Hello, everyone! Today we are thrilled to host Megan Crewe, author of YA supernatural novel Give up the Ghost, and the apocalyptic Fallen World trilogy. We loved the first book in the trilogy, The Way We Fall, and were very excited for the release of the second book in the series this month. Here to talk about The Lives We Lost, we are very excited to have a chat with Megan!
Please give it up for Megan, everyone!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Last year we had the pleasure of interviewing you about the first book in your Fallen World series, The Way We Fall, and we’re thrilled to have you back for the release of The Lives We Lost.
Describe THE LIVES WE LOST in three words:
Megan: Harrowing, transformative journey.
The Book Smugglers: Unlike the first book – which was much more of an insular story, both emotionally and geographically – in The Lives We Lost, the deadly virus has spread beyond the island quarantine to the mainland. Can you talk a little bit about this shift from internal to external, from a thematic or plotting perspective?
Megan: Before I even started writing The Way We Fall, I knew that the story of this pandemic had two parts: one in which Kaelyn’s world falls apart (from her limited perspective on the island) and one in which she has a chance to go out into the wider world and try to pick up the pieces. The Way We Fall was always meant to be in some ways a more personal story, of how a person survives not just physically but emotionally in the face of that much loss, and the sequel (which ended up becoming two books) is the story of how a person who has made it through all that can then reach out and change the lives of others. Though of course Kaelyn still deals with a lot of internal conflict as she discovers just what state the rest of the world has been left in.
It felt like a natural growth to me to give the characters bigger goals and more ground to cover in the second volume. I find I’m often disappointed by sequels that don’t seem to add much to the overall story, so it was important to me to make sure my own sequel took readers new places, both in terms of plot and themes.
The Book Smugglers: Because the focus moves from the isolated island to the mainland, we also start to see more classical dystopian elements at play (the unravelling of civilized society, etc). Are there any books or other inspirations that shaped this second installment?
Megan: I got some great inspiration for both The Lives We Lost and the third book in the trilogy from the TV series Life After People, which gave me many examples of what sort of environmental problems Kaelyn’s group might face in a world where most of the inhabitants are gone, and those still left have mainly abandoned the infrastructure of modern civilization. I’m also very glad I stumbled on a reality show called The Colony, in which the participants are put in a post apocalyptic scenario and have to scavenge and cooperate to survive. It suggested some possible technological solutions to problems that had come up when I was figuring out how Kaelyn and the other varied survivors would get by and achieve what they needed to on a practical level, and offered insights into the sort of reactions people have under that kind of stress.
As far as books go, I remember thinking back to my reading of The Road (Cormac McCarthy) from time to time while I was outlining and writing. That’s probably the novel, out of what I’ve read (I know there are some YA post-apocalyptic novels that have similar journey storylines that I haven’t gotten to yet), that was closest to what I was trying to achieve with The Lives We Lost, though I hope TLWL doesn’t come off as quite so grim!
The Book Smugglers: What can we expect for Kaelyn and her friends in this second book? How has her character grown or shifted from the first novel?
Megan: The Lives We Lost begins immediately after the events in The Way We Fall, so the characters start pretty much where readers left them. But the journey they go on challenges all of them, and I think they all come out of it changed. Kaelyn, in particular, has to struggle to define her role in the group. Until now she’s helped with other people’s attempts to keep the town going and looked out for herself and her immediate family. Now she’s spearheading a mission that could affect every person still alive, but it’s a dangerous one, and she’s not entirely comfortable with having people following her, their survival potentially dependent on her decisions. Especially when she cares about some of those people very deeply. So Kaelyn’s character arc in TLWL is about her coming into her own as a leader, figuring what sort of leader she can be–and wants to be.
The Book Smugglers: Now, more than ever, The Lives We Lost and the Fallen World series overall has terrifying real-life implications – flu season this year has been particularly bad. Why did you choose to write this novel (and this series) now, in particular?
Megan: I think our awareness and fear of epidemics has been building up over the last decade or so… First there was West Nile and SARS, and then the continuing bird flu scares, and then, around the time I started working on the trilogy, H1N1 was all over the news. So I had a lot of real world examples to draw from! And maybe that contributed to the story coming together now. But the truth is that the initial inspiration came not from any of that, but having a nightmare after reading a zombie virus novel (The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan) and realizing the only other book that had ever given me a nightmare was also about a deadly virus (Stephen King’s The Stand). That got me thinking about how viruses and epidemics scare me more than anything else, and wanting to explore those emotions in a novel of my own, and the topic just happened to fit well with current events. I guess you could call it synchronicity!
The Book Smugglers: After writing these books, we imagine that you are well-versed and prepared to face down any deadly viral infections – is there anything that you discovered in your research while writing this book that you didn’t know before about viruses?
Megan: I didn’t realize before I did my research just how elusive many viruses are. They can emerge seemingly out of nowhere, and with some of the most deadly ones (Ebola, for example), scientists still haven’t determined a definite source, even after decades of trying. I think that’s one of the most frightening things about viruses–that it’s impossible to predict when some new lethal strain might suddenly jump to human beings. With a man-created virus or mutation at least we can explain where it came from and why. Which is why the virus in the trilogy is that former sort (apologies to anyone who was hoping for a government conspiracy), which I think is both scarier and more true to life.
