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Interview - Lisa M. Stasse + Giveaway

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Today, I'm delighted to be interviewing Lisa M. Stasse, whose exciting dystopian novel came out July 24th!

Book Synopsis
A thought-provoking and exciting start to a riveting new dystopian trilogy.

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

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Thanks for joining us here today, Lisa. Tell us a little about yourself and how you became an author.
I'm a librarian at UCLA, so I'm always surrounded by books. I've loved books and writing since I was really little, and I've wanted to write novels since I was in high school. My first attempts at novels were pretty bad, but I just kept at it until I finally came up with something that somebody wanted to publish! ;)

I grew up surrounded by books. My dream home would resemble a library--with fantastical elements to it. Where did you come up with this brilliant dystopian world in The Forsaken?
I really love dystopians--from all the classic ones like 1984, Lord of the Flies (if that counts), and Brave New World--to the new batch, like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. In my own dystopian world, I really wanted to explore the concept of a prison island. A place where anyone rebellious gets banished permanently, so that they can never challenge the fascistic regime that dictates the rules of their lives. This prison island in The Forsaken, known as "the wheel," is where a lot of the book takes place, and the island slowly unfurls its mysteries and dark secrets to its habitants.

It sounds absolutely riveting. How has the story grown since you first came up with it?
It got a lot longer and more intricate. It first started as a fairly straight-up story about a good girl who fails a mandatory government personality test (because it reveals that she has subversive and violent tendencies) and gets exiled to a prison island. But a larger narrative grew from that--including the entire world of "the wheel," with all the different warring tribes, and the government machines that kidnap kids, and the various colored sectors.

I'm currently taken a summer course on diplomatic relations among the European countries, and I found it interesting how your novel features a merger of the North American countries. As a Psychology major, I'm also fascinated by how certain people are expelled from it for failing a personality test. Would you tell us a little about the U.N.A. and the test that Alenna fails?
The United Northern Alliance is a merger of The United States, Canada and Mexico. This sort of merger might sound pretty far fetched right now, but I majored in political science in college, and it's really stunning how fast things can change when it comes to global politics. No one ever expected the Soviet Union to collapse with the speed that it did, or the Eurozone to develop so quickly. In many ways, geography really can determine one's destiny. Different countries, regardless of their existing laws or policies, often band together for the simple reason that they're located next to each other--making it easier to defend themselves and to trade goods among themselves more freely. As for the test that Alenna Shawcross fails--known as the GPPT--it's like a nightmare version of the SAT. It's a personality test that if you fail, and get diagnosed with subversive tendencies, you also get exiled forever to a brutal prison island. But of course, the test results can't always be trusted. Alenna never expects to fail and end up on the wheel.

Alenna has been orphaned in a very different world, and she has been identified has having a high capacity for brutal violence. Yet, inside she is a sixteen-year-old girl. What do you feel makes her endearing and relatable to readers?
I hope that her perseverance, and her optimism in the face of terrible danger make her appealing. She never gives up, even when the odds are always against her. I wanted her to seem realistic. She doesn't have any super powers or amazing abilities. Her journey is one where she grows from a sort of gentle, regular girl to someone who learns she is stronger than she ever imagined. And she also learns that she must fight to survive--and fight for what she believes in. She is a very different person at the end of the book than at the start.

If you were to fail the test and get sent to The Wheel, what would you do?
Honestly, I would be completely terrified! Of course, I have a big fantasy about myself that I'd get some weapons and fight to defend myself, but I would probably just try to run off and hide. I'd be one of those crazy nomads living out in the forest by myself, trying to live off the land and not get killed (or kill anyone).

That's precisely what I would do! As much as I'd love to imagine how I'd go and fight the big bad guys, I'm one human who really doesn't like violence at all! If you could say something to the people living in The Wheel, what would you tell them?
To hold onto their hope. That things will ultimately get better. But there will be some very dark times before that occurs.

What are you working on right now?
Right now I'm finishing up the copyedits for Book 2 of The Forsaken trilogy, which continues Alenna's journey as she tries to rescue her friends. After that, I will start on Book 3!

