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Friday, April 12, 2013

Children Of The Underground by Trevor Shane & Author Interview

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Terrance McArthur

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this post, along with an interview with author Trevor Shane.

There’s a War going on, a secret one that most people don’t know about, a war that’s been going on for generations. There are rules…
Rule Number One: No killing innocent bystanders.
Rule Number Two: No killing anyone under the age of eighteen.

Joseph fell in love with the innocent Maria. He had to die, and their child was given to the Other Side.

Maria wants her baby back.

She recruits Michael, who had left the War, to find her son, Christopher.

Meanwhile, in another generation, Evan and Addy are on the run. They aren’t part of the War.

They aren’t part of the Underground, who help people escape the War.

They are part of the Resistance.

They want to end the War.

This is the background of Trevor Shane’s Children of the Underground, sequel to Children of Paranoia.

Maria starts out as a wounded character, but, under Michael’s teaching, she becomes a woman warrior, strong and fit, capable of fighting for her life…and able to kill. The primary form of battle in the War is assassination, and a lot of people die in this book.

Image source: NAL

Evan shouldn’t even be part of the War. He was not raised to be trained in the ways of murder. He just happened to have grown up with a boy who was now a major figure in the Resistance…Christopher. Addy spends much of her part of the novel getting Evan to tell stories about what Christopher was like.

Maria’s story is told in the form of a journal she writes for Christopher, whenever she can find him. Things are convoluted, confusing, violent, and you will learn more about surveillance, breaking and entering, and killing people than most readers will (I hope) ever need to know. You don’t learn much about the War, but the people in it don’t get a lot of information about it either, only that their side is good and the other side is evil. It’s dystopian, showing a future society that has gone down the wrong rabbit hole. It is alternate history, because this War is ages old. It is depressing, because it brings to mind the polarizing of today’s society. It fills you with hope, because people try to fight a system they cannot support. A preview at the end of the book indicates that Christopher’s training, War years, and rebellion will be followed in the third installment. I’ll read it.

To enter to win a copy of Children of the Underground, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Children”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 20, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Interview With Trevor Shane:

KRL: The story is told in different timeframes, different generations, and different groups., instead of as a straightforward narrative. What influenced your structure?

Trevor: Children of the Underground started as a straightforward narrative. It started out as a book simply about the lengths that a woman, even one as seemingly innocent as Maria, would go to get her child back. That was the first draft, which I loved and which is still in the pages. But Children of Paranoia was always meant to be a trilogy and, after writing the first draft of Children of the Underground, I realized how much more the reader would get out of Maria’s story if they were given clues about where her story was ultimately headed. So a lot of the different timeframes, different generations and different groups were actually pulled right out of the middle of the third book. The key for me was to try to structure it in a such a way that the parts pulled from the third book augmented Maria’s story by adding both insight and mystery to it. Like most stories, Maria’s story, as powerful as it is on its own, becomes even more powerful when you get some clues about where it is ultimately heading.

KRL: As an adoptive parent, you have created a situation eerily similar to your writing, where Christopher has been adopted. How much are your own hopes and fears reflected in your plot?

Trevor: A lot of the hopes and fears that go into the adoption process showed up in Children of Paranoia, the first book in the trilogy. So much of that book was about the lengths that people will go to in order to keep and protect this person that they don’t even know yet. Joseph and Maria run from everything in their lives to protect that idea of a child. As I was writing that book, there were times when I was almost jealous that they at least had something they could do, even if it was just running away. I have two amazing adopted sons now--Leo is almost four and Van is almost one. My experiences with them and with the adoption process definitely had an impact on the Children of Paranoia series, mostly in recognizing how selfless a parent’s love can be and how much love it takes for someone to give up their child.

KRL: Science fiction writing is often concerned with world-building. To create your War, you had to unbuild the world to create gaps where your world could exist.. What challenges did you face?

Trevor: The biggest challenge is getting over the believability hurdle. I mean, people know that this is a work of fiction but, for it to be effective, they have to think that it could, at least, be possible. But really, how much do you know about your neighbor’s lives or the lives of the person who lives down the street from you, let alone the lives’ of the strangers you pass by every day. So I didn’t really see it as unbuilding the world to create gaps where the world of Children of Paranoia could exist because those gaps are already there. All I had to do was point out the shadows.

