Beth Revis is the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and IndieBound bestselling author of the Across the Universe series, as well as several in-world short stories published in various anthologies. The books of Beth Revis are currently available in more than 20 languages. The Across the Universe books blend mystery with science fiction as they follow the voyage of a generation spaceship to a new world fraught with danger. The first book in the trilogy, Across the Universe, is a “cunningly executed thriller” according to Booklist, and the second book, A Million Suns, was hailed by the LA Times as “a fast-paced, action-packed follow-up.” Shades of Earth, the final volume, was called a “tense and delicious ride” by The Examiner. Beth Revis has also received various award nominations and wins. Across the Universe was selected as a YALSA Teen Top Ten novel, recipient of the Seal of Excellence and the Futuristic Novel of the Year Award from Romantic Times, long-listed for the Carnegie Medal, and featured on several state reading lists. The second book in the trilogy from Beth Revis was selected as a Kirkus Best of 2012 novel and a Best Book of 2012 from Wired Magazine, and the third book was featured as a Book of the Month from Seventeen Magazine and an Indigo Must-Read Novel. Please enjoy my interview with Beth Revis.
How do you describe your occupation?
I’m an author—my most recent book is Star Wars: Rebel Rising, and prior to that I’ve written A World Without You, The Body Electric, and the Across the Universe series. I also have a nonfiction series about writing and publishing under the Paper Hearts brand.
It honestly depends on where I am in the process. If I’m drafting a novel, I get up and poke around; I typically don’t start writing until around noon, and then I’ll work until dinner time. If I’m editing, then it’s bananas, and I work as much as I can with as few breaks as possible.
What are you reading at the moment and what made you want to read it?
I just finished Now I Rise by Kiersten White, and sequel to And I Darken. It’s a re-imagining of the story of Vlad the Impaler, and it’s absolutely brilliant. I wanted something dark and with really vicious people, and this book delivers.
Can you remember the first book you read by yourself?
Not really…although the books I read most often as a child were the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
Are you a page folder or a bookmarker?
I typically use the end flaps of a book’s jacket as the bookmark.
When did you fall in love with reading?
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love words.
Can you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do! I was in first grade—my mother has a picture of me in front of a story I wrote based on a colouring sheet of a unicorn.
If you could gift yourself books at age 16 and age 25 – what would they be and why?
The book I needed at age 16 was the book I had—The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. It was real but hopeful, and the story was just so well written. At age 25, I think I’d give myself Amazon — the way it turned around tropes of heroism was so smart, and it would have reminded me to stay true to the stories I wanted to tell, and not be afraid to break free from tropes.
Can you talk us through your writing process, from the first spark of an idea, to having your first completed draft?
I come up with a situation first, usually, and try to find a character who would have the most to lose in that situation. From there, I develop ideas of how to make that character’s life just miserable—happy characters make for boring books.
For someone starting out in your career, which three books would you make required reading and why?
I wrote Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice based entirely on the idea of the book I would have wanted to have when I was starting out—I really tried to design it to be user-friendly and focus on craft. I’d also give Save the Cat by Blake Snyder as a reminder of the elements of plot, and I’d point to Susan Dennard’s writing blog.
If you could invite 5 authors (dead or alive) to a dinner party – who would they be and why?
C.S. Lewis first, because his books shaped me. JK Rowling, because her books really opened my ideas up to genre, and maybe I could convince her to co-write something with me. George Lucas, to talk about characters (he counts as an author as he wrote screenplays and the novelizations). Stephen King, because I feel he would be a really wise person to talk to about the value of story. And Oscar Wilde, because he’s Oscar Wilde.
What was the last book you purchased, and why did you buy it?
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds—I’d been meaning to read it forever, and the bookstore had a signed copy available.
What is your favourite thing about reading?
Fully falling into a new world.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
Oh, you can’t make me pick. I have excellent taste.
If you could insert yourself into any book, which would you pick and why?
Any romance novel, because there’s less of a chance of exploding in space (which is what tends to happen in my novels). I’d also happily be a background character in Hogwarts—I don’t want to fight Voldemort, I just want to do magic.
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring writer?
It’s fine to pay attention to the market, but don’t try to write to the market. And living an adventurous life is just as important as practicing your writing.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
Two come to mind. The first is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis—it was the first story I read where I realized there was a deeper meaning to the story. It made me view literature as a puzzle to be solved. And the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling, because they reminded me that stories have value even if they’re in genre. I’d gotten stuck in a rut of classic literature, and those books reminded me of the joy of reading.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
Which book sat on your shelf are you most excited about reading next and why?
My TBR pile is too huge to list now—I need a time turner just to read more!