Yesterday, Michelle featured Bethany Wiggins' STUNG as part of the Book Paparazzi's STUNG Blog Tour. Her post includes the essential Top Ten Necessities for a Girl on the Run
. The blog tour continues its second day at Operation Awesome (yes, we loved it that much).
Today we've got an interview with the lovely author and an excerpt from the book!
Scroll to the bottom of the post to enter a giveaway for one of four signed copies of STUNG and some delicious honey sticks (which will make total sense once you've read the book). I had to laugh because Michelle and I had the same impulse to hoard honey after reading STUNG. Bethany might single-handedly increase honey demand globally. (I am in no way giving stock advice.)
About the Author
Bethany Wiggins has always been an avid reader, but not an avid writer. She failed ninth grade English because she read novels instead of doing her homework. In high school, she sat alone at lunch and read massive hardback fantasy novels (Tad Williams and Robert Jordan anyone?). It wasn't until the end of her senior year that the other students realized she was reading fiction--not the Bible.
Once upon a time, Bethany's sister dared her to start writing an hour a day until she completed a novel. Bethany wrote a seven-hundred page fantasy novel that she wisely let no one read--but it taught her how to write. She is the author of SHIFTING, STUNG (April 2013), and CURED (2014).
About the Book
Releases April 2nd, 2013 by Walker Childrens
There is no cure for being stung.
Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered—her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right hand—a black oval with five marks on either side—that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. She’s right.
Those bearing the tattoo have turned into mindless, violent beasts that roam the streets and sewers, preying upon the unbranded while a select few live protected inside a fortress-like wall, their lives devoted to rebuilding society and killing all who bear the mark.
Now Fiona has awakened branded, alone—and on the wrong side of the wall.
Katrina: I loved this early description of STUNG by you: "STUNG is about (in a nutshell) bees, child beasts, and a hot guy. It's the best thing I've ever written." Having read SHIFTING, I thought that last bit was high praise indeed! What do you love most about STUNG?
Bethany: Wow! You kept that description? That was from a long time ago! What do I love about STUNG? I love that the minute you read the first page, you are in the story. It is sort of like this whirlwind that sweeps you up, takes you on a furious ride, and then spits you out and leaves you gasping for breath.
Katrina: Fiona awakens with a mark on her right hand, dubbing her one of the infected. Was the mark/tattoo—a black oval with five marks on either side—difficult to design or did the design just sort of come to you as you were writing the first draft? Is there any special meaning behind it other than what's described in the book?
Bethany: The mark sort of just happened, without a whole lot of thought. Even the ten lines on the sides--that has a HUGE meaning in the story, but when I originally gave Fiona the mark of a Level Ten, I didn't realize how crucial it would be to the plot. The meaning is just what I described in the book--nothing less, nothing more--but I do call it "the mark of the beast," which is a reference to a Biblical term.
Katrina: How many books are slated for this series? (Are there sequels in the works for the universe of SHIFTING, too?)
Bethany: There are definitely two books in the STUNG series (book two comes out January 2014), and probably three. As for SHIFTING, I don't know if that will ever go beyond one book.
Katrina: STUNG has been called by many "the next Divergent" or "the next Hunger Games." But I'd like to hear from the author herself, what were your biggest influences in creating the universe of STUNG?
Bethany: Wow. I don't know who is calling it "the next Divergent" or "the next Hunger Games," but those are two incredible books to live up to. Just reading this question made me gasp! The biggest influences for Stung came from several sources (and actually, I didn't read Divergent until after I'd completely finished writing STUNG). The main inspiration for this book came from a nightmare, which is now chapter one. Also, I started writing STUNG at the time the Swine Flu was this big deal, and everyone was storming the health departments around the USA for a vaccination against the flu. I remember thinking to myself, "What if the government got the vaccine wrong and all of these people are going to turn into mindless zombies or something?" I did not get myself or my family vaccinated! A third factor was an article I read about the dying off honey bees. If you mix those three things, add some romance, some deceit, guns, and child beasts, you have STUNG.
Katrina: Since you have zombie-esque creatures, how difficult was it to write a romance in the midst of such carnage?
Bethany: The romance was the easiest part to write! The beasts and violence? Not so easy. Everything I write, I think to myself, "Will my daughter be able to read this when she's twelve?" So writing about insane teenagers who want to tear everyone to shreds was hard to do in a way that wasn't too gory or gratuitously violent. The romance was sort of like a breath of fresh air in the midst of the carnage!
Katrina: What was the hardest scene/chapter to write and why? Or, alternately, which was the easiest to write?
Bethany: Believe it or not, the most important chapter, the one that ties everything together into a neat little package, was the very last--and hardest--chapter I wrote! It's in the middle of the book, the scene in the dark alley with the governor and the Raiders. When I very first finished the book I realized that it needed more, needed to be tied together earlier on, so I sat down and re-plotted the whole thing out, and then stuck a brand new chapter smack dab in the middle of the book! Easiest chapter? Chapter one, since I dreamed it and knew exactly how it looked, smelled, sounded, felt.
Katrina: What is your advice to new and/or struggling writers?
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Bethany: If you love to write, don't give up! If you get rejections from agents/publishers, keep writing . . . BUT don't be afraid to write something new and better. SHIFTING was the fifth book I wrote. The first four weren't good enough, and I accepted that fact and put them permanently on the shelf. STUNG is the tenth or eleventh book I wrote, but when I started it, I knew it was good, so all the others I'd written were gladly stacked onto the shelf. So my point is, never stop trying. Never stop honing the craft of writing. Never be afraid to start something new. The more you write, the better you get.
THANK YOU BETHANY FOR THE INTERVIEW!
The world swims before my eyes, a
blur of brown coats, golden skin and guns, and my knees buckle. Bowen’s arm
snakes around my waist and he drags me the last few steps toward the beast. In
one swift move, he throws me down to the ground. And then he sits on me, his
legs on either side of my hips.
His eyes flicker to my bound
chest and he freezes, as if everything in the world but the two of us has
disappeared. Time stops, my eyes grow wide, and his green eyes take in every
detail of my body before meeting mine again. When our eyes lock, his brow
furrows, his eyes narrow in confusion, and he
blinks. But then the cuffs on my arms fall from my skin. Bowen picks them up
and stands, taking a slow step away from me.
Read my gushing Afterglow review of STUNG.