Friday, 28 January 2011

Author Interview with Beth Revis

 Tina: Hi Beth! Thank you for taking the time to answer questions for I loved Across the Universe and am flipping out that you’re here. I worship your genius, and have tried to think up of some questions that you may not have answered yet. So I’ve only got five questions here:

Beth: Aw! THANK YOU!

Tina: The pleasure is all mine. Firstly, your vision of the evolution of the human population aboard Godspeed is very intriguing – the idea of an ethnically ambiguous race of people. (And their developments in physique, language, formation of slang…etc). How did you manage to come up with that? Was it through noticing patterns in human development across the centuries, or just through reasoning and perception? 

Beth: The language was something that I consciously worked on—I am fascinated with linguistics, but never took it much past a couple of college classes. I figured that slang and curse words are the first things to change in language, so that’s what I changed. Some people think I was afraid to use “regular” curse words in the story, but actually, I was trying to show that language shift with the new words.

The rest of it developed organically. I was trying to show how different things would become, giving enough time in an enclosed area. Some things are little—for example, I make a point to show that Amy’s the shortest person on the ship, in part because people do tend to evolve taller as time progresses.

Tina: I thought that was what made the book a lot more believable. Another interesting concept that I presume would have become available through improved science & technology is the ability to modify the genes that code for intelligence in the characters of your novel. I gathered from reading Across the Universe that there are several different types of intelligence and that each generation is required to produce geniuses in order to survive. Of course, we don’t have this sort of technology, so what factors do you think determine intelligence (genetics, the environment), and why has intelligence on the ship become so rare (through inbreeding?) that injections must be given to “create” geniuses? 

Beth: One of the key things I was trying to present in my novel is the concept of “nature vs. nurture.” I hope readers question this: is Elder a good leader because he was made that way through genetics, or because of he way in which he was raised? Personally, I think it’s a combination of the two—that we are, to a certain extent, the way we are because of the way we’re born, but whether or not we use what we’re born with, and in what way we use it, is determined in part by how we are raised.
Also, I don’t think intelligence IS rare on the ship—I think Eldest is so obsessed with creating a perfect society with the perfect number of people who do the perfect things that he’s afraid to let his world grow organically and instead forces things, such as certain intelligences, on people.

Tina:  Oh, thanks for clearing that up for me!In my review of Across the Universe, I couldn’t help but compare Across the Universe to the Ender Saga by Orson Scott Card, as both are very similar in many aspects, but tell very different stories. I understand that you have read his books, and was wondering if you could comment on the similarities and differences between your novels? How much influence did Ender’s Game have upon your writing, and what other books influenced you? 

Beth: The biggest influence I got from the Ender saga was the idea that it was okay to write sci fi in a certain way. I think a lot of adult sci fi books focus more on the setting and the science than on the plot and the characters, and I worried that it was a trope of the genre that couldn’t be broken. Ender’s Game and the sequels proved to me that the style of character-driven plots was possible in sci fi, and that there definitely was a market for YA sci fi, even if there’s not that much out there right now.

Tina: I’m also curious as to your decision to make Across the Universe a young adult book, rather than an adult book, and also, the reasons behind including a romance story in a science fiction, where romance is uncommon in this genre? Did you want to have two characters from different times provide a contrast in the novel, did you believe that romance was vital to the story, or perhaps because it would appeal to the target audience? 

Beth: I have always written YA novels instead of adult ones, and personally, I prefer to read YA novels instead of adult ones. I believe that the difference between the two isn’t so much a matter of age suggestions as it is one of style. YA lit tends to be more focused on faster-paced plots and interesting characters (in my opinion).

As for romance: it’s something that came about naturally in the story. I think Elder’s desperately lonely, and when he meets Amy, he becomes obsessively attached to her rather quickly. Amy, on the other hand, isn’t look for love or romance, and she responds to Elder much more warily.

Tina: Finally, is there any recent news concerning the next book in the trilogy or perhaps (*crosses fingers*) a film adaptation? Seeing as the people on Godspeed are multiethnic, what actors do you have in mind for a movie version of Across the Universe

Beth: I wish! I seriously have all my fingers and toes crossed on that one, and I hope that it happens!! As for actors—I honestly don’t know who would play most of the ship’s crew because it would require actors who are multi-ethnic, but I’ve always pictured Molly Quinn in the role of Amy.
Molly Quinn as Amy?
Tina: OMG, yes! She would be perfect for Amy.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Beth! Your answers are just as insightful and intelligent as your amazing book. I can’t wait until book two comes out in 2012!

Check out Beth’s website at:
The Official (and super awesome) Website for Across the Universe:

Check out an interview with Beth Revis on BTL.