Q&A with Emmy Laybourne

What inspired you to write the Monument 14 books?

I think the seed of the Monument 14 series comes from two of my great loves: survivalist planning and superstores! I love to wander the aisles of superstores, checking out the goods and seeing how I would set up camp in the store, if I had to. And I’ve always enjoyed ‘worst case scenario’ thinking. It’s the worrier in me, but I’m always thinking of how I will save my kids’ lives if we’re in some terrible crisis…

I put those together and there was the central idea of Monument 14 – fourteen kids stranded in a superstore while civilization collapses.

What would be your dream cast if the Monument 14 books were made into movies?

I can happily, happily name a few names, but remember that within a year or two my suggestions may be irrelevant because young actors age themselves out of roles… With that in mind, here are my dream choices for some of the lead roles:

Dean – Graham Phillips (The Good Wife – he’s so wonderful in it!)

Astrid – Brigit Mendler (Good Luck Charlie – she’s ready for her first dramatic role)

Jake – Josh Hutcherson (a little movie we know as The Hunger Games!)

Niko – Jake T. Austin (The Wizards of Waverly Place – I know, a silly show, but I think Jake has the chops!)

Josie – China Anne McClain (A.N.T. Farm – another comic actress who will get the chance to do some real acting here)

Brayden – Sterling Beaumon (Lost – check out his photo. Whoa!)

Sahalia – Elle Fanning (Super 8 – I was blown away by her performance in this movie!)

Alex – Joel Courtney (Super 8 – the perfect Alex. Or Dean, in about three years!)

Payton – I’m a huge Zac Efron fan – wouldn’t he make a terrifying Payton?

What songs would be on the Sky On Fire soundtrack?

The Sky On Fire soundtrack would be filled to the brim with Radiohead! It’s what I listen to when I write. Their music is slightly futuristic-sounding, you can really sink your teeth into the lyrics and melody, and there’s something slightly sinister going on at the same time.

Which character in the series do you most relate to?

Dean. Dean’s my boy. I relate to the way he feels that he’s an observer and slightly on the outskirts of the social structure, at least at the beginning of the series. That’s certainly how I felt when I was his age. Dean is always trying to do the right thing – sometimes he succeeds, but not all the time. I identify with that, too.

Who would be at your dream dinner party?

Shakespeare. Bam. His name popped into my mind before I was even done reading the question. I know you’re probably thinking, ‘Everyone says Shakespeare’. That’s because we have to. It’s our imagination-ly duty to put Shakespeare at the top of the list of any and all time-travel-allowing invitation lists. Just accept it.

I’d also like to meet E. E. Cummings, American playwright Thorton Wilder, Jane Austen and the poet Emily Dickinson. (I will seat Jane and Emily together, of course.) Michelle and Barack Obama go on the guest list, absolutely. Then I’d add Anne Lamott, because I think she would consent to hold my hand and help me to calm down so I can stop grinning like a doofus and ask Shakespeare some intelligent questions. Actually, you know what, I’m going to add my dear Shakespeare professor, Don Foster. He’ll know what to ask. Lastly, my Mom and Dad, because they throw the best dinner parties in the world, and I will need the help of their considerable social graces to pull this thing off.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

Fire by Kristin Cashore. I absolutely love the world she has created with the Graceling series. Fire is a fantastic heroine – tough as nails, deeply flawed. And what a ride Cashore takes us on in each and every novel she writes! I have no idea if she plans to continue the series, but I never, ever want it to end…

What advice would you give to aspiring young writers?

If you’re going to be an artist of any kind, you will need to learn how to turn off your internal critic when you are working. You cannot create and judge your work simultaneously. It just doesn’t work that way.

For this reason, I’d recommend taking an improv class! When you are doing improv, you learn very quickly how to shut that internal critic off – or he shuts you down. You can also learn a lot about story structure and character development on your feet in front of an audience.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I work in a lovely little office with cream-coloured walls hung with lots of photographs and art. It sits right next to a cafe where they serve local, organic food and is a one-minute walk away from my kids’ school. It is the perfect office for me – better than I ever could have dreamed!

Follow Emmy on Twitter: @emmylaybourne


Text Copyright © 2013 Emmy Laybourne

First published in the US in 2013 by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan

First published in Great Britain in 2013 by Hodder Children’s Books

This ebook edition published in 2013

The right of Emmy Laybourne to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form, or by any means with prior permission in writing from the publishers or in the case of reprographic production in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency and may not be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A Catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

E-pub conversion by Avon DataSet Ltd, Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire

ISBN: 978 1 444 91473 3

Hodder Children’s Books

a division of Hachette Children’s Books

338 Euston Road, London NW1 3BH

An Hachette UK company

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