April 18, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia: Interview with Elana Johnson

I'm happy to welcome Elana Johnson to the blog today for an interview! Here's the blurb from Goodreads about her book Possession:

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

And now for the questions...

1.)  Vi has a very strong and distinctive voice. How easy did you find writing her perspective? Did her voice come naturally to you, or did you have to work at it?

Writing from Vi’s perspective felt easy, natural. It’s the only book where I haven’t questioned who should be narrating the story. Her voice comes pretty naturally to me, and the biggest problem is trying to make sure the voices in my other work isn’t too Vi-ish.

2.)  The society of Possession is quite removed from our own. Did you use any music or other writing “rituals” to help insert yourself in that world when you sat down to write?

I use music to write and edit, but not to get into a society or world-building. To me, music is pure emotion. It elicits emotion, it inspires, it is evocative. So I use music to bring out the emotions I need to infuse into the story. The world-building comes after that, and I usually have to think of the society as a character all its own to get it right.

3.)  Which character did you have the most difficulty understanding, in terms of their motives and mindset?
Zenn, all the way, hands down, no question. He is still quite mysterious to me, and I hope readers will feel the same about him.

4.)  If Vi was suddenly teleported to our world, with all of her powers intact, what career would she end up choosing and why?

Oh, I think she’d choose something like a flight attendant or something. Something where she can travel and see the world. But she’d also have a house in the middle of nowhere, with no neighbors so she can have space to breathe and think and just be. You know?

5.)  In Vi’s world there is a myriad of different kinds of advanced technology. If you were on the run from the authorities and could choose only one piece of tech to take with you, what would you pick?

I’d take the teleporter ring, for sure. I mean, it’s like apparition in Harry Potter. You don’t need a subway ticket or a bus pass or the ability to hail a taxi or drive. You just twist the ring, name your destination, and bam! You’re there. The authorities wouldn’t have a chance with that kind of quick escape.

6.)  If you were put into Jake’s simulator, which would you have the greatest affinity with: tech, elements, or genetic adaptations? Why?

I’d like to have the greatest affinity with the elements. I mean, who wouldn’t want to control the wind, and fire, and earth, and water. That would be frawesome.

Thanks so much for answering my questions, Elana!


  1. I had a really hard time understanding Zenn too and I wondered if she created him that way on purpose while I read the book. I have to admit that the teleporter ring is pretty awesome.

  2. I got a copy for review recently and can't wait to start reading it.


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