About the author: Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and two cats (and does on occasion say “eh”), she tutors children and teens with special needs, and–thankfully–the worst virus she’s caught so far is the garden-variety flu.
You can find a more detailed biography on her main website.
Megan welcome questions and comments from readers. Email her directly or visit her blog, Facebook page, twitter (@megancrewe), Tumblr, or GoodReads profile.
Thank you, Megan! Make sure to stop by later today to check out our review of The Lives We Lost.
We have one copy of The Lives We Lost up for grabs. The contest is open to addresses in the US only, and will run until Sunday, February 17 at 12:01am EST. To enter, use the form below. Good luck!
Shannon HFebruary 12, 2013 at 7:31 am
Favorite Apocalyptic Book: Life as We Knew It by Beth Pfeffer
Loved The Way We Fall, hoping that the sequel will be just as good as the first!
LexiFebruary 12, 2013 at 8:14 am
Viruses are generally fascinating. For non-fiction, I suggest Spillover by Quammen.
SuperbwgFebruary 12, 2013 at 8:50 am
I love any book, tv show, movie about killer viruses, I work as an EMT and get to see first hand how these things start and spread. My favorites are Contagion, Newsflesh trilogy, Hot Zone, and anything by Robin Cook.
jenmitchFebruary 12, 2013 at 8:55 am
Thanks for the giveaway, I loved “The Way We Fall” and I can’t wait to read the sequel!
My fave apocalyptic book is probably The Road. Also, I love the Walking Dead, both the comic and the show.
Book Review: The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe | The Book SmugglersFebruary 12, 2013 at 9:00 am
[…] The Lives We Lost: A Chat with Megan Crewe (& giveaway) […]
Erin K.February 12, 2013 at 9:17 am
My favorite is probably The Walking Dead. Thanks for the giveaway!
Lora WardFebruary 12, 2013 at 11:51 am
Mira Grant trilogy (aka Newsflesh trilogy mentioned above, books are Feed, Blackout and Deadline). Can’t wait to add these other books to my reading list!
Kirsten WFebruary 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm
Virus by Sakyo Komatsu is pretty interesting. I also readlly like The Walking Dead comic.
RainaFebruary 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm
This Is Not A Test. I love Courtney Summers
jennieFebruary 12, 2013 at 5:46 pm
as someone with great taste also mentioned, Life As We Knew It (and the companion books) by Susan Beth Pfeffer.
erinf1February 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm
Thanks for the fabulous post! I loved World War Z and Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy. I love watching the walking dead and Zombieland 🙂
NicoleFebruary 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm
My favorite apocalyptic book is The Stand.
Victoria ZumbrumFebruary 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm
The Stand by Stephen King. Thanks for the giveaway. Tore923@aol.com
RachelFebruary 12, 2013 at 8:06 pm
Loved The Way We Fall. My favorite would be This Is Not A Test
ElisquaredFebruary 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm
My favorite apocalyptic book is Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry! Love that whole series in fact!
Thanks for the interview, and giveaway!
BiancaFebruary 13, 2013 at 11:23 am
Funny, but my favortie apocalyptic book is “The Way We Fall”. <3
AllisonFebruary 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm
I really loved I Am Legend, both the book and the movie<3
MaryFebruary 14, 2013 at 7:51 am
Loved “The Way We Fall” and am waiting with great anticipation for TLWL. Susan Beth Pfeffer”s trilogy was great. Guillermo Del Toro’s “Strain” trilogy was very “viral” and intense and I loved “The Passage”.
JustineFebruary 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm
I really like the first Resident Evil movie, but not any of its sequels.
scribe k.February 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm
TOO MANY!!!! feed, this is not a test, world war z (i notice that these are all zombie novels…)
(also: life as we knew it!!! love love!!!)
Tricia C.February 14, 2013 at 7:25 pm
I’m a big fan of the Benny Imura series – Rot & Ruin, etc. I somehow missed the first book in this series. Will definitely put it on my list.
AshleyFebruary 15, 2013 at 10:58 am
My favourite lately was Ashfall by Mike Mullin and The Chaos Walking triology for Patrick Ness.
CarolineFebruary 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm
There are so many! Life as We Knew it and Dark Inside are two of my all-time faves! Thank you for the giveaway!!
WP Signal Tracker ReviewMay 12, 2013 at 3:18 am
Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research with this topic. And he actually bought me lunch because I ran across it for him. I really should thanks for the free lunch I obtained. Wp signal tracker reviews
Catching a Bug: Reading about Pandemics, Epidemics, and Outbreaks, Part 3 • Worlds of WordsApril 1, 2017 at 6:01 pm
[…] As the virus increases, supplies dwindle, and the town erupts into chaos. In an interview with Book Smugglers, Crewe notes, “I didn’t realize before I did my research just how elusive many viruses are. […]
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