Chat With an Author

Pure Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Chat with Julianna Baggott

Today we are thrilled to be a part of Julianna Baggott’s blog tour, celebrating the release of her new novel. Pure is the much-buzzed about post-apocalyptic coming of age novel that has garnered praise from the varied likes of Justin Cronin (The Passage), Robert Olen Butler (Pulitzer Prize winner), and Daniel H. Wilson (Robopocalypse).

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Julianna Baggott!

The Book Smugglers: Pure is a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel with shades of the horror and thriller genres. Though it isn’t positioned as a YA title, heroine Pressia is sixteen years old and Pure has strong crossover audience appeal. How did you approach this melange of genres? Did you envision Pure as a crossover, genre-bending novel since conception, or did it evolve organically?

Julianna: I knew it was a huge departure from my other books. And I knew that I wanted to kind of storm the gates of “genre fiction,” but I wasn’t thinking clearly about where I’d go once I’d gotten through the gates. In some ways, genre as well as the appropriate age-level of a book is something that booksellers and publicists and librarians have to sort out. I write it, but it doesn’t mean I know what IT is — or how many different categories it might slip under. I will say this — in many ways, I wrote the novel for my daughter, who is now the age of Pressia. She made a bird of wire — the one you’ll find in the book made by Lyda (and there’s a free app for this too). I read her early pages and she told me that I had to write this book. She’d never really liked much of anything I’d written before so it meant a lot. The book is for her — so if she were a category in a bookstore, that’s where you’d put it — though some of my biggest fans so far are my age and up. Go figure.

Dystopian novels, especially those of the post-apocalyptic persuasion, are an increasingly popular subgenre of fiction. Are you a fan of the genre? What inspired you to write your own dystopia following the “Detonations”? I write a lot of genres and read in a lot of genres. I’m a buckshot reader. I read as much poetry as prose and because I’m usually researching for a novel, I read a lot of nonfiction. I think it’s quite natural — on a deeply psychological level — for both writers and readers to be drawn to dystopian worlds at this point in history. And I think that the teen years are always tinged with dystopia — or, at least, I should speak for myself here. In some ways, dystopian novels can feel the most realistic.

The Book Smugglers: As a “Wretch” that has survived the Detonations and has a doll’s head fused to her arm in the place of a hand, Pressia is a visually striking and memorable character. Can you tell us about this image of a girl with a doll’s head for a hand, and what, if anything, it symbolizes to you?

Julianna: I’d written some literary fabulist short stories, one with a character who had a doll-head fist. But the character was older and it wasn’t as psychologically resonant. I also wanted to do something ambitious, cinematic, world-building. Once I realized the two belonged together, the world started to take shape.

The Book Smugglers: Conversely, Partridge is a “Pure” that survived the Detonations unmarred by the fusings or radiation, thanks to the protective safety of The Dome. The juxtaposition of the Pures and the Wretches makes for a fascinating society in a ravaged post-apocalyptic world. How did you approach worldbuilding and the creation of this dystopian society for Pure?

Julianna: My husband worked in a boarding school for a few years when we were younger. I based much of the Academy within the Dome on this boarding school. I dream about this place often; it’s burrowed into my skull in some very essential way. So I revisited it for the novel.

The Book Smugglers: Pure is the first book in a planned trilogy and has already been optioned for film by Fox2000. Can you tell us anything about the upcoming film (we are very excited), and what readers can expect in Fuse (book 2)?

Julianna: I have no idea what’s going on film-wise. I wish I did. If you hear rumors, let me know.

Now, Fuse, well, I’m deep into edits now so I can tell you that they don’t stay confined to the landscapes I established in Pure and the twists and turns of the Dome take over and the relationships go deeper.

The Book Smugglers: What are your top five recommended apocalyptic and/or dystopian novels?

Julianna: I’m not good at this kind of thing and always tap dance around the answer.

[Insert tap-dancing here.]

The Book Smugglers: We Book Smugglers are faced with constant threats and criticisms from our significant others concerning the sheer volume of books we purchase and read – hence, we have resorted to ’smuggling books’ home to escape scrutinizing eyes. Have you ever had to smuggle books?

Julianna: My husband has, actually. He came with me on tour in London for my first novel back in 2001 or so. We walked into a publishing house and while I was interviewed they told Dave to take any books that caught his eye. When I was done, he walked toward me with as many books as he could carry. I blushed. We left and then proceeded to figure out a way to jam every last one into our suitcases to get them back home.

