Emmy Laybourne is the author of Monument 14, a new YA post-apocalyptic tale about a world gone mad. Natural disasters and toxic chemical spills make life very difficult for the young protagonists scrambling to stay alive. Emmy dropped by the virtual offices to chat about her book.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Emmy Layton] I’m a YA novelist, musical theater writer, and recovered character actress who is also a mom to two kids and a lizard (adopted)!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Monument 14?
[Emmy Layton] Monument 14 is the story of fourteen kids who get trapped in a superstore (think Target) during a series of environmental catastrophies that leaves the world outside the store hostile and dangerous. It’s the story of how the kids come together and try to survive and take care of each other, despite their differences.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Emmy Layton] The idea for M14 actually began as a musical! I wanted to write a musical about a small colony of people living in a Wal-Mart. But then I decided to write it as a YA novel and everything changed. The only character who remains from my original notes and ideas for the musical is Astrid! In the musical idea I had a wild girl living up above the ceiling tiles. Astrid is that wild girl!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
[Emmy Layton] It was hard to take characters that I created (and really ended up loving) and put them through so much anguish. Especially the young ones. As an author, I knew that the story needed to really move fast, the characters needed to be in danger and the tension needed to stay high until the very end. As a mother, well, I just wanted to make everything okay. The mommy part of me wanted to make NORAD find a way to quell the airborne chemicals and have Mrs. Wooly show up in a new bus to take all the kids home to their loving parents!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Dean?
[Emmy Layton] Observant. Kind. Honest.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Jake would never have in his pocket?
[Emmy Layton] Great question! A calculator. A pack of raisins. A condom.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Alex’s single most prized possession?
[Emmy Layton] The analog alarm clock he took apart and put back together when he was five.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Emmy Layton] Authors Anne Lamott, Kent Haruf, and Lynda Barry; UCLA professors Howard Suber, TIm Albaugh and Richard Walter; and the ten years I spent as comedy improviser.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Emmy Layton] At least 4 straight, uninterrupted hours; a good breakfast with plenty of protein; and my Classical Radiohead playlist on Pandora!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Emmy Layton] Hold Me Closer Necromancer, by Lish McBride. I loved the characters, the tone, the setting AND the story! It was such a cool world – it made me want to move to Seattle and work in a fast food joint and you really can’t say that about every book you read!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Emmy Layton] Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. I read it as a 13 year old and it completely cracked my world right open. The latter installments are basically pre-historic romance novels but don’t cast aside CCB because of them. CCB has a brilliant, tragic plot that is nail-bitingly tense and deep, down-body good.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Emmy Layton] I love writing country song lyrics! I really do. I’m working on one right now called Jackpot about a man who’s determined to gamble his life away until his lady-love comes back to him!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Emmy Layton] I would love to connect with my readers on my website: emmylaybourne.com or on Twitter @emmylaybourne. They can follow my blog tour via links on my webpage, too. Thanks so much for having me here at Manga Maniac Cafe!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can order Monument 14 from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below. Available in both print and digital.