Posted by Literary Titan
Death Leaders is an engaging dystopian novel about a shadow group keeping Earth’s population in check by secretly triggering acts that will lead to death for lots of people. Where did the idea for this novel come from and how did it develop over time?
Honestly? I was in a crowded space with a lot of people and I started to think: What if this was the world every single day? What if things got way too overcrowded? I usually build my worlds by trying to solve a well-known and common problem in an unconventional way. Death Leaders was my answer to overpopulation. When I brought the idea to my writing group (along with a first chapter), they loved the concept so much that they urged me to keep going with it; so, I did. I spent the next few months writing and rewriting my manuscript until I was satisfied with how it turned out…and then I rewrote it again 🙂
Chris is a complex and interesting teenager struggling to make sense of the world. What was the inspiration for this character’s traits and dialogue?
I didn’t want Chris to be shallow. I don’t like one-dimensional characters in children’s or YA fiction because I think it’s insulting to children and young adults. Children know and observe more than we think, so I wanted to give my readers something to think about with Chris. I wanted him to care about typical teenage things, but with a twist. I was determined to make his struggles more complex. For example, Chris is afraid to get close to girls, but for a much, much different reason than the average teenager. I loved creating that internal struggle.
The story is placed in futuristic Chicago where crime and violence run rampant. Why choose this city and time for the setting of the story?
I was born and raised in Chicago, so to me, the setting was almost a no-brainer. This was my first YA novel, so I wanted to stick to a setting that I knew and that would fit the story. I felt that if I was familiar with the setting, it’d be easier for me to alter it a little to make it futuristic. I chose the near future because I wanted some new-age elements in the setting, but nothing too crazy (I really wasn’t feeling the idea of flying cars or anything spacey like that).
You’ve written six fantastic novels so far. Will Death Leaders turn into a series or are you working on a different story?
Death Leaders actually started off as a sort of vignette into this near-future world. I didn’t write it with the intention of carrying on a series, but I’ve had so many people ask me about what Chris will do next, that I’m starting to toy with the idea of continuing Chris’s saga. I do have a few other projects in the works as well. I have a picture book coming out in October, and an educational series for middle graders coming out shortly after that.
The year is 2031, and now more than ever, population numbers are threatening to spiral out of control. The Death Leaders—a quasi-angelic group historically tasked with keeping the world’s population under control—work systematically to inflict death by using a single touch. Heroic Chicago Death Leader, Christopher Rush, is efficient and meticulous in his execution. After all, he’s learned from the best, his father, instigator of the Great Potato Famine. When Chris is assigned 19-year-old Tracy Wilbourne, he assumes that she’ll be a kill like every other. Business as usual. But Chris soon learns that everything isn’t always as it seems, and that no one is exactly who they appear to be.
Posted in Interviews
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