Welcome to the last installment of our BCM Author Spotlight of Lisa M. Stasse, author of THE FORSAKEN. She is joining us this week to give a little inside info into life in the UNA and on The Wheel. If you haven't yet read the book yet, no worries, this post shouldn't spoil anything for you. Enjoy!
If you are new to this month's spotlight, be sure to check out the other posts from September. Links are below:
Life in the UNA and on The Wheel
by Lisa M. Stasse
So this guest post is going to be relatively spoiler free, but it will probably make the most sense to those of you who have already read THE FORSAKEN. I thought it might be fun to write about the two major settings of my book: the UNA (aka The United Northern Alliance--the merger of Mexico, The United States, and Canada in a dystopian future) and The Wheel (the harsh prison island that my heroine Alenna Shawcross gets exiled to). Neither place is exactly what it appears to be at first. The UNA claims to be a perfect society that has developed a test (the GPPT) that determines whether teenagers are sane or whether they harbor secret subversive and violent tendencies. The sane teenagers get to stay, while the kids who fail the test are termed "unanchored souls." They lose everything and are immediately banished to The Wheel. But of course this test is rigged, and Alenna soon finds herself getting exiled to the prison island even though she hasn't done anything wrong.
The Wheel is also not what it seems. Alenna has been told her whole life that it's a place for crazy, rebellious and deranged kids. But of course when she gets there, that's only half of the story. While there are indeed some very dangerous and scary kids on the wheel, there are also quite a few normal ones, and a bunch of different tribes vying for control of the island. And there are also some other huge surprises waiting for her on the island as well.
In writing THE FORSAKEN, it was one of my goals to come up with new twists and turns, and hopefully surprise (and shock!) readers. I based a lot of the UNA on the USSR. I spent some time in Russia when I was in college, and it was really disturbing to hear stories from people there about what life was like for them growing up. There was no free speech, and people would often disappear without a trace. Most people were scared of their own government. As for the The Wheel, I researched a lot about unusual prisons (including Panopticons--these incredibly creepy circular prisons) and also tropical islands. I was trying to imagine what the most terrifying kind of prison might be--one in which innocent kids were hunted by maniacs, and machines controlled everything else. But like most prisons, The Wheel has its secrets.
I suppose the major surprise in THE FORSAKEN is the connection between the UNA and the masked leader known as The Monk who controls The Wheel. But I won't say any more than that, because I don't want to ruin the surprise! I think the TV show LOST was a big influence on me in coming up with The Wheel. I love the way that the first three seasons of that show really kept me guessing about what would happen next, and what the island really was, and whether I could trust the characters or not. LORD OF THE FLIES was also a big influence (along with the obvious dystopian ones, like 1984 and THE HUNGER GAMES). I love surprising my readers, because I love books that surprise or startle me, so hopefully I achieved that at the end of THE FORSAKEN.
Anyway, feel free to write me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think, or find me on Twitter at @LisaMStasse and say hi! Thanks again!