Scott Westerfeld is the author of the Leviathan series, the first book of which was the winner of the 2010 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. His other novels include The Leviathan series, The Uglies series (which has over 4 million books in print and has been translated into 28 languages), The Last Days, Peeps, So Yesterday, and the Midnighters trilogy. AFTERWORLDS is his newest book.
The Poetics Project: Describe your novel in ten words or less.
Scott Westerfeld: One girl travels the afterworlds, another writes her story.
TPP: What inspired you to write AFTERWORLDS?
SW: I’ve had such a great time in the world of YA, I wanted to write something about this community. About touring, working on novels, and about the ways that we writers talk to each other when it’s just us in the room. And I didn’t think it was fair to write about a novelist without letting the reader know what she was working on, so I decided to include the complete text of her novel as well.
TPP: Was is difficult to write the novel from these two different perspectives/plots while still keeping it cohesive and easy to follow?
SW: The two threads interact, each giving you more information about the other. For example, when my writer character, Darcy, discovers something new, that knowledge works its way into the world of her novel. She gets her ideas from the same place all novelists do, the real world around her. So hopefully the two stories make each other easier to understand, rather than getting muddled up. To know the writer is to know her work.
TPP: What was the process like behind developing the cover art for your novel?
SW: When we shot the video, we took a lot of photos of the actors, thinking to use them on the cover. But nothing quite worked right, because it was hard to strike a balance between the fictional characters and the people in the “real world.” In the end, designer Regina Flath realized that tears played a very important role in both stories, so we went for something simpler—a teardrop and spilled ink.
Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zrQG_5av18
TPP: If AFTERWORLDS was optioned for a film, who could you see cast as Darcy and Lizzie?
SW: It has been optioned, and partly cast, so I really shouldn’t say. But at least one of them should be an unknown.
TPP: Name three songs that could be on a soundtrack for AFTERWORLDS.
SW: “Dancing with Mister D” by the Rolling Stones, “Meet Me in the Sky” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and “Party for the Fight to Write” by Atmosphere.
TPP: What advice can you give aspiring authors? What advice do you wish you had been given?
SW: Genius, honesty, and intelligence are all lovely things to have, but persistence is the only consistently rewarded virtue.
TPP: What do you get out of writing?
SW: I get to build worlds, and to destroy them. I get to commit terrible wrongs, and then right them. I get to watch people go through the most trying and exciting challenges of their lives, and then reach in and make it harder on them. In other words, I get to tell stories.
TPP: What’s your writing process like? Do you listen to music, have the TV on, or complete silence? Can you write anytime, anywhere or do you have to be alone?
SW: I write at the same time every day (right after caffeine) and in the same chair, so my butt knows that it’s writing time. Nothing will make your brain cooperate better than being trained that NOW is the time to write, and that it doesn’t get to do anything else. Make habits your ally.
TPP: What’s the most recent thing you’ve read?
SW:”What If?” by Randall Munroe. It’s a set of seriously scientific answers to really odd questions, like, “If all your DNA suddenly vanished, how long would you live?”
To learn more about Scott Westerfeld, visit his website where you can find links to his social media accounts and tour information as well as frequent updates and blog posts from the author himself!