5 December 2011


Today I am really excited to have author Audrey Hart joining me on the blog to kindly answer a few questions about her young adult novel The Dig and her writing method. The Dig was released last month - you can read my review of it here or you can head on over to Amazon to grab yourself a copy, so be sure to check the bottom of the post for the links!

Your first book The Dig was released in November. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The Dig is the first book in a trilogy that follows outsider Zoe Calder on her travels through time to Ancient Greece where she discovers that she has special powers. She meets Zeus. Hello crush! And then she endures trials and heads to Mount Olympus with Zeus where she clashes with the clique of gods. They’re all pretty rankled by her budding relationship with Zeus. After all, where did this Zoe come from? Why does she have powers? At school, Zoe understands that her outsider status is her own doing. But here, the tables are kind of turned. And ultimately, she learns a lot about her own power, the power that we all have, whether or not we can, you know, move actual mountains.

A huge theme of The Dig is Greek mythology and the Olympian gods. What inspired you to adapt the gods to be teenagers?
When I meet new people I always wonder what they were like in high school. I think you learn so much about someone when you learn how they evolved, or haven’t. So I liked the idea of Zeus, who has this reputation for being so cold and domineering having had a period in life where he was actually kind of vulnerable. And who knows? Maybe the image he has now is totally untrue and he never did all these terrible things. Or maybe he got fed up on Olympus and eventually turned into the Zeus we read about it books. Teenage years are formative years, and that’s what makes the stakes so high.

Plus, the Olympian gods are such strong characters. It was exciting to me to make the leap that they might have been real people with flaws and baggage like all of us. Then we have Zoe, who can be cynical about people, learning that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. In high school, we all tend to put certain people on pedestals because of their appearances or their abilities. And I like the idea of Zoe dealing with a group of kids who are literally on pedestals. What a great journey for a teenage girl who thinks she’s sort of immune to cliques, to be alone, on Olympus with the ultimate clique of teens. And I think the reason she falls so hard for Zeus isn’t just that he’s, you know, Zeus who’s hot and can fly, but also that through spending time with him, she’s changing her outlook on people. And that’s a powerful experience.

Who was your favourite character to develop and write for in The Dig?
I love Creusa because she’s, to me, the friend we all would love to have. She opens up doors for Zoe, and she also pushes her to be a better person. Creusa is a nymph who’s totally comfortable in her world. She’s not an outcast like Zoe, yet the two become instant friends and communicate really well. She’s spunky and direct and strong, even though she’s transparent and glittery. When I started writing her, I found that I was making her kind of valley girl ditzy and I tore up those pages and started fresh. Creusa is great because she’s so solid, so sincere and I like that Zoe doesn’t brush her off because she’s a cheery, neon little nymph. Creusa is the girl who would volunteer to meet the new kid who transfers to school in the middle of the year. And it’s not because she’s desperate or clingy. She’s just really brave and open.

How long did it take to complete the first draft?
I think if you’re going to write you have to love rewriting. So I would complete a big part of the book, send it off to my amazing editor and then get started on the next chunk. Then, I would get feedback on the first part and apply those notes. Over and over again! All in all, I was working on the book for around six months.

If you were to 'sell' The Dig using a single quote or line from the book, what would you choose?
“And there is nothing more dangerous in this world, in any world, than someone calm, clear and angry.”

Can you give us any clues as to what might happen next to Zoe and Zeus?
Let’s just say that you learn a lot about a person when you travel with them. And Zoe and Zeus have only just hit the road.

What is your ideal writing environment?
Home alone, Macauley Culkin style. I envy those people who can write in coffee shops. How do they do that? I concentrate the best when I have few distractions. Of course, the computer in and of itself is a distraction, but hey, we all need to procrastinate sometimes. That’s why we have youtube, after all…

Do you prefer to plan out the plot-line and scenes or do you just write and see where you end up?
It’s kind of like a road trip. You don’t want to be like ‘At 9:15 AM we will arrive at the Biggest Ball of Twine and stare at it for 30 seconds’ but you also don’t want to get in the car with no plan whatsoever. I’m fortunate that my publisher had a great concept with a solid vision. Since I knew where Zoe and Zeus would conclude this part of the story, it was really fun to color in the details of the journey.

Which authors or characters inspired you when you were growing up?
Let’s see. When it comes to Big Famous Wow Writers, I love Mark Twain because of the way he writes friendship and travel. You can pick up Huck Finn and open any random chapter, and immediately, you’re just right there, on that journey, and I just hope to give my readers that kind of experience. And I love Judy Blume because she’s funny and understands what girls go through as teenagers. I also love Barbara Kingslover. She has an amazing sense of adventure and pacing and her body of work is truly inspirational. Recently, I’m obsessed with Hunger Games (just like you, no doubt) and, of course…

As a debut author, what one particular element to the writing and publishing process has been the most exciting?
It’s so exciting to hear reader reaction. I love the passion of the audience. Sometimes people criticize this generation for not having an attention span, which is completely ridiculous. These readers are smart and they have great follow-through and are wonderfully eloquent. And Backlit Fiction makes it all even more exciting because their business model makes the publication process move so quickly. I feel like I just finished writing a minute ago, and yet that cannot be, because of all the people who just finished reading it a minute ago. Crazy!

Thank you so much Audrey for taking time to answer my questions! If you would like more information on Audrey or her first book The Dig, you can find it here:


Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Oh I love mythology! I think this is such an interesting take. Great interview and congrats on the book!!

Renu said...

Ooh, I love Greek mythology! This sounds like an awesome read. Love the cover too. ^_^ *adds to Shelfari tbr shelf*

- Awesome interview!