Series: Passenger #1
Published on January 5th 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.
In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever
Check out our interview with Alex Bracken, and enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post!
Curious about what Passenger looks like nekkid? Peep the Novel Nudity post HERE!
Which do you find the hardest to write, the first or the last line of your novels? Why?
The first line, for sure. I almost always know exactly how my books will end before I start drafting, sometimes to the point that I put the last line in the document and write toward it. For whatever reason, my brain hates working on beginnings—I think it all ties into a fear of failure, that somehow the story won’t live up to how I imagine it. But I’ve learned how important revision is over the years, so first lines are a lot less frightening to me now. I put down whatever I think works, even if it slightly sucks, and give myself time to think about how to fix it.
Which comes first in your writing process, the title, or the content of you story? (Do you always know what your book’s title is going to be?)
It’s usually the voice and personality of the main character, actually! I build the stories off of them: what they’re frightened of, what they’re struggling with, what their world looks like. Speaking of titles, can I even tell you that Passenger is the only book I’ve ever written that hasn’t undergone a million title changes? I think I’ve tortured my editor with a thousand suggestions for The Darkest Minds series over the last few years. I have no title mojo!
Let’s talk character names. How do you go about selecting names for characters in your book? Do the names you pick have any significance to you, or do you ever feel inspired by a name?
I’m such a name nerd! I love browsing behindthename.com and looking at meanings and origins just for fun. Some characters arrive in my brain fully named, but others I have to fight hard for. For instance, I knew I wanted an “old-fashioned” name for Etta, and I wanted her to use the nickname of a feminized male name (super specific, I know) for, um, spoiler reasons, but I also wanted a name that would fit in modern New York City. Passenger was really, really fun name-wise, because I actually got to consult name popularity charts for people born in earlier centuries and decades for all of the different travelers.
I also like to borrow family names and insert little inside jokes for myself and friends (and clever readers!) to pick up on. A good example of the latter is that all of the Orange characters in The Darkest Minds series have names that tie into the color red—my very, very small way of signaling that the Orange characters really should have been designated Red aka the most dangerous. And Chubs’ real name, Charles Carrington Meriwether IV, uses two of my uncles’ names!
How do you plot your books, do you write it down on paper/index cards/etc, or do you write on the fly? Do you ever find that your plot changes as you write, or does it stay pretty close to how you planned it?
I’m what a lot of people would call a headlights planner, meaning I usually have a pretty rough outline of where the story is going and I outline scenes as I reach them to make sure I’m not leaving any crucial elements out. I usually do this right before bed, in a little notebook I keep on my nightstand, so I always know what I’m working on the next morning.
My plots do usually change as I write, alas! With Passenger, and now it’s sequel, Wayfarer, I’ve changed locations and time periods to better suit the plot, and I’ve been known to condense and completely cut whole elaborate scenes I’d already planned out for taking too much time away from the central plot. The only ending that’s ever truly changed for me is the ending of Never Fade, book two in The Darkest Minds series, which I must have rewritten at least three different times and set in three different cities.
What’s in your “Author Survival Kit”? (Pens, Caffeine, iPods, Prozac?)
Spotify, a cup of coffee, a plain spiral notebook, M&Ms, Mac Freedom, and, in moments of true desperation, Mountain Dew.
What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
Travel to South America
Cook a full Thanksgiving meal by myself
Write a picture book
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
*whispers* My secret shame, Spaghettios.
What is something you never leave home without?
My iPhone, not because I have to check emails or tweets or text, but because I am as helpless as a duckling without the compass app and Google Maps.
What are the last 3 books you enjoyed reading?
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Martian by Andy Weir
Winter by Marissa Meyer (reading this right now with hearts in my eyes)
What are 3 words you’d use to describe yourself?
Loyal, goofy, and creative.
Do you have a favorite hobby/pastime?
I love flower arranging and gardening, but I never have time for the former and seem to have some kind of cursed placed on me when it comes to the latter. I have whatever the opposite of a green thumb is, but I love it.
Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what is it?
Figuring out the endings of books and movies within the first three chapters/thirty minutes.
THIS OR THAT?
Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunsets—night owl, here.
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee (with almond milk creamer!)
Hot or Cold?
Hot! I am a desert child, so anything under 65 degrees registers as freezing to me.
PC or Mac?
By Land, or by sea?
I have a deep fear of the ocean, so… land?
Half-empty or Half-full?
Autumn or Spring?
Spring, because it means Summer is coming.
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