Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Interview: Lara Morgan, author of the Rosie Black Chronicles

Today I'm please to have Lara Morgan, fellow writer and author of the fabulous Rosie Black Chronicles, Genesis and Equinox. It's one of the few YA series that's been heavily influenced by sci-fi around at the moment and Genesis is a fantastic read. I can't wait to get stuck into the follow up, Equinox, which has just been released.

For now, I'm pleased to talk to Lara about writing the chronicles, and in particular, how she was inspired by weaponised diseases and how they are used in the books.

The second book in the Rosie Black Chronicles, Equinox, has just been released. How did you feel writing it, compared to Genesis?
You know I hoped it would be easier, because I had the world created and knew the characters well, of course it wasn’t. There’s a certain anxiety that goes with the second book in a series. The worry that it’s going to suffer the dreaded mid trilogy slump and not be exciting enough, so I had to put a lot of effort into making sure I upped the stakes for the characters and kept the plot moving, throwing new people and ideas into the mix to create good plotlines for the book three. Equinox went through a lot more editorial changes than Genesis – and definitely for the better – and I came out of it really happy with the result, but boy there were some tearing hair out moments  

What inspired you include weaponised germs in Genesis, and does they continue into book two? 
You’re talking about the MalX disease of course and yes it is still a big part of book two and will continue on in three. I was inspired to look at that weaponisation of germs because of research I had been doing, and theories I’d been reading about the way diseases may mutate in the future. The raising of sea levels and changes in our weather patterns could see the rise of new strains of diseases we’d thought under control, or the resurgence of disease we had thought extinct. So I thought about how really terrible people, seeking power, might use that to their advantage.

What are some infamous instances of weaponised diseases in real life that inspired you?  
There wasn’t any famous instance that inspired me, but using germs as weapons is nothing new. It’s a kind of biological warfare. Think of the napalm used in Vietnam or anthrax which has been used by terrorists today.

Do you have a science background, and did you do a lot of research when planning this series? 
I don’t have a science background, I’m definitely more an amateur than academic in that field so yes, I did a lot of research. I am very interested in science, and becoming more so as I get older and have amassed a collection of books on physics and mars and global catastrophe. I am also very much into reading some of the science magazines which have fascinating articles on the most recent advances. I don’t always understand all of what I’m reading, but luckily I have a good friend who has a PHD in astrophysics so I can harass him for lots of answers on all things space related. We have a running joke about what a black hole is. He’s probably rolling his eyes right now if he’s reading this.

I read that you consider the Rosie Black books to be dystopian rather than sci-fi. Does Equinox include space travel like Genesis, and what are the dystopian themes in Equinox? 

Equinox takes place on Earth, but there is reference to space related themes. Rosie’s world is very much tied up with outer planet colonisation and space travel so some part of all the books is tied into that. As for the dystopian element, I think that is really reflected in how the world is structured and the unequal distribution of wealth and resources. It’s a very closely monitored world with a lot of surveillance – the idea that ‘Big Brother’ is watching both in the Senate and Helios – and unless you’re wealthy you don’t get much water or food and life is quite a battle. It’s classic dystopian in that way.

How much presence does Helios have in Equinox? 
Well they are the ‘Big Bad’ of the series so they play a large part in Equinox. In this book readers will find out a bit more of what they’re about, what they might want, and meet some of the people inside the corporation. I can’t say too much or risk giving things away, but let’s just say they are definitely not going away anytime soon and Rosie is really going to have to watch her back. 

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