Thanks again for interviewing, Lisa! I love the book trailer for The Forsaken, so for those readers who haven't seen it yet (and those who'd like to see it again), here it is! 


Lisa M. Stasse was born in New York, and has since lived in Spain, Russia, Hawaii, and North Carolina. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Government and English lit, and is currently a digital librarian at UCLA. Lisa loves watching science fiction movies, cooking Spanish food, and dancing around her house to 80′s music. She lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband and their two-year-old daughter. All three of them are learning how to surf.






Lisa has generously donated a copy of The Forsaken, which will be going to a lucky international winner!

The giveaway is open through August 27th.

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a meaningful comment on the interview, then fill out the form below. Extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway and the book trailer (hence the two options to tweet a message). Do not leave your email in the comments section.

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87 comments on "Interview - Lisa M. Stasse + Giveaway"
  1. LOVE the trailer!!! I cant wait to read this book! :-D

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  2. Wow o__o I find it amazing that Lisa's also a librarian! Librarians are such amazing people to me - they donate so much of their time for such little pay, and do so much! Combine that with being an author, and she might as well be a god o__o (I might be exaggerating, but I do admire her)

    Can't wait to read this book too, haha :D Thanks for the interview & giveaway!

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  3. Great interview! I can't wait to read this one!!! Thanks for the chance to win!

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  4. Great interview :D Lisa sounds awesome. <3 Makes me more excited to read the book. :) Thank you :D

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  5. I think I'd try to run and hide as well. I'm just not a really brave person I guess :D
    Thanks a lot for the giveaway! I can't wait to read this book.

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  6. I love how Lisa says she'd tell her characters to hold on to hope!

    That's so important:) How great that she's got more in the series:)

    Thanks so much:) Great trailer!

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  7. a super power country? interesting..

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  8. This book sounds so good! :D If I was on The Wheel I don't think I would survive for 2 minutes. It seems like such a cold, cruel and violent future.

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  9. great interview and love the trailler, cant wait to read this book :)

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  10. Lisa, I love your answer to the first question. I admire your passion and hardwork to get one of your works finally published! I can't wait to read your book. The cover is sublime.

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  11. She's a Hunger Games fan? That and the synopsis make me think the book is going to be very Panemesque. Hopefully I'll get to read it before I tire of Suzanne Collins imitations (currently imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it eventually becomes the path well traveled. If that makes any sense at all.)

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  12. I've heard such great things about this book, but after reading the interview I'm persuaded to read it because she's a LIBRARIAN!!! I love librarians. They have the right to be snotty about books and they know what makes a good book! I'm definitely reading this now.

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  13. I really want to read this book. It sounds very good. Tore923@aol.com

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  14. I am really excited about this novel. I love that she's coming to it from a Political Science background, because that's a depth dystopian novels have always needed but rarely achieve, at least in the ones I've read. Thanks for sharing the great interview!

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  15. Great interview. I can't wait to be able to read this.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

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  16. Great interview. I really liked the part where Lisa talked about The Wheel. I've always been drawn to prison islands like Alcatraz.

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  17. Loved the trailer!! So excited this is a series and that she's working hard on the sequels. Looking forward to reading them all!

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    1. Here's my tweet link!!! I put my name instead :(

      https://twitter.com/deadtossedwaves/status/235449924588826624

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  18. I really enjoyed the trailer. The cover really didn't sell me on this book. Thanks for the interview.

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  19. I would love to have your job... it's my dream job - being a librarian. :)

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  20. I have been eager to read this book. Great interview with the author and thank you for the giveaway!

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  21. Great interview! I can't wait to read it!

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  22. I love the dystopian premise! A prison island sounds a bit like Brave New World, though of course everything else looks totally different. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

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  23. I love the cover, it's so different.
    This is an amazing interview.
    Thank you, Lisa!
    And thank you for the giveaway, Kris!

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  24. A fascinating idea. Even now, in reality, the face of the global map keeps changing.

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  25. Thanks for letting us know about books 2 and 3!

