Saturday, June 7, 2014

Class of 2014 Day 4 ~ Joshua Bellin

Welcome to the fourth day of Class of 2014! For the next couple weeks, I'll be spotlighting some of this year's debut authors. I wanted a way to celebrate both my high school graduation and one year blogoversary, so I decided to feature authors of the same "class" as me on Reading is My Treasure! (Want to learn more about this event? Go here.)

Today's author is Joshua Bellin! He's the author of Survival Colony 9, a really cool dystopia with monsters called Skaldi in it. From reading the description and Joshua's answers, I have a feeling these monsters are going to be really creepy (in a good way). I hope you guys enjoy the interview and enter to win the giveaway!

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). He taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to writing fiction. Survival Colony 9 is his first novel, but the sequel’s already in the works! Josh is represented by the fabulous Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency.

Josh loves to read (mostly YA fantasy and science fiction), watch movies (again, mostly fantasy and sci-fi), and spend time in Nature (mostly catching frogs and toads). He is the self-proclaimed world’s worst singer, but plays a pretty mean air guitar.

Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

Genre: YA dystopian
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Pre-order: Amazon / B&N
Find it on Goodreads

Querry Genn is in trouble.

He can’t remember anything before the last six months. And Querry needs to remember. Otherwise he’s dead weight to the other members of Survival Colony 9, one of the groups formed after a brutal war ravaged the earth. And now the Skaldi have come to scavenge what is left of humanity. No one knows what the Skaldi are, or why they’re here, just that they can impersonate humans, taking their form before shedding the corpse like a skin.

Desperate to prove himself after the accident that stole his memory, Querry is both protected and tormented by the colony’s authoritarian commander, his father. The only person he can talk to is the beautiful Korah, but even with her, he can’t shake the feeling that something is desperately wrong. And that his missing memories are at the very center of it.
 Gripping and action packed. Just when I thought I knew what was coming, another twist would shock me. Superb!
Heather Anastasiu, author of the Glitch trilogy

 Joshua David Bellin’s YA debut is a spine-chilling, edge-of-your-seat stunner.
Lisa Maxwell, author of Sweet Unrest

  The explosive climax will have you flipping pages faster than you can say “Eek!
Jaye Robin Brown, author of No Place to Fall
Hi Joshua!

Why did you decide to write a YA novel?

First, Kaitlin, let me say thank you for inviting me to appear on your blog! Congratulations on your graduation and on your blogoversary!

To return to your question, of the first three novels I wrote when I was in high school and college, two were YA. (The third was an epic fantasy modeled on my favorite book of all time, The Lord of the Rings.) I didn’t find publishers for either of those first two YA novels, but I always felt comfortable writing YA—I loved the voice, the characters, the energy. And when I had children of my own and they started reading YA, I knew it was time for me to return!

What other books (or movies, TV shows, etc.) is Survival Colony 9 the most like?

People have told me it’s kind of like The Walking Dead, but I watched the pilot just to check, and I didn’t see the connection. I mean, I don’t have zombies! But my book does have a pretty bleak vision of a near-future world, so maybe that’s what people were responding to.

Anyway, in my mind, Survival Colony 9 has little bits and pieces of lots of other books and movies.There’s a parched, desert landscape kind of like the one in the Mad Max films. There are terrifying monsters in the vein of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Thing. But there are also some very powerful family relationships as in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Mindy McGinnis’s Not a Drop to Drink. Personally, I think all novels are that way—we writers soak up the things we see and read, and then our imaginations rework the old to create the new.

I saw in your bio that you like monsters. What kind do you like the most?

Scary ones! And by scary, I don’t necessarily mean “dripping with gore and body parts.” That can be scary—and there’s definitely some of that in Survival Colony 9—but to me, the scariest monsters are those that are almost like us but not quite. Like the creatures in the Alien films—once you get past all the blood and viscera, what really scares you about these things is that they’re uncannily like us: they have a society, they’re predatory, they fight to survive at all costs. But at the same time, they’re not exactly like us; their motivations and desires and feelings are impossible to fathom. That’s scary. It’s like in dreams, where you’re you, but you’re acting and reacting in ways that don’t make sense even to yourself. In my view, that’s where the scariest things come from: not just from the unknown, but from the unknown inside us.

What was one of the toughest parts about writing Survival Colony 9? What was one of the easiest parts?

Can I say there was no easy part? Just kidding! But seriously, the novel went through seven complete drafts, and each time I revised it, I made major changes to plot, character, description, you name it.

