Thursday, February 27, 2014

Interview with Lynne Matson

Recently I had the opportunity to interview the adorably sweet Lynne Matson about NIL, her YA light-sci-fi that's set to pub March 3rdYeah. That's right. It pubs in like four days. In hours and minutes and seconds, that's like...

*squinches up face*

Oh forget it. I stink at doing math in my head. The thing is, it's coming really soon. And you're going to want to read it. In case you've been hiding under a rock, here's a little bit about NIL (Macmillan/Henry Holt, 2014):

On the island of Nil, the rules are set.  You have one year. Exactly 365 days--to escape, or you die. 

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing Charley remembers is blacking out in an Atlanta parking lot, and when she wakes up, she’s naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley hunts for a way out. She discovers desolate beaches and human remains, but no sign of civilization--until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with hidden dangers, their greatest threat is time.

Think SURVIVOR meets LOST and THE MAZE RUNNER, add a lot of feels, and then strap in for a bumpy ride.

So who is this Lynne Matson I speak of?  Hum?  Read on, dear readers:

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Sure! I grew up in Georgia in a house full of books and a backyard full of gnarly pines that backed up to a cow pasture. Back then, I'd stay up late, reading Nancy Drew books under the covers (with a flashlight . . . a weak attempt at ninja stealth). I thought I’d be a journalist…or maybe a reporter, but I ended up being a lawyer. After my first son was born, I cut back my hours, and after my second son was born, I ended up quitting my law job altogether. Now I’ve got the best job(s) ever: being a mom to four cool boys, and writing young adult fiction. WIN!:)

Oh, and I still stay up late reading books and writing them. When I don’t have a book in my hand, you’ll find me listening to music, messing around with paint, or hanging out with my husband and our four boys . . . or all of the above.

What drew you into the young adult genre?

THE FEELS. Seriously, I LOVE young adult fiction because everything is so raw, so fierce--every first is so powerful, and every emotion is at its height. I can’t imagine writing anything else.

What is your writing process like?

Me, I’m a panster all the way! I get an idea and then run with it.

It goes like this: I get an idea--like what if a girl woke up naked and alone in a mysterious red rock field?! and it turns out she’s on an island…where she has to escape or die?. Once I get an idea, I run with the what-if. I figure out the ending and then fill in the middle. Once I have a first draft, then I go back and fill in plot holes, adding threads to tie sub-plots together and deepening the story, and character. 

Where is your favorite place to write?

Either on our screened-in porch, or in our sunroom. Always a place with lots of natural light.

Is there anything in particular that gets you in the writing zone?

Music! I can’t write without music. I do my best brainstorming while walking or running and listening to tunes. I also play music while I draft and revise. Sometimes it’s alternative music (some of my faves are 30 Seconds To Mars, Silversun Pickups, Snow Patrol, Rise Against, and Kasabian), but I also love the singer-songwriter vibe (like Jack Johnson or Hannah Trigwell), electronic ,or classical.  Nothing is off-limits!

Do you ever get writer's block? Any tips to get past it?

Yes. I think every writer suffers from it from time to time; it’s just part of the process. What works for me? First and foremost, reading. Reading reminds me of why I love to write, and inspires me EVERY TIME.:) And the sure-fire cure? Writing. I make myself sit and WRITE. Getting words on paper--even if they’re not the right words--cures the block too.

Was there ever a time that you considered giving up on your aspiration to write?

Honestly, no. Yes, there were times the rejections were painful, and crushing. But I loved my stories and believed that one day someone else would too.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

How long do we have?! lol Anne McCaffrey, Mary Pearson, Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, Kasie West, Lois Lowry, J.K. Rowling, Gayle Forman, Laini Taylor, Veronica Rossi, Tahereh Mafi…I’ll stop now.:)

What advice would you give your younger self?

Oh my gosh--great question! I’d tell myself to worry less and live more, to not be afraid to dream, to take chances and pursue my passions. And, to take astronomy in college (that’s the class that led me to my husband).

What was the hardest part about writing this particular book?

The hardest part was keeping every character’s days straight. I had an entire Day Chart, tracking Thad’s and Charley’s and everyone else’s. I couldn’t just remember them all; I constantly checked and re-checked my chart. My poor copy-editor suffered greatly with all the Days of NIL.:)

Can you tell us a little bit about your hero/heroine?

Sure! NIL is told from a dual POV: Thad, and Charley. 

Thad’s the veteran. When the book opens, he’s been on Nil for 267 days, and the daily survival has taken a toll on him. The reader learns a great deal about the island through Thad’s eyes. Charley, on the other hand, is the newcomer. The reader experiences the newness of NIL through Charley as she first arrives on the island, without the filter of experience.

Oh, and Thad’s Canadian, while Charley is American. Because as a reader learns quickly, the island of Nil pulls people from all over the globe.

Did you base your characters on anyone in particular?

Actually, no. Charley was inspired slightly by Gabrielle Reese, the pro beach volleyball player, but Thad is just Thad.

What other projects do you have coming up?

I’ve got another book in my agent’s hands as we speak, and hope to have news soon! And I’ve been toying with a NIL sequel….:)

Thanks for having me Marci!!!

My pleasure, Lynne!  I can't wait to get my hands on this book!


Lynne grew up in Georgia in a house full of books and a backyard full of gnarly pines. Back then, she'd stay up late, reading Nancy Drew books under the covers (with a flashlight . . . a weak attempt at ninja stealth). Now she still stays up late reading books and writing them. When she doesn't have a book in her hand, you’ll find her listening to music, messing around with paint, or hanging out with her husband and our four boys . . . or all of the above.

You can order a signed copy from her local indie at The BookMark

Also, NIL is also available from these lovely booksellers: Amazon

Find NIL on Goodreads

Author Links:  Lynne's Twitter, blog, and Facebook 

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