For fans of The Maze Runner and The Fifth Wave, this debut YA novel from Hugo Award winner Will McIntosh pits four underprivileged teens against an evil billionaire in the race of a lifetime.
Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement—and the more expensive the sphere.
When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.
There’s no question the Gold is priceless, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.
I’m thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Burning Midnight today. We’ve got a great interview with author Will McIntosh about his new YA sci-fi novel. Check it out and make sure you enter for your chance to win a copy of your own at the end:
What inspired Burning Midnight?
When I was twelve, my sister, a cousin, and I stumbled on a 60 year-old dump in the woods. We spent a summer hunting for antique bottles, and built a collection of something like 200 that we displayed on the porch. Those great memories led me to want to create a story about hunting and discovering incredibly valuable things in the wild. There’s even a scene in Burning Midnight where Sully and Hunter are searching for spheres in an old dump that’s much like the one from my childhood.
This is your first young adult novel. Did you change anything in your writing or thought process to account for the intended audience?
I actually intended Burning Midnight to be an adult novel. I was about a third of the way through the first draft when I realized it just wasn’t going that way. It took me a while to realize what was going on, and I had a few long days where I was in crisis, trying to figure out what was wrong. I finally realized the book wasn’t broken, it wasn’t awful, I was writing a young adult novel. When I realized this I had to make the characters younger (they were originally in college), but other than that I didn’t change much.
So why did Burning Midnight feel like a YA book? Because YA books tell stories with a powerful emotional core, and are a bit less caught up in justifying and explaining the weirdness of the book’s world. Burning Midnight has a wild premise. I think YA readers are willing to give you slack in telling a story with a wild premise if the story is compelling, and has heart. And YA books can be more unapologetically idealistic. They believe in true and everlasting love that doesn’t end in divorce. That’s my feeling, anyway. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to them as an adult reader.
What was your favorite part of writing this novel? What was most challenging?
Some of my writing friends talk about how hard it is to get their butts in the chair, how they love having written, but don’t particularly enjoy writing. I love writing, and I feel fortunate that’s the case. My favorite part of writing the novel was the actual process of writing it. Burning Midnight really flowed out easily. I didn’t spend many days pacing my study, stuck, not sure what should happen next. It’s a great feeling when it all flows.
The most challenging part was the doubt. I’d never written a young adult novel before. I had no idea whether I was totally screwing it up. When you’re writing, you’re often writing blind–you have no idea if it’s the best thing you’ve ever written or total crap. If you’re writing in a brand new genre, this feeling of being blind, and the doubts that follow, are multiplied. The good part of it was that I love reading young adult books. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can write them, but at least I had a feel for what a great YA novel was like.
If these spheres actually existed and you found them, what “improvement” would you want to get?
I’d love a pair of Hot Pinks, which give you the ability to call up a rush of adrenaline any time you want. We have highly energetic seven year old twins, and I could use more energy to keep up with them. Of course, if I had to choose just one set of spheres, I’d have to go with Mustard–increased intelligence. Who wouldn’t want to be smarter?
If you could have lunch with a character from Burning Midnight, who would it be and why?
I’d want to have lunch with Dom. Because Dom is based very closely on a high school friend I’ve lost touch with, and while I was writing, I really grew to miss him. So in a sense, I can have lunch with this character, if I can locate him. The guy has no online presence whatsoever.
I discovered you’re also a professor in addition to being a writer (this is my question to sneak in a Go Tribe!). What would a green and gold sphere do?
Ha, it would give you all of the powers of the other spheres rolled into one! I’m otherwise retired from the university professor business, but I really enjoy teaching an Intro Psych course at William and Mary. The students there are just wonderful!
What was your favorite book when you were the prime age for reading YA (middle/high school)? Did that influence your own writing at all?
Watership Down by Richard Adams. My Mom bought it for me when we were going on vacation to the beach, and when I saw it was about rabbits I had no interest in reading it. I tried it only because I didn’t want to hurt Mom’s feelings, then I read it all day. I ended up with a terrible sunburn, and covered myself from head to toe with beach towels so I could keep reading. I don’t write books about talking animals (at least I haven’t yet), but Watership Down is one of the books that gave me my passionate love of reading, which fueled my love of writing.
Can you tell us what is next for you?
I’m working on another YA book. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s about lying. It’s about all the ways we’re lied to, all the lies we tell, and what would happen if no one could ever lie again.
Will McIntosh’s debut novel, Soft Apocalypse, was a finalist for both a Locus award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He is a frequent contributor to Asimov’s, where his story “Bridesicle” won the 2010 Reader’s Award, as well as the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. His third novel, Love Minus Eighty (based on “Bridesicle”) was published by Orbit books in June, 2013, and was named best Science Fiction novel of the year by the American Library Association. His upcoming novel, Defenders has been optioned by Warner Brothers for a feature film. Will recently moved to Williamsburg, Virginia with his wife Alison and twins Hannah and Miles. He left his position as a psychology professor in Southeast Georgia to write full time, and still teaches as an adjunct, at the College of William and Mary. Will is represented by Seth Fishman at The Gernert Company. Follow him on Twitter @WillMcIntoshSF
Check out the rest of Burning Midnight’s Rockstar Book Tour. This is the schedule for this week:
1/25/2016- Once Upon a Twilight– Review
1/26/2016- The Young Folks- Interview
1/27/2016- Falling For YA– Guest Post
1/28/2016- Just Commonly– Review
1/29/2016- Paranormal Book Club– Interview
Thanks to the lovely people at Rockstar Book Tours and Random House, you can enter to win one of 3 copies of Burning Midnight! Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway