Kristen Landon’s book, THE LIMIT, hit bookstores this week. This dystopian thriller is a gripping read, and the premise is very timely. Kristen dropped by the virtual offices to discuss her book and share a little bit about herself.
Describe yourself in 140 characters or less:
I’m a hardworking wife and mother who loves to have fun. I live in Utah and enjoy getting up into our beautiful mountains to hike, kayak and picnic.
Can you tell us a little about your book, THE LIMIT?
THE LIMIT is a dystopian thriller about a world that is just a step away from our own. In this society, if a family goes over their government imposed debt limit, one of their children can be taken away to a workhouse. Thirteen- year-old Matt and his family are not worried about going over their limit. They see themselves as financially stable . . . until one seemingly innocent shopping trip puts them over. Matt is snatched away and taken to a workhouse that is different from anything he ever imagined. Since he is extremely intelligent he is assigned to live and work on the luxurious top floor, where life is quite enjoyable. Before long he uncovers corruption and danger, which he and his workhouse friends must battle and overcome.
How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
Several years ago I heard a discussion on a talk show about debt. One line really stuck with me. It was something to the effect of, “Parents who amass large amounts of debt are mortgaging their children’s futures.” The idea grew and morphed in my mind until it became the basic premise of the novel—children being taken, locked away and made responsible for their parents’ debt.
I didn’t want too many characters overcrowding the book, and I needed those kids to be valuable to the workhouse—so they wouldn’t want them to leave. That’s how I came up with the super-smart Top Floors. I tried to add some variety to my cast of ‘smart kids’. I have some that are close to the typical smart kid stereotype—but I added some interesting and a bit unusual characters to the mix as well.
What have you learned about yourself through your characters?
I’ve learned that it’s okay—and best—to be yourself and rely on your own strengths. I’ve also strengthened my belief in the importance of practicing delayed gratification.
Is there a message you want your readers to come away with after reading the book?
First and foremost—I want them to come away thinking THE LIMIT is an exciting and interesting book to read!
Beyond that, it would be great if readers could gain a little bit better understanding about the trap debt can turn out to be and recognize the difference between delayed gratification and instant gratification and understand their consequences.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing THE LIMIT?
Although THE LIMIT seems to be set in a world that is almost exactly like our own—it isn’t. I had to make sure the details and rules of this new world were consistent and believable. My writing would often slip into our own world, and I’d have to force myself to get back into the world of THE LIMIT.
Why do you think dystopian novels are so appealing to readers?
I think these novels are so appealing because dystopian worlds are so close to our own. We can almost touch them. We readily believe in these worlds because we can relate so well to them. It’s also scary. We can see how easy it could be for our society to slip into the frightening one we’re reading about. Readers—including me—love to be scared from the safe distance of our living room sofas with a book in our hands.
Describe a typical day in your life.
I wake up around 6:00 AM. I do about an hour of cardio exercise and 40 minutes of strength training. While I’m working out, I’m also making sure my kids are doing their chores, getting ready and out the door for school. The youngest is nine, so they’re pretty much self-sufficient. I’m quite a religious person, so I also get in about half an hour of scripture study. After I eat breakfast and check email, I dedicate the next hour or two to writing. In the afternoon I run errands, trying to make it back home before the kids get there. I do have to do a little house cleaning each day and for some reason my family likes to eat dinner every night so I usually make that. There’s always something else going on, soccer practice, dance class, piano lessons, school meetings. If I’m lucky I’ll get some time in the evening to read.
If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading what would it be?
Just one? I remember loving to listen to my second grade teacher read aloud the Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary. The one book that sticks out to me from my childhood—that made me say WOW—would be From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Trying to be a great wife to my husband and a great mom to my four kids!
THE LIMIT is in stores now, so run out and grab a copy of this entertaining read. Or, click the widget below to order it from Amazon.