Friday, October 14, 2011

CBT: Children of Paranoia by Trevor Shane

all wars have rules
rule #1: no killing innocent bystanders
rule #2: no killing anyone under the age of eighteen
break the rules, become the target
Since the age of eighteen, Joseph has been assassinating people on behalf of a cause that he believes in but doesn’t fully understand. The War is ageless, hidden in the shadows, governed by a rigid set of rules, and fought by two distinct sides — one good, one evil. The only unknown is which side is which. Soldiers in the War hide in plain sight, their deeds disguised as accidents or random acts of violence amidst an unsuspecting population ignorant of the brutality that is always inches away.

Killing people is the only life Joseph has ever known, and he’s one of the best at it. But when a job goes wrong and he’s sent away to complete a punishingly dangerous assignment, Joseph meets a girl named Maria, and for the first time in his life his singleminded, bloody purpose fades away.

Before Maria, Joseph’s only responsibility was dealing death to the anonymous targets fingered by his superiors. Now he must run from the people who have fought by his side to save what he loves most in this world. As Children of Paranoia reaches its heart-in-throat climax, Joseph will learn that only one rule remains immutable: the only thing more dangerous than fighting the war. . .is leaving it.

That is hands down one of the BEST blurbs we've read all year. Doesn't it make you want to go get the book? We are hosting the Children of Paranoia tour. Debut author Trevor Shayne allowed us to interview him. Below are his answers. Welcome to Reader Girls.

Could you give us some insight into creating your novel: why you chose to write from an assassin's point-of-view, how easy/difficult it was in finding Joe's voice (or was he the type to barrel into your mind)? Which character was the easiest to craft, which the hardest?

The whole premise for Children of Paranoia came out of my desire to write a really exciting, really thrilling book that didn’t rely on a simplistic view of good versus evil.  It can be really easy and really satisfying to have the villain in your story be unwaveringly bad but I feel like, in the real world, most conflicts arise because both sides truly believe they are the good guys.  So the challenge for me was to writing something that is entertaining but complicated.  So Children of Paranoia opens with the protagonist following a woman he doesn’t know home at night and killing her in front of her house. And he’s your hero.

I chose to write from Joseph’s point of view because, if Children of Paranoia is going to work, readers first have to step into Joseph’s shoes as a soldier/assassin in this secret  war that has been raging in the shadows of society of centuries.  If I can’t get you into Joseph’s shoes, if I can’t get you to understand his motivations and empathize (at least a little bit) with his situation by the time you meet Joseph’s eventual love interest, then I’ve probably lost you.  To engender that empathy, I tried to write Joseph as an ordinary person stuck in an extraordinary situation who is just beginning to question everything he’s been taught in his life.  That was a perspective that I could (and hopefully readers can) really relate to, so finding Joseph’s voice wasn’t hard once I figured out who he was.

I find that all of my characters grow as I write.  I try to write them all with some form of humanity that makes them unique and believable.  So it’s hard to say what characters are easiest and hardest to craft.  The hard ones are the ones that don’t feel real to me as I’m writing and those characters don’t make the final draft anyway.

With the popularity of war-themed novels like The Hunger Games, do you feel now is a good time to release a novel like yours? Why did you set your novel in a contemporary time instead of a more dystopian one?

If I can piggyback off the success of The Hunger Games or any similar novels, that would be fine with me.  My goal when writing Children of Paranoia was to write a really thrilling story that I thought I could sell but I was never trying to time the market or fit in with a publishing trend.  That being said, I want to reach as many readers as possible; that’s why I write.  If similarities to other popular books help me to reach more readers, I’m all for that.  I’m confident that Children of Paranoia is unique enough to stand on its own merits no matter how readers are introduced to it.  I think the current success of war-themed novels might actually say more about the world today than it does about trends in the publishing industry.

As far as choosing a more dystopian setting, I love dystopian stories.  I’ve actually always considered Children of Paranoia to be quasi-dystopian.  When writing Children of Paranoia, what I thought would be really interesting would be to show the contemporary world as a dystopia for a select group of people while the rest of us go on about our daily business without noticing the targeted chaos around us.  For the character in Children of Paranoia, the world as we see it really is a dystopia already. 

Your first chapter reads so cinematically, would you like to see it as a movie? Any ideas as to your preference for scriptwriter?

One of the ideas that I had when I was writing Children of Paranoia was to write a book for people who like movies.  Most people see so many more movies than they read books.  I really think that movies have changed the way that people consume stories.  I tried to key in on some of those changes, especially during the action sequences, by approaching the story with a very visual and pace oriented style, almost like a director might.  So in the action sequences, the key decisions often relate to what image to focus on in any given moment and how that image might heighten the tension while moving the story forward. 

