bit of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in Children of Paranoia.  

What message do you hope readers take away from your book?

I try very hard not to telegraph a message with my writing.  Instead, I try to create a setting and characters that leave a lot of ambiguity so that readers can dig in and find their own message.  The books that take this approach were always the ones that I liked the best and always the ones that stayed with me the longest.  I always thought of Children of Paranoia as a violent book full of decent, sane people.  How readers deal with that is up to them.  What I do hope is that readers are enthralled and totally entertained and that, when they finish the novel, they find themselves almost surprise how much it makes them think and ask questions about the world that they might not have otherwise asked.    

How do you spend your time when you aren’t writing?

I’ve got a two-year old son and a day job (thank god for the day job; it allows me to write without fear).  So, after spending time with my son, writing and working, there’s very little time left.  With what is left, I enjoy reading and watching movies.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your debut novel?

It’s been a really wonderful ride so far, a true dream come true.  I think that best part of being a debut novelist is talking to strangers who have read your book and getting feedback (hopefully positive feedback but I even find some of the negative feedback fascinating).  With Children of Paranoia, what has really been humbling is how almost every reader seems to find something different to cling to.  I’ve seen people call Children of Paranoia a thriller, a dystopian novel, a mystery, science-fiction, a chase novel and even a romance (in fact the romance people seem to be particularly enamoured with it).  I’m not saying that the book pleases everyone (trust me, I wasn’t trying to please everyone when I wrote it), but people tend to like it or dislike it for a very wide array of reasons.  I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.    


Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  1. Nice interview! Children of Paranoia sounds fascinating. I'm intrigued by the fact that the author describes dystopian that takes place in a part of today's society that most people are not aware of. I'll definitely have to check this book out!

  2. Great interview! I have read Trevor's book and absolutely LOVED it! Truthfully, it is one of the very few books that I find myself thinking about even months after I read it. I am normally not one to re-read books, but I really miss CHILDREN OF PARANOIA. (I passed the ARC on to the other lady that works at the bookstore). It is definitely on my To Buy list and I can't wait for the second book.

  3. Great interview. I love how the human spirit triumphs in dystopian novels.