Saturday, 10 November 2012

Julie Cross on her Tempest

Read on for Bridget Carrington’s e-interview with Julie Cross, the author of Tempest (Macmillan)

Hi Julie! 
I’ve really enjoyed reading Tempest, and I’m sure other readers would love to know more about how you came to write it.  Was literature or film a particular inspiration for the time-travel scenario? Groundhog Day seems to have been an influence.  What about films like Back to the Future and It’s a Wonderful Life (or Stern’s original short story) – it seems to me that Jackson is trying to put things right/prevent things happening like George?
I’m a child of the eighties, so Back to the Future was a huge part of my time travel knowledge. But I was mostly fascinated with the concept of having a character travel back to revisit moments in their own life so that would lean more toward, It’s a Wonderful Life. And Jackson’s growth through out Tempest is a result of those moments of self-reflection…so basically, I’ve used Time Travel to force Jackson to see his past from a different perspective.

How do you keep track of moving between times, and the events which Jackson sees/gets involved with?
I make a lot of lists and charts and notes, but it seems that I do that for other people more so than myself. I tend to remember a lot of the details without having to look it up. This surprised me, but I guess it’s Jackson’s life and his memories have become so familiar to me, it’s not much different than remembering my own life and my own past.

Is the book about identity:  in family, relationships, clone/human-being
or about integrity and morality?
I would say, above all, Tempest is about difficult choices and I think that integrity and morality play a huge part in the choices Jackson eventually makes, but so does love and family. Jackson shows tremendous strength and growth by the end of Tempest, but he is still all heart, I think if presented with the choice to save Holly or his dad or save twenty other people, he’d save Holly or his dad, no question. If he had to choose between saving Holly or his dad at the end of the book, I think he’d die trying to save both. He shows integrity and morality but he’s impulsive and emotionally driven and too self-centred to think about the lives of strangers above his loved ones. This factor is what makes Jackson human and relatable to almost all of us.   

What was your reasoning behind Jackson’s dad?  At first he seems so cold and calculating, but Jackson gradually discovers the real man behind the CIA agent
Jackson also discovers about his mother: she is revealed as a loving, and loved, person
Jackson’s dad has a lot of secrets that I can’t reveal here because it will spoil Vortex, but I can tell you that he truly loves Jackson and Courtney. After losing Eileen, Kevin Meyer, was completely devastated but there were two children that needed him and he knew that Eileen wanted them to be with him and he knew he was the best person to take care of them because he already loved them. After losing Courtney, Jackson’s dad grows distant because he’s so afraid of losing Jackson. Some people hold on tighter in those situations and others slowly back away. But he never backs away from protecting Jackson and from keeping him physically safe. When Jackson finally does know the truth about his dad, this gives Kevin renewed strength to not take any time he has with his son for granite.

Reading the topics referred to in Tempest makes me wonder if you have a particular interest in mutation, sci-fi medical adaptation or ethics?
I am interested in the sci-fi medical adaptations, but ethics truly fascinates me. I love presenting concepts that really don’t have an exact right or wrong answer. There is so much gray area in life and you learn more and more about this the older you get. It really comes down to your beliefs and your views on life and most of us are unable to make choices without allowing them to be influenced by our own personal experiences. We can’t shed our best no matter how much we want to. We can choose to be nothing like our parents but we’ve made that choice because we knew our parents. It’s such a complex subject with a very simple foundation.
Why did you kill off Jackson’s sister before the story begins?  Were you wanting to show Jackson coming to terms with his own inability to cope with her illness and death?
Losing Courtney changed Jackson, it changed his dad and the relationship they have with each other. Jackson hasn’t fully grieved Courtney’s death. He’s suffering from the guilt of being the one to survive and not being brave enough to say goodbye when she was still alive. I needed Jackson to have this baggage because it shaped the choices that he made before the book opens, the way he’s stays somewhat distant from everyone, even Holly whom he’s just beginning to realize that he might be in love with. Jackson tries his best to remove himself from situations that would insert responsibility and potential for failure…or more guilt. This isn’t hard for a rich kid from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to do. But when Holly is shot and Jackson is stuck in 2007, he’s swimming in guilt and has to decided what he’s going to do about it.

Was it difficult to write the ending, because of Jackson’s selfless act? Did you ever consider an alternative ending?
My editor was the one who first suggested, before Tempest was finished, that Jackson should have to be apart from Holly at the end of the book. I immediately hated him for about five minutes and then I saw in my head exactly how this would happen and I knew it was where Jackson’s character was headed from page one. What Jackson does is the ultimate sacrifice. He leaves Holly with no sadness or knowledge of his existence at all, but has to keep all those memories himself. In my opinion, Jackson should have done this in 2007 with the younger Holly. He should have stayed away from her and not gotten her involved but he was still selfishly in love at that point and realizing that he just can’t be without her. It takes more grief and growth for his love to change to the selfless kind.

Will we meet him Adam again?  It would be a pity not to!
There are many ways Adam can jump back into the story so I can assure you, he’ll find a way back into Jackson’s life.

On your website you refer to a playlist: did you always use music to create an atmosphere/ease the writing, or did that develop with writing Tempest?

The Tempest playlist came after the story was finished, but I do get song inspiration as I write. I don’t have to listen to music while writing, though. I’m pretty flexible in that area.

You also have created non-book-based add-ons, e.g. Holly’s Diary on Facebook: how important are non-book elements for authors when writing now?
Holly’s Diary was very important for me because it helped so much with writing Vortex as far the dates and times and where Holly was in the Spring/Summer of 2009. But even more so, writing Holly and her boyfriend drama and all her quirks that come with graduating high school and starting her adult life provided such a relief to my writer’s brain when it had become scrambled with time travel facts and data and multiple timelines. Plus, it’s nice to write from a female point of view for a change. I don’t know if all writers do these types of non-book elements or if they are asked to do them once the book is out, but it’s the internet and book blogs and e-books that are driving extras like these and I think it’s a wonderful thing. I love the idea of having the opportunity to provide story elements and character insight that I don’t always have room for or a good place for in the actual Tempest books.  

Can you give us any clues to the second in the series, Vortex, and Holly’s future role in the trilogy?
In Vortex, Jackson throws himself into his new role as a Tempest agent. He’s determined to be calculated, fierce and wear his hard agent shell at all times. Of course, this can only last so long before this becomes too difficult. I can also tell you that Jackson does have a couple of female co-workers in Vortex but I can’t tell you whether they’re girlfriend material for Jackson or not.
I can’t spoil it. I wish I could but that wouldn’t be any fun, would it? But of course Holly will find a way back into the story at least in some form, just as Adam will and Courtney. I can tell you that the direction Holly’s character goes is something I envisioned long before I had any idea what would happen to Jackson after Tempest. So, in other words, seeds have been planted in Tempest with clues to Holly’s future.

You’ve created websites such as TeamTEENauthor and ARC relay. Do you think that self-publicity is particularly important for twenty-first century authors? 
I’m not really sure how much the self-publicity I’ve done has actually benefited Tempest book sales, but it’s very important to me, as an author of teen fiction, to be able to speak to my target audience, which is teen readers. It’s important for me to be as assessable to my fans as possible. Plus, writing can be a lonely job and self-promotion activities allow me to meet other authors like myself and to talk to other fans of young adult literature. 

Very many thanks Julie.  I’m really looking forward to Vortex!

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