Critically acclaimed, bestselling author, Julianna Baggott — who also writes under the pen names Bridget Asher (The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted) and N.E. Bode (The Anybodies) — has published 17 books, including novels for adults, younger readers, and collections of poetry. Her latest novel, PURE, is the first of a trilogy; film rights have sold to Fox2000 — Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Best American Poetry, Best Creative Nonfiction, Real Simple, on, as well as read on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” and “Here and Now.” Her novels have been book-pick selections by People Magazine’s summer reading, Washington Post book-of-the-week, a Booksense selection, a Boston Herald Book Club selection, and a Kirkus Best Books of the Year list. Her novels have been published in over 50 overseas editions. She’s a professor in the Creative Writing Program at Florida State University and the founder of the nonprofit Kids in Need – Books in Deed. For more, visit

Giveaway Details:

We are giving away ONE copy of Pure! The contest is open to addresses in the US only, and will run until Saturday February 11 at 11:59 (PST). In order to enter, leave a comment here letting us know what your favorite post-apocalyptic novel is. Only one entry per person, please! Multiple entries will be disqualified. Good luck!


  • Justine
    February 3, 2012 at 4:09 am

    Genesis by Bernard Beckett blew my mind.

  • Katy
    February 3, 2012 at 5:16 am

    I’m going to cheat and name a series of books: The Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness.

  • Mandi Venard
    February 3, 2012 at 6:20 am

    I just read the Aftertime books,they were all amazing.

  • Allyson
    February 3, 2012 at 7:20 am

    I am very fond of The Gate to Women’s Country, by Sheri Tepper.

  • mary anne
    February 3, 2012 at 7:20 am

    they are a kind of postapocalyptic series – Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sharing Knife books

  • Heather@ The Flyleaf Review
    February 3, 2012 at 7:39 am

    I really enjoyed Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

  • Vanessa
    February 3, 2012 at 8:14 am

    I loved Ship Breaker. Lurrvveed, in fact.

  • Kelly L.
    February 3, 2012 at 9:23 am

    The Handmaid’s Tale, all the way.

  • Suzanne B.
    February 3, 2012 at 10:25 am

    My favorite recent post-apocalyptic novel is Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death. It’s fantastic (but not for the faint of heart).
    I’m kind of grateful I’ve never been invited to “take any book” that caught my eye… I’m pretty sure I’d have been hospitalized with a broken back trying to carry them all out of there!

  • Serena
    February 3, 2012 at 11:05 am

    The Road was the most poignant one I have read of late. Pure looks like a great book and a fun read!

  • LiLi
    February 3, 2012 at 11:07 am

    First one that came to mind was Blood Red Road by Moira Young, really struck a chord with me.

  • Sheila
    February 3, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Gonna be dull here and say The Hunger Games. (Though it was a close tie with A Long, Long Sleep.)

    Thanks much for the opportunity!

  • Heidi
    February 3, 2012 at 11:29 am

    My favorite post-apocolyptic novel is World War Z. Months after reading I’m still marveling at the intricacies of this book, and it really broke down some genre barriers for me as I was pretty anti-zombie reads before.

    I’m excited for Pure, thanks as always for the lovely interview. =)

  • Laurie L
    February 3, 2012 at 11:30 am

    It’s probably got to be “The Road”.

  • Candice
    February 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Legend by Marie Lu and Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion are two of my favorite post-apocolyptic novels. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Mallorie
    February 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I think my current fave post-apocalyptic novel would have to be Blood Red Road. I’m also a huge fan of Rot & Ruin

  • Allison
    February 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    The Passage would be my favorite(:

  • Joan
    February 3, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    World War Z by Max Brooks

  • jenmitch
    February 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    who could pick just one favorite? the road by cormac mccarthy is amazing. so, so dark. another fave is world war z by max brooks. and the hunger games. and chaos walking. πŸ™‚

  • Deb B.
    February 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Shipbreaker blew my mind and I loved The Angels are the Reapers.

  • Kate & Zena
    February 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I guess The Hunger Games, as that’s really the only one I’ve read that falls in post-apocalyptic.