But if I had to single out the hardest part, I’d say it was making the world consistent. You don’t realize how hard it is to create a world until you try it! Getting all the details right, making sure everything was logical in terms of how people would live and act under the circumstances—really, really hard. Thank goodness I had my wonderful agent, Liza Fleissig, and brilliant editor, Karen Wojtyla, to point out where things weren’t working and to push me to make the world even better.

I’d say the only easy part was a chapter I wrote where I knew exactly what I wanted to happen and my fingers could barely keep up with my thoughts as I was typing. I won’t say that chapter “wrote itself,” because I did go back and make some changes later on. But I think the original drafting of the ten-page chapter took me about twenty minutes!

Where have you drawn the most support from in your writing career?

Great question! The answer is, I’ve needed the support of so many people I can’t begin to count them. My family, to start with—my parents when I was younger, and my wife and children now, have given me the encouragement, the time, and the faith I need to be a writer. Then there are all my teachers, from grade school to grad school, who read my work and who took me seriously enough to offer not only praise but genuine criticism. In my professional life, I’ve relied on hundreds of friends, editors, agents, bloggers, and others, either people I know face-to-face or people I’ve only met through Twitter (like you!). And this is going to sound incredibly corny, but the truth is I draw support from my readers, even if I’ve never met them. I write because I love to write. But I write for publication because of my readers.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received—writing or otherwise?

Last year, I had the incredible privilege of introducing James Dashner, author of the Maze Runner series, and something he said in response to the very same question struck me, so I’m going to recycle it here! He said that as a writer, it’s important never to make enemies, always to look for connections. Some writers do crazy things like write nasty emails to people who didn’t like their books or tear down other writers in hopes of building themselves up. But that’s a bad way not only of managing a writing career but of living a life.

The only thing I’d add to what Dashner said is that it’s probably not possible, in writing or in life, never to make an enemy. It’s unavoidable that conflicts will arise, and sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in. But it’s certainly possible to try to make connections. That’s something my narrator, Querry Genn, learns: sometimes, the people you think are your enemies turn out to be your friends. So you have to be very careful not to damage relationships that might end up being what you rely on to survive.

Thank you for answering my questions!

Joshua has offered to give away a signed ARC of his book! (Thank you, Joshua!) The giveaway is US only and ends on June 22nd @ midnight PST. I will announce the winners on Twitter and will send emails to the winners. If you win, you have 48 hours to respond and claim your prize. 

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you enjoyed the interview and giveaway. Come back tomorrow to read a snippet of the fall release I'm most excited for and enter to win a swag pack the author is giving away.

Hint: Her release is my computer background. Yes, this is a real hint because I mentioned it in a post. ;)


  1. I like monsters in books, makes it fun and dangerous. My favorite type of monster would have to be, as cliche as it is, vampires because they can range from the sparkling beauties to evil, deranged bloodsuckers. I just feel like the author can take a creative spin on them that makes it unique to his/her story.

    1. I like vampires too. :) There's so many things that an author can do with them.

  2. Awww, this sounds like a really cool read. I'm really a fan of premises like this - bleak world, enemies within our midst, scary monsters and otherworldly monsters that are somehow like us but not quite ;) I definitely can't wait to read this now. Such a shame that the giveaway is US only! Would have loved to participate. Best of luck to the participants!

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

    1. I'm so glad you're interested in this book! I'm really interested in reading about the monsters.

  3. Scary monsters? Yes, please. Just as long as they don't live under the bed. Thanks for the give away!

  4. I enjoy reading about monsters in books for sure! I like something "different", unique. The creepier/more plausible, the better!

    1. Same here! The creepier, the better.

  5. I love monsters. I absolutely love haunting and creepy ones because they give me chills!

  6. I love monster books. There not as scary as real people though.

  7. I like the advice that he shared. So true, and sometimes hard to stick by.

  8. I am not that much of a monster person, but I like them in certain books, shows or movies, such as in fairy tale based themes.

    1. Monsters in fairy tale based themes can be pretty cool. :)

  9. This sounds like a really good read. I haven't read a story like this yet. The monsters that he describes sound like they be an interesting, dark element to the story. I like monsters who are meant to scare you at first. The writer of the novel, movie, tv show builds these creatures to scare you in the beginning, but then they show you a different side of them. The writer forces you to look at them in a new light and think that perhaps there's more to it then meets the eye. I'm curious to see how this novel portrays its monsters. Looking forward to its release.

    1. I'm glad you're interested in this one. :)

  10. I like monsters. My favorite kind are the misunderstood kind. I'm just a sucker for a good background story.

    1. I like a good background story too. :)

  11. Sounds like a book i would enjoy. I'll check it out. Great interview!


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