YA: I’ve been meaning to ask authors when I have them and forgot until now! So you get to be my first: I’m fascinated with how authors decide on book titles. Sometimes a title sticks from rough draft to published novel; sometime the author works with their agent or editor to find the perfect title. What’s MONUMENT 14’s story?
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EL: This is a great question so I’m glad to be the first one to answer it!
The working title for M14 was We Are Val-U-Mart. I liked this title, and I still do, but it’s just too light-hearted and playful. As the book evolved and got more dark and serious, We Are Val-U-Mart just didn’t fit. We needed to find a name that was evocative and mysterious.
Susanna and I brainstormed a lot of names and eventually landed on Monument 14. At first, we tried out The Monument Fourteen. Then we shortened it to Monument Fourteen and then finally, we decided to change the word Fourteen into the number: 14. Sounds silly, perhaps, but the little things count, especially with a title!
YA: The MONUMENT 14 story continues with book 2, SKY ON FIRE, which you’re already working on with your editor. Tell us a little more about this next book in the series?
EL: Sky on Fire has dual narrators, Dean and Alex. I can’t tell you much about the plot, because in doing so I will spoil Monument 14 (Book One) for your readers. But I will say that the plot is equally tense, the story is surprising and volatile and that any readers who have questions at the end of Book One about the future of the characters will have their curiosity fully and completely satisfied by the end of Sky on Fire!
YA: The M14 series likely will keep you busy writing for years for come. Do you have any secret pet writing projects you’d like to try out some time soon?
EL: Yes! I am currently starting to dream up a fantasy series. I’d like to write about a princess from an old Swedish Fairy tale I discovered – I would set it in a post-apocalyptic medieval world – where technology has been crushed and people have reverted to a feudal-agricultural society. I’m hoping that my agent and editor will both like the idea as much as I do, once I flesh it out a bit. It’s very different from M14, so I’m hoping they will want to take a risk on it.
YA: All right, last one! I like to ask about holidays, and the nearest one just passed here in the U.S.: The Fourth of July! If the cast of MONUMENT 14 was able to relax enough to celebrate the summer holiday, what would they all do together and—given their situation—how would they pull it off?
EL: Well, it’s funny – they’re in a big store with lots of different supplies, so if they were going to celebrate a holiday, they would have most of the materials on hand to really do it up!
I think that Niko would assign people to be on different committees – Josie would head up decorations, Dean and Batiste would dream up a special meal, Jake would take over figuring out some special games to celebrate the day, and maybe Sahalia would sing and play guitar!
I can also imagine Josie organizing the little kids to perform some sort of a pageant. Of course, Chloe would be the star, Mac would probably forget his lines and improvise but then Ulysses would steal the show by break-dancing!
YA: Thank you very much, Emmy! And again, from YA Lit Mag, congratulations on your debut! We look forward to hearing a lot more from you in years to come!
EL: It was my pleasure to visit with you, Olivia! I’d love to connect with your readers, either here in the comments section, or on my own website:emmylaybourne.com!
Readers, be sure to check out Emmy Laybourne at her home page http://EmmyLaybourne.com/. Or follow her on Twitter @EmmyLaybourne.
MONUMENT 14 is now available at your favorite retailers and local independent bookstores!
Olivia Hennis is a transplanted New England girl dropped by a tornado into the magical Land of Jersey. When not buried beneath her pile of must-read YA novels, Olivia can be found performing mad science on yard sale plushies and building tape-monsters for her local Halloween Park. More information can be found on her Twitter and website.