Interview with LANDRY PARK author, Bethany Hagen

Okay, so I'm here today with Bethany Hagen, fellow League member and the author of LANDRY PARK! Her debut just came out on Tuesday, and you really need to read it! I devoured it in one day, anxiously turning the pages (or, uh, swiping the screen) to find out what would happen next!

About LANDRY PARK: Sixteen-year-old Madeline Landry is practically Gentry royalty. Her ancestor developed the nuclear energy that has replaced electricity, and her parents exemplify the glamour of the upper class. As for Madeline, she would much rather read a book than attend yet another debutante ball. But when she learns about the devastating impact the Gentry lifestyle—her lifestyle—is having on those less fortunate, her whole world is turned upside down. As Madeline begins to question everything she has been told, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana, who seems to be hiding secrets of his own. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty—her family and the estate she loves dearly—and desire.

Fans of Ally Condie, Kiera Cass, Veronica Roth, and even Jane Austen will be enthralled by this breathtaking read.

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I asked Bethany a few questions about the book, so let's start there.

1. So LANDRY PARK is set in the future, but it has a very old-fashioned feel. How did you come up with that concept?
The concept came from lots of bored hours working in a museum. Museums are great incubators--they're quiet and they're full of dusty forgotten things that have all these great stories. (I need to get to more museums, stat!) I loved giving tours of the futuristic 1950's All-Electric House and reading articles about bomb shelters and quirky radioactive gadgets, and I also loved sifting through pictures of Edwardian debutantes and people attending opera houses during the Gilded Age. Those ideas started to gel together--what if our future did embrace all these facets of the past? What if we took luxury and leisure back to the precedents set in earlier times? (I love the "what-if" game.)

2. The nuclear energy in LANDRY PARK is well-developed and such a fresh take in science fiction. Did you have to do a lot of research on nuclear energy and radiation poisoning?
When I first started writing the book, I had a very limited idea about how nuclear power worked--most of what I had learned about the energy came from watching the Fukushima news coverage and most of what I knew about radiation came from reading John Hersey's Hiroshima. So I quickly learned that I needed to beef up my knowledge; I read books and journal articles and watched DVDs rented from the library. (And actually, it was when I researched the topic more intensely that I discovered the Cherenkov radiation effect, which then went on to play a bigger part in the book.)

3. When did you write LANDRY PARK? What's one scene that you can still remember drafting for the first time?
I started Landry Park in 2011, using seeds from a different novel I was working on in 2010. I still remember this one scene, where the city's playboy--David Dana--helps a girl up after she falls. She's a member of the Rootless (the caste of people forced to handle the city's nuclear waste) and there's a huge stigma about having any sort of physical contact with them. And here's this guy, selfish and wealthy, helping her and touching her and being kind to her. (I LOVE that scene!) I was writing it next to my daughter's crib while she was jabbering to herself instead of going to sleep, and I had to stop halfway through to nurse her...*heavy sigh* and now she's gigantic and in preschool. (Wait until she's taller than you...)

4. Is LANDRY PARK your first novel?
Landry Park is the third novel I've written, but my first published one. I think the first two are destined to stay buried forever. We'll call them "practice novels."

5. Is LANDRY PARK the beginning of a series? Tell us all about everything!
Landry Park will have a sequel! I'm tentatively calling it Landry Park II: The Tulle Returns. I won't say much, since it's still being written, but there's lots of dresses and food and stoic soldier boys, for people who like that sort of thing. (And who doesn't like that sort of thing??! I mean, come on.)

6. Give us a glimpse of your writing and publishing journey that lead to LANDRY PARK being published.
After I finished Landry Park, I made a short list of my favorite agents. I sent it to the very very favorite one who read it and liked it, but saw room for the book to grow. She offered me a chance to revise it and then send it back to her. I did, and she loved it enough to represent me! I dropped my contract for her in the mail on Thursday, she submitted to editors on Friday and then we had an offer on Monday morning from my dream house. It was surreal.

About Bethany: Bethany Hagen was born and raised in Kansas City. She grew up reading Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, and all things King Arthur, and went on to become a librarian. Landry Park is her debut novel.

7. When you're looking to decompress by reading, what book do you reach for?
Jane Eyre or Lord of the Rings. And of course, my bible--Entertainment Weekly. (Nice! I really need to pay closer attention to pop culture.)

8. If you could be a contestant on Survivor, what's the one item you'd take with you?
Oh, this is hard, because the reasonable part of me says "toothbrush" but my heart says "a bottle of Macallan 12."

9. A guilty pleasure?
Sweatpants. Although my amount of guilt about wearing them drops every day I'm on a deadline. (Hey, at least you put on pants... just sayin'.)

10. Bacon or chocolate?
BACON. (Yes! *fistpump* A girl after my own heart.)

So there's the scoop. You really, really need to get a copy of LANDRY PARK. You will not be disappointed. Fans of romance, dystopian novels, intrigue, danger, and gorgeous writing will love it.


ShaunaKelleyWrites said...

I am really excited to read this... heading to Amazon now, and thanks for the excellent interview!

Unknown said...

Being a soldier currently over seas and doing alot of 24 duty shifts, I sure am glad i grabed this brand new hard cover off the shelf. Great story, very descriptive, and very realistic. I think better then hunger games haha. Keep up the great work and i'll be waiting for the sequal. HOAH FROM SOUTH KOREA!! :-)

Penelope Sanchez said...

An impressive debut novel. I’m looking forward to finding out how this series, and especially its main character, evolves and resolves. I really enjoyed it, and recommend it to fans of YA.

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