The Upworld by Lindsey Frantz
Do you love dystopian fantasy? If so, you need to read The Upworld by Linsey Frantz. My fingers flew through these pages so fast you would think I was a speed reader. Nope, the story was that intriguing! The end leaves you wanting to jump right into book 2. What happened during the Vitiam War? How many more walled-off cities are there? I hope this series continues to answer those questions and more! Lastly, let’s talk about Morrigan – (enter naughty finger wave here with a tsk, tsk). What else can I say about her that wouldn’t be a spoiler alert!
Before we talk to Lindsey, let’s read the synopsis for The Upworld:
In the ruins of what was once Appalachia, the population has split into three groups – the upworlders who live in sparse, walled off cities, albino cave dwellers, and a group of savage nomads called the Wylden. Then there’s Erilyn – a telekinetic 17-year-olk girl who can see auras and hear thoughts. For three years she lived a quiet, calm life in the woods with Luna, her albino serval cat, until the day Finn – an upworld boy from Sunnybrook – stumbles, injured, into her clearing, chased by Wylden hunters.
Erilyn’s once calm life is turned upside down as she guardedly travels with Finn back to Sunnybrook. There she must confront both the secrets of her past – the cave dwellers she ran from as a child and the bittersweet memories she tries to forget – and Morrigan, the girl who broke Finn’s heart and who’s harboring her own dangerous secret.
J.C. - Linsey, I am so excited to host this interview with you. Before we begin can you take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers.
L.F. - Hello! I'm never sure where to start when it comes to introducing myself, so I'm just going to jump in. I'm a 35-year-old writer, mom, and English teacher. I've been seriously writing since I was about thirteen, but my dad says I've been a storyteller since I could talk. I have two kids (James and Sadie: my wildlings) and I've been married to my husband, Vince, for ten years. Some of my favorite things: coffee, dragons, rainbows, and Harry Potter. Also, when I get sad, I re-read The Hunger Games trilogy. (Not sure what that says about me--that I enjoy reading stories in which children are pitted against each other in a fight to the death, but it is what it is.) Thanks so much for including me in this wonderful series! J.C. - Where did you come up with the idea to write The Upworld? L.F. - The Upworld was a story that sort of pieced itself together over many years and many other stories. Erilyn, the protagonist, has been with me since I was about 18. The first novel she appeared in was called Separate Worlds and it was my first major flop in writing. I love it, though, because in writing that (really terrible) book, I got to know who Erilyn was and who she wasn't. After that, Erilyn sat on a shelf for a while and I wrote other stories. I took a lot of creating writing classes in college and grad school, and sometime during those years I wrote two stories that I loved, but both felt unfinished. One was called "Eden" and was about a girl who could read minds and lived alone in the woods to protect herself from hunters who wanted to kill her. The other was called "Breathe Deep" and was a simple little story about a group of twenty-somethings who go spelunking and over the course of their cave-adventure, the main character decides to dump her boyfriend. I actually found homes for both of them in different literary journals but they still didn't feel quite right to me. Then, one day, it hit me that these two stories really wanted to be one story. So, Erilyn--who grew up in the caves of Citadel, who can read minds and sense emotions--finally found her true home and The Upworld was born! J.C. - The Upworld is an urban dystopian fantasy novel perfect for young and new adults.What is your favorite genres to read and write? L.F. - Well, my absolute favorite genre to read is YA dystopian fiction, but tied for a very close second are fantasy and science fiction. I've read lots of books outside of those genres that I love, too, but typically when I go book shopping, I start with the dystopian stuff and then move into the fantasy and sci-fi! J.C. - Erilyn is determined and strong. Do you share any characteristics with any of your characters? L.F. - I don't think I'm as strong as Erilyn, but I am pretty determined! But really it's her empathy and how deeply she feels things that are based on me. I'm a hyper-emotional person, so it was really easy for me to write a character who could