Thursday, 21 June 2012

Exclusive Interview with Kevin Emerson, Author of The Lost Code

Me : First, congratulation on publication of “The Lost Code”, please tell a few words about this brand new novel.

Kevin : Hi, thank you! The Lost Code is a new YA novel about a 14-year-old boy named Owen who discovers that his idyllic summer camp, Camp Eden, is not what it seems, and that he may be the key to saving the tattered planet as one of three Atlanteans. Not only does Owen need to unlock the mystery in his own genes, but he also has to figure out the truth that lies beneath Camp Eden. Once he does, his biggest challenge will be getting out alive. The Lost Code is the first of a trilogy that takes place in a climate-ravaged future, where the key to saving the world is a story lost far back in history.

Me : What is “Elevator Pitch” for The Lost Code?

Kevin : First of all, nice to run into you in this elevator, and sorry this is kind of awkward but I wanted to tell you that my new book the Lost Code is a coming-of-age adventure, like The Goonies meets Twin Peaks and goes on a double date with the daughter of Lost and the adopted son of Battlestar Galactica. Or, like if young Indiana Jones went to summer camp, but, you know, in the future, not the 1930’s. And there are no Nazi’s, or snakes, wait, this is your floor, did I mention the part about the robot butterflies? Or the strange siren that appears beneath the lake, beckoning Owen toward a hidden temple? Well, that too! Okay, have a great day!

Me: What was your inspiration behind the idea of “The Lost Code”?

Kevin : It was the combination of a few thoughts. I’d had these experiences as a teen at summer camp, and this sense for summer camp as a serious test of your teen mettle. One of the things that happens in the Lost Code (on page 1 – not a spoiler) is that Owen drowns taking a swim test, but survives. I failed a cabin swim test, though not by drowning, and it felt like a real show of weakness. So I thought about, if that happened to a character, what could then happen to even the scales? Owen drowns, but what happens to him after that opens up a different world at camp that he could never have imagined.

Me : Is there any particular reason that compelled you in choosing the topic of Atlantis? Would you like share your thoughts with us?

Kevin : I read a bunch of books that connect Atlantis to ancient civilizations, like a civilization that was even older than the ones we know about, that was really advanced, but that fell due to catastrophe. Many theories on Atlantis date it around the time of the flood stories of many religions. There are some theories that those floods were actually sea level rise, due to climate change. I liked the idea that, as we are facing dangerous climate change now, an ancient culture might have faced it, and they might have something that could help us avoid destroying the planet.

Me : What theme emerges from “The Lost Code”?

Kevin : One theme in the book is responsibility. Who are we responsible to and for? Who should we be responsible to? Is the best course of action to enjoy the Eden domes while you can, even though it’s not what’s best for the world as a whole, or to try to do what’s best for the most people, even if that puts you at risk? When it comes to survival, should we be more concerned with ourselves, or the society as a whole? Each character in The Lost Code is dealing with some level of responsibility, even the bad guys. Owen is trying to be responsible for the people around him who he cares about, but he has to consider taking on a role for the larger world, all while figuring out how to do what’s right in his heart.

Me: Would you like share few words about the world of Eden, the post apocalyptic society after the climate change?

Kevin : I find climate change a pretty scary issue because of the impacts it could have on people all around the world. I’m a former science teacher and ecology major, so I know just enough to be freaked out by the things I read. I read a few very good books by scientists speculating on what might happen in the future, and I found it pretty chilling. So, I imagined a few scenarios playing themselves out and then built the world from that. My main question was: if resources were getting scare but population was growing, and if cities were submerging and countries were becoming deserts, how would people react? I think that one thing that people would do is try to preserve our current way of life, and take drastic measures to do so. This would lead to things like the Eden domes, false realities for the few. There’s a very different reaction to this climate apocalypse in the second book, meant to be kind of a mirror to the Eden idea.

Me : Tell us about the main protagonist Owen, how much you find yourself similar with him?

Kevin : When we meet Owen, he’s a definitely a hard-luck kid. His main problem is that he doesn’t see himself as anything special. I had a hard time making friends at that age, at least at making them quickly. Owen is like that. He’s pretty thoughtful but has a hard time just saying what’s on his mind. And he doesn’t have a good sense for what he’s capable of. He imagines little men in his head running his body rather than being in charge himself. He’s kind of an idiot to try to pass the swim test, but it’s also the first sign that he might be willing to take some risks to get what he wants. As the book progresses, he evolves into a more confident and decisive person. He has to, since things in his body and in the world around him keep getting more and more crazy.

Me : As we know “The Atlanteans” is going to be a series, would you like to share few words about the sequel? Is there any other project you are currently working on?

Kevin : The Atlanteans will be three books. I’m nearly finished with the second. It’s a very different kind of book than The Lost Code. I’m pretty excited about it! I took some big risks. The characters go places and face things that you’d never imagine (I hope!) based on book 1. I hope it will surprise people.

I do have another book coming out next winter that is unrelated, called The Fellowship for Alien Detection. It is being marketed as a middle grade novel, so for a slightly younger audience. The two main characters are in 8th grade, 13-year-olds. And there are aliens. And secret agents.

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