What inspired you to create Eve?
When I started writing Eve it was in an attempt to answer certain questions. Specifically: What happens when your world as you know it, the world that you have been so certain of, is exposed as a lie? What if the world, as it actually was, was so much more beautiful and terrifying than you ever could’ve imagined? Would you have the courage to explore it?
Do you see any of yourself in Eve? In Arden?
I wrote the first chapters of Eve in the wake of major move. I’d lived my entire life on the East Coast (I’m originally from Long Island and went to college and graduate school in New York City) and I picked up and headed to California. I only knew a few people there. Those first months were incredibly lonely, and the book carried me through.
I’ve always thought of Eve and Arden as two halves of a whole, the parts of me that were at odds those first months. Eve, as the person who prefers comfort and safety and in some ways, would’ve rather not left; and Arden as the adventurous, more solitary and defiant girl, who sometimes suffers because of it.
Do you see yourself, or anyone you know, in any of your characters? Do your friends and family?
I see a side of myself in the book, in some of the characters. I see moments, like snapshots, of the time I was writing it, of what I was thinking and feeling then. But there are other parts of me that aren’t in the book at all. I actually consider myself a relatively happy person, someone who loves to laugh. You probably wouldn’t gather that from all the death and sorrow in Eve’s world.
Is Caleb inspired by anyone you know?
There are pieces of people in him, but in subtle ways. I don’t usually base characters on any one person in particular.
Have you always been a writer? What/who was your biggest influence in becoming one?
I’ve always been a writer, technically (as in I liked writing, and did so often) but it took me a long time to pursue it seriously. I owe so much to my writing teachers in college and graduate school, who encouraged me to take the leap.
Eve’s intended to be a trilogy? When you started writing Eve’s story, did you intend it to unfold into more than one book?
Yes—Eve is a trilogy. I’ve always known the first book was the beginning of a larger story. Sometimes I can’t imagine containing it to even three books.
In two sentences, how would you describe Eve?
Eve’s taking what she’s learned is true, and trying to reconcile it with what she’s discovering every day. She’s torn between love and fear.
If Eve had an IPod during her trek, what songs would she be listening to?
I was listening to a lot of Florence and the Machine when I was writing Eve. Soon after the first book was finished, I was in my car, listening to Lungs, and the song “Howl” came on. I heard it so many times before but I’d never really paid attention to the lyrics. And I thought: this would be the theme song to Eve. It couldn’t be more perfect.
What were your favorite books when you were Eve’s age?
When I was a senior in high school I read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and it changed my world. I’d never been so blown away by a book.
Female power is a running theme throughout the novel. Did this organically evolve out of the story you set out to tell, or was it intended because you have a desire to convey strong female characters?
I only set out to tell the best story possible. Arden is obviously a very strong female character. For Eve though, a big part of her journey is learning to live outside of school, and not be so afraid all the time. She becomes stronger over the course of the book. Strength isn’t necessarily something you have or you don’t have—it’s something that builds from experience.
You were 18-years-old living in New York City on 9/11. Do you think having lived through the events of that day and its aftermath influenced the creation of the post-apocalyptic world you created?
I’ve always wanted to write a post-apocalyptic story. It’s been almost an obsession for me. I do wonder if it’s tied to that. As everyone who lived in New York at that time knows, the months following 9/11 were so strange. Death hung in the air. We were thinking of buying gas masks, or Cipro for anthrax attacks. Emotions were heightened. More than anything, I understand the world Eve is living in. It’s about people trying to move on in the wake of a horrific tragedy.
You grew up on the East Coast but New America appears to be inspired by the South West and West Coast, what is it about that area that influenced the setting and landscape of the novel?
When I moved to California it really was like moving to a new world. Sometimes when I’m driving down the freeway and I have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road—the scenery is so breathtaking. There are mountains and desert, forests and ocean. All of it’s right there.
What’s your favorite dessert?
Molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Or strawberry shortcake. Does Nutella count as dessert?