Google+ YA Romantics: Author Interview: Emmy Laybourne, author of Monument 14 and Sky on Fire

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Author Interview: Emmy Laybourne, author of Monument 14 and Sky on Fire


Welcome to my stop on the Monument 14: Sky on Fire Blog Tour

I'm excited to be hosting author Emmy Laybourne, who is stopping by to answer some questions.




Jen: I’m so happy that you could stop by and talk about your books!

Emmy: It’s a delight to be here. Thanks for hosting me on my blog tour!

Jen: Sky on Fire, which just came out in the U.S. on May 28, is the follow-up to Monument 14, your debut YA novel about fourteen kids who shelter inside a superstore after an apocalyptic disaster. I see from your bio that you’re also an actor who has done a lot of improv. Is your writing process at all similar to improv?


Emmy: My improv training absolutely plays a part in my life as a writer. When I sit down to write, I prepare myself for what writing guru David Spencer calls the “white hot rush.” I am well fed and well rested. I turn off all devices that might distract me. I put in my ear-buds and play music to set the mood. And then I write and I write hard! That practice of taking care of myself - of keeping my brain in top condition so I can perform well, is one I learned in my many years as an improvisor.

Of course, my training creating characters is another tremendous gift my years improvising gave me. I have a bunch of different exercises I can rely on to help me figure out how a character walks and talks and thinks and dreams!

Jen: That's one of my favorite things about your characters. They really do seem to react to things like kids, which must be a function of your ability to put yourself into their shoes. Acting seems like such a collaborative endeavor – was it tough to adjust to the solitary life of a writer?

Emmy: I love the lifestyle of a writer - but do I miss doing improv? Yes, I do. I miss the surprises. When you build scenes with other actors - finding a story in a collaborative way - you have no idea where the thing is going. I miss the rush you feel when you’re onstage, in front of an audience, and you are truly surprised! It’s an amazing feeling.

Jen:  Well, reading your books is quite the rush itself! Monument 14 begins as a group of kids is riding to school on the bus. Disaster strikes and the kids take refuge inside a superstore and have to find ways to feed themselves, defend themselves, and entertain themselves. Did you do any research on superstores? (I picture you creeping through the aisles with a notebook, scribbling stuff down and laughing diabolically until someone calls security.)


Emmy: You have it exactly right! I spent a lot of time stalking the aisles of superstores and making maps. One day, I was snapping shots of shelving systems in a Wal-Mart once and they sent the “Greeter” over to tell me I couldn’t take pictures. We struck up a conversation and I asked if it was a common occurrence. The Greeter told me there’s a whole meme of photos posted online of the terrible outfits people wear to shop at Wal-mart! Who knew?

Jen: *awkward silence* Once I went out to get milk wearing a coat over PJs.  I blame it on my kids. Speaking of kids, the characters in your books range in age from six to sixteen. What made you decide to include such a wide span of ages?

Emmy: I wanted the older kids to have to take real responsibility for the younger ones. If the youngest kids had been in the 12-13 year range, I think there would have been a lot more bickering about power and rules. I also thought it would be interesting to track how much the little kids understood about the catastrophic events taking place in the world of the story.

Jen: As Sky on Fire begins, these kids -- who have been through so much together -- have split into two groups, one that’s decided to leave the store and another that stays. Without revealing any spoilers, let’s just say that both options are fraught with peril. If you had been in caught in this situation as a kid, which group do you think you would have joined?

Emmy: My blood type is  O+,  so truthfully, I think I would have stayed behind. I would be too terrified that I might inhale the compounds and hurt or kill my friends. As those of you who have read Sky On Fire know, neither choice is actually very safe. Both groups of kids face real danger.

Jen: That's true. I loved the fact that Sky on Fire was told from the perspectives of both groups, so you could see what happened to each. You’ve also recently released a short prequel to Monument 14 called Dress Your Marines in White. Can you tell us a little more about that?


Emmy: Dress Your Marines in White is a short story that’s up on Tor.Com. It gives some back story to the creation of the warfare compounds that make life so dangerous in the Monument 14 series. In it, we meet Brayden’s Dad, who is a scientist working on the project. It’s a very dark  and scary story - maybe even more so than Monument 14. If your readers check it out, I’d love to hear what they think.  


There’s also a second companion story coming out in June. It’s called Jake and the Other Girl, and it will be released mid-June on Tor.com. It tells the story of what happens to Jake after he wanders away near the end of Monument 14.

Jen: Okay, before I let you go, I thought we’d play a quick game. An unspecified apocalyptic disaster has struck. Grab your purse and tell me what you’ve got that might help you survive.

In my bag I found a tiny LED flashlight that actually works, a pack of oyster crackers, and two band-aids.
Actual contents of Jen's handbag.

Emmy: Oh man! I’m in terrible trouble. I have a plain yogurt - so I won’t starve for the first, like, three hours.

