Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Writers Wednesday

Meet Carolyn Cohagen, author of the new YA novel, Time Zero which has received excellent reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Elizabeth Banks, star of The Hunger Games, and Tim O'Brien, National Book Award winning author of The Things They Carried, to mention just a few.  

Fans of YA fiction will find plenty to celebrate in this powerful social commentary, woven into an imaginative thriller. Mina's strength and courage is challenged time and again as she struggles to overcome the fanaticism that ensnares her and threatens her very existence. 

I'm looking forward to the sequel.

TIME ZERO will be available May 16, 2016. You can view the trailer HERE.

What inspired your passion for female empowerment that is so evident in Time Zero?
I have always been a feminist. I was lucky enough to be raised in a household in which I was told I could be whatever I wanted, and my gender was never an issue. Our country is currently moving backwards in terms of women’s rights (especially in Texas, where I live). I can’t believe we’re still marching about issues that I marched about in the 1980s. We need to inspire the next generation of girls to not only call themselves feminists but to take action.
What did you learn about yourself in the process of writing?
One of the best parts of being a writer is being able to put yourself in impossible situations and figure out how you would react to them. I got to imagine what it would be like to be denied an education and be forced to marry a boy I didn’t love. I had to face what my limits would be and what circumstances would make me follow through with my obligations when my entire soul might be screaming, “Don’t do it!”

How does your career as a writer influence other areas of your life and vice versa?

The research I did for Time Zero led me to found my creative writing organization Girls With Pens. After years of reading about the difficulties that girls face, I felt inspired to direct the focus of my teaching on girls during the difficult, sticky years of their lives – ages 9-17.

Briefly, what's your book about?
Fifteen-year-old Mina Clark lives in a future Manhattan that is ruled by extremists. Girls aren’t allowed to get an education, they need permission to speak to boys, and all marriages are negotiated by contract. But Mina’s grandmother has secretly been teaching her to read, leading Mina down a path of rebellion, romance, and danger that not only threatens to destroy her family’s reputation, it could get Mina killed.

What led you to write the book? 
I began writing Time Zero in 2010. I was disturbed by the news coming from Afghanistan concerning the Taliban and their unconscionable suppression of women’s rights. But I was also exasperated by the hypocrisy that I felt Americans displayed when they discussed “fundamentalism,” as if it were a problem that only occurred outside of the United States and only pertained to Islam.

What would you like readers to take from it? 
Besides enjoying a good story and connecting with the characters, I hope that readers will better appreciate what it is to have equal rights; I defy anyone to read Time Zero and not be a feminist by the end.

What are your current/future projects?
I am working on the sequel to Time Zero.

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine?
I try to write every day, but it can be difficult. I find that routine (the same time of day, the same location) is the best way for me to write on a regular basis.

Are there certain themes or ideas you prefer?
I seem to be drawn to coming-of-age stories, which is why I keep writing young adult and middle reader books.

What book(s)/author(s) have influenced your writing and how?
Ray Bradbury, Roald Dahl, Margaret Atwood, Philip K Dick. All of these authors are extraordinary at building worlds that are fantastic but completely believable. And Jane Austen because she continues to be the gold standard for family politics and great love stories.

What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you deal with that challenge?

I think getting your butt in the seat is the hardest part. I love to write and yet I still find it difficult to sit down and get started each day. As I mentioned before, I think routine is really the only way to defeat the beast of procrastination.

Anything else you'd like readers to know about you and/or your book? 

The subject of Time Zero might sound serious, but it is a really fun, stay-up-all-night page-turner. 

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