What or who inspired Gated?
I was watching a show about underground shelters and doomsday prepping that got me wondering about the people behind it and what made them so convinced that the end was near. Their fervor and certainty was extreme and fascinating. Add to this my interest in cults, their leaders, and how the they turn deadly and why people might stay in them until the bitter end and the story grew from there.
What was Gated like when you first wrote it? Is it too different from the current version?
The version of GATED that is in bookstores is very similar to the version I wrote originally. I think the only semi-major changes from the original were the order of some of the events and who ended up surviving at the book’s close. I had an idea for a sequel, but I wasn’t sure if I’d get the opportunity to write it, so the original ending was much more definitive and the plot was completely tied up. But the ending it has now is much closer to how I always wanted it to end.
How did you manage or keep the dystopian vibe in your novel?
I think I was able to keep the dystopian vibe because the community in which my character, Lyla, lives is so cut off from the rest of the modern world and it’s governing structure is leader-centric, but unchallenged. The people in it see outsiders maybe a handful of times in a year. Their leader controls every ounce of information about what goes on beyond their walls. The story takes place right now, in our present, but it was important for me to show that dystopian societies really exist now, in our world. It isn’t a future concept at all...you only need to take a closer look at the prison camps in Northern Korea to understand this...or even better—look right in our own back yard. A child growing up inside a cult would have a very similar experience to a child growing up in a dystopian society in the future. What changes isn’t the dynamic of the society I’m writing about, but the setting and time period.
When it comes down to character development, how did you mold Lyla?
Lyla evolved in a very organic way. At first I barely knew who she was. She was there, but blurry even though the beginning scenes that made up her story were crystal clear. It was only after I drafted the bones of the story and went back to revise that I really began to understand who she was. For me, the characters begin as very flat props. They come together after a series of weeks and months where I think about them almost constantly. For every bit of their personality that actually makes it into the finished draft, there’s a whole stack of backstory pages I typed out about them and their pasts that don’t.
Was there a specific song or playlist that you listened to while writing Gated?
Linkin’ Park songs made up my entire playlist for this book and I listened to them constantly—in the car, in bed right before I went to sleep, while I wrote, showered, worked out. The lyrics to so many of their songs were so perfect for how Lyla was feeling throughout the book. “Waiting for the End to Come” is her anthem.
How will you describe your writing style?
My writing style in one word is inefficient. I have to basically write the book wrong before I can make it right. It takes forever. After every book I vow to change that and finally master outlining and daily word count goals...but the truth is, I can never stick to it. The story emerges over time and just will not come if I don’t give it all kinds of room to breathe. I never know exactly where I’m going when I start...or even when I’m halfway to wherever it is that I’m going. I have a general sense of where I think I’ll be ending up, but even that is not set in stone. It makes for really, really slow going. I wish that I could sit down and hash everything out plot-wise at the very beginning and then write based off of that brainstorming session...but I don’t think it’s in the cards for me and maybe that’s for the best. It definitely makes the whole process more exciting.
What is next for Amy Parker?
The sequel to GATED. It comes out next fall with Random House, so I’m busy going through edits right now. I’m also working on another book, but it’s too early to say much about it..except that it is definitely creepy which makes me extremely happy! I do love a dark story.
Thanks for the interview!
Amy was born in Pennsylvania and spent most of her early years there. Many of her best memories are of hiding out in her room where she made up elaborate pretend play scenarios most often involving orphaned baby dolls and Barbies dressed in fashions made out of Kleenex.
Amy was always attracted to writing, but she tried a lot of other jobs on for size first before settling into writing full time. At some point or another, she has been a collectible doll-maker, a fondue waitress, an inner city school teacher, and a stay at home mom. Currently she is writing full time and lives in a suburb of Tampa, Florida with her very supportive husband, their two creative and energetic daughters, one absurdly fat orange cat, and two escape artist mice.
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Hardcover, 384 pages
August 27th 2013, Random House Childrens
Do the gates keep the unchosen out or the chosen in?
In Mandrodage Meadows, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban community have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives. Lyla Hamilton and her parents are original members of the flock. They moved here following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking to escape the evil in the world. Now seventeen, Lyla knows certain facts are not to be questioned:
Pioneer is her leader.
Will is her Intended.
The end of the world is near.
Like Noah before him, Pioneer has been told of the imminent destruction of humanity. He says his chosen must arm themselves to fight off the unchosen people, who will surely seek refuge in the compound's underground fortress--the Silo.
Lyla loves her family and friends, but given the choice, she prefers painting to target practice. And lately she'd rather think about a certain boy outside the compound than plan for married life in the Silo with Will. But with the end of days drawing near, she will have to pick up a gun, take a side, and let everyone know where she stands.
What's up for grabs? Finished Copy of Gated by Amy Christine Parker and a poster of Gated.
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