Interview – Simone Pond author of The City Center
Posted by Literary Titan
The Hungry Monster interviewed Simone Pond, author of The City Center and talked about her book, her experience with falling in love at first sight and we debate the moral of her story.
In your book, The City Center, Ava Rhodes is competing to become a successor candidate. You brought to my attention that she is actually competing in ballet. In the story, why did you choose ballet as the focus for her training?
Ballet is something that requires intense skill, discipline and emotion. I chose ballet as one of the main competitions to highlight the fact that the Successor Candidates aren’t supposed to show emotions because they weren’t “designed” to be that way. Ava is the exception. What makes her stand out is her ability to experience emotions on a deep level.This is why she’s a crowd favorite, but it’s also why she senses something is off with her city and ends up escaping.
Ava is a complex character and through the book she goes through a lot. Is there any inspiration that you pulled from your own life and placed in the novel?
I had a tough time relating to Ava for the first couple of drafts. Mostly because she is so reserved and unattached. But as I got to know her better, I got to see what she truly wanted (freedom from her oppressor, Morray). I was able to weave in my rebellious nature into her character. A lot of my inspiration came from the feeling of being trapped in a career that I didn’t love, and finding the strength to change that situation.
You paint some fantastic word pictures in The City Center what was your favorite scene to write?
My favorite scene to write was when Ava first stepped out of the dark tunnel and into the light – seeing the Outside world for the first time. I had to erase everything from my experience so I could see things from Ava’s perspective like what it would be like seeing the sky for the first time.
In a lot of the reviews for your book people are always comparing it to The Hunger Games. Were you trying to create something in that same genre/style when you first started writing The City Center?
I’m so flattered when people compare my book to The Hunger Games because it’s one of my favorite stories. I actually had already written a first draft of The City Center when one of my friends gave me The Hunger Games to read. I was so blown away by it, I put my book down for a little while. There are many things about The Hunger Games that I love, but my main source of inspiration came from A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I read the book in college and it stuck with me all these years.
When Ava meets Joseph it almost seems, at least to me, like love at first sight. How do you see them as a couple and how does that compare to the reader feedback you’ve been getting about their relationship?
It’s true, I’m a romantic at heart. I believe that two people can meet for the first time and have one of those automatic and unexplained connections. In high school I met a guy at a party and second we met my heart quickened – I couldn’t stop staring at him all night. I thought I’d never see him again, but a few weeks later we bumped into each other at my job, and I just knew it was meant to be.
Although this is a young adult novel there are some rather large and complex issues that set the stage for the story; genetic engineering is one of them, and what I came away from the novel with is that there is no gene for the human spirit. What moral do you hope your readers take from the novel?
When I wrote the The City Center I intended it to be for new adults, so I’m extremely pleased that it’s crossing over to the YA category. As far as moral of the story, I absolutely love what you walked away with – I’m stealing that!