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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Interview with Susan Beth Pfeffer and This World We Live in ARC Giveaway!

Today I'd like to welcome author Susan Beth Pfeffer. She is the author of many books for teens, including LIFE AS WE KNEW IT, THE DEAD AND THE GONE and the bestselling novel THE YEAR WITHOUT MICHAEL. Her upcoming book, THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN will be released April 2010. It picks up a year after the devastating meteor crash that came to pass in LIFE AS WE KNEW IT and THE DEAD AND THE GONE. To learn more about Susan or her books, check out her website.

Both LIFE AS WE KNEW IT and THE DEAD AND THE GONE balance a grim envisioning of what the future would hold in the wake of a natural disaster. Yet underlying both books is an undercurrent of hope. Can you discuss your thoughts on the importance of hope in the wake of a global catastrophe?

I am by nature a very optimistic person. I always think things will work out okay. Sometimes I'm wrong, and I can see how being optimistic can blind you to reality. But optimism is just as much a part of me as nearsighted green eyes.

I'm also a very self-pitying person, so if I were stuck in a global catastrophe, I'd be cranky and hopeful simultaneously. In other words, no sane person would want to be anywhere near me.

In any disaster or end of the world themed book, religious issues naturally are going to come into play. The treatment of religion in THE DEAD AND THE GONE and LIFE AS WE KNEW IT differs greatly. Can you give us your thought process on this topic and why you chose to have characters within the dead & the gone turn to religion more so than in the first book?

When I first came up with the idea for Life As We Knew It, I knew I was going to have to deal with religion. You can't end the world without some sort of religious response.

But I decided almost immediately that I didn't want Miranda and her family to be religious. Among other things, I didn't want Miranda to be praying for things to get better, when I knew things would only get worse. So I rejected the idea of faith being the focus of the book.

But I still had to have someone respond in a religious manner to what was going on, so I gave Miranda a friend, Megan, who represents one possible way of dealing with a God who seems to have turned His back. Megan accepts that it's not her place to disagree with God's actions. If God intends for millions of people to die, then she will embrace death.

This attitude seems perfectly reasonable to me, although it upsets lots of people. I do get more angry emails about Mom not liking the president though.

When it came time to write the dead & the gone, I wanted to make the main character as different from Miranda as possible, since both books would be dealing with the same catastrophe at the same time. Since Miranda and her family weren't religious, Alex and his family would be.

I made Alex Catholic because in NYC, the Catholic Church is practically a second form of government. I needed a religion with a strong infrastructure, since Alex and his sisters would have no adult family to depend on.

In this series, there are so many questions unanswered and things left unsaid, especially with minor characters like Chris Flynn or people like Miranda’s father and stepmother. Do you have a clear idea of where you’d like to see this series taking you in the future and how it will all end?

I loved Chris Flynn. I wanted to fix him and Miranda up (don't you think they'd be a cute couple?), but there was no way of getting their paths to merge.

It turned out a lot of kids wanted to know what had become of Dad and Lisa. I was surprised at how much interest there was in their fate. I knew when I wrote the third book (This World We Live In)
that I could only bring back one or two characters from Miranda's life, so I chose to have them return.

We do find out in TW what became of Carlos, Alex and Julie's older brother. But he's the only d&g character (other than Alex and Julie, who are significant characters in TW) we find out about.

Reading LIFE AS WE KNEW IT leaves the reader desperately wanting to stockpile canned goods and prepare for emergency situations. How do you think you’d fare in the wake of a disaster – did writing this book inspire you to put together some survivalist type plans of your own?

I got nothing! I don't even have a working flashlight.

I used to stockpile like crazy, but then I downsized from a very big house to a normal sized apartment. I think I have about a month's worth of catfood and a little more than a month's worth of kitty litter. Oh, and lots of 100 calorie snacks. I could probably live for a year on the 100 calorie snacks in the house, and lose weight doing so. Of course I wouldn't be able to see which 100 calorie snack I picked, since I don't have a working flashlight.

What do you think would be the hardest
thing about trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of a global disaster?

I always find it easier (or so I tell myself) to deal with bad news than to wait to hear bad news. For Miranda, and much more so for Alex, it's the not knowing what's become of people they love that's the hardest.

I used to spend summers in an isolated house on a hill. The only heat came from a fireplace, and when there was a blackout, there was total darkness, which was quite spooky. We also ran out of water on a regular basis and didn't have TV reception, so things could be a bit primitive. But as long as there was a radio with batteries and a working telephone, I could cope.

