In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race.
Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. He has to--because heat, dust, and starvation aren't the only threats in this ruined world.
There are also the Skaldi.
Monsters with the ability to infect and mimic human hosts, the Skaldi appeared on the planet shortly after the wars of destruction. No one knows where they came from or what they are. But if they're not stopped, it might mean the end of humanity.
Six months ago, Querry had an encounter with the Skaldi--and now he can't remember anything that happened before then. If he can recall his past, he might be able to find the key to defeat the Skaldi.
If he can't, he's their next victim.
I've been writing novels since I was eight years old (though admittedly, the first few were very, very short). I taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to writing fiction. SURVIVAL COLONY NINE is my first novel, but the sequel's already in the works!
I love to read (mostly YA fantasy and science fiction), watch movies (again, mostly fantasy and sci-fi), and spend time in Nature (mostly catching frogs and toads). I'm the world's worst singer, but I play a pretty mean air guitar. I also like to draw, and you can check out some of my artwork on my website.
Oh, yeah, and I like monsters. Really scary monsters.
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I was inspired to write a novel for young readers by my children, who’d started reading YA and MG and who helped me rediscover my love for these kinds of books. I’ve always been into science fiction, so when I started thinking about writing a YA novel, it was natural that my thoughts turned to sci-fi.
This particular novel, though, was inspired by (I kid you not) a dream. I woke up one morning and literally jumped for the keyboard before I forgot the names and images dancing around in my brain.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
It’s hard to choose just one! I love my narrator, Querry Genn, a fourteen-year-old with memory loss who struggles to fit in with his colony and to deal with its demanding leader, Laman Genn. I love three of the strong female characters in the book: Aleka, the colony’s second-in-command; Petra, the colony’s best scout; and Korah, a teen who sympathizes with Querry. And I’ll admit I also love one of the book’s unsavory characters, the teenager named Yov, who torments Querry every chance he gets. Yov’s a jerk, but he was fun to create, and he gets some of the best lines in the book!
Which came first, the title or the novel?
I had no title when I started the book. All I had (thanks to my dream) was the narrator’s name, an image of a desert landscape, and some really cool, scary monsters. It wasn’t until I’d written a hundred pages or so of the first draft that I realized Querry’s quest to belong in Survival Colony 9 was at the heart of the book, and so the colony’s name became the book’s title.
What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
There’s a pivotal scene involving Querry and Korah that radically changes the direction of the story and the nature of Querry’s quest. It’s one of the most intense scenes in the book, mingling romance, action, and horror. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say I’m proud of that scene not only because of its importance but because many people who’ve read the book have told me they were blown away by it!
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
The most important thing I’ve learned about the process of writing a novel is that there are so many people involved in it: your agent and editor, copy-editor, designer, early readers, friends, family, and on and on. The author’s name may be the only one on the cover, but the book itself is the product of many people’s time, labor, and love.
The most important thing I’ve learned about the craft of writing a novel is that it’s tremendously important to build multiple mysteries, conflicts, and complications into the story from the start, and never to let up until the final page. I thought I’d given my characters and my readers enough challenges to last a lifetime, but my editor helped me see there was room for so much more!
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love the colors, the desert background contained within the number “9,” the red lettering of the words “Survival Colony.” And I really love the silhouetted figure, because that works perfectly with the book’s plot, where Querry needs to discover not only who he is but who the people around him are. I didn’t see the cover design before it was finalized, and I was naturally anxious about how it would turn out, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the designer’s choices.
What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2014?
I’m going to cheat and name several! I can’t wait to read Kendall Kulper’s Salt & Storm, which has been getting rave reviews (and which comes out the same day as my book). I’m also looking forward to Sweet Unrest by Lisa Maxwell, which sounds like it’s full of magic and mystery. And I also think The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur sounds cool and intriguing!
What was your favorite book in 2013?
I read 50-plus YA books in 2013, so it’s hard to choose a favorite! I loved Mindy McGinnis’s debut Not a Drop to Drink, about a future world where fresh water is virtually non-existent. It’s a harsh, unsparing book, very realistic in its details and not at all sentimental in its depiction of the main character, a teen who must defend her family’s pond at all costs. But I also loved Amy Christine Parker’s Gated, about a girl living in a fanatical doomsday cult, and Scott Blagden’s wonderfully titled Dear Life, You Suck, about an orphaned teen in small-town Maine. Totally original story and voice—a must-read in my opinion.
What’s up next for you?
I’ve written a sequel to Survival Colony 9 titled Scavenger of Souls, and I’m writing a third book (working title: Skaldi City) that completes the Querry Genn trilogy. After that, I’m going to turn to a project that’s been on the back burner for years: an alt-history YA about abolitionist John Brown and the events leading up to the Civil War. It’s not science fiction, but it twists the facts of history enough to satisfy my love of creating imaginary worlds!
Is there anything that you would like to add?
I just wanted to thank you for having me on your blog. I’ve been dreaming of publishing a novel since I was a kid, something like forty years ago. So I’m incredibly excited that my dream has finally come true, and I’m grateful to all the readers who will discover my story. I hope to hear from some of those readers in the days to come!
Connect with Joshua David Bellin:
"Forget the past.
Fight to stay alive."
I came across this book while signing up for a blog tour and when I read the synopsis I knew I wanted to read it! I love a good survival story and this one sounded perfect!
I also loved the cover of this book. It portrays exactly what I would think of when I imagine an survival story. I am one of those people who will read a book just because the cover grabbed my attention.
This story is about a colony's fight to survive after a brutal war ravaged the earth and aliens called Skaldi attacked and left earth desolate and empty. This colony is called Survival Colony 9. There is a young boy in the colony named Querry Genn whom has an accident while trying to run from a Skaldi attack and he has lost his memory and can remember none of his past.
"The colony. HSC-9, Human Survival Colony Number Nine.
Survival Colony Nine. The only home I can remember.
I just wish I could remember how I got here.
Or who I am."
Querry's dad is the commander of the colony and pressures Querry into re-training immediately so that he can help to protect the colony. His dad thinks that this intense training will help to bring back Querry's memory. While training Querry meets another colonist named Korah and is immediately drawn to her.
Survival Colony 9 has some great action sequences and definitely has a good mystery woven into the story but I did find myself feeling a little disconnected. There was just enough information given in each chapter to keep me wanting to read and finish the story. I felt the romance aspect was lacking and I really wanted that to evolve. Overall I did enjoy the book and I think young adult readers who enjoy sci-fi, survival, and mystery will like this book. I really hope there is a sequel because I felt like I didn't get all the answers that I was looking for and I am hoping there is more of the story to dig into.
**The quotes from this book have been taken from an Advanced Reading Copy and are subject to change when the final book is printed. Please refer to the final, finished copy for exact quotes!**
**I want to say Thank You to McElderry Books for the opportunity to review this book!!**