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    February 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Stephen King’s The Stand. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

  • Rachel
    February 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Loved love LOVED “The Passage”

  • Tina
    February 3, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    The Hunger Games πŸ™‚

  • Bethie
    February 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    My fav is The Road. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Amy C
    February 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    I loved The Stand by Stephen King, especially lovely, deaf Nick. πŸ™‚

  • Claire
    February 4, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Octavia Butler’s Parable series — and anyone who has not read it should — totally believable, excellent protagonist, twists and turns and a world that is portrayed as being just around the corner (and not because a meteor is heading our way).

  • Shannon@BooksDevoured
    February 4, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Great question! The Stand by Stephen King is my all time favorite book. I also really liked the Passage by Justin Cronin. I am in the middle of reading Partials by Dan Wells right now and I am enjoying it very much too! I have heard good things about Pure so I would love to read it!

  • Rachael L
    February 4, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Blood Red Road and The Hunger Games are two favorites of mine. Thank you for the giveaway!

  • Julie Witt
    February 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    The very first post-apoc book I ever read it still my all time favorite: The Stand by Stephen King!! I’ve read it so many times because in my opinion it’s his best work! Thanks for the chance to read this book and add it to my list of post-apocs I’m sure I’m going to like:)

  • jenn
    February 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Brave New World!!!!!

  • Mary
    February 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful giveaway. Loved The Passage and then I read The Strain trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and loved it. Just recently read Blood Red Road and it is now a favorite.

  • Alyssa Sooklal
    February 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Blood Red Road is awesome (haven’t finished yet, getting there), and The Hunger Games were of course a great trilogy, as well as the Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer is a really good series for younger adults.
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    -Alyssa Sooklal πŸ™‚

  • Melanie L
    February 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    It’s hard to pick just one. A couple of my favorites are the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness and The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

  • Jen B.
    February 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    I noticed that a few of the comments listed The Stand or Brave New World. I think they are both great. My current passion is for The Hunger Games. When I read the trilogy I was just blown away!

  • Raina
    February 4, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi. Awesome story.

  • scribe kira
    February 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    the hunger games!!!!

    (and chaos walking!!!!!!<3)

  • JH
    February 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    The Hunger Games! (I suddenly realize I haven’t actually read many post-apocalyptic books…)

  • Emily @ OnEmilysBookshelf
    February 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    I had to google define post-apocalyptic to answer this, and even then, I still don’t really know what to put, so i’ll put Wither by Lauren Desterfano, since everyone only lives at max 25 years, so it’s sorta an end of the world type deal.
    I noticed the person above me said The Hunger Games, and I didn’t really know that was one, lol, so i’ll also add that. :3
    Sorry for my super low knowledge of post-apocalyptic titles!

  • Becky C.
    February 6, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I would say the Hunger Games, but I don’t think of them as post-apocalytic, so for my favorite post-apocalytic, that would be Pod by Stephen Wallenfels. I LOVE that book! I now actually keep water jugs in the trunk of my car, just in case πŸ˜‰

  • Cecilia Huddleston
    February 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

    To date, my favorite post-apocalyptic novel I’ve read is “The Passage” by Justin Cronin. I’m anxiously waiting to read the next in his trilogy. I would really like to read “Pure”…sounds really good and has some great reviews!

    Thanks for a chance to win!

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  • Stephanie S
    February 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Hmm, World War Z might be my favorite,but it is a tough choice.

  • de Pizan
    February 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Emergence by David Palmer is probably my favorite. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Lisa
    February 7, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Loved “The Hunger Games”! Can’t wait to read “Pure.” Thanks for the giveaway!

  • ANna
    February 7, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Definitely Ship Breaker!

  • Nancy
    February 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I’m going with an old favorite: Damnation Alley by Roger

  • Cheryl Vanatti
    February 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    The Hunger Games πŸ™‚


  • MK
    February 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    The Hunger Games.

    Hmm, I’m not sure I’ve read many other post-apocalyptic stories. I’ll have to look up some of the ones mentioned in the comments!

  • Seth Christenfeld
    February 8, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Can we count Fahrenheit 451? I’m pretty sure that the lack of books is apocalyptic.

  • Asheley (@BookwormAsheley)
    February 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    (not an entry, but thank you anyway)

    GREAT INTERVIEW. I’m so thrilled for FUSE! Any teaser I get…I just hang onto for dear life. Dome takeover…aaahhhh

    Love love love this book and author.

  • sarac
    February 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I know it’s been said, but the Hunger Games is my fave!

  • Nina
    February 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Hunger Games is my fave!

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    February 12, 2012 at 3:56 am


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