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  26. I've seen this book around, but I had no idea it was a dystopian novel! I'm even more excited about it right now. Alenna sounds like a nice protagonist and I loved Lisa's answer to the last question - book 2 is coming \o\
    Penny Pe

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  27. Ah, it's so cool that her usual job is being a librarian! She had a very similar dream to mine... Want to write a novel, suck at it, turn to the library to be surrounded by books to get through life haha. I love it! I've read her book already, so I will not be entering the giveaway, but good luck to whoever wins!

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  28. Great interview! Loved the trailer! :) Thanks for the chance to win!

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  29. My love of books didn't come to me until around age 30 or librian would of been a great job choice for me. To late to start over now!

    This book sounds very good! Quite different!

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  30. Awesome interview! Can't wait to read this book :)

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  31. I have been a fan of dystopian novels since I read 1984 in my 9th grade Honors English class. As soon as I read the premise of The Forsaken, I thought of Lord of the Flies, which I also read and found to be rather intense. I have read The Hunger Games trilogy, Divergent, half of Insurgent, and actually have read The Forsaken already. In my opinion, the whole concept and world that Stasse has created seems the most plausible. I had to force myself to stop reading and go to bed and I was so hooked. :) Like Stasse, if I ever had to be sent to The Wheel, I'd be terrified, too. I think the concept of this novel is different than the other popular dystopian novels and is personally my favorite. That is why I would LOVE to win a signed copy. Heck, I'm tempted to fly to the other side of the country to visit UCLA and try and meet her... ok... Excuse my fanatical moment. It would just be awesome to have a book to read and one to save! :)

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  32. This has been on my TBR list for a while,I'd love to win it :D The trailer is awesome :)

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  33. Love the interview! and yey for working on the second book!!! Thanks for the great giveaway!

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  34. Great interview. Hope the second book will be release soon!

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  35. This was an awesome interview. I've been wanting to read Forsaken for a while. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  36. Thank you for the great interview! The Forsaken sounds awesome, and that island prison The Wheel sounds like a terrifying place. I'd run and hide, too :) Looking forward to see how Alenna survives it.

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  37. Thanks for the great interview! I've been wanting to read this since I first heard about it! Can't wait to read it and find out more about The Wheel and Alenna : )

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  38. Love the trailer!!! and cool interview :D Thanks for the chance to win :D

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  39. Omg - Forsaken is immediately going on my birthday wish list!! The prison island, the Wheel, sounds deliciously dark & scary - I'd be terrified, too lol

    And that trailer ROCKS!! :D
    Can't wait to read the book!!
    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

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  40. Great interview! I've read the Forsaken, and so really enjoyed hearing some of Lisa's thoughts on it.

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  41. I really want to read the book. I love the cover and the trailer is awesome.
    Great Interview! :D

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  42. Great interview, this book and trailer look amazing!!!

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  43. This book wouldn't have pulled me in on its own, but this interview really makes me want to read it. Lisa sounds awesome and very down to earth.

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  44. This book wouldn't have pulled me in on its own, but this interview really makes me want to read it. Lisa sounds awesome and very down to earth.

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  45. Love the trailer really makes me want to read the book. Great interview as well.

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  46. I would probably fail such personality tests too :)
    Loved the trailer... Hope I'll win!!

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  47. I read your interview and I'm just fascinated by how books like this evolve. The imagination and creativity that is involved to come up with such riviting novels is amazing. Like the author in the said in the question about "what she would do if she failed the test", it's easy to run and hide(which is our tendency) but when we read books that inspire us, its easy to escape into fantasies about being our best and conquering the world. Thank you for a great interview and an opportunity to grab the book. wendyrailey@yahoo.com

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  48. I really enjoy hearing how stories came to be, and the process of how they change along the way. Thanks for the great interview!

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  49. It's only recently I've read a lot of books from the dystopia genre and I'm intrigued by the idea of a prison island, the world also sounds really interesting and I loved the book trailer. :)

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  50. The book trailer looks so amazing *_____*
    cant wait to get my own copy XD

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  51. Fantastical interview! I've been very eager for this book! Thanks for featuring! And for the giveaway! KEep it up.

