Tracy Deebs collects books, English degrees and lipsticks and has been known to forget where—and sometimes who—she is when immersed in a great novel. At six she wrote her first short story—something with a rainbow and a prince—and at seven she forayed into the wonderful world of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. From the first page of that first book, she knew she’d found her life-long love. Now a writing instructor at her local community college, Tracy writes YA novels that run the gamut from dark mermaids and witches to kissing clubs and techno-Armageddon stories… and she still has a soft spot for Judy Blume.
I’ve always been a fan of the Pandora myth, but I’ve always thought she got a raw deal. She was created specifically to cause trouble and open that box (I explain more about this below) and then we blame her for doing what she was created to do. It never seemed fair to me. Early in the brainstorming process I was talking to my agent about how I wanted to write a Pandora book and she made the comment, “This could be a really stupid idea, but what if Pandora opens an attachment instead of a box?” I was captivated by the idea from the second she voiced it and spent the next few weeks figuring out the dynamics of exactly how the story could work.What was the hardest part about writing Doomed?
The research was exhausting. And then piecing the scavenger hunt together. In the book, the characters alternate between finding a clue in the game (GPS coordinates) and then going to those GPS coordinates (with the help of pictures from Pandora’s life) and finding a real life clue to enter into the game to make it to the next level. Originally, there were three more stops in the scavenger hunt, but they had to be cut (because the book was well over 160K words at that point) so I had to pick the most important parts and re-piece everything together. It was a lot of work, but well worth it in the end, I think.What made you want to write a dystopian novel?
I’m not sure I wrote a dystopian novel—Doomed is more an Armageddon novel as we get to watch society fall apart as opposed to picking it up after that’s already happened. But I’ve always been fascinated by dystopian novels (Ayn Rand’s Anthem was one of my favorite books when I was in high school) as well as the dynamics of what holds a society together and what makes it fall apart (Sociology was one of my minors in college). Putting all that into a novel was an awesome (though sometimes frightening) experience.If you could change one thing about Doomed, what would it be?
I’d put the tornado back in. In the middle of the book, I had Theo, Pandora and Eli facing a massive tornado and my editor thought it was too much with all the technology stuff going on as well. But I’m a big believer that nature really is completely indifferent to human suffering and since this book focuses so much on environmental issues, I think showing a real life example of climate change is just another important layer to the story.What kind of research did you do for Doomed?
A ton of it. Seriously. I spent months talking to dozens of software, hardware, electrical, telecom, power and control systems engineers (including my husband and his friends, whom I hounded nearly to death with questions about how things work and what was possible and what wasn’t). I also spent a lot of time researching the Stuxnet worm (the worm unleashed by the US and Israeli governments on the Iranian nuclear program). I talked to numerous experts on the worm to find out how it worked and what they believe the future of cyber warfare will be now that this worm exists. I researched nuclear power plants in America as well as what precisely caused the meltdown at Fukishima and what would happen if a leak like that happened at an American nuclear plant (and even if it was possible, considering the design was flawed at Fukishima). Plus, I talked to numerous sociology and psychology professors about the dynamics of Armageddon type incidents, did a lot of research on how massive epidemics would shift societal mores and watched a bunch of documentaries of what happens when societies collapse in on themselves. Oh, and I also played a bunch of MMOs JA love triangle or one true love? Why?
Honestly, I prefer one true love because I do believe that everyone has a soulmate (even if they don’t end up with that soulmate). There is a love triangle in Doomed, but only because I’m following the Greek myth. In the original Pandora myth, Pandora is created as a punishment for the Titan Prometheus (Theo in Doomed) because he stole fire from the gods. Prometheus is smart enough to refuse the gods when they try to give her to him as a gift, but his brother, Epimetheus (Eli in Doomed) isn’t as smart. That’s when all the trouble starts…in the myth and in Doomed.Favorite book you read in 2012?
Pirate Cinema by Cory DoctorowVampires, werewolves, or other?
Other. I’m a shifter fan— I write mermaids, selkies and dragons. I also love witches and am launching a brand new urban fantasy series in February under my Tessa Adams pseudonym. The first book is called Soulbound.Would you rather have the ability to read minds or be invisible?
To be invisible. Reading minds is so intrusive. Plus, think of all the fun you could have if no one can see you!!!!
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