I'm excited to be part of the Tumble & Fall blog tour and also excited that author Alexandra Coutts was able to stop by and talk a about her book. My review of Tumble & Fall is here.
Alexandra's bio from her blog:
Alexandra Bullen Coutts has been a playwright, waitress, barista, gardener, script reader, yoga instructor and personal assistant. She grew up in Massachusetts, went to college in New York City, and lives
most of the year full time on Martha’s Vineyard.
Summary of Tumble & Fall from Goodreads:
The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that's left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.
Jen: Hi Alex, and welcome! While most disaster stories focus on scientists racing against the clock to save the world, Tumble & Fall follows three fairly ordinary teenagers as they tie up loose ends in the shadow of impending doom. How did you come to write an end-of-the-world story and why did you chose this more life-affirming approach?
Alex: I have a tendency to try and tell BIG stories from a small place. I never thought I’d write a book about the end-of-the-world, and certainly not one about an asteroid. (I’ve never had much of a head for science, though, after researching this book, I will pay more attention to asteroids in the future!) But I thought it would be interesting to take an enormous, action-packed topic like an asteroid attack, and the inevitability of total chaos and destruction, and see it from the perspective of three every-day teenagers, living out what was left of their lives.
This isn’t a story about extraordinary adventures or last-minute bucket lists. It’s about what happens when life, for whatever reason, is stripped down to the basics. Family. Love. Hope. It was my goal to focus on these “life-affirming” elements, because I truly believe these are the places we would all turn, if we only had a few days left. Adventures and bucket-lists are lots of fun, but they didn’t seem to have much to do with what I thought “regular” people would be doing, in the days leading up to the end.
Jen: So, speaking of what "regular" people would have been doing, if you had found out the world might end when you were the age of your characters Caden, Zan and Sienna, what do you think you would have tried to do in those last few days?
Alex: I tried to be as realistic as possible in imagining this scenario, and I imagined it quite a lot. There is no question in my mind that my answer, at the time, would have been to spend as much time as possible with my boyfriend. When I was seventeen, I was head-over-heels in love with an adorable, piano-playing senior (weren’t we all?) and I’m sure the end-of-the-world would have led to a number of arguments with my parents over where I was eating dinner/spending the night. We both loved New York City (and both ended up going to college there) so I bet we would have tried to do something dramatic like run away to see the big city lights one last time.
Jen: Ha - I did not have an adorable boyfriend at seventeen, but I definitely would have tried to see New York City before the asteroid struck!
Tumble & Fall is written in third-person present tense that alternates between Zan, Caden, and Sienna's points of view. To me, this seemed like an unusual choice for a YA book, but one that I thought worked well for your story. Can you talk a little about how you chose to structure the book?
Alex: I have been wanting to try a multi-POV story ever since I started writing YA, I think because I always have such a hard time choosing just one protagonist! I love writing characters so very much -- they always come to me first, over story, or structure, or anything else. The structure here came from the fact that I knew I wanted to tell three stories, and the third-person voice happened by trial and error. I started with first-person, but it felt muddled and confusing.
I also think the omniscient voice helped me to stay grounded in what was happening on a larger scale. It was important for me to stay connected to the island (and world) at large, and remember that my three characters were part of a much larger community, all facing the same terrifying fate.
Jen: I read on your blog that you are working on a play. What are the challenges of playwriting as opposed to writing fiction?
Alex: The number one playwriting challenge for me right now is finding the time to do it! That said, I find playwriting much, much easier than writing prose. The first drafts of my books always have notes from editors that say things like “Too much dialogue!” or “Where are they? What are they wearing?” etc. I get to know my characters by hearing them speak, and I often forget to put them physically in the world, so that readers can imagine them fully. This is getting easier, but it’s still definitely a struggle.
Jen: On your blog, I also learned about your Tumble & Fall Challenge, in which you made a list of of things you'd been meaning to do and challenged yourself to do them. Can you give us an update?
|Photo from AlexandraCoutts.com|
Alex: I am still in the thick of meeting my challenge goals. It’s getting harder now that summer is over and the book is almost out. I’m scared I’ll run out of time! But I did cross a few big items off my list: I “learned” to “skateboard” (both in quotes because I’m not sure you could call the verrrrrry slow pushing around I do “skateboarding”) and I hosted a college reunion and I went on a family vacation. I still need to take a dance lesson (or two.) For some reason, that’s one of the scariest things on my list. (Which is probably why I keep putting it off!)
Jen: Believe me, I completely understand how scary dancing can be! Thanks so much for stopping by, and have fun on your tour stop with Fierce Reads.
Tumble & Fall will be released on September 17, 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux BFYR. Click on the book cover below to add Tumble & Fall to your Goodreads shelf!
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