Lex Thomas (Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies) Brought us into the world of The Quarantine with THE LONERS in 2012. The book left me more moved in a way that I’m normally not by an action/dystonian story. And the story is so visual, you can totally see everything going on in the story without a lot of overly descriptive narrative.
Now, four years later, we get a fourth book! Originally published by Egmont USA, the series is now at Learner Books, and we are TOTALLY excited to jump back into the world of Quarantine and to see the world through a different set of eyes.
We are part of Quarantine: THE GIANT Blog tour. The giveaway below is thanks to Learner Books and they helped coordinate the below interview with Lex and Thomas.
In the violent early days of the quarantine, Gonzalo joins a gang of thieves who live in the ductwork of McKinley High School. There he falls in love with Sasha, but as he grows too big to fit, he is forced to leave without her.
A year later, he scours the infected zone for her. No matter how many murderers, puncture wounds, or militia he has to survive, Gonzalo can’t give up on Sasha.
In the fourth installment of the Quarantine series, Lex Thomas delivers two intertwined stories about love and longing, which merge in a conclusion where the fate of the entire infected zone hangs in the balance.
PTB: You’ve had some crazy stunts happen in your books, how do you make them so believable? Do you act them out? Do you do tons of research?
We do as much research as we have to. The excitement over the crazy thing comes first, and then we figure out how to make it work in a way that feels true and organic to the characters. Sometimes research leads to ideas, but we don’t want to limit the possibilities at the outset. More often we’re doing research to make sure we don’t end up looking stupid.
PTB: Have you guys ever came up with some crazy scene that you or your editor has had to say nope, that’s too far, that can’t go in a YA book?
At first, when we handed in our first draft of The Loners, we were expecting to be told, “You can’t do that,” but no one ever said that. That kind of paved the way for us to get bigger and bolder with our content. As long as everything is grounded in realistic character motivations, we’re not going to self-edit, and so far, there haven’t been any major issues. If anything, there was one time, at the end of The Saints when Sam’s head pops off in front of his father — our editor told us it was a little gross, but in the end we decided to keep it. We can usually diagnose what’s causing a moment to not work for our editor and then alter aspects of it so that it stops bothering them yet still delivers the impact we wanted from it.
PTB: NIU’s STEAM Outreach did an entire program surrounding the science used in your books. What’s been the coolest bit of science/action you’ve seen jump off the page into real life?
First of all, everyone at NIU is so fantastic and creative. We feel so lucky that they decided to select the Quarantine Series as a centerpiece for their STEAM Outreach field trip last year. What an incredible event. There was so much cool stuff, from kids arriving by the bus-load and being greeted by adults in hazmat suits to lessons on how to dye your hair with Kool-Aid. But the best part had to be seeing the food drop re-enacted. In our books the kids compete violently for the food the government drops into the quad. At the NIU event kids went nuts trying to grab as much fake food for their gang as they could (you can see the video here). These were empty boxes with item names written on them, but the kids were acting like it was so real, tearing boxes out of each other’s hands and jumping over each other to get back to their gangs. Some of the adults were shouting “Shut it down! Shut it down!” out of fear someone would get hurt. No one (except us) really predicted that things would get so wild so fast. Turns out the savage competition for food we’d depicted in the books wasn’t so far off base from reality. For the record, though, the worst injury that day was a spit pair of pants.
PTB: The virus that hit’s the school in book 1, is that based off of anything in real life or is it something dreamed up for the book?
That was dreamed up. We really wanted to create the nightmare version of high school, where the social cliques were gangs, and the school was divided up into dangerous gang territories. We made the virus so deadly so they’d have to be quarantined inside their school, and the alternate world we wanted to create could happen. Here’s the crazy thing though — a few months after The Loners came out, a high school in Florida was quarantined for some kind of breakout. Lucky for them, it was only for a few hours.
PTB: How much fun was it to delve back into this world and look at it from a different character’s POV?
It was great to revisit the Quarantine universe, and especially to explore the infected zone. Since we’d been trapped largely within the school for the first three books, getting to expand the landscape was a whole lot of fun. Gonzalo was also a treat to write. The first three books were full of paranoia, and we were really trying to make the readers feel worried for the characters. This time, we enjoyed writing from the viewpoint of a stronger, more powerful hero on a single-minded mission to find his girl.
Thanks to Learner Books, we have a copy of THE GIANT to giveaway! This giveaway is US only. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter and all of our other standard rules apply.