I'm excited to bring to you an interview with Jeanne Ryan for my stop of the Charisma blog tour! I posted my review of the book a few days ago. (Miss it? Read it here.) I really liked this one, so I hope that this interview will make you a little more excited to read the book!
Thank you to Penguin for hosting the tour.☺
Publication Date (US): March 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Dial Books
A chance at the ultimate makeover means deadly consequences in this Sarah Dessen-meets-Robin Cook thriller
Aislyn suffers from crippling shyness—that is, until she’s offered a dose of Charisma, an underground gene therapy drug guaranteed to make her shine. The effects are instant. She’s charming, vivacious, and popular. But strangely, so are some other kids she knows. The media goes into a frenzy when the disease turns contagious, and then deadly, and the doctor who gave it to them disappears. Aislyn must find a way to stop it, before it's too late.
Part medical thriller, part social justice commentary, Charisma will have readers on the edge of their seats.
I found Aislyn to be a really relatable character. How much did you relate to her as you were writing the book?
It makes me super happy to hear she’s relatable. I certainly felt a kinship to her struggles with shyness, even if mine hasn’t been as extreme as hers. For her scene on stage, all I had to do was remember my own fear of public speaking to recreate her panic attack. On a different note, I could also relate to her protective feelings toward her little brother, since I’m a big sister with ten younger siblings.
Describe some of the other characters from the book. Which one (if any) was the most fun to write?
- Evie is Aislyn’s loyal, pragmatic, outspoken, and fashionable best friend. I especially enjoyed writing her sassy dialog.
- Sammy is Aislyn’s wise-beyond his years little brother, who suffers from a disease that will hopefully be cured via gene therapy one day. He brought out my mama-bear instinct.
- Jack is calm, attentive and crazy about Aislyn. (The feeling’s mutual.) It was fun to see how long he’d put up with Aislyn’s personality changes before snapping.
- And my favorite character, because he was the most fun to write, is Shane, an obnoxious-on-the-outside, sweet-on-the-inside guy who suffers through many of the same trials as Aislyn and becomes her staunch ally.
Shane was one of my favorites! I loved how sweet he turned out to be.☺
If you were offered a dose of Charisma, but didn't know about the deadly side effects, do you think you would take it?
Well, I’ve had to think about this a lot, both while writing the book, and now when folks ask me. What I’ve concluded is that I would not have taken it as a teen, since I was pretty chicken and would’ve found such a drastic change to my personality way too threatening.
As an adult, if the drug were untested and therefore the side effects unknown, there’s no way I’d take it. However, if it had been thoroughly tested and proven to be safe, I’d probably try it, especially if the effects were temporary. It would be fun and fascinating to see things from an extroverted, rock-star point of view. Even so, I’d probably want to return to my quiet ways at some point since I cherish alone time for writing and thinking.
What was the weirdest thing you looked up when researching for Charisma?
I’m not sure this will qualify as “weird”, but the most stunning thing I found in my research was that in seeking viruses to deliver gene therapy, scientists have experimented with one of the most vicious viruses of them all – HIV. In fact, they’ve used a disabled form of it to work on treatments for cancer and HIV itself. I think it would be such an amazing turn of events if one of the most brutal killers of the past thirty years were used to cure itself and other horrible diseases.
That would sure be ironic!
What is your favorite thing about writing suspense and thrillers?
That I get to write in a genre I love to read! As for the craft of doing so, it’s a fun challenge to figure out how to get the drumbeat going, and then pick up speed until Wham!
Thanks for answering my questions!
I’ve lived all over the world, raised in a family with eleven brothers and sisters. I spent my early childhood in Hawaii and the rest of my growing-up years trying to figure out a way to get back there, with stops in South Korea, Michigan and Germany along the way. Before writing fiction, I tried my hand at many things, including war game simulation and youth development research. But I decided it was much more fun to work on stories than statistics.
These days, I still love Hawaii, but have found my home under the moody skies of the Pacific Northwest.
What do you think of the interview? Is Jeanne's new book one you're interested in reading?