I first became a fan of Scott Westerfeld after I read UGLIES, and when I saw an ARC of ZEROES at BEA this year, I couldn’t wait to read it, especially when I found out the other points-of-view were written by Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti. ZEROES will debut September 29, and I’ve already ordered a truckload for the Sacramento Public Library. A version of this post can also be accessed on Sacramento Public Library’s website the day the book comes out.**
**Addendum: This has been delayed. I will post a link once this goes live.
Ethan, aka “Scam,” has a way with words. When he opens his mouth, whatever he wants you to hear comes out. But Ethan isn’t just a smooth talker. He has a unique ability to say things he doesn’t consciously even know. Sometimes the voice helps, but sometimes it hurts – like now, when the voice has lied and has landed Ethan in a massive mess. So now Ethan needs help. And he needs to go to the last people who would ever want to help him – his former group of friends, the self-named “zeros” who also all possess similarly double-edged abilities, and who are all angry at Ethan for their own respective reasons. Brought back together by Scam’s latest mischief, they find themselves entangled in an epic, whirlwind adventure packed with as much interpersonal drama as mind-bending action.
Scott, Margo and Deborah were also kind enough to answer some interview questions:
It definitely fits together like complete parts to a whole, and I found it fascinating how the superpowers increased the more the characters were around others. How did this concept develop, and how did it affect the characters and the development of the plot? Margo: That feature of the powers was there pretty much from the beginning as a way to unify the powers, and make them more varied. Sometimes there just wouldn’t be enough of a crowd for Flicker to find a pair of eyes, for example, or to make Anonymous forgettable. And sometimes there’d be way too many people around, and teens with poor impulse control would suddenly have massive powers to do stupid things with. It taught the characters about the dangers of their powers, also the potential, and added good scary and anxious-making possibilities to a lot of the scenes.
So true. It also comes out in characters’ voices–particularly Ethan’s. In writing multiple points of view, how were you able to keep the characters’ voices so distinct? Did some voices come more easily than others? Margo: Collaborating meant that we had three distinct writing voices at our disposal to start with. We definitely wanted the powers to be very distinct from each other, too, and we wanted to show how each power had formed each character as they fought to deal with its consequences. That made it pretty obvious where the voices diverged. Some voices did come easier than others. For instance, we spent a lot of energy early on getting Anon to stop fussing like a nervous grandpa and start being broodingly romantic instead.
You’ve definitely succeeded. What are some of your current projects? Will there be future collaborations? Margo: We’re just finishing off Book 2 of Zeroes, and expect to be busy with Book 3 until the end of next year. My solo projects include two fantasy novels and the odd short story. We’ll have to see how we weather the entire trilogy before we know whether we’ll collaborate again, though we’re kicking along okay together right now. Collaboration is pretty addictive; solo writing feels very lonely and laborious by contrast!