To be in a world where you don't know what's going on would be horrific. To have no idea if your parents are alive or dead, and therefore unable to grieve for them but unable to have much hope that they'll return is truly my idea of hell.

What types of feedback do you receive from readers? Is there one comment in particular that really affected you?

The positive feedback far outweighs the negative feedback. People really love LAWKI. I was intensely involved with it when I wrote it, much more than I usually am with my books, and people seem to respond to that passion.

A lot of people simply enjoy the story. But there are people who say the book makes them appreciate what they have, their families in particular.
I have no idea how long that reaction holds. But it means a lot to me when I learn, through an email or someone's blog, that they feel that way because of something I wrote.

If there was one messages you’d like readers to walk away from after reading this series, do you know what that would be?

I love making up stories. I just about always start with a What If and move from there. My favorite part of writing is figuring it all out (I do a lot of pre-writing), solving the problems that I've created for myself. My books are story driven, and my characters come from the need to tell a certain story.

So I don't think in terms of messages or even themes. It's just not part of my process.

THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN a sequel to both LIFE AS WE KNEW IT and THE DEAD AND THE GONE will be published on April 1st 2010. For fans of this series, can you share with us a teaser from the book or give us some inside scoop as to what we can look forward to?

Ooh, I just reread This World We Live In last night. So I know everything about it (although my publisher would prefer it if I didn't blab too much about the plot).

I can say that TW goes back to Miranda and her diary, that her father and Lisa return with their baby, and with Alex and Julie from d&g (they've been traveling back east together). Some good things happen and some bad things happen.

It's a shorter book than the other two, and more intense. LAWKI takes place from May to March, d&g from May through December. TW starts in April and ends in July. Miranda is older, darker, sadder, and tougher. And even though I know exactly how the book ends, it gets me every time.

What other upcoming projects are you currently working on that you can share with us?

I've been traveling a lot the past couple of months, visiting schools and libraries, and even had a couple of long weekend vacations mixed in. The only projects I have upcoming are getting my life back in order and returning my kitten to sanity (he gets very insecure when I'm gone). Of course, writing my blog and answering emails takes time.

But mostly, I'm looking forward to a few months of rest and relaxation.

Maybe I'll even find the time to buy a flashlight!

Publication Date: April 1st 2010 by Harcourt Children's

It's been over a month since Miranda Evans has written in her diary, a month of relative calm for her and her family. It's springtime, and with warmer weather comes rain, and the melting of the winter's snow. The shad are running in a nearby river, and Miranda's brothers Matt and Jon leave home for a few days to see if they can catch some to supplement their food supply.

When they return, Matt brings with him a girl named Syl, who he introduces as his bride. But that's not the only shock Miranda and her family have to deal with. A few weeks later, Miranda's father, stepmother, and baby brother show up at her door. Accompanying them are three strangers, a man named Charlie Rutherford, and two teenagers, Alex and Julie Morales. These five people have crossed America together, becoming, in their own way, a family.

Miranda's complicated feelings about Alex, curiosity, resentment, longing, and passion turn into love. Alex's feelings are equally complex. His plans to escort Julie to a convent where she can be taken care of, so that he will be free to enter a monastery, are destined for failure. He wants desperately to live up to his moral code, but his desire for Miranda is too strong. He proposes to Miranda that they take Julie and go to a safe town.

But before Miranda and Alex can go off together, a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and in its aftermath, Miranda makes a decision that will change forever her life and Alex's, and the world that they live in will never be the same.


I have two ARC's of THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN!
If you are a fan of the series or are eager to start reading them, here is your chance to get a sneak peak look at this much anticipated novel.
All you have to do is leave a comment for Susan with your email address.
Bonus entries for everywhere you link/post about the contest too!
Open to all US residents
Contest Ends 1/1/2010


Kelsey said...

Great giveaway! Life As We Knew It is one of my all time favorite books :)

kelseythebookscout at gmail dot com

Nikki @ Bookizzle said...

Awesome giveaway! I really enjoyed Life as We Knew It and I look forward to continuing the series.

Will post on my sidebar as soon as I'm finished! (bookizzle.blogspot.com)

Thank you!
nikkinizzle @ gmail . com

StephTheBookworm said...

Wow, this looks intriguing - would love to read the series!


Kristen said...

I loved the other two books and would LOVE to read this one!!!

dragonzgoil at gmail dot com

PeaceLove&Pat said...

I love Life as we knew it. It put me in distress while reading it. Glad I won some disaster prep kit. haha

please enter me.


Reading said...

Please count me in. I really like Life as we Knew it. Thanks for the chance.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Eleni said...

Nice giveaway! Please enter me :)


Carrie said...


I love this series.....it's one of the most moving and powerful series out there today. It's everything that I love about YA.

and Kim, thanks for hosting such an awesome contest and for the heads up. I'll post it in my sidebar.




Martha Lawson said...

You are a new to me author, and I really enjoyed hearing about your books. They look awesome. I would really like to read them.

I am a follower.

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Jessica B said...

I really enjoyed Life As We Knew It, I'd love to be entered.

I'm a follower.
I'm posting this on my sidebar: shutupimreading.blogspot.com

shutupjessicasreading @ gmaildotcom

Rhiannon Hart said...

*Not a contest entry as I live in Oz*

What a fantastic interview! I loved LAWKI and I'm yet to read TDATG, but I can't wait to get a copy. Thanks again both of you!

Sue said...

I haven't read these, but I'm always looking for a great new series for my teen/tween boys to read. Looks good! Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Van Pham said...

The books sounds great, I haven't read this series yet but would love to start :) Thanks for the giveaway!

van P.

Unknown said...

(I'm Canadian)
Thank you for the excellent interview. I am glad to add another new (to me) author who's books I am definitely going to read. I'm looking forward to buying her series.
Thank you again,

Tales of Whimsy said...

FANTASTIC interview Kim! :)

holdenj said...

Susan, you created such great characters with Miranda and her family and Alex et al, I can't wait to read more about them! Thanks for the chance to win!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Awesome interview, ladies! No need to enter me (I might need to pick this series up at the start). I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

tetewa said...

This would be a new author for me, count me in! tWarner419@aol.com

Unknown said...

Yay! I can't wait for this book to come out in April. I will be getting a copy right away - though, I would an ARC if I could get one, so ... yes! Enter me in the contest!


Andrea said...

Great interview! I would love to win since my favorite book of this year was Life As We Knew It!

annieiskawaii [at] gmail.com

Tweeted here: http://twitter.com/lilbookworm/status/6574123619

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

You did a great job describing all the books and the interview. Life as We Knew It blew me away & got me reading YA again. Dead and Gone was wonderful as well-I can't wait for this one to come out.
buckeyegirlreads (at) gmail.com

jpetroroy said...

Wonderful interview. I love the idea of starting with 'What if"

jpetroroy (at) gmail (dot) com

Corey B said...

Lovely interview about some wonderful books!

doyle dot corey at gmail dot com :)

Kimandcardell said...

I can't wait to read the next book!


Sarah said...

I love this series! I entered to win an ARC on Susan Beth Pfeffer's blog, but unfortunately, I did not win. I would love to try again!


Kerry S. said...

I enjoyed reading the interview. Please count me in for the giveaway!


Jessy said...

I've heard such great things about these books. Please enter me.

tweeted: http://twitter.com/Emma015/statuses/6578958571

findjessyhere at gmail dot com

Teen Zone said...

Susan, I loved both LAWKI and TDATG. I can't wait to read This World we live in and reunite with these characters.

jbeckstead(at)natronacountylibrary (dot)org

Lauren said...

Fabulous interview! Just reread LAWKI and loved it just as much as the first time! Please add me to the contest list :-)


Anonymous said...

would enjoy reading this book...thanks for the opportunity.


Nancye said...

This book sounds amazing!! I hope I win!! Thanks for the chance!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Sydney Lakewood said...

I am SO looking forward to Book 3!

Thanks for the wonderful interview, Susan & Book Butterfly.

susancolebank (at) gmail (dot) com

Jennifer Green said...

I desperately want to win!


Anonymous said...

Loved the first two and can't wait to see what happens next!


Fear Death By Water said...

Hello Susan it's me your ol' pal Fear Death By Water (the name's from The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot). I'm 25th in line to get you book at www.paperbackswap.com ... I bet I can't wait that long though.




Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller said...

Awesome! I've already tried to get an ARC from Susan herself, but I'd love to be considered here too! Having said that, I'm in Ireland, so I don't know if I'm eligable...

Brilliant interview.


Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see these wonderful characters again!

twonickelsoradime (at) gmail

Maddy Myers said...

My English teacher assigned lawki and the dead and the gone this year and I really liked it! I am so glad there is another chance at this world we live in now!

Please enter me!


Gamila said...

I just barely finished the dead and the gone! I'm really happy to know that another book is coming out!

enter me for the contest


nikniknik said...

I am waitinggg for this book to be realesed!
enter me, please.


Elisaveta said...

OMG I think that this book will be quite interesting.I want to read ittt :)

Lindsay Frost said...

I would LOVE to win this!!
Thankyou!! :D:D:D



D Swizzle said...

I LOVE this series!


shm said...

A great series and author. I have read most of her books and attended her session at FAME last year. She is just as wonderful a speaker as she is a writer. I love following her blog too!

I unfortunately did not get an ARC copy directly from her, has my name was not picked from the Bolivean Hat. So, I am hoping to win a copy here!

email: shmann@gmail.com


Unknown said...

I cannot wait to read this book! I've got to know the next chapter in the lives of these people!

+1 sidebar http://owlforya.blogspot.com
+1 tweeted http://twitter.com/justkeepreading/statuses/6650389044

foltzsfantasticbooks at gmail.com

Unknown said...

I love post apocalyptic novels... the first in the series has been on my tbr list for awhile.
Thanks for your thoughts!

Rachel said...

Your books are a huge hit any time I recommend them at the library; we can't wait for This World We Live In!


Julie@My5monkeys said...

this sounds like a good book.

aprilmom00 at gmail.com

wilbarr said...

Wow this book sounds great.

pagebar09 at gmail.com

Unknown said...

I haven't read any of her books but from the sound of it, they are a hit.


Dawn M. said...

I just finished listening to both of these books and I can't wait to find out what happens next. I'm so excited that the characters from both books are meeting in this one.

Thanks! :0)
librarygrinch at gmail dot com

justpeachy36 said...


I haven't read any of her books before. But, this looks like a great series. Can't wait to get started.

Please enter me in the giveaway.

Anonymous said...

Susan, I haven't read this book yet and it sounds amazing! I'll definitely be getting it from the library at least.

Please enter me into the contest. Thanks!

Jill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jill said...

Putting my name in for a chance at one of the ARCs.


Jess Capelle said...

please enter me in the contest- really looking forward to reading the books!
jessicacapelle at gmail dot com

Abby said...

I love the series and can't wait to read TWWLI! (And I so love the creepy covers with the moon... awesome!)

Please enter me! Thanks!!


Pam said...

Hi. I would love a chance to receive an ARC of This World We Live In!

Thank you!


Brittany said...

This would be a new author for me, and I'm definitely interested in new authors, so count me in!

beautifulxdisaster (@) gmail (dot) com.

KC said...

Counting the days until this is released!

My e-mail is sassquatch@rocketmail.com

Kara said...

A lot of people really seem to like this book (those who have a copy already)

Linda Henderson said...

This sounds like a book not to miss.

seriousreader at live dot com

SearingFlesh said...

OMG! My prayers have been answered! I just finished (literally, I just read the last word!) of The Dead and the Gone and I'm blown away! I didn't think that there was anyway that I could have loved the book as much as Life As We Know It but I was amazing!

Hope I get one of the ARCs to read! I promise to be nice and share with others!


SearingFlesh said...

Oh! And I just added a link on my Facebook and Twitter accounts! Spreadin' the good word about a great series!

Anita Yancey said...

I haven't read any of the series yet, but I would love to start. Sounds like some wonderful books. Please enter me. Thanks!


Jacob said...

Life as We Knew It was amazing, cannot wait for this one! (Though I'll have to read dead and the gone first.)


Miss Haley said...

this book looks awesome!! adding to my to-read list!

+1 posted at twitter.com/haleymathiot
+1 posted at http://haleymathiot.blogspot.com/2009/10/contests.html


Sarah said...

I haven't heard of the series, but the book sounds really good! Count me in! :)

two_of_hearts_101 at yahoo dot com

SearingFlesh said...

Oh, I noticed that people were putting the link to their posts! So here are my 2 additional entries:



Also, I just started following you on Twitter! YAY!

Michelle said...

Wow, thank you for the great interview and review. I adored "Life as we Knew it" so much. I actually went out and bought a ton of food storage and meds to keep at the house 'just in case'. Thanks!!

mmillet at gmail dot com

Megan said...

Great giveaway! Count me in.


debijackson said...

I would love to have this book. jacksond@nhr3.net

debijackson said...

follow on twitter

Sunbrarian said...

This is a great series! I enjoyed reading the interview. Susan Beth Pfeffer is one of my favorite authors and I love following her blog.

Karen said...

Oh my gosh! :D I would trade my left lung to win this! I love this series! Gah!


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