I had the opportunity to interview my favorite author of all time Shaun David Hutchinson, author of one of my favorite books We Are The Ants!! I’m so thankful for this opportunity. If you haven’t picked up his work yet, do it! You won’t regret it!!
(If you would like to read my review for We Are The Ants click here)
1) What inspired you to write We Are The Ants?
We Are the Ants was really a story that evolved from my desire to write about how people deal with the aftermath of the suicide of someone close to them. I attempted suicide when I was 19 and have suffered from depression my whole life, but I didn’t want to tell that story, I wanted to show what the world might look like to the people who have lost someone they love. I wanted to write a story that would hopefully see that they do matter. Also, I wanted to write about aliens.
2) Did anyone in your real life inspire the idea of some of your
Oh, absolutely. Audrey shares some of the characteristics of my best friend. When I was struggling in high school, she took me on “cookie dates,” and they were so important to me. She’s still my best friend to this day. Marcus is kind of an amalgam of all the terrible boyfriends I’ve had in my life, though not any one in particular. Ms. Faraci is also a combination of a couple of my favorite college and high school teachers. I don’t think there are any characters I didn’t steal some characteristics from real life people for, but none that are really outright copies.
3) This book deals with a lot of tough topics. Did you feel a lot of
pressure addressing these topics in your book?
I didn’t when I was writing it. I was pretty convinced that my agent would hate it and my editor would reject it, and when they didn’t, I assumed reviewers would universally pan it and it would fall out of print within a few months. I won’t say writing about these topics was easy for me, but it was easy to write them truthfully because they’re all topics very near to me. They’re all things I deal or have dealt with. But since it’s been out in the world and getting far more attention than my other books, I do feel a little pressure. I worry if I did enough, if I was thoughtful enough, if I portrayed Henry’s depression in a way that was both honest but not hopeless. Not that there’s anything I can do about it now, but I do still worry about those things.
4) How would you feel seeing We Are The Ants on the big screen?
Equal parts terror and excitement. For me, the strength of the book is its characters and the way they each change throughout. I’d be so scared that without those little nuances the nihilism of the story would be all that was left. At the same time, I’m often blown away by how much emotion a movie can pack into two hours, so I think it could be done well, and I’d love to see that.
5) Which character is most similar to you?
Some days Henry, most days Jesse, though I often wish I could be more like Nana.
6) Are there any follow up books planned for We Are The Ants?
There are no direct sequels planned at this time. I’m happy with where Henry’s story ended up. I did have a short story
that explores the sluggers a little more, and Henry and Diego make a brief cameo in my next book At the Edge of the Universe, but nothing else at this time.
7) What do you want readers to walk away after reading this book?
I want them to want to press the button. I want them to know that while they may feel alone, they’re not alone. That while they may feel small and unimportant, they’re not; they’re the brightest stars in the universe. I want them to know that it’s not a weakness to ask for help. We all struggle and we all need help, and when the world makes us feel like the pain isn’t worth it, there are people who will help us keep marching on.
8) What’s next for you?
So many things! The paperback of my first anthology, Violent Ends
, is out in December; in February my next book At the Edge of the Universe
, which is about a guy named Ozzie who believes the universe is shrinking, comes out; March 2017, the We Are the Ants paperback is out; Next fall my second anthology, Feral Youth, comes out; and a long way away in Spring 2018, I’ve got a book coming out tentatively called The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza, about a young woman named Elena who is the first scientifically proven virgin birth in the world and who, after healing her mother from a gunshot wound, may have accidentally caused the end of the world. Lots going on, and I’m so excited about all of it. I also hope to do more traveling and speaking to schools and libraries because talking with teen readers and the people who connect them with the books they need is the best part of being a writer.
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