In my continuing series of interviews with fellow debut authors, I am pleased to welcome Josh Bellin, who will talk about his forthcoming book, Survival Colony 9, and the writing life. (I would like to challenge somebody to ask him about what he is holding in his hands, because he sent me the picture without an explanation and I’m dying to know!)
Who am I: I’m a writer who teaches (I used to call myself a teacher who writes, but then I decided writing defines me most). I grew up in Pittsburgh and, after a few stints in other parts of the country, returned here with my wife and two children. Though technically I’ve grown up, I still love all the things I loved when I was a teen: fantasy and science fiction, monster movies, frogs and toads, the outdoors, classic rock, comic books, and writing and drawing. So yes, I was and am a complete geek.
What is your debut book about: War and environmental catastrophe have ravaged the world, and all that’s left of human society are the survival colonies: small, mobile units clinging to the remnants of past technology as they crisscross a hostile desert landscape. Heat, dust, and starvation aren’t their only enemies. They also must evade the Skaldi, creatures with the ability to consume and mimic human hosts that mysteriously appeared on the planet after the wars of destruction.
Fourteen-year-old Querry Genn, a member of Survival Colony Nine, has problems of his own. The leader of his colony–his father, Laman Genn–is never satisfied with him. The girl he loves, Korah, is someone else’s girlfriend. And six months ago, he lost his memory during a Skaldi attack on the colony. If he can recover his past, he might possess the key to defeat the Skaldi.
If he can’t, he’s their next victim.
Where do you get your ideas: Lots of places. In the case of Survival Colony Nine, two things popped into my head more or less at the same time: the name “Querry,” and the image of a desolate landscape and a group of camouflaged survivors traveling across the waste. I put the two together, and voilà! I had a book. (Well, six months and three hundred pages later I did.)
When do you write best: Daytime, definitely. That’s when my mind’s sharpest. And I’m one of those people who can’t write if there’s the slightest distraction–so no music, no browser open, no Twitter, no nothing.
What are you working on next: I completed a sequel to Survival Colony Nine titled Scavenger of Souls, and my agent’s looking it over now. During this past year’s National Novel Writing Month, I started (but didn’t quite finish) a deep-space YA romance titled Freefall. And I’m just beginning to plan a YA alt-history novel having to do with the events leading up to the Civil War. Very ambitious, lots of research–I feel like I’m back in school again!
Why do you think you’ll succeed in this crazy business: Because I already have. I think success, whether as a writer or anything else, is often defined too narrowly: in material terms, as fame and fortune, that kind of thing. To me, success as a writer means writing. I’m thrilled to have my debut published, and I won’t lie–it would be wonderful if lots of people read it and were moved by it. But even if that doesn’t happen, I’ll keep writing, and that means I’ll keep succeeding.
SURVIVAL COLONY NINE will be published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, on September 23, 2014. You can learn more about the book and its author by visiting Josh’s website at http://www.joshuadavidbellin.com or by following him on Twitter http://twitter.com/TheYAGuy, Facebook http://www.facebook.com/joshuadavidbellin, and Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7393959.Joshua_David_Bellin.
Hey READERS, I would love to hear from you.
Is your MIND FULL of old thoughts or new?