Em Garner’s brand new book, CONTAMINATED, was released this week, and she was kind enough to chat about it with me! Also, Em has very generously offered up a signed copy of the book to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the deets below the post!
Em, your brand new novel, CONTAMINATED, just came out! Will you tell us a bit about it and its heroine, Velvet Ellis?
Sure! Velvet’s been taking care of her younger sister, Opal, since both their parents went missing during the waves of rioting and chaos that happened when some contaminated protein water made almost everyone who drank it lose their minds. She’s smart and tougher than she thinks she is.
I love how the epidemic is caused by a diet drink called SlimPro. Don’t suppose you snuck a bit of social commentary in there…?
I think that as a society, we are definitely obsessed with weight. Even as a lot of us struggle with weighing “too much” – the most sensible, easiest way to get fit is by eating right and exercising. Yet so many of us want the quick fix. We want to get skinny without the effort. If there was a diet drink that would take off the pounds without me having to exercise, I’m pretty sure I’d be guzzling it right along with everyone else. It occurred to me as I was writing the book that something like that could so easily affect a huge, huge portion of the population in certain places, but not world wide, unlike a virus or biologically spread disease. And what would that mean for the world? Other than that, though, I don’t think Contaminated’s too heavy on social commentary. It’s fiction, after all.
What do you love most about Velvet Ellis and what did you enjoy most about writing the book?
I love that Velvet does what’s necessary to keep her family together. She’s so strong and determined. I love that even when she’s afraid, she fights for what she thinks is important. And I loved being in her head.
What kind of research did you do?
I researched prion disease, which is what Mad Cow disease is, as well as other neurological disorders. Beyond that, I didn’t have to do too much. Contaminated is set in my town, so I was already familiar with the area.
Books and movies about zombies, or plagues that create violent, shambling creatures, are very popular right now…why do you think that is?
I’ve read that in times of economic or other distress, zombies become more popular. I’m not sure if that’s true or why it would be, but I’m going to go with the fact that zombies seem, to me, to be the monster I could realistically see becoming real. Vampires and werewolves are paranormal, but something that could turn a huge amount of the population into crazy, raging monsters? I can believe that might happen. The risen dead part of it, I’m not so sure about, but the people in Contaminated aren’t dead!
What, or who, are some of the biggest influences on your writing?
I’ve been a fan of Stephen King since I was twelve. I love, love, love Robert McCammon’s work – – he’s written some of the books that have scared me most, while at the same time moved me emotionally. I also love Clive Barker.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon.
When you’re not working on your next project, how do you like to spend your free time?
I like to watch movies and read. I love to go to the ocean. I like the drive-in theater. I like to sleep!
What’s next for you?
I’ve finished a sequel to Contaminated, and have been plotting out several other young adult titles that are keeping me excited about writing some more horror. I’m looking ahead to a nice vacation at the beach and spending some time reading with my toes in the sand!
“Relentlessly horrifying… a bone-chilling, riveting debut.” (Ann Aguirre, USA Today best-selling author) Gritty and grabbing, Contaminated is a harrowing, emotionally charged dystopic venture into YA.
After the Contamination – an epidemic caused by the super-trendy diet drink SlimPro that turned ordinary citizens into shambling creatures unable to control their violent impulses – the government rounded up the “Connies” to protect the remaining population. But now, two years later, the government’s started sending the rehabilitated back home, complete with shock collars that will either stop the Connies from committing violent acts or kill them before they do any further harm.
Since her parents were taken in the roundup, Velvet Ellis has struggled to care for her ten-year-old sister and maintain a sense of normalcy, despite brutal government rations and curfews. She goes to the “Kennels” every day searching for her parents, and when she finds her mother, she’s eager to bring her home. Maybe, eventually, they’ll be able to get back to the way things were before. But even though it seems that her mother is getting better (something that the government says is impossible), there will be no happy transition. Anti-Connie sentiment is high, and rumor has it that an even worse wave of the Contamination is imminent. And then the government declares that the Connies will be rounded up and neutralized, once and for all.
Sacrificing everything – her boyfriend, her home, and her job – Velvet will do anything to protect her mother. Velvet has to get the collar off her mother before the military comes to take her away. Even if it means risking all of their lives.
2.) Giveaway is for 1 *signed* copy of CONTAMINATED by Em Garner to 1 winner
3.) Giveaway is open to US residents only
4.) You must enter on or before 8/3/13
5.) Giveaway book courtesy of Em Garner
6.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.