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  52. I love that Lisa is a librarian and an author! It shows how much she loves books :)

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  53. I like to see people who say they probably wouldn't survive a dystopian world since it makes me feel like I'm not alone. I'm pretty sure I'd be a wimp too :P

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  54. Oh, I like Lisa!! Great person :))
    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  55. Great review! I love how Lisa describes her dystopian world - also how much she loves books! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

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  56. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of The Forsaken. Not only does it sound like The Hunger Games but it really does have an original plot and concept. I'm really starting to like Dystopian reads and this one is definitely on my To-Read list.

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  57. I see this book everywhere I look so I just read what it was about and it does sound pretty interesting :)

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  58. Gotta love classic dystopians! And The Forsaken sounds awesome (just like this interview). Thanks for the chance to win a signed copy. :D

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  59. I'm always fascinated to know how authors started their writing. That was a great interview. The book is very interesting and I love the trailer. Thanks Lisa for the copy and thanks also Kris for hosting it and for the interview! :)

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  60. I love the trailer, especially the music.

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  61. The trailer is just amazing, and I can't wait to read Book 2 of The Forsaken!

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  62. I can't wait to read this. I love dystopians too and The Wheel sounds really cool. I'm looking forward to reading about its secrets.

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  63. I've heard so many great things about this book. I'm excited to get my hands on it. :)

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  64. I've been looking for new dystopian books to read. This one is going to the top of my wishlist.

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  65. Great review, thank you! I liked the idea of a prison island and the whole concept sounds interesting. Its already on my TBR list so I hope I win :)

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  66. i really really really want to read this book!!! thanks for the giveaway

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  67. This book sounds great! I love a tough heroine. And I love that one of her inspirations was Lord of The Flies! I loved that book

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  68. This book keeps getting rave reviews. I'd like to read it.

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  69. This interview really makes me want to read the book even more! It sounds so exciting and Lisa Stasse sounds like a great author. Can't wait to read it, thanks for the giveaway!

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  70. Great Interview!, I love dystopians also though 1984 and Brave New World I really don't care for (it may have to do with the fact that I had to read them for school, I don't like being told what to read) but the new ones out there have really caught my eye and my wallet's attention. Forsaken looks like a incredible read!

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  71. I love the trailer. I think the proper old lady voice is kind of funny. :)

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  72. I love the trailer for this book! its awesome! and I've heard so many good things :) this is definitely going on my christmas list!

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  73. I've heard so many good things about this book, thanks for the giveaway ! :)

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  74. The world in Forsaken sounds amazing. I don't think I've ever read something like that before. Alenna also sounds like a character I would really like. ;)

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

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  75. omg, this book sounds amaziiiiiiing! the trailer is awesome! The interview only made me want to read the book ever more :) thanks for the giveaway :)

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  76. Great interview. Thanks for the opportunity.
    Maribeth:)

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  77. Hearing so many great things about the book! Fantastic review, so glad to know that Lisa is a librarian. =D

    Sana @ artsy musings of a bibliophile

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  78. I think if I was sent to live on the Wheel, I would hide in the mountains or something and build myself a little den which I would defend fiercely.

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  79. I can't wait to read The Forsaken! It sounds really interesting especially since it was inspired by some of my favorite dystopian books. I'd really love to know more about this world that Lissa has created.

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  80. Nice interview! I can't wait to read Forsaken. I love how the author started writing in HighSchool, but thought everything she wrote is bad (like me, now) lol
    Thanks for the giveaway :]

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  81. I love dystopian book too :))
    I'm really looking forward to this one! :)

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  82. I like the idea of a merged Canada, US, and Mexico. I can't imagine failing one test and being exiled onto a prison island. Sounds very intense, can't wait to read it.

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  83. Very fun interview with the author. She seems really cool and down to earth. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of her novel

    - Beckie

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  84. It's always great when an author divulges what he or she loves. Hunger Games? Dystopias? Awesome!! Thanks for the interview. And the giveaway!

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