Trevor Shane
Image credit: Kevin Trageser

KRL: The secret War in your books has been going on for generations, with strict rules and codes of conduct. What parts of your background did you use, and how much of it was just cheerful paranoia?

Trevor: I’ve always been fascinated by the rules of war. They never made any sense to me as a kid. I always thought, “How can a war have rules? Who would follow the rules when their life is on the line?” But the fact is that people follow these rules all the time. What I ultimately realized was that the rules of war aren’t meant to make war more humane--nothing can do that. The rules of war are there because, once you’ve ordered someone to kill another human being, you need to give them some structure or the world will simply devolve into madness.

My favorite piece of fan mail that I’ve gotten since Children of Paranoia came out was from an aviation specialist in the army who was stationed in the forward operating base in Kandahar, Afghanistan. She told me that the guys in her unit had been passing Children of Paranoia around to each other and they all loved it. That’s the biggest compliment I’ve gotten since Children of Paranoia was published, a little hint that maybe I’d gotten something right. I sent them a few copies of Children of the Underground. Hopefully, they like it just as much.

KRL: The body count in Children of the Underground gets bigger with each page. Maria has gone from a naive teenager to a person willing to kill...and capable of it. How much training and research have you done into armed mayhem?

Trevor: I’d kind of rather not say. Sometimes a little mystery is better. Besides, I don’t want to get myself in any trouble.

KRL: Your trilogy has been optioned by CBS Films. What glowing moments or horror stories do you already have from the experience?

Trevor: The movie business is just so crazy and foreign to me. I was lucky enough to find good agents at Creative Artists to represent me who shielded me from most of what goes on behind the scenes. I had people reaching out to me from Hollywood before the first book even came out. That’s when I learned about book scouts--people whose entire job is to scout books for Hollywood and foreign publishers as early as possible (the book scouts were really helpful in getting Children of Paranoia sold in different markets too). I find that whole side of the business fascinating. They knew more about my own book than I did. It’s like this strange amalgamation of corporate espionage and book publishing, which you’d normally think of as such a staid industry. Somebody’s going to write a great book about book scouts on day. My experience with Hollywood has been pretty great though. Things move in starts and stops but I’ve had the chance to talk to a bunch of producers and writers that really liked Children of Paranoia and I was always fascinated to see their take on it. I’m a big believer in the idea that the worst thing that a filmmaker can do to a book when they decide to turn it into a movie is to be afraid to put their own stamp on it. If the movie is going to be just like the book, then people should just read the book.

KRL: Now for a little background. How long have you been writing?

Trevor: Children of Paranoia was my debut novel but I’ve been writing my whole life.

KRL: Have you always written in this genre?

Trevor: Children of Paranoia kind of straddles multiple genres. The thriller genre is actually new to me as a writer. I’ve always loved reading and writing speculative fiction though and I’ve always tried to blend genres in my writing. I love the language of genre books and twisting and manipulating the expectations created when working in a genre. I really enjoyed embracing, and toying with, the traditional thriller tropes.

KRL: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

Trevor: It all started with the first chapter. I was walking down the street in my rather idyllic street in Brooklyn, a street full of happy families and strollers and I thought, “What if this were all a facade? What if a secret, violent world was buried underneath all of this?” From that simple “what if”, I began to think about the characters, their motivations and their fears. From that simple “what if”, I wanted to write a book that followed certain conventional thriller lines but that completely blurred the line between who was good and who was bad.

KRL: Future writing goals and plans?

Trevor: I’m still deep in the process of editing Children of the Uprising, the third book in the Children of Paranoia trilogy. Once that’s done, I have a number of ideas that I’m working on. I’ve been writing the Children of Paranoia series since 2007 and it’s been an unbelievable experience but I’m excited to start something new.

KRL: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Trevor: Website: www.trevor-shane.com; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authortrevorshane; Twitter: @childofparanoia

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

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