literally feel other peoples' feelings and be affected by those things. Erilyn also independently feels things very deeply, but unlike me, she can hide those feelings with her expressions. In that regard, I'm the opposite. My husband tells me that he can see every emotion on my face. I used to fight against that, but over the last few years, I've embraced it! It keeps my students on their toes. J.C. - I fell head over heels for Finn right off the bat. Was he inspired by anyone you know? L.F. - This is probably the biggest cliche in the world, but Finn was inspired by my husband, Vince. As he grew as a character, he definitely became his own unique entity, but when I first thought him up, I was using my husband's characteristics to create him. Vince and I were best friends before we ever even thought of dating, and I wanted to incorporate that closeness into Erilyn and Finn's relationship. Vince is also very honest and open with his own emotions, and I wanted Finn to be like that, too. I actually some criticism early on that Finn was too "feminine" because of how he experiences emotions to be a usable male lead, but I can't imagine him any other way. J.C. - To me, Morrigan is the equivalent of a wool sweater. Beautiful and irritating! I knew right from the start she was harboring a secret. How good are you at keeping secrets? L.F. - What a fun question. And what a fun comparison! She is like a wool sweater! (And I'll be honest, even though she's the villain, I secretly adore her.) That being said, I am pretty good at keeping secrets! It's hard for me to keep secrets from certain people (my husband, my mom, my best friend, Kaitlyn), but I can do it if I need to! I would hate the thought of someone betraying my trust, so I try not to betray other peoples'. Now, when it comes to my own secrets, I'm terrible at keeping them! I'm an over-sharer, for sure.
J.C. - Oof, me too! J.C. - Who has been your biggest support system while on this writing adventure? L.F. - I'm fortunate that my list for this question is long! For The Upworld, my cousin Sondra and my brother spent hours read and/or brainstorming with me to get the first draft done. For the sequel, The Wylden, which will be available to order in the next few weeks, I relied on even more people to get it finished. My alpha reader Brittany Holland, my beta readers Rose Fairchild, Rachel Stanley, and Michelle Wilson, and my editor KD Reid. And then, of course, there's my husband who's constantly telling me how proud he is and encouraging me to keep doing what I love, and my parents, who've supported me following this dream for as long as I can remember! I also have amazing friends who read what I write and support me with positive words, which means the world to me.
J.C. - You have quite the cheerleading squad! J.C. - Finish the sentence. In ten years I’d like to… L.F. - In ten years I'd like to still be writing stories that I love. Of course, I have other lofty goals, but when I whittle it down to what's at the heart of those goals, it's always just to still be writing. J.C. - The Wylden, the sequel to The Upworld is coming soon. What other projects do you have in the works?
L.F. - Well, The Wylden will be available in the next few weeks (I'm so excited!), and currently, I'm editing the rough draft of the third and final book in the series. I tend to take a long time to write, so having the third book done (well, a draft done) before the second is even out is really abnormal for me. I want to really polish up this last one, though, so it may be a while yet before it's out in the world. But after that, I've been toying with a few ideas. I have a series about elemental characters that's in it's infancy. I also have been thinking of taking a few short stories I wrote for Ever After Again: A Hidden Worlds Anthology, which is a series of reimagined fairy tales, and expanding them into novellas. J.C. - Lastly, where can readers find you and your work? L.F. - The easiest place to order my books is Amazon, but The Upworld is also available on Barnes and Noble's website. You can also email me from my website (www.lindseysfrantz.com) and order a signed copy of The Upworld, Ever After Again: A Hidden Worlds Anothology, and Dragon Keeper's Academy: A Hidden Worlds Anthology (which is a series of interconnected short stories about teenagers who attend a school for people chosen to ride and care for dragons). You can also come say hi on my social media! On Instagram: @lindseysfrantzwriter, on Twitter: @lindseysfrantz, and one Facebook: www.facebook.com/lindseysfrantzwriter.