This week we have an all new interview brought to you by OBS reviewer Vicky, where she had the opportunity to chat with paranormal romantic fictionauthor Susannah Noel and her first novel ‘Word and Breath’.
- Read the review for Word and Breath (Wordless Chronicles, Book #1) here.
Vicky: The dystopian/post-apocalyptic genres are extremely popular with the Young Adult audience at the moment. Without revealing too much, it seems as though the Wordless Chronicles are leaning more towards post-apocalyptic, rather than dystopian. Can you tell us about what you like about these genres, how you feel Word and Breath contributes to the genres and which one your novel belongs to most?
Susannah Noel: I haven’t been able to easily classify Word and Breath in terms of genre. There’s often an overlap between dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, and I think the Wordless Chronicles will have elements of both. When I wrote the first version of the book several years ago, it had a lot of elements of traditional literary dystopians with the bleak, urban setting and exploration of idealism and intellectualism. I couldn’t find a market for that version, but I pulled the manuscript out of a folder earlier this year and still really liked it. So I revised it to be a better fit for the current market. It’s still not quite a match for any one genre, though. What I like about paranormal, dystopian, and post-apocalyptic fiction is the way the genres can take people out of familiar contexts and put them in settings where their humanity is stretched. It makes for an exciting reading experience, and it also offers opportunities to explore from a different perspective issues that are really important to us.
Vicky: You explore themes of censorship and consumerism in Word and Breath and I’m assuming these will be continuous themes throughout the series? When did you first have the idea that these themes could be translated to a Young Adult novel? And what is it about these themes that work so well in your vision of a dystopian/post-apocalyptic society?
Susannah Noel: The first version of the book wasn’t for the Young Adult market. In fact, I’m hesitant to call it Young Adult now, since the characters are a little too old for that—they fit closer with a New Adult categorization, although the tone is definitely a fit for Young Adult. The first version, though, was definitely intended as adult, and all of the themes were explored more deeply and intentionally. A lot of that was too slow and cerebral for the market, so I cut it in revision (and also ramped up the romance a lot). I think the themes survived, though. I hadn’t set out to explore those specific themes. I just tried to think of what would make a developed, urban civilization bleak and hopeless. I started with the idea of no one reading, and the rest of the themes, including censorship and consumerism, developed from there.
Vicky: Word and Breath is rather quotable a few of my favourites are:
‘She felt – tasted – new in almost every way. He couldn’t wait to see her again.’
‘”Thanks by the way. You were perfect. No trouble with the exchange?” “No. Everyone was focused on your histrionics. I had no idea you were so good at being a prima donna.”‘
‘Guilt was always strongest in grief when you were momentarily distracted from it.’
Can you share some of your favourite quotes from Word and Breath with us?
Susannah Noel: My favorite lines are all spoken by Connor about books or language. I think these two lines are my favorites. “They aren’t empty words. There are no empty words.” And “But books can change things. They can. Books changed me.”
Vicky: I believe the sequel, Word and Deed, is due for release in December this year. Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect from Word and Deed? Does it pick up exactly where Word and Breath left off?
Susannah Noel: Yes, it pretty much picks up where Word and Breath left off. Riana will continue pursuing her relationship with Mikel and continue working with Connor and the Front, particularly in the translation project. The overarching plot of the series is on their discovering answers regarding that language, which will lead them to foundational answers about their world and even about the apocalypse that reshaped the world—so there will be more information about that in the next book, although I’m withholding a lot of the details intentionally since they’re wrapped up in the central plot arc for the series.
Vicky: How many books are planned for the Wordless Chronicles?
Susannah Noel: Three.
Thank you to author Susannah Noel for a great interview!