I have two back pain pills and one dose of Day-quil. Those will come in handy for, um, back pain and a head cold...

I have several ballpoint pens - I can use those to give myself or someone else an emergency tracheotomy.

And I have some SPF lip-balm I can use to cover my skin with so I won’t get a sunburn?

Let’s face it, I’m doomed!


This is a photo reenactment. I did not ask Emmy to send a picture of her purse contents. I thought that would be weird.

Jen:  Yeah, me too. I already ate my crackers. And, uh, if I'm in need of an emergency tracheotomy, I'll tweet you. Thanks so much for stopping by! This was fun.

Emmy: Thanks for hosting me here, Jen!  I hope you and your readers will stay in touch with me on https://www.facebook.com/Monument14  or Twitter @emmylaybourne. Or both!

You can read Dress Your Marines in White now on the Tor.com website!

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the Sky on Fire blog tour here --  they include the weirdest things Emmy Googled when writing Sky on Fire.



Emmy will be on tour in June with the Fierce Reads authors -- check here to see if they are coming to a city near you. 

Thanks to the generosity of Macmillan, I am giving away a paperback of Monument 14 AND a hardcore of Sky On Fire to one lucky winner. Books can be mailed to US/Canada addresses only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

84 comments:

  1. I love the first book so waiting for this one!

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  2. A lighter, a Swiss Army knife, a flashlite, pepper spray, and chocolate, of course!

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    1. Wow, I'm hanging out with you. You can make fondue!!

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  3. A Swiss army knife!

    Thanks,
    Leanne

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  4. Hmm, not much really. I got some tissues in case I get a runny nose or get cut during the apocalypse, lol. I'm totally screwed, haha.

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  5. Hmmm... Well, since my purse is much more of a mommy bag, filled with crayons, extra pacifiers and snacks, I think I would fail this task.. :P

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  6. NO! I would die the first day! I have NOTHING useful. Gum, cigarettes, lighter, cell phone, keys, money, credit card, chap stick! Yeah, I would die real quick! Thanks for the giveaway!

    Rafflecopter name is: Vannah Batista

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    1. A lighter could be useful -- you can make a fire!

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  7. In my purse I found some old pepermint candy, a wadded up bandaid?(if safe touse) cell phone (doublt if towere would work around here lol) I pack of crackers (kinda crushed) I guess I would not last very long.. but I would enjoy the read.. first..

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  8. I usually have a flashlight and a pocket knife in my backpack. Those should help a little bit.

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    1. HI Carl -- you won Monument 14 from my blog last year!! Glad you're back for the next installment!

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  9. In my purse i dont really have anything that would help me..I got gum though.thats about it.. I cant wait for Sky On Fire to come out..I just got done reading Monument 14 and it was so good!! Thanks for the giveaway!!

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    1. Gum could, you know…. stick things together??
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. Christina K. in the rafflecopter

    Just a flashlight and Kleenex! It's pathetic - a flashlight to see the mess I'm in, Kleenex to cry about it ;)))

    LOVE this series!!

    Thank you:)

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  11. Oh man! I used to carry around like 8 granola bars and a mini magnetic screwdriver and all kinds of sort of helpful stuff. I cleaned out my bag though and now I only have business cards, a few movie ticket stubs, some change and one pen. I did just watch Grosse Point Blank last night so at least I'm reminded how helpful one pen can be during a life or death fight.

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    1. Ha ha -- Emmy kinda scared me with her pen ideas. But I guess if I needed emergency surgery….

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  12. I'm doomed too! The only useful thing I have in my purse is a tiny bottle of water. Atleast I won't be dehydrated :D

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  13. I'm toast. I've got a notebook, pen and a wallet.

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    1. LOL I thought you had toast in your bag. Well, you can write a memoir and if you survive, sell it!

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  14. I'm completely doomed too, my purse has nothing useful in it, ever. Glad to hear I'm not alone. :-) I had no idea Emmy was into improv, very cool! Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. She's so much fun. Were you at BEA today? I think I saw your name somewhere….

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  15. There is a pack of cinnamon bun flavored oatmeal in my purse, (don't ask me why, I don't even know why, lol) I'm not sure how long it would keep me alive! XD Along with my mini flashlight. (=

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  16. I have some money... which wouldn't really help, would it? iPhone also wouldn't help. I usually carry and book and sometimes a water bottle in my purse! That would help a little.

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    1. Yes, no one mentioned cash yet! Water is good too :)

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  17. Emergency sewing kit, tissues, hand sanitizer. Every thing else wouldn't be of any help.

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    1. Sewing kit and hand sanitizer! You can help Emmy do her emergency surgery.

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  18. Oh the People of Walmart website. lol I've seen a lot of pics from there and could not believe my eyes for some of it. O.O That would be a fun thing to research, inside a supermarket. Also, my purse is a scary, scary place. If you could survive off of old receipts, then I'd be all set! lol Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I need to check that website out. I guess you could use receipts to start a fire...

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  19. Heh. I don't have anything. The best I have is my phone, which I'm sure isn't going to help much.

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  20. My flashlight will be so helpful with the power outages!

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  21. Ummm...I have band-aids, so that's nice...
    Hand sanitizer, sunscreen, lotion, lip balm...yeah. No. I'd be screwed, pretty much. Haha.
    At least I'd have a book to read until I died.

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  22. Let's see...I don't have much. I have my inhaler for asthma, I have neosporin for boo boos, tissue, and lotion lol!

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    1. Well, good to have the inhaler and then with the neosporin -- you're set!

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  23. Great interview Jen! I have nothing in my purse to help me survive, but at least I have my ereader to help me forget about all the things around me ;)

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  24. Thank you for the great interview!

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  25. Fun interview...still chuckling at the fact that she's never seen the People of Walmart site. :P I haven't read either of these yet, so thanks for the giveaway!

    As for the contents of my purse: a TON of old receipts, chapstick, nail care set...nothing too helpful there, but I'm sure I'll put them to good use eventually. At least I'd have my Kindle to keep me company till it died. :P

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    1. I haven't seen the site either. Do I want to?

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  26. I still have to get round to reading monument 14! It's sat on my shelf waiting!

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  27. Uh! About all I have are hand sanitizer, nail file & clippers and I don't think any of those would really help. Everything else I know wouldn't help!

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  28. Surprised at the hilarious turn this interview took given the contents of the book-if I only had my purse, I would be doomed because while it is stuffed with things, they are not useful (although there is always a bit of food at least.)

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    1. I'm sure there's something useful in there!

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  29. Loved this post! Going through my purse....I'm doomed too. All I have is a pack of gum.

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    1. Well… gum can … stick things together. I'm sure you could use it for something!

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  30. I have a small mirror in my purse :D

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  31. Love disaster books and I think a superstore is probably one of the best places to be stuck in one. Funny that the store worker stopped her from taking pictures. I have heard of that website LOL It is probably good that the workers are trying to stop people from taking pictures of other people. I just have makeup mostly in my purse LOL

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    1. "I just have makeup mostly in my purse"

      That does not surprise me - you seem like a girly girl!

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  32. I cannot depend on my purse contents for survival. The only thing that is close to being useful is a pair of tweezers, LOL! It could possibly be used as a weapon, although I'd have to get within close range. I also have some Advil, herbal throat lozenges, Kleenex, money (pfffft! not a lot of good that will do!), and a compact with a mirror.

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    1. With tweezers you can help Emmy and Kamla do surgery!

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  33. A lighter! I don't smoke, but I carry one because you never know when you'll need one :)

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  34. Right now...I have a bunch of school books in my backpack and my purse has a pen, wallet, a ring and lip gloss! WOW...after writing all that down..it really looks horrible! lol ;p I'd be completely screwed! *snicker*

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    ~ Maida

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  35. Oh man my purse is a disaster I have pens, notepads, lotion, lighter, swiss army knife, mini-sewing kit, and a can of soda that I didn't know was in there until right now....at least I'll have something to drink I guess? haha I really need to clean this thing out!

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  36. I have a knife (was outside tying up plants) and some pepper spray, humm not looking good is it.

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    1. No -- you're in great shape. You are ready to defend yourself. Or do some gardening….

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  37. Well I was working outside earlier and still have my leatherman in my pocket. That'll come in real handy ;) Thanks for the great chance!

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    1. I had to Google what that was… very useful!

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  38. I have a swiss knife in my bag! :) and a handy-dandy lighter.

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  39. I have a book, lip gloss, breath mints and lots of pens! Maybe that will help me meet someone who can help me! Thanks for this amazing giveaway - I would love to win!

    Suz Reads

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  40. I am a mom so my purse is filled with gum, crayons, lip gloss, wipes, hand sanitizer, sunblock, 4 sunglasses, a calculater, tissue and a small knife. I would be good for the disinfection of hands, chapped lips, runny noses, math, and protecting of eyes and face from the sun and watch out, I am dangerous with a pocket knife lol :)

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  41. I don't really have anything that would help me survive - some ibuprofen? And a book for entertainment. I'm basically toast! Thanks for the great interview & awesome giveaway!!

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  42. I have my new inhaler and my epi pen, some ibuprofen and my tablet and phone. Some pens, post-it pads, gum, keys, id card for work. Though I don't think any of the electronics would do me any good. At least I would have my meds..for a while.

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  43. Just for fun, I just looked in my bag that's beside me on my bed - I have four granola/oat bars that are leftover from my time at BEA in NYC. I don't think I'd survive very long on those, but it would be a small start, right??

    Great to meet you in NYC. It was a crazy time, but a good time. :)

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  44. I've got one of those keychains that does everything and a bottle of hand sanitizer but hey, it's better than nothing! Thanks for the giveaway.

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