*･゜I’m very excited that I was able to do another author interview! This time it’s with Lan Chan, the author of Poison, a new young adult dystopian novel that I read a short time ago. So without further ado, a huge thank you to Lan Chan for agreeing to an interview for [a cup of tea and an armful of books]!
*･゜Your debut novel, Poison, has been garnering reviews full of praise from early readers. People (including me!) are loving how you’ve written something new for the young adult dystopian genre. Can you tell us a little about your book?
LC: In essence Poison is the tale of one girl’s struggle not just against the totalitarian government in her world but also the expectations of everyone around her. Rory Gray has grown up with labels, be they Wind Dancer, Wanderer or rebel. Rory was the Wind Dancer, an aerialist in the Seeder’s circus and for this she was treated as special by the Seeders and earned her the hatred of her region. After her mother’s murder Rory became an object of suspicion and a secret rebel, working to undo the poison the Seeders have wrought upon the world. When someone in her region is caught stealing seeds, Rory goes on a ‘walkabout’ to the Citadel to plead for mercy. But it’s been a long time since Rory set foot in the Citadel and nothing is as she remembered it to be. The Seeders are crueler than Rory could have imaged but they’re also weaker than she dared hope them to be. To take them on, Rory becomes the Wind Dancer once more but this time she’s not alone. Rory must put aside her tendency to be suspicious of everyone and learn to trust that there are others who would be willing to give their lives to rid the world of the Seeders control.
*･゜What is the inspiration behind your novel?
LC: I am above all else a huge plant geek. All the plant science in Poison is factual to a certain extent. I’ve simply extracted the truth and amplified it until it made for an interesting premise. I thought it might be interesting to imagine a world where an organization got so out of hand that they’re in control of the very seeds people are allowed to grow. Like you I’ve read many young adult dystopian novels because they’re my favorite genre but I noticed that a lot of the time the MC is the underdog of the world. I wanted to try and craft a story where my heroine has one foot in all the layers of society and tried to explore how that would shape her character. Rory isn’t inherently nice like a lot of heroines in dystopian novels tend to be. It’s impossible for me to imagine a nice girl surviving the many trials Rory has to go through. Nor does she makes friends easily and not everyone loves her. She’s angry and flawed and driven but she also cares deeply for her friends and would do anything to keep them safe.
*･゜I read a lot of young adult dystopic / post-apocalyptic novels. Yours is unique in the fact that the most important thing in Rory’s world seems to be the control of seeds. Why did you decide to focus on this?
LC: I’m a subscriber to a lot of organic gardening newsletters and some of the articles in there about genetically modified foods and plants would curl your toes. I wanted to try and write a story that took something plausible and pretty realistic and turn that into an entertaining read. Seeds are something we all tend to take for granted in this day and age but when you think about it, they’re pretty much the source of all life on earth. In an end of days situation the most important thing besides shelter and protection is food. If one organization was in control of the food than they would have complete control of everything.
*･゜Who is your favorite character in your novel?
LC: I am one of those writers who is guilty of always writing too many characters. You should have seen the first draft of Poison. It was overflowing with random characters. I love a story with a huge ensemble cast and while I adore all my characters (even Harlan!) I’d have to say Gage is the one I am most proud of. I think to me he showed the most growth and his friendship had the biggest impact on Rory out of everyone besides Aiden.
*･゜Can you describe your writing process for us? What is your favorite part?
LC: I wrote the first ever draft of Poison during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and now I can’t seem to write outside of the months the challenge is on! Thankfully they have three sessions a year otherwise I would never get anything done. I am a huge binge procrastinator so I can often churn out a first draft in under two months but then I will lose focus and jump to another project. Eventually I’ll go back to my original manuscript and then with a lot of pressure from my writing partners I will start editing. It’s a wonder I managed to publish at all!
*･゜How often did writer’s block strike and what did you do to overcome it?
LC: I don’t really get writer’s block. I get distracted instead. I’ve got a bit of an obsessive compulsive personality and when an idea comes into my head I just can’t focus on anything else and that often makes it impossible for me to write anything at all until I at least sit down and outline the new idea until I get to a point where it’s a complete story or I realise it’s a huge dud and won’t work at all.
*･゜You posted quite a bit about the process of publishing Poison on your blog. What was the most difficult thing you encountered during the publishing process?
LC: It’s funny but at every stage of the writing process I thought what I was doing at the time was the most difficult thing. Having published my first novel I think I an unequivocally say that promotion and marketing is by far the most difficult/time consuming/costly! But it’s all worth it when someone who enjoys the book leaves a review or sends me an email asking for an interview 🙂
*･゜Besides writing and gardening, what other hobbies and passions do you have?
LC: I’m pretty boring in real life. Does reading and binge TV watching count as hobbies? Sometimes I dabble with flower arranging and candle making as well. All skills that will not be useful for the impending zombie apocalypse.
*･゜What is your favorite plant?
LC: I can’t answer this! There are just too many! Okay, if I really had to I would probably say roses. I find their mix of beautiful flowers with sharp thorns really interesting. They’re also a very tough plant and very easy to look after despite their appearance. In a way they’re pretty much the perfect heroine for any novel!
*･゜If you could live in any fictional world, what would you chose, and why?
LC: Definitely Harry Potter’s world! I would give anything to be sent a letter from Hogwarts and to so spells using my very own wand.
*･゜What sort of projects do you have planned for the future? I hope one of them is the sequel to Poison!
LC: Thanks to my aforementioned lack of focus I have all kinds of projects on the go at the moment! Poison‘s sequel which I have titled Ransom is with my beta readers at the moment and should be out in the next six months. In the meantime, I am working on a series that involves my other great literary love which is super heroes. It’s an urban fantasy with a kick-ass snarky heroine and has been really fun to write because she’s so different to Rory’s seriousness.
Also in the works is a steampunk fantasy involving dragons, another New Adult urban fantasy with werewolves, an adult urban fantasy with angels and I am dabbling with the idea of writing contemporary romance using a pen name! If only real life and work didn’t get in the way I could actually get to work on some of these ideas!
*･゜What’s your favorite social media platform and where can we find you?
LC: I’m everywhere! Probably not a good idea for someone with a tendency to obsess over social media. The best place to find me is probably on my blog The Write Obsession because it is often the first place I go to with writing updates and also to share my thoughts. I tend to forget that I have other accounts for things. Also on the blog you can sign up for my newsletter which is where I will be posting info about all of my upcoming works as well as the occasional freebie for followers who sign up because I love them! You can find me at these places:
And of course you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*･゜Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
LC: Never give up! We’re living in a era of excitement for writers and readers and no matter what anyone says there’s no telling what will be popular. Write what you love and eventually someone who enjoys the same thing will find it!
*･゜A huge thank you to Lan Chan for being such a lovely interviewee! Check out Poison and keep an eye out for her upcoming projects. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s published next!