If you couldn’t tell, I love movies and would love to see how somebody in that world would interpret Children of Paranoia.  That being said, I only want to be a novelist and have little desire to involve myself in the crazy world of Hollywood.  I would only hope that, if somebody does decide to make Children of Paranoia into a movie, that they do it because they love it and they think that they could bring something unique and interesting to it.   

From many of the Children of Paranoia reviews I've read, so many mention "thought-provoking" and remark how the story has staying power. How do this comments make you feel and as you were writing, did these types of thoughts come into consideration? (I mean, with so many people described as being into 'instant gratification', even with books, why didn't you pen a 'quick' read?) Who do you envision as your market?

I believe in entertainment for entertainment’s value.  I really do.  Life is hard and tiring and people need breaks.  So I would love to write a ‘quick’ read that people could devour like popcorn, I just don’t think I’m a strong enough writer.  I need to center my stories around a big idea because, without it, I wouldn’t know where to take the plot.  I wouldn’t know what to do with the characters.  I wouldn’t know how to motivate them.  And, as much as I believe in entertainment for entertainment’s sake, I tell stories because I want to make people think.  All of my favorite stories are the ones that make me look at the world a little differently when I’m done. 

As far as who I envision my market, I think that Children of Paranoia could have pretty broad appeal.  I’ve read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series and the Hunger Games and Robert Ludlum books and I would think that people who like any of these books would like Children of Paranoia.  I’m thrilled when people say that Children of Paranoia is though-provoking but I think you’ll find that most of those reviews also say that it’s a really exciting book.  As a writer, you can’t make readers think unless they’re first hooked to your story.   

Is Children of Paranoia a stand-alone or a series? If it is a series, can you share any tidbits of what is to come?

Children of Paranoia is the first book in a trilogy.  Dutton will be publishing the entire trilogy.  The second book, tentatively titled Children of the Underground, should come out next fall with the third book coming out the fall of 2013.  While Children of Paranoia was conceived as a trilogy before I even started writing, I really want each book to stand alone as its own complete narrative.  There is an overarching storyline but each book really tells its own individual story.  Each book is also largely written from a different point of view.  For example, book II is primarily written from Maria’s point of view (for those who haven’t read Children of Paranoia, Maria is the love interest).

"The only thing more dangerous than fighting the leaving it." Brilliant tagline, instantly hooks you in. I'm curious, did you write it? If you didn't, what are your thoughts about it?

I can’t take credit for the tagline.  That’s from my fantastic editor at Dutton.  They have asked for my insight on marketing oriented things like the tagline, book cover, etc. but the team at Dutton did the heavy lifting and I try to stay out of their way and let them do their job.  Besides, I find it very difficult to describe my work in soundbites because I’m afraid of leaving anything out (I was a horrible query-writer).  One of the great things about going with traditional publishing (as opposed to self-publishing) is that you have a team of professionals who can help you market while you concentrate on writing.  You just have to make sure that you find people who really believe in and understand the story you’re trying to tell.  I definitely found that at Dutton.  So when they came to me with the tagline, I thought it was great: succinct, exciting and still true to the story.       

As a debut novelist, what was your reaction when you first saw the galleys? First held the published book in your hand? Read the first bunch of reviews?

As a writer, I’m probably supposed to have words for this but I don’t (well, I do have a word for what it’s like to read the first bunch of reviews... “terrifying”).  All the other stuff is so surreal and wonderful.  To have tangible evidence that your dream has come true is beyond exciting.  I did a book signing during the Book Expo of America in June of this year, a full three months before the Children of Paranoia came out.  I was fairly certain that I’d be sitting there twiddling my thumbs for my allotted half an hour.  To my surprise, I had a line of people waiting for me to sign their ARCs and never had a moment’s rest.  Holding the book is great and reading the (good) reviews is very exciting but what I find the most special is meeting real people who are excited to read what I’ve written.  I hope that I get to keep publishing books.  If I do, I could imagine that some of this stuff will eventually feel commonplace but meeting strangers who like my book or are excited to read my work, I can’t think of anything better than that and can’t imagine it will ever get old.     

Children of Paranoia Book Trailer:

About the author: Trevor Shane lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. This is his first novel, and the first in the trilogy.

Trevor Shane on Facebook
Children of Paranoia on Facebook
Read an Excerpt:  

Follow the tour:
10/11/2011 - Kritters Ramblings                        
10/12/2011 - Ravishing Reads                         
10/13/2011 - My Utopia                         
10/14/2011 - Reader Girls -                        
10/16/2011 - Mental Foodie                           
10/17/2011 - Rants~N~Scribbles 

10/18/2011 - Sinnful Books                     
10/19/2011 - A Bookish Affair                         
10/20/2011 -Between the Covers

10/21/2011 - The Fiction Enthusiast
10/22/2011 - Proud Book Nerd                          
10/23/2011 - Book Hooked                        
10/24/2011 - Girls in the Stacks

10/25/2011 - All I Ever Read                               

We thank Trevor Shayne, Dutton Books and Crazy Book Tours.

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