Series: Tent City
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After a devastating plague, introverted 17-year-old Dani Campbell and her family find themselves living in a very different America, one run by a cult-like leader, who forces children to move to "safety camps" designed to protect the human race. Encouraged to flee by her parents, Dani and her five-year-old brother seek refuge in the Black Hills of South Dakota. On the run with danger around every corner, Dani must fight to ensure their survival in this new world while trying to unmask the mystery of how it all came to be.
Kelly Van Hull is the author of Tent City, a dystopia about children on the run in a world post-plague. If you haven’t read this novel yet, you should check it out. I am happy to present an interview with Kelly Van Hull and you can enter to win a free e-book copy of Tent City. See details after the interview.
What audience are you targeting for Tent City?
Where did you get the idea for Tent City?
I was watching the news one night and they were doing a news story on a “Tent City” after an aftermath of a hurricane or something. Right then and there I started wondering what it would be like if a bunch of kids were trying to survive out in the wild in a “Tent City.” Kind of like a dystopian Box Car Children idea.
What do you think are the most important themes in Tent City?
The most important theme revolves growth around Dani’s character. She starts off weak and timid and learns how to become strong and independent. There is also a strong secondary theme about family and what lengths you would go to in order to save them.
Who is your favorite character and who do you relate to the most?
My favorite character is Dani, the protagonist. I loved how much she changed by the end of the novel.
How did you come up with the character names?
Some of the character names have actual meaning to their role in the book. I know there are some readers who will go the extra mile and look up meanings of names of characters in their favorite books. I hope to reward them with some of my choices.
Can you describe the writing process? Do you use an outline? Does the story go in its own direction?
I definitely use an outline, although a lot of the time I don’t follow it. I just like to have it so I know I’ve done the work. I read a lot of books on writing and that is when I get my best ideas. Like for example, I will have an outline all ready to go and then in a writing book it might give the advice of “change it up. Have the main character do the opposite of what you were going to have her do.” It can really change the direction of the novel in ways you didn’t imagine. But other times, when the character is already well developed, you kind of have to obey what they would do because they are their own character and you can’t have them doing something that doesn’t even match who they are.
What was your favorite part of the book?
I really like the scene when the guys are gone on a raid and Dani realizes she will have to rely on her own training to survive and protect her brother as their camp is being invaded.
Was there a part of the book that was particular hard to write?
I had a mentor for Tent City and when he looked over the rough draft he told me to cut out the chapters in Jack’s point of view. I really liked having Jack in there because it showed how much he cared for Dani through his POV, but in the end I took the advice and the novel was better for it. I really, really, really didn’t want to do it, so much that I almost didn’t take his advice, but I’m so glad I did.
What book are you working on next? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m working on the sequel to Tent City. Originally, I had planned to have Tent City as a stand alone, but I got tons and tons of feedback of “when is the next one coming out?” because of the way I ended it, so I decided to see where Dani was going to go to next after the surprise ending.
What are your favorite genres, books, and authors?
I love Young Adult dystopian, but yet my favorite author is Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl. I’m also a big fan of Stephen King, so I guess I like dark stuff?
What book are you reading now?
I’m about to start Ship Breaker.
How do you balance family life with being an author? When do you write?
I have to do all my writing when the kiddos are at school. I can edit with them home, but something about them interrupting me every five minutes that flows with creativity, so unfortunately I can doing any original writing while they are home. I am lucky enough to have a husband who is supporting me while I chase my dream.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Like with anything, if this is something you want to do, pour everything you have into it. Study the craft, read, read and then read some more. If you are writing novels, make sure you read a lot in the genre you want to write in. Also, something I just learned as a writer is to look at reviews on Goodreads, not just your own. Goodreads readers are the best in the world (in my opinion.) They know what’s good, they tell you what they are sick of (love triangles and instalove to name a couple), they will tell you what has moved them and what doesn’t. It is just a bounty of information.
Content ends September 1, 2013 at 12:00 AM Eastern.