Interview with Bethany Hagen, Author of Landry Park


Please give Bethany Hagen a warm welcome to the virtual offices! 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Bethany Hagen] Sleepy, drinky, fangirly, karate-doing librarian.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Landry Park?

[Bethany Hagen] Sure!  In short, it’s Gone with the Nuclear Wind.  In less-short short, it’s the story of a girl who’s poised to inherit a massive estate, its wealth and influence stemming from the commercialization of nuclear power.  But when a new boy comes to town, he triggers a series of events that lead her to uncover the truth behind her family and her world.  (Shocking concept for a dystopian, I know!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Bethany Hagen] I was dusting exhibits at a history museum for about two years when my mind started gluing together the things I was seeing–debutantes and massive houses protected by restrictive covenants, relics from the Cold War era of nuclear hysteria.  I remember writing an article about poverty in the county that the museum is situated in and thinking that I could not believe that such abject living exists side by side with so much wealth.  It’s bananas. 

And then after the world came together, I started imagining a girl.  What kind of girl would grow up in the middle of that?  Would she be jaded?  Satisfied?  Naive?  Cynical?  Slowly, Madeline Landry came to life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Bethany Hagen] I’m going to be brutally honest and tell you that it was the kissing.  Oh, and the dresses.  Oh, and the food.  And the luxurious gardens.  And the kissing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Bethany Hagen] The story itself.  I knew the world, and I knew all about Madeline and David and Jude, but what exactly were they doing?!  There were quite a few revisions until I figured it out.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Bethany Hagen] *pulls at face with fingertips*  This is harrrrdddd because I have SO MANY THEME SONGS.  I suppose I would be pleased if the intro song for Game of Thrones starting playing whenever I walked into a room.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Bethany Hagen] Icy Hot.  Given the karate, there’s usually some sore muscle I’m nursing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Bethany Hagen] I’m at the reference desk at my library, so there is a mug of coffee (almost cold), a copy of Jack Gantos’ Hole in my Life (for the book club I run) and a stamp that says WITHDRAWN.  It’s my dream to one day stamp naughty patrons with this when I kick them out of the library.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Bethany Hagen] J.K. Rowling.  And then I would download her brain.  I would also like to be Loki, which would be a much less productive day, because I’d spend it looking at myself in the mirror.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Bethany Hagen] So many!  Too many!  Okay, a short sample: Defy by Sara Larson, Nil by Lynne Matson, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  OH–and on the adult side, I recently devoured the latest Laurelin Paige book.  It was delicious.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Bethany Hagen] That’s easy!  If I’m not a libriador or a writer, I can usually be found doing karate (or sitting and watching my kidlets do karate.)  I also read as much as I can.  And nap.  And drink.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Bethany Hagen] Readers can find me on tumblr, twitter or at my website.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

About the book:

“Downton Abbey” meets The Selection in this dystopian tale of love and betrayal

Sixteen-year-old Madeline Landry is practically Gentry royalty. Her ancestor developed the nuclear energy that has replaced electricity, and her parents exemplify the glamour of the upper class. As for Madeline, she would much rather read a book than attend yet another debutante ball. But when she learns about the devastating impact the Gentry lifestyle—her lifestyle—is having on those less fortunate, her whole world is turned upside down. As Madeline begins to question everything she has been told, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana, who seems to be hiding secrets of his own. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty—her family and the estate she loves dearly—and desire.

Fans of Ally Condie, Kiera Cass, Veronica Roth, and even Jane Austen will be enthralled by this breathtaking read.