Fresh off the press comes a new novel from New York Times best-selling author Neal Shusterman, renowned author of the “Unwind” dystology.
This new novel is named “Scythe,” the first of a new trilogy dubbed “Arc of a Scythe.” Shusterman conceived the idea and theme for this novel after the death of his mother in 2012.
In the world of “Scythe,” all is perfect: all of humanity’s sins have been eradicated – hunger, disease, war, even death.
In order to keep the population under control, Scythes are tasked with ending life. Two teens, Citra and Rowan, are chosen to serve as apprentices to one of these Scythes. Thus, Citra and Rowan must now master the skills of taking life, or should they fail, lose their own.
On Feb. 10, 2017, Shusterman presented “Scythe” at Books and Books in Coral Gables, as part of his new book tour.
During his presentation, Shusterman kept the audience captivated with excerpts from the novel, demonstrating his unique writing style. In this interview, Shusterman shares his thoughts on his newest novel, and his writing talents.
Q: How does this novel differ from your other book series?
A: Well, every series is different. “Unwind” was more about dystopia, while this series is about utopia, or more the consequences of having a perfect world.
Q: Who is your favorite character in this series?
A: I would have to say that I really like Scythe Faraday. He’s my favorite character so far, at least in the first book.
Q: Why are most of your books Young Adult books?
A: I like writing stories about teenagers. I think that’s the most interesting time in our lives, and I like writing stories about characters that age.
Q: What made you choose the theme of a perfect world? And what do you believe makes a perfect world?
A: That’s something we all think about, what makes a perfect world. And so, I started researching what people think they want in a perfect world, not necessarily what we need, but what we think we want, and I went with that. What made me choose the theme of a perfect world? Because I’m fascinated by where our world is going. I’d rather be writing a story about this than one about when the world goes wrong, which we’ve seen a lot of, and we’re seeing a lot of it happening right now in the world, so I wanted to what happens when the world goes right, and go in a direction that we haven’t seen much.
Q: What struggles did you have with writing this novel?
A: The same struggle that I have with all my novels is trying to make sure that I’m writing something that is thought provoking, and adding something positive in the world that really makes you think, and hopefully think about things in ways that lead the readers into making the world into a better place.
Q: What do you believe makes a good male and female lead?
A: Regardless of the gender of the main characters, they need to be real people. They need to feel like real people, who are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances rising to the occasion. That makes a good character. I have a tendency to like to see stories both from a male and a female perspective, and so I always have a strong female character. If the primary character’s a male lead, I always try to give as much time as I can to the female character. In Scythe, I try to evenly divide it between Citra and Rowan, and so they share the lead in the book, like I did in “Everlost.”
Q: What advice would you have for aspiring writers?
A: I would say write, and write a lot, and keep on doing it. Revise because revision is the most important part of the process. Read, and not just one genre, but read outside of your comfort zone. Persevere. Keep at it and you will get better.
Q: How did you pick the names of your characters?
A: Whenever I need a character name, I go to my Facebook and post, asking who would like to get a character named after them. I usually get around a hundred responses. I’ll pick a first name and pair it up with someone else’s last name. You just have to check in regularly, and be there when I ask for fan names. I’ll make the post, wait for two hours, and then I go and pull the names from people who’ve replied. I’ll be doing the same thing for the sequels, so keep checking. To enter the contest, all you have to do is go online to: facebook.com/NealShusterman
Q: What can you tell us about the sequel?
A: Without giving any spoilers, what can I say about the sequel? Well, the title is Thunderhead, which is the name of the artificial intelligence that rules this world. It’ll be good reading over Thanksgiving. Right now, I’m about halfway finished. There’ll be new characters, there’ll be old characters, and there will be quite a few surprises that you weren’t expecting.
Q: When will you be return to Miami for future novels?
A: It could be November, it could be a year from now. It all depends on when the next novel is done, and when my tour brings me here. But’ I’ll always come back here.
With the film rights for “Scythe” already acquired by Universal, it’s likely we’ll be seeing a lot more Scythe in the future.