When it comes to writing, there doesn’t seem to be anything Julianna Baggott hasn’t done. There are over fifty foreign published editions of her books and over one hundred publications have carried her work. Along with works under her real name, J.C. Baggott, she has penned multiple best sellers under Bridgette Asher and N.E. Bode.
So when she turns her eye to the post-apocalyptic Young Adult genre, with her first book of a trilogy, PURE, you know she is not going to just hit the mark, she is going to demolish the entire scoreboard. Fox2000 thought so too and have purchased the rights to her trilogy even before the release of PURE.
In her own words on writing Baggott says: “I’m here because I’ve learned that writing – this twitch of my fingers – is really rooted deep inside of me. It’s a way of running your hands through the reeds, the silt – the kind of silt still clouding the day, the kind settled (like memory) waiting to be stirred.
It is with tremendous pleasure that An Adventure in Reading delves into the silt of J.C. Baggott’s mind. We recover answers on why the research for PURE was so difficult, with whom she would co-author a book if given the chance, and many more answers from a writer whose reviewers have worn out their superlatives in describing her talent.
Susan May (SM): What were you doing when the idea for ‘Pure’ came to you?
Julianna Baggott (JB): Maybe it came from desire, first. I was feeling restless. I wanted to do something really ambitious, cinematic, and large-scale. And, from that point on, there wasn’t any one glimmering resolute idea. There were 17 million tiny ideas. The notion of the doll-head fused to someone’s fist was something I played with in a failed short story. I suppose the realization that the girl with the doll-head fist belonged in THIS other world I desired to create was critical. Did it come in a flash? I don’t know. I wrote a riff from her perspective – hiding in an ash-choked cabinet – and read it to my daughter (now sixteen) and she told me it was the best thing I’d ever written. That was the start. I remember that moment – where I was sitting, where she was sitting. Yes. I won’t forget it.
(SM): PURE contains dark scenes involving children, including their physical fusion with objects and people, during the blasts. As a parent, how did you feel writing these scenes and characters?
(JB): I have a hard time processing the real brutal world all around us. I had a hard time doing the research for this book that took me to the history of atomic bombs – Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Those bombs didn’t spare children. War and famine don’t spare children. And so children were part of the novel. They survived, and there they were, whether I’m a mother or not. But the characters in PURE called The Mothers – a band of violent warrior types — would not exist if I didn’t have children. I am the writer I am in large part because my kids mined my soul.
(SM): At what point in the story did you realise it would become a trilogy?
(JB): I always knew that it was a possibility. But the first draft was very hard and in later drafts the novel changed drastically. (There was another narrative point of view – a character who no longer exists at all in the book.) So, as much as I knew that there would be more, the bullying through of book one didn’t allow me to look too far beyond it. Once finished, the rest rushed in.
(SM): PURE has been heralded as the next ‘Hunger Games’ and with film rights purchased it must be very exciting. As you were writing the book, did you realise its potential to become the next big trilogy?
(JB):No. Not at all. My daughter loved the book. I mentioned the premise to my next door neighbours and they told me it was really compelling. My father was reading as I went, as was my husband. Everyone told me to keep at it. But it all felt very personal – as all of my books do before they become public, which is always a great shock.
(SM): Your writing versatility is obvious in that your seventeen books range across many genres. If you could co-author a book with any other author—alive or dead, who would they be?
Ha. Well, I do have one co-authored novel – WHICH BRINGS ME TO YOU – with Steve Almond. But, yes, in choosing to work with him, I had to stick to the “living” category. It’s hard, right? Because I’m drawn to some drinkers and depressives. Collaboration is much about the relationship, the sum not its parts. I’m going to choose someone living, though, and someone who’s done collaborative work before – a good bet. Neil Gaiman. I love his mind. I’ve heard him speak and he seems pretty down to earth. My husband met him and told him that my son wanted to punch him in the face, and he was lovely about that. (The link to that story is here: http://bridgetasher.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-my-husband-told-neil-gaiman-that-my.html ) I’d choose Gaiman. I’m sure of it.
(SM): As an author, how have you adapted to the Digital age and what are your thoughts on it?
(JB): I love the access to research. Things that would have taken days, weeks, years to track down, can pop up in .39 seconds.
(SM): Is there an interview question you have not been asked?
(JB): I assume the answer is infinite.
Thank you to J.C. Baggott for visiting us during her tour to promote "PURE". We will be hearing much more from Julianna in the future and reviewing "FUSE", the second book of the trilogy which is due out in 2012. We cannot wait to get our hands on an advance copy.
MORE INFORMATION ON JULIANNA BAGGOTT
Visit the "Pure" website for the first chapter of "Pure", loads of cool stuff and to learn more. Information on purchasing “Pure” is also there. I highly recommend you buy yourself a copy. You will want to read it more than once.
Visit author Julianna Baggott’s website and blog, with fabulously informative information for writers there. http://juliannabaggott.com/