I am extremely happy to say that I got the honor of interviewing the marvelous author, Susan Beth Pfeffer. She wrote the books Life As We Knew It and The Dead and The Gone among others, for which, you can read my reviews here and here. You can also check out Susan's blog here. Enjoy the interview!
How did you come up with the story for LAWKI and D&G?
I got the idea for Life As We Knew It from the movie Meteor. It's not a particularly good movie, but it was on one afternoon and I watched it. It got me thinking about what it would be like for a kid to live through an end of the world situation. I began thinking about what sort of disaster I wanted and what the characters would be like, and the next thing I knew, I had an idea for a book.
I loved writing LAWKI and tried to convince the publisher (Harcourt) that they wanted a sequel. They didn't, but they were interested in a companion novel. So for the dead & the gone, I took the same situation and wrote about completely different characters. Instead of a girl in a small town in Pennsylvania, I wrote about a boy in New York City.
Was it hard to envision and write about all the death and destruction that occurs in the books?
There were moments when it was hard. There was a character I was very fond of in d&g who I knew was going to die, and it was upsetting when I got to that scene. But mostly it was fun. It's entertaining to be in total control of the world.
Why did you choose to set the stories in Pennsylvania and New York? Do you think the plot would have been different if they were set in a different place in the US?
I set LAWKI in Pennsylvania because I was tired of setting books in New York State (where I live). As it happens, I live about a half an hour from Pennsylvania, so it really wasn't all that different. Then I set d&g in NYC, because that's the city I know best. I think the plots would have been very different had I set the books in different places. What would things be like in the midwest? Or where the volcanoes are exploding? Or down south?
What is the number one thing you would find hardest about living through the situations that you wrote about?
Not knowing how everyone I love is doing. If I couldn't talk or e-mail my friends and family who don't live nearby, I'd go crazy.
For both Miranda in LAWKI and Alex in d&g, there's real pain and loss when people they love and depend on leave and are never heard from again.
What has been the coolest or most rewarding thing about being an author?
I've always loved being an author (I wrote my first book my last semester in college, so it's been my only real job). But the past couple of years, thanks to LAWKI and the internet, it's been so much more fun. I love reading blogs that mention my books, or checking libraries to see if they've gotten copies. I also love the contact I've had with people who e-mail me or who leave comments on my blog (http://www.susanbethpfeffer.blogspot.com/). And I check my Amazon numbers obsessively.
What are some books that you'd recommend for teens?
I don't think I have any books I'd recommend for teens particularly. I'd just recommend teens (and everyone else) read things they find interesting. I read lots of non-fiction, and I'm always drawn to the subject matter.
If you had to go live on a desert island, what 3 things would you take with you?
A laptop that plays dvds and lots of dvds
But what I'd really want is a plane ticket home.
What is one random fact you'd like people to know about you?
I saw Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Mamas and the Papas, and the Beatles in concerts.
The Mamas and the Papas was the most memorable because there was a riot.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of writing?
I love movies, going to the movies, watching movies at home, reading about movies, collecting movie memorabilia. So pretty much anything to do with movies.
What's next for the series?
Ah, a question I don't know the answer to. I've been playing with ideas for a possible third book, but Harcourt hasn't indicated they're going to want one (they haven't indicated that they aren't- they just haven't indicated). I'd love to write a third book so I can find out what happened to my characters, but as of the moment, there are no official plans.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Just a thank you to you, and to everyone else who's expressed interest in my books. LAWKI has received so much support from people I'll never meet but will always be grateful to. Also, you asked a lot of questions I haven't been asked before!
Thank you so much Susan!