Monday, June 6, 2011

Possession by Elana Johnson - Review and Author Interview

Published: June 2011
Publisher: Simon and Shuster
Pages: 416
Copy Provided by: Simon and Shuster Canada
Summary: Goodreads

Summary:
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Author interview with Elana Johnson

Thanks to Simon and Shuster, I had an opportunity to briefly interview Elana and talk about her and her latest publication - Possession.  Thank you for taking the time to speak with The Paperback Princesses!

What was the inspiration for writing Possession?
I’d just finished reading a dystopian novel, and I wanted to write something where I could make up my own society. So I played that timeless author game of “What if?” See, I needed something to drive the entire world. My question ended up being, “What if people didn’t have their free will?”
And the brainwashing society was born. Vi emerged immediately after that, because not having the ability to make your own choices is just sucktacular. And, boy, does she let you know that right away.
The lack of control in society was built up throughout the book and you did a great job at weaving it into the story!

While reading, I found myself comparing Vi's hard-headed attitude to one of my favourite YA characters (Rose from the Vampire Academy).  If Vi had a best friend in another YA fiction book, who do you think it would be?
www.querytracker.blogspot.com) with 4 other amazing writers. Begin truly blogging on my own site (www.elanajohnson.blogpost.com).

Oh, yes! I love Rose from the Vampire Academy books. She and Vi would get along very well. I think Clare Fern from Kim Harrington’s CLARITY would be a great BFF for Vi. They have the same I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude.
Another one would be Kate Lowry from Lisa & Laura Roecker’s THE LIAR SOCIETY. She’s not afraid to sneak around and get her hands dirty, and well, Vi’s pretty good at sneaking.

I love strong female roles as well.  It isn't necessary in every novel that I read but it's a nice reminder that girls can be tough as nails and hold their own against the guys too.

Many people don't realize that you are very involved in providing other writers with information in publishing and how to query.  How long did it take you to get from start to finish? (writing Possession to becoming published)
Oh, man. It feels like a long time, even though it probably wasn’t. I know other writers have to go through much more. Here’s the run-down:
December, 2007: Write first novel.
April, 2008: Write third novel, POSSESSION (Yes, I draft very fast. It’s the revising/editing that takes months.)
May – December, 2008: Write more novels. Start to blog.
December, 2008: Revive the QueryTracker blog (
January – April, 2009: Revise/Edit POSSESSION
April – November, 2009: Query POSSESSION (That’s eight months for those of you who don’t want to count. Here’s a little bit of what happened during those months:)
June, 2009: First agent phone call! Wanted revisions, which I did.
July, 2009: More serious interest in POSSESSION. But no offers yet.
August, 2009: Second agent phone call! More revisions, which I wasn’t so sure about.
September, 2009: Third agent phone call! Aaaand, more revisions, which I felt good about and ultimately completed.
October, 2009: Submitted revisions to requesting agent.
November, 2009: Requesting agent—the fabulous Michelle Andelman—offered representation for POSSESSION.
December, 2009 – January 2010: Completed a couple more rounds of revisions on POSSESSION.
February, 2010: Submitted POSSESSION to editors. POSSESSION was bought by Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse) very quickly.
March, 2010 – current day: Elana tries to keep up with the amazing roller coaster that is publishing a book. 
It sounds like a long process but well worth it!  I can only imagine what your schedule will be like now that Possession will be released shortly.  Lots of interviews, signings and promotion!  It's like the life of a literary rock star!

Are you working on more books now?


Like more books in the POSSESSION series? Or more books in general?
I have written more books since selling POSSESSION. I had written books before that too, and I think one of them is probably good enough (maybe) to be published. I am working on several loose ideas right now, two of them in the magical dystopian realm, and one YA contemporary.
As for more books in perhaps a POSSESSION series…yes. I have written a companion to POSSESSION. 

OK, so secretly I was just hinting/hoping that you had more to write about Vi.  You kind of left me hanging at the end...I am looking forward to the companion to POSSESSION though!

What are you reading now?  Or do you even have time to read?
I do have time to read! And I love it. Right now, I’m reading RUBY RED by Kerstin Gier, BLOOD MAGIC by Tessa Gratton, and THE SUMMER OF FIRSTS AND LASTS by Terra Elon McVoy. I just finished I DON’T WANT TO KILL YOU by Dan Wells, SOLSTICE by P.J. Hoover, and I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME by Lisa Schroeder. All fabulous books!
Great reads Elana!  I hope you get them all read before the rockstar madness begins!  Thank you for taking the time out to chat with us.  I'm certain you'll have a fantastic following with Possession.  It is well laid-out with plenty of action, romance and worldly adventure.  I certainly enjoyed it and I know that our readers will as well.

Review:
I didn't know what to expect from this title when I first received it from Simon and Shuster (thank you!).  It was a little slow to start but as I began to get into the story, I really started to understand the main character Vi and how she had worked herself up to such tough street girl.  She was edgy in one way but it was like a shell to protect her more vulnerable side.  Also, as the story progressed, there were a few twists and turns that were unexpected.  I LOVE that in a novel.  If you can lead me in one direction and then spin the story so it leads another way, you've got me hooked!

When Vi and Jag first meet, it doesn't take them long to fall for one another.  This bothered me a bit because of Zenn, Vi's match.  He seemed so dedicated to her and truly loved her.  Then, as things started to unravel and the truth starts coming into focus, Vi and Jag just seemed to mesh and work.  All of my misgivings to begin with seemed to fall away and I started to enjoy this book more and more. 

Possession is a mix of dystopian and science fiction.  I think I was hesitant at first when I started reading because I'm not keen on too much sci fi.  I wasn't overwhelmed with the degree of science fiction in this novel though.  It was an interesting world created by Ms. Johnson and a great story overall.  If are looking for action, adventure, romance and some surprise twists, this is the book for you.  It surprised me and left me wondering...is there going to be another book?  How can you leave me hanging like this??

Possession will be released on June 7th. Make sure you add it to your TBR list!  Better yet, pick it up at your local bookstore this week!

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