Today I am launching what I hope will be the first of many interviews that will provide you with a peek into some of my writer friends’ lives. Today, I’d like to introduce my long-time conference roomie, Carol Riggs, and her newest novel, The Lying Planet, which releases September 19!
Carol: Thanks, Debby, for inviting me here on your blog!
Debby and I met at an Oregon SCBWI retreat many years ago, and we’ve been event roommates ever since. We share a love of fantasy and other speculative genres. We support each other’s writing along with enjoying a great friendship.
I’m an author of young adult novels who lives in southern Oregon, USA. My books include The Body Institute, Bottled, and my September 19 release, The Lying Planet. Hobbies (besides writing): reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with my husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds.
Book Summary: THE LYING PLANET
Promise City. That’s the colony I’ve been aiming for all my life on the planet Liberty. The only thing standing in my way? The Machine. On my eighteenth birthday, this mysterious, octopus-like device will scan my brain and Test my deeds. Good thing I’ve been focusing on being Jay Lawton, hard worker and rule follower, my whole life. Freedom is just beyond my fingertips.
Or so I thought. Two weeks before my Testing with the Machine, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality. The truth. In a single sleepless night, everything I thought I knew about the adults in our colony changes. And the only one who’s totally on my side is the clever, beautiful rebel, Peyton. Together we have to convince the others to sabotage their Testings before it’s too late.
Before the ceremonies are over and the hunting begins.
Debby: I think it’s really interesting to get a peek at the roots of a story. What was your inspiration for Lying Planet?
Carol: This story was born one night in 2010 as I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep, and I thought I heard a noise out in the living room. It was probably our “haunted refrigerator” as we called it—that thing made more noises than a backfiring old jalopy. Whatever it was, my mind started spinning scenarios about What If. I figured this could be the initial pivotal moment of a YA novel, the story about a teen lying in the darkness of his room, and hearing… something. And getting up to investigate.
Debby: Describe your novel in 5 words:
Carol: Terrible secrets. The Machine. Banishment.
Debby: What themes play an important role in your novel?
Carol: I explore integrity and courage, with a splash of romance. Betrayal also factors in.
Debby: Who is your favorite character in this story?
Carol: Jay, the main character; he’s a conflicted hero who desperately wants to protect his friends and two little sisters, but hates how he is forced to go about doing it.
Debby: What was the hardest scene to write?
Carol: The ending scenes, because they involve battles, fighting, death, and other more gritty things that I usually tend to shy away from.
Debby: What scene did you most enjoy writing?
Carol: Jay in the hay barn of the cattle compound with a friend or two. Fun, flirty romance and goofing around.
Debby: Speculative Fiction requires strong worldbuilding. Tell us a bit about the world you created for this novel.
Carol: The planet Liberty has a 26-hour day where noon and midnight occur at 13:00. It has two moons; their magnetic pull causes the water from the underground tables to rise every night for an hour starting at 1:00 am, which irrigates the yards and gardens. It never, ever rains. There are 8 days in a week, Monday through Restday.
Twenty-five years ago Liberty had a war. Now most of the planet is bombed out and covered with deadly genomide dust, which clings to skin and sifts into lungs causing chemical burns and mass killings. The few exceptions are Jay’s colony of Sanctuary, along with the other safe zone colonies of Refuge and Fort Hope.
Turning 18 is a big deal in this colony. There’s a Machine that Tests the teens on graduation day. If they score high, they get rewards like a wristcomm or a hover vehicle. If they score low, they’re branded with a “B” on their foreheads and banished to the outer zones. That’s great motivation to work hard and obey all the strict rules in the safe zones.
Foods include greshfruit, which is a sweet fruit like an apple only softer like a nectarine.
Animals include vermal, similar to coyotes, but more bulky and powerful, and worrels, turkey-like creatures with shimmery bronze wings.
Debby: What is it about this novel that has turned out to be the most meaningful to you?
Carol: The value of not giving up on a story if you really believe in it. Sometimes you can dig out old manuscripts that were shelved and breathe new life into them. In the case of The Lying Planet, it started out as post-apocalyptic dystopian, and in 2015 I changed the genre to science fiction—and I’m really glad I did. I also plowed through numerous revisions with my excellent editor at Entangled Teen, and although it was challenging, I think it’s a much better story for it.
Debby: Describe your early life as a reader/writer.
Carol: I mostly devoured Nancy Drew books, sucked in by the mystery genre, and in retrospect, I think I admired how confident and smart she was as a character. Even today, I love inserting secrets or mystery elements into my own novels. I didn’t read anything more “literate” until my sophomore year of high school, where I had two great English teachers and I fell in love with Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Great stuff! That’s when I also began writing, myself.
Debby: Describe your “Literate Lifestyle” now.
Carol: I used to say I could never read a book while writing one of my own, but now that I’m published and had two novels release in 2016 with overlapping revisions for my editors, I squish in reading whenever I can. I read for pleasure, but also for “research,” to check out the latest in other young adult novels. I wrote one middle grade (ages 8-12) novel last year and had fun with it, but mostly I stick to YA.
Debby: What are you presently working on? What’s next for you?
Carol: I’m writing the final scenes of a fantasy novel that’s a retelling of a rather obscure French fairy tale. I’ve always wanted to do a retelling, and I’m having a blast putting my own creative twist on it. It’s taking on a life of its own.
Debby: How can readers help get the word out about The Lying Planet?
Carol: Reviewing on Goodreads or Amazon is extremely helpful no matter what the rating is, because it shows that people are reading the book; people are generally wary of trying things no one else has. Also, with Amazon’s analytics, having a certain number of reviews enables the book to get mentioned in the “also viewed” or “also purchased this item” areas on the site.
Any form of social media is good for a shout out, whether Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, emailing or talking to friends, etc. Sharing links to my website or bookseller sites works well. Word of mouth is a great way to spread news!
Debby: Thanks so much, Carol, for visiting with my readers here on Literate Lives.
- You can learn more about Carol and her books on her website.
- You can follow Carol on Facebook and Twitter.
- And if you want to be one of the first people to read The Lying Planet